Now Serving – Five C’s Mulled Wine

By the Gentleman

Mulled Wine4

Holy moly it has been a cold winter here at Cocktail Challenge HQ. Wind, rain, the occasional bit of hail, and freezing cold nights have been the norm for the past few weeks. Meanwhile, my daily web surfing is filled with descriptions of wonderful summer drinks and recipes to refresh and cool you down. Son, I don’t need to be any cooler I’m like Mr. Freeze already. So what’s a dynamic duo of internet bloggers supposed to do in such inclimate weather? Make Mulled Wine of course so that we can get drunk and warm at the same time, which is the best way to get warm (well, one of the best ways 😉 ). The process for this Mulled Wine is based off a post I found on the River Cottage forum but the flavours are all my own.


I decided to make the syrup ahead so I could take it to The Lady’s new place and enjoy some Mulled Wine with dinner, being all fancy and romantic. By making it ahead there was no risk of boiling the wine and getting rid of the alcohol, which is a horrible crime. I used brown sugar and molasses and I’m very happy with this decision. They gave the syrup a really deep brown, almost burgundy colour which is far more reminiscent of red wine than most mulling syrups you see. They also didn’t make it overly sweet, which a lot of people feel they do, instead just giving it enough sweetness and that beautiful deep colour. The all C’s spice mix was to be a little bit different and to try something new with Mulled Wine. I think the amounts need a bit of tinkering, but the flavour was definitely interesting enough for me to want to revisit it. I used a pretty cheap bottle of red wine, a Shiraz, but it was an Australian Shiraz so it’s really better than it’s price suggests. It had a really strong fruity smell, which is what you’re after with Mulled Wine. I chose the bottle through my usual method, the Wine Men of Gotham has an interesting label and an even more interesting story behind it. I was pretty happy that I could find a cheap bottle of wine that also had a cool label. The below recipe will make enough syrup to go with one bottle of wine but you can easily use it to make more by repeating the amounts for every bottle.

Mulled Wine2Grand Marnier


375ml water

50g brown sugar

1/2 tsp caraway seeds

1/2 tsp coriander seeds

4 green cardamon pods

1/2 cinnamon stick (I added another whole way towards the end and transferred it to the bottle)

Juice of half an orange, reserve husk to put in mix

Half an apple studded with 9 cloves + 3 extra cloves

1 1/2 tbsp molasses

Rind of one lemon

Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

1/4 oz Grand Marnier (optional)

750ml bottle Wine Men of Gotham Shiraz

Orange Wedge for garnish

Cloves for garnish

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Toast cardamon pods, coriander seeds and caraway seeds in a pan to open up the flavours.

Place all ingredients except the red wine in a pan. Stir to combine

Bring the pan to the boil and reduce to strong bubbling simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes remove the fruit with a slotted spoon

Bring the pan to a rolling boil. Keep boiling till the liquid is half the volume and syrupy. Watch out because this will happen quickly.

Strain the syrup through a sieve, muslin or a coffee filter.

Bottle in sterilised bottles and seal firmly

To make mulled wine mix your red wine with the prepared syrup. Heat till warm but not boiling.

Serve in mugs or cup and saucer with an orange wedge studded with cloves.

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The Lady has indulged in far more mulled wine than I have during her overseas travels so I let her comments guide me. She said it tasted and smelt like Mulled Wine should which is always good to know. The syrup had this beautifully spiced aroma that was very strong, the whole house smelt of cinnamon, cloves and pretty much how I imagine a white Christmas to smell. You can’t smell the cayenne pepper at all. It lurks in the background. Taking a mouthful you get the warmth of the drink, a reassuring embrace on a cold winter night. Then you’re hit with the traditional mulling spices. A soothing spice feeling from the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom pods. Between the warmth of the drink and the soothing spices you get lulled into the drinks embrace and then BAM! Real heat from the cayenne and probably the coriander seeds. It fills your mouth and goes right down the back of your throat. Take a swing of this on a cold night and you would definitely feel warmer. The cayenne may not be for everyone but I was looking for something different from ginger that would keep with my C spices theme. The Lady reckons cayenne is my thing at the moment, adding it to anything and everything and I admit I may have put a bit too much of a pinch in but I don’t think it overly dominated the drink. It just provided the heat I was looking to replace from the ginger. I was a bit disappointed with the fruit, I thought their flavour would have been a bit stronger and maybe in the future I’ll increase the amount of fruit I add to try and get a more prominent flavour.

