Out & About – The Collins Bar

By the Lady

Collins Bar

A few weeks back, y’all will all be aware that I made the Espresso Beer Cake for The Gentleman’s birthday. In addition to having his cake and eating it too, we went out for a few drinks with some friends to a dapper local that is The Collins Bar.

The Beautiful Bar and Communal Table at Collins Bar. Image from Collins Bar Facebook Page

Collins Bar is a lovely little bar attached to the Hilton Hotel in Adelaide’s CBD. I love the design of the bar with the mood lighting, gorgeous furniture and the large windows, which are often opened up to a view of Victoria Square – perfect for people watching. In fact, Collins Bar has won a design award for its dapper, 1960’s style design. I instantly feel classier when stepping into Collins Bar, which I think is a rare task for a bar to achieve! We have been there many times before and love what they do, so we thought a birthday is the perfect opportunity to share their fine drinks with our friends while we were hitting the town!

 

The Collins Bar has a large selection of spirits to suit any taste. Image from Collins Bar Facebook

I’ll be honest, we ordered quite a few drinks. We loved everything they served up, but here are a few we thought were especially damn fine … (apologies for the photos, moody bar lighting and phone cameras are not the best mix)

 

Honolulu

From the menu – “gin + pineapple + orange juice + lemon juice + dash angostura bitters = served straight up in a coupet”

This deliciously made classic cocktail made us want to wear a grass skirt and get lei-ed! So fruity and refreshing it’ll make you feel like you’re on holiday.

Honolulu (L)

Honolulu (L) and Granny Smiths Cider Apple Sour (R)

 

Granny Smiths Cider Apple Sour

From the menu – “sous vide apple infused belvedere vodka + fresh pressed citrus + bitters +homemade cider + apple cider ice sphere + baked apple crisp garnish = a unique cider inspired take on the classic sour”

This drink has a FROZEN BALL OF CIDER! For real. You know you need this in your life. It has so many layers of apple flavour you’ll think you’ve gotten lost in an orchard.

Honolulu and Granny Smiths Cider Apple Sour

Honolulu (L) and Granny Smiths Cider Apple Sour (R)

 

Cloverclub

From the menu – “old tom gin + freshly pressed raspberries + lemon juice + sugar syrup + a hint of egg white = served straight up”

This one is already a favourite of mine, however The Gentleman had not ever tried it before that night. Clearly, he had not yet lived. Cloverclub is just so damn delicious. I am a fan of anything with gin, but this one just makes my gin-love grow even more. A fresh pop of raspberry goodness and a damn fine example of what egg white can bring to a cocktail.

Clover Club Clover Club

In addition to our delicious cocktails, we were also given free popcorn. Somebody making me feel classy, providing me with liquor AND free snacks … a dream come true. To quote Humphrey Bogart, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Collins Bar Popcorn

 

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Now Serving – Vodka Gimlet

By The Lady

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We here at Cocktail Challenge are big fans of Mad Men, so naturally when the premier of season seven was aired a few weeks ago, we got a tad excited. So excited that we decided to incorporate this into our cocktail making. Via the Mad Med website, we found a list of delightful sounding cocktails we thought we must share with you. We decided to start our Mad Men cocktail making adventure with the Vodka Gimlet.

McHenry Puer Vodka

We decided to use another tasty local liquor – McHenry Puer Distilled Premium Vodka, of William McHenry & Sons Distillery. I was given a gift box with three of their spirits including the Puer Vodka, a Classic Dry Gin and an Old English Sloe Gin. As a side note, I cannot wait to get my hands on another bottle of the Sloe Gin. I whipped through it rather quickly and am now in withdrawal. This gift box was a great present as it gave me an opportunity to sample a variety of Tasmania’s fine vodka and gin goodies.

McHenry Puer Vodka1

For our Vodka Gimlet, we used :

45mL McHenry Puer Triple Distilled Premium Vodka

30mL lime juice

2 slices of lime

Ice

Shake together vodka, lime juice with ice in your cocktail shaker.  Strain contents into glass and add lime slices. Add extra ice as desired.

Vodka Gimlet 1

The resulting drink turned out to be a very pretty colour with a lovely citrus scent. There is definitely a reason why this drink is a classic. It shows that by carefully considering the pairing of flavours, a drink can quickly become an old time favourite. The drink was rather powerful, particularly with an especially dominant but refreshing lime flavour.  However, it is important to remember that back in the 1960’s days of Mad Men, many people would have smoked. Given this, the flavours in food and drinks needed to be rather intense for it to be noticed. The levels of lime may be to extreme for a modern palette, but the Vodka Gimlet sure is a drink of its time. I would suggest to maybe tone down the lime juice if you plan on making this yourself, unless of course you love limes or if you smoke like Don Draper. Overall, the drink was very refreshing and pleasant and some might say it was as tart as Betty Draper.