Mulled Wine

Researching Mulled Wine recipes I shouldn’t have been shocked at how much it divided people. Some people love it and others absolutely hate it.  Really this is pretty much how anyone talks about any sort of alcohol but nearly every Mulled Wine recipe or article includes the fact that people love it or hate it. I just it’s because you make it yourself  and it is very open to interpretation that people can end up with wildly different results. At the moment I wouldn’t say this is a great recipe, it needs some work to round out the flavours and deliver a more balanced Mulled Wine. But on a cold winter’s night, snuggled up on the couch freaking out to American Horror Story it certainly did the job. Warming, spicy with an extra kick you certainly won’t regret pouring in that bottle of wine and in the end, isn’t that all that matters?

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New Book – The Flavour Thesaurus : Pairings, Recipes and Ideas for the Creative Cook

By the Lady

Flavour Thesaurus

I have a secret to tell you. This isn’t a new book for me. I’ve had it for years. However, it may be new for you and that’s new enough for us all! I feel it is my duty to share this little gem with y’all, as it is not only useful for cocktail connoisseurs such as yourselves, but also perfect for the budding or full-blown professional chef.  Allow me to present to you The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit.

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This book is designed for those who have a particular ingredient, for example cherries, and are looking for a flavour to pair it with or even those who are looking to for an unusual or exciting flavour combination. The Gentleman uses it as his go to book whenever he’s experimenting with new cocktail syrups or cold brew coffees, tasty pairings such as cardamom coffee. Yum!

Flavour Thesaurus 2

The book is arranged into different sections which categorise the essence of that ingredient. Some examples of categories that would be useful to the cocktail connoisseur would be “Floral Fruity”, “Fresh Fruity”, “Citrussy” etcetera.  These sections make it much easier to search for flavours and you’re also sure to come across some unlikely and delightfully surprising pairings.


Aside from being a smart little kitchen and bar companion, The Flavour Thesaurus is absolutely gorgeous. The cover design and pages throughout are clean and stylishly timeless. The colour pairings work just as well as the flavour combinations do and is a well thought out extension of the book’s ethos. Additionally, similar to the old Russian and English classics my grandmother kept of her bookshelves with the gold trim along the pages, The Flavour Thesaurus has a sturdy and delightful cover accompanied by bright pink trim along the edges of the pages. To me, it feels like a nod to these classic novels, but with a modern approach. A modern kitchen classic with a bright and flavourful exterior to match the words within.

Flavour Thesaurus 3

The Flavour Thesaurus really is the perfect book for adventurous cooks and the cocktail extraordinaire who is stuck for inspiration or is feeling a little daring. I urge you all to go pick up your own copy. Not only will you be a master of modern mixology, but it’ll brighten up your life – and your bookshelf too!


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On the Shelf – Sixpoint Brewery Righteous Ale

By The Gentleman


It has been a rather long engagement but my first experience of Sixpoint Brewery is at an end. The last beer is the Righteous Ale, an unusual brew using rye malt, which Sixpoint says will “provide a signature and distinct earthy character”. I say it is unusual because I can’t quite remember having another beer made specifically with rye malt so as far I know this is a first for me, which I am definitely okay with. The Righteous Ale is another of Sixpoint’s core beers and is available all year-round for your drinking pleasure.

Righteous Ale

By now you know all about my love of Sixpoint Brewery’s design aesthetic for their impressive beer cans. I’m not going to repeat myself too much because that would just be boring and dull. What I will say is I really appreciate the way the colouring on the Righteous Ale can subtly reflects the colour of the beer in the glass. When you pour out the Righteous Ale it has quite a dark brown colour but when the light hits it the beer has this deep red tinge to it which is very similar to the deep red of the can. Little touches like that just make me all giddy inside. I do have to say I like the way the design emphasises the word Righteous. All Sixpoint’s core beers, bar The Crisp, are ales so it really isn’t necessary to emphasise that it is an ale in the name. Instead Righteous really stands out, even more so with Ale in smaller font next to it. The beer features another of Sixpoint’s logos, this time it is  a strong fist. It definitely fits with the Righteous label, helping to invoke a sense of righteous fury, which I’m not quite sure that’s what they were going for with their talk of monks but that’s all I can think of when I look at it. I still think the Bengali Tiger has the best logo, but the Righteous Ale is probably my second favourite.

Righteous Ale

As I said earlier when you pour out the Righteous ale it has quite a prominent brown colour with a slight tinge of deep red when the light catches it. I didn’t get much head when I poured it, although that could be down to my pouring skills and lack of appropriate beer glasses (too little money, too many things to buy). The beer had quite a strong smell, I thought I got hints of dark chocolate  as well as the usual strong whiff of malt and hops. The Righteous Ale is another relatively strong beer with a 6.3% ABV  and the taste is quite bitter due to its 57 IBU but nowhere near as bitter as the Global Warmer. Now that was a bitter beer. The beer has a pleasant bitterness that isn’t too overpowering. For me the dominant flavour was a deep caramel and then a mix of citrus, I can’t quite put my finger on what, and some definite spiciness which I assume is coming from the rye. Drinking the beer you get a real strong mouth coating of bitter hops and you were left a definite bitter, but very pleasant aftertaste that stayed with you for sometime after you’d finished.

Righteous AleRighteous Ale

Coming to the end I think it is hard to say which Sixpoint beer was my favourite. Despite all being ales Sixpoint have crafted some very different flavours from the very citrusy Bengali Tiger to the super bitter Global Warmer and the spicy rye of the Righteous Ale. I think any beer drinker would be able to pick up what Sixpoint is putting down. If it came down to it I’d probably give the Begali Tiger the edge just because I liked the overall design of the can the most and the citrusy flavours were so intense and refreshing but the Righteous Ale definitely offers something a little bit different with its rye spiciness.

Sixpoint Brewery Ales

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Now Serving – Lemon Slipper

By The Gentleman


So this is a quick little experiment that went very quickly from ‘I don’t even know if this is a thing’ to ‘please sir can I have another’ quite rapidly. After getting the stylish Arthur Wines Glass Slipper and sampling it’s deliciousness I was looking for other ways The Lady and I could enjoy this great drink. I then came across the delightful sounding Golden Dream Cocktail and in a moment of mad science insanity wondered whether I could adapt it to use the Arthur Wines Glass Slipper. After shaking a few of these up, and tweaking the amounts a bit, it turns out you could!

Lemon Slipper

Lemon Slipper

45ml Arthur Wines Glass Slipper White Fortified Wine

30ml Tuaca

20ml cream

15ml lemon juice


Put all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake it till that cream gets all frothy and good then pour it into your fancy glass.

Lemon Slipper

This is the second version we tried. The first one used equal parts lemon, Tuaca and fortified wine but our fellow tasters thought it was an overload of lemony citrus. The Lady and I thought it was fine, a pleasant citrus kick, but because we live in a democracy we decided to change it to appease the people. This second try still has a strong citrus flavour but it’s not anywhere near as in your face. The above recipe also makes quite a small drink so you can easily up the amounts or just have multiple, that is a-okay with us.I’ll be honest and say that I’m surprised this tasted as good as it did. I’d never really had a cocktail made with cream and I’ve also not had a lot of experience with fortified wine, both on it’s own or in a cocktail. It was hard to know how well these flavours would play together but thankfully everyone got along nicely and The Lady and I were able to enjoy a rather gorgeous dessert cocktail. We reckon that if you are not a big milk or cream person though you may not find this as enjoyable as some. Sorry lactose friends.

Lemon Slipper

The cocktail had this divine citrus and vanilla fragrance. Drinking it you experienced this really nice creamy flavour and texture at first and then you were hit with the citrus. This is why we reduced the lemon juice but upped the fortified wine so the drink finished more smoothly, and boy was it smooth. It was probably smoother than the Old Spice guy and he’s pretty damn smooth (am I right? Ladies?). It was also super easy to drink. The fortified wine and Tuaca blended together exceptionally well and the lemon juice offsets any potential overload of sweetness. The Lady described the drink as being even more like lemon meringue pie than the Glass Slipper we tried just with some lemonade. It was like a lemon meringue pie that has heaps of meringue so it’s all creamy and smooth with just this bite of citrus. I am all for drinks tasting more like pie because pie is awesome.