 

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Now Serving – Yarratini

By The Lady

 

While it is true that James Bond gets many things right, I always wonder why he opts for the “vodka martini – shaken, not stirred”.

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(L) Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin (R) Causes & Cures Semi Dry White Vermouth

 

After recently adding to our On The Shelf collection some lovely Yarra Valley goods, I thought The Gentleman and I should give this old classic a go. Having been very delighted after trying both Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin and Causes & Cures Semi Dry White Vermouth, as well as the fact that they are neighbours, it seemed only natural to create a modern Australian twist on an old fashioned favourite. We named it : The Yarratini – shaken, not stirred.

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We used :

40mL Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin

10mL Causes & Cures Semi Dry White Vermouth

Lemon twist

Ice (for the shaker)

 

Add all the ingredients to your cocktail shaker. Shake like crazy. Pour into your fancy martini glasses. Use a strainer to ensure only the liquor (not ice cubes) end up in your glass. Garnish with a lemon twist (I need to work on my garnish cutting skills … )

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The first time I ever had a martini was about a week after I turned eighteen. Thinking I would attempt being all suave and sophisticated, I ordered said drink. All I remember of that night was that it was a very strong and boozy drink.  Luckily for us, our Yarratini was a much more smooth and refined version of the cheap impostor I sampled back in the day. Yes, it certainly was a strong drink (it does have 50mL of alcohol after all!) but it was the sophisticated drink I had hoped and dreamed for many years ago. Given that the Four Pillars Gin is made using whole oranges and the Causes & Cures Vermouth suggests the pairing with oranges,  I was definitely able to taste the orange flavour coming through. This delightful orange tone was a pleasant and unexpected surprise, which made me want to try it in the future with some sort of orange addition to further enhance the flavour. It may be the liquor talking, but I also thought I could taste a rose flavour coming through. I personally LOVE anything rose flavoured, so again, this has inspired me to partake in some rose-flavoured cocktail making!

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The Yarratini was a very tasty and grown-up cocktail although I wouldn’t drink too many in one sitting for fear of my oh so dignified self becoming not so dignified! Moderation is the key! Yay for the power of our Yarra Valley friends at Four Pillars and Causes & Cures to get you smashed in a stylish and quasi modern Australian James Bond style!

 

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On The Shelf- Acme California Pale Ale by North Coast Brewing

So after running the On The Shelf section of the blog for a little while now you’re probably starting to notice a trend, girls. I like hand-drawn pin-up style girls. I have a Bill Ward and Gil Elvgren book as well as a set of original Vargas girl playing cards. For the most part they are tastefully done, classic images of a different age. It’s just a style I’m a fan of, so whenever I see a bottle that uses that style of label I’m going to buy it or someone is going to buy it for me which was the case with North Coast Brewing’s Acme California Pale Ale.

acme1

For starters it was a really nice beer. It has won a bunch of awards at beer events, if that means anything to you when selecting a brew. The site describes it as easy-drinking and clean-tasting beer and that is certainly true. Normally that is the sort of hyperbole I don’t buy into with beer, but it was surprisingly so with the Acme California Pale Ale. I also find few beers refreshing, but the Acme was. In fact, I think I’m fast discovering that Pale Ale’s are my favorite sort of beer. The beer had a great color and it wasn’t too heavy to drink, particularly as I had with a meal.

The Acme label itself, according to the North Coast website, is one of the oldest with a heritage dating back to the 1860s in San Francisco. It’s cool to see a label acknowledging the history in that way. There are actually two beers being made under the Acme brand at North Coast, the California Pale Ale and the California India Pale Ale.

Down to the label. The focus is the Acme girl. Classic marketing girls get me every time. There’s also a great reason to use it given the heritage nature of the Acme label. She’s got a great smile and I love the way her hair flies out as she’s swinging through the air. It’s quite an odd picture when you think about it, why is she swinging on a rope drinking a beer? Then I think to myself, why haven’t I swung on MORE ropes while drinking a beer?

acme

I like the way she swings and drinks so easily, and in one of those weird marketing ways it signifies how easy the Acme California Pale Ale is to drink. It goes down so well you could drink it while swinging on a rope.