Lemon Slipper

So The Lady and I aren’t sure whether this drink is a thing somewhere else already but if it isn’t then it definitely should be. Cream and cocktails, who would have thought but hot damn if this wasn’t one tasty little experiment. If Cinderella lost this slipper I don’t think a Prince Charming would be bringing it back to her, he’d keep this all to his own self. Also I’m really glad this worked out because I wasn’t looking forward to explaining to The Lady why we had less Glass Slipper and nothing to show for it if it was a failure. No one ever wants to waste good liquor and the Lemon Slipper is certainly no waste!


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Now Serving – Orange, Lemon and Coriander Infused Gin

By The Gentleman


The Lady can attest that I am a bit of a tinkerer. I like to experiment and try new things especially when it comes to the kitchen. Naturally I also like to tinker with my drinks, hell that’s what this whole site is kind of about anyway. I’ve recently started to look at infusing spirits at home and it has been a fun and tasty experiment. One infusion that I want to share with you is my recent Orange, Lemon and Coriander Infused Gin. For the infusion I used:

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300ml Gordon’s London Dry Gin

Peel of 1 lemon

Peel of 1/2 and orange

1 tsp coriander seeds


Peel the fruit. Place peel and coriander in a sealable jar (I used a Ball Mason Jar) then top with gin. Leave for 3 days, checking once a day to see the progress of the flavours and giving the bottle a shake as well. When ready strain out peel and seeds and pour gin into clean bottle.

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I used Gordon’s because The Lady had a bottle hanging around she didn’t want to use anymore. The flavour combination was based on researching Gordon’s London Dry Gin and discovering that the gin already utilises orange peel, lemon peel and coriander seeds in the distillation process. I thought using those ingredients would just enhance the flavours already found in the gin and let everything blend well together. I also only used 300ml just in case the flavours didn’t mix well together and there goes all my infusing gin. A lot of recipes I’ve found call for a whole bottle of gin or whatever meaning the infusion can become an expensive process if your flavours don’t get a long.


Throughout the process I checked on the infusion. At first the coriander seeds were quite powerful, obviously giving off their flavour first. I wondered whether they were going to be too intense as when I opened the jar you got hit with this spicy almost peppery smell. Over the next few days though the citrus peels gave off their flavour and toned down the spicy flavour I was getting early on. When it was ready I made myself a gin and tonic (using Fentiman’s Tonic Water) to test it out. The gin had a very citrusy flavour that paired really well with the Fentiman’s. It was very smooth to drink with a pleasant citrus smell and slight yellow tinge. I’d definitely say this infusion was a success and I look forward to making my next experiment.


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On The Shelf – Sixpoint Brewery Sweet Action

By The Gentleman


After sampling the Bengali Tiger the next Sixpoint Brewery beer on the list to try was the Sweet Action Ale. The Sweet Action is another of Sixpoint’s core ales and in fact the Sweet Action was the original beer brewed by Sixpoint back when they were founded in 2004.

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Again the Sweet Action follows the same design style as the Bengali Tiger. Putting the Sweet Action and Bengali Tiger next to each other they look good, similar yet with their own identity. I think I prefer the bold orange and tiger design on the Bengali but the Sweet Action still looks nice. It has what I think is a wheat plant as its logo, so not quite as impressive as a tiger, but as it is done in the same style as the tiger it still looks cool. I also love the name, ‘Sweet Action’ and it’s made even better by the fact that sweet action has an entry on Urban Dictionary.

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The beer itself is quite tasty. It is lighter in colour than the Bengali Tiger, less of an orange and more of an amber. It is quite hazy though and not as clear as I was expecting. Sixpoint describe the beer as “hard to define, but perhaps that’s why people love it. Part pale ale, part wheat, part cream ale- all Sweet Action.” The flavour is certainly hard to define. It is not as bitter as the Bengali and not as heavy either. I found it easier to drink as it had a nice dry crispness to it. I couldn’t really pick up on exact flavours quite like I could with the Bengali, maybe a bit of citrus and a sort of caramelly/butterscotch, but for me it starts out sweet then goes bitter with the aftertaste and then as it lingers it goes kind of sweet again. I can’t really describe it but I do like it.