This is a seriously good package. Not only is the label eye-catching and well designed, particularly given the heritage nature of the label, but what’s inside the bottle is just as good.

acme2

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Out & About – Lotus Lounge

The second stop on my recent cocktail adventures in Adelaide was the Lotus Lounge. It is one of those places, everyone has one in their home town, that everyone else has been to and said about how cool and great it is and despite your best intentions every time you try to go there it just doesn’t happen. Well, I finally managed to tick the Lotus Lounge off that list and see what the fuss is all about.

Situated on Morphett St, just around the corner from the bustling food district of Gouger St, the Lotus Lounge prides itself on its cocktails. Their little motto is ‘Do come round for cocktails’ so that, coupled with the hype that had built from everyone telling me about it, had me pretty excited. We got there early as my partner, who is a Lotus Lounge veteran, said it can get quite busy and given there focus on making good cocktails there is the potential for things to go a little slow. We probably got there at the perfect time, the bar was relatively quite so we could sit down, order our drinks, and get them quite promptly. The space itself is relatively small, but not too cosy that you can hardly move. There is also an outdoor section, which I didn’t look at this time. Its very dark and there were lots of comfy looking chairs and couches scattered around the place.  All in all a pretty cool looking place and while there was a DJ the volume wasn’t so loud that you couldn’t have a conversation with the person next to you.

Perusing the cocktail list gave you the sense that Lotus was trying its best to honor its motto. It is quite extensive with the classics mixed in with house specials and there was a focus on martinis, champagne cocktails, stick drinks, and long drinks as well. I opted for the Las Vegas and my partner couldn’t decide so I chose the Raspberry Mojito because I thought that sounded interesting.

(L) Raspberry Mojito. (R) Las vegas

(L) Raspberry Mojito. (R) Las vegas

The Las Vegas came under the ‘stick drink’ category meaning it had a lot of muddling going on. The drink used fresh lime & kiwi fruit, raw sugar, Absolut Citron, and Midori.The drink had a great color from all the use of green fruits and drink and had big chunks of fruit in it.

It was the kiwi fruit that really interested me with this drink. The kiwi added to the overall sharpness of the drink. Its interesting that kiwis, depending on the variety, can have either a sweet or sour flavor. I think this one erred more on the side of sour, but it wasn’t as sour as the Toffee Apple. As the drink was only muddled with the kiwi and lime the Absolut Citron and Midori gave the drink quite a kick. They weren’t so overpowering that it was undrinkable, it was just the right balance.

vegas

The Raspberry Mojito was my choice also, but I’m glad I didn’t have to drink it all. It used fresh lime, raspberries & mint, grenadine, white sugar, and Havana Club Anejo white rum. There was just something about it that I didn’t like. The raspberry didn’t have quite the freshness and fruity flavor I was hoping for. My partner enjoyed the drink more than I did, but also hoped for more raspberry in the drink. She was happy that it didn’t have a syrup taste, this would be from the use of fresh raspberries as opposed to a raspberry syrup I imagine. The drink was also packed with mint which made it quite refreshing.

 

The Las Vegas was a good choice, but the Raspberry Mojito didn’t quite meet my expectations.

 

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Out & About – Bay Breeze & Peaches and Rose @ Gallery on Waymouth

So continuing on from my last post, we didn’t stop at one drink at Gallery on Waymouth. The Bay Breeze caught my eye while my partner opted for the Peaches and Rose.

(L) Bay Breeze. (R) Peaches and Rose

(L) Bay Breeze. (R) Peaches and Rose

The Bay Breeze was a fruity combination of vanilla vodka, Malibu, pineapple juice, cranberry juice and fresh lime that came complete with a pretty little pineapple garnish that made the waitress assume it was for my partner. The Malibu was definitely the dominant flavor, with the drink having a distinct coconut taste. While the coconut was dominant it wasn’t too over the top, you still got a hint of the other fruit flavors making it a very refreshing drink. I did get a little overzealous and try to drink it a bit too quick, mainly to fend off my partner trying to steal it, and noticed that beneath the fruity coconut flavor there was still a strong alcohol hit to be found.