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Two down and so far I’m liking what Sixpoint have to offer. I could probably drink more of the Sweet Action because it is that bit lighter than the Bengali and a bit easier to drink but both boast powerful and interesting flavours in stylishly large cans. Any beer drinker would be happy.


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On The Shelf- Sixpoint Brewery Bengali Tiger IPA

By The Gentleman


Half the fun or should I say struggle of On The Shelf is in not only finding cool brands to feature on The Cocktail Challenge but finding cool brands that we can actually get our hands on. So many times we’ve come across something kind of special only to discover that it isn’t available in Australia or is unable to be shipped here. Luckily Brooklyn’s Sixpoint Brewery is not one of those brands and I was able to order a selection of the brewer’s fine ales.

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The Bengali Tiger IPA is one of Sixpoint’s core brews. It comes in a can, but not a dainty Coke sized can but a big 473 ml pint can. Holding the Bengali Tiger reminded me of being in France and going down to the corner store to buy street beers with my brother. Every beer there came in the same style can and for a Euro or two you got a whole lot of beer. In Australia, despite being a mighty beer swilling nation, the pint can has never really taken off for some reason, which is a shame.

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Looking across the Sixpoint line there is a degree of uniformity I like. The design of each can is essentially the same, except each beer has it’s own colour scheme and logo. It’s a very clean and effective design style. On each can the name of the beer and the brewer name are bold and really stand out so you can see easily on the shelf what it is you’re looking at and who it is by. The Bengali Tiger, as expected, utilises bright orange on its can and has a little tiger logo that is all symmetry and simplicity. It is a design that really works and shows how important organisation is in design and how effective repetition can be.

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Opening up the Bengali Tiger you get a strong hit of citrus. Pouring it out, the beer is quite a hazy orange colour that generated only a bit of head. It had quite a hoppy bitterness to it and it felt very thick in the mouth, I guess from the relatively high alcohol volume of 6.4% and the high level of hops and malt. In the after taste I definitely got some of the pine and general citrusy feel with a bit of an almost numbing sensation in the aftertaste, probably from the pine. Looking into the beer a bit more I can now better understand why the beer cocktail I made with it tasted the way it did (more on that later in the week).


For my first Sixpoint beer the Bengali Tiger IPA was encouraging. It looked good and tasted pretty good too, I definitely enjoyed the citrus/pine mix, and with it’s presence expanding in Australia it could be the next Brooklyn based brewer to follow in the footsteps of Brooklyn Brewery and come to capture the attention of Australian beer drinkers. It certainly cuts an impressive figure that should help it stand out on the shelves.


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On The Shelf- East 9th’s Fog City Red Sangria

Standing at the bar of local establishment The Colonist the girl asked me what I wanted to drink. Scanning the fridges that lined the wall I was struck by the image of a girl, draped in a white sheet with her hand entwined with that of a tentacle of unknown origin against a dark red/maroon background. I didn’t even know what it was, but I just pointed at it and said to the girl “That one.” In response the girl said something about how it was new and she hadn’t tried it yet, but I was just captivated by the image on the bottle. It turns out I’d ordered a bottle of Red Sangria and was to be treated to a drink as delicious as it was beautiful.

fog city

The Fog City Red Sangria is made by Australian brewer East 9th. They operate under the ethos of the free movement from San Francisco, popping up across Melbourne to let lucky customers sample their latest offerings. The Red Sangria is “made from the ripest of red wine grapes and blended with natural citrus fruit flavours”. Pouring it into the glass it had an amazingly dark and deep red colour.

fog city 2

My previous experience with sangria was limited to a homemade variety at a friends party. The balance was terrible and drinking it was a courtesy to the host all the while my liver and taste buds were screaming at me to stop. As a result I approached this bottle of Fog City with some caution, but it was completely unnecessary. At first the drink was very dry, but after letting it sit on my tongue I was treated to a sweet, fruity flavour that was very nice and quite refreshing. After that first mouthful the rest of the very large bottle was gone rather quickly.


Even today, after having the bottle for sometime, the gaze of the girl still captures my attention as she sits on my shelf. Who is she? What is she doing? I want to know more about this person and she’s just a drawing on a sangria bottle! I think that’s when you know you’ve crafted a truly remarkable label for a truly remarkable drink. On The Shelf it goes!


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