Fruity Top

Fruity Top

The Peaches and Rose cocktail was not my thing at all. Looking at the ingredients, peach vodka, Chambord liqueur topped with lemonade and fresh lime, it sounded nice but there was just something about it that didn’t work for me. I think it may have been the use of lemonade instead of say a tonic or soda water. The sweet fizz didn’t do it for me and the peach flavor wasn’t that strong. At first it was also very syrupy and required a lot of mixing through to get the syrupy flavor to blend with the rest of the drink. I was glad my partner ordered it and not me!

rose1

So another hit on my end with the Bay Breeze but the Peaches and Rose was a miss. Finally, after quite a good run of good cocktails, I’ve found something that wasn’t to my liking.

 

Finished Bay Breeze

Finished Bay Breeze

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Out & About – Amigo’s Tequila and Tapas Bar

The third bar I visited on my Melbourne soiree was Amigo’s Tequila and Tapas Bar on Hardware Lane. Hardware Lane is full of places to eat and drink, it can almost be a bit overwhelming trying to figure out where you want to go and its also home to a pet peeve of mine, spruikers. I fucking hate spruikers. If a spruiker is outside of a restaurant and tries to talk to me and get me to come inside then I’m moving on. I understand that restaurants need to do it in certain areas, but I didn’t grow up with it and I’m just not a fan. A previous visit to Hardware Lane, during the busier dinner period, was spruiker central but luckily it was only late afternoon so there was a very cruisy vibe to the laneway and no pressure to decide where you wanted to go.

We mainly decided to go to Amigo’s because we were a bit peckish and felt like some tapas would be the right meal to tie us over till dinner. It also helped that the bar had a pretty extensive cocktail menu that featured not only old favorites, but also a host of twists on classics and a few new (to me at least) concoctions.

We decided to sit outside as the weather was reasonably nice. It was a little difficult getting in the table as the chairs were all rather close, trying to do it when a lot of people are there could be interesting. Hardware Lane is a nice lane with all its old brick buildings and brick road.

Picking out something from the menu was almost impossible as there were so many choices. I eventually settled on a variation of a favorite of mine, a Mexican Mule, and my partner chose the boozy, appropriately named Smashed Fairy.

(L) Smashed Fairy. (R) Mexican Mule

(L) Smashed Fairy. (R) Mexican Mule

The traditional Moscow Mule has quickly developed into one of my favorite drinks. I’ll often make a variation of it at home because that’s how I role. What intrigued me about Amigo’s take on it was the use of tequila (el Jimador to be precise), agave nectar and Tuaca instead of vodka. The drink came loaded with ice, lime and wedges of fresh ginger in the glass. The use of ginger wedges in the drink was a great touch. I think Hells honey and ginger infused vodka may have benefited from a wedge or two of fresh ginger in the glass to enhance the flavor. I wondered whether the use of tequila may have been too strong for the drink but it all worked very well together with the Tuaca probably helped to take away some of the tequila’s generally powerful alcohol flavor. The wedges of ginger meant the drink had a really good spicy kick to it and I think its something I’m going to adopt myself.

 

The Smashed Fairy was a combination of gin and La Fèe NV Absinth that was shaken with fresh muddled lime, coriander and ginger then finished with pineapple juice and ice in a tall glass. Even with the pineapple juice, lime, coriander and ginger the licorice taste of the absinth was still prominent throughout the drink. My partner found the prominence of the absinth quite nice, they are an absinth fan, and for me the use of the La Fèe NV Absinth was good because it has a lower alcohol content than most absinths. Anything stronger probably would have pleased my partner, but may have been too strong for me.

 

There were other drinks on the menu that sounded quite appealing including the Gin & Sangria Sling and Rosy Mamasita that may need to be sampled on a future visit.

 

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Now Serving – Tuaca Spider Cocktail

I know I keep deviating from the drinks from the Ultimate Bar Book, but I had this bottle of Tuaca I felt I should use and the book doesn’t have many Tuaca recipes.

I’d been thinking about what sort of drink I could make that was effectively a spider after seeing there are a few cocktails based on The Avengers and thought the obvious choice for a Spiderman drink was to make a spider. Trying to think what spirits would go well with both ice-cream and a soda, and what soda, was difficult until I came across the Tuaca Float on the Tuaca website. A float is the same thing as a spider in my book so it was a done deal.

tuspider 2

2 ounces Tuaca

4 ounces Sarsaparilla ( I used Bundaberg Sarsaparilla)

Mint Leaves

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Ice

1-2 scoops Vanilla Ice-cream

I added the mint leaves and sugar to the recipe. I thought the mint would go well with both the vanilla from the Tuaca and ice-cream and the licorice from the Sarsaparilla. I just did a light muddle with the sugar in the glass until I could smell the mint. Conveniently I had an old promotional spider glass to make the drink in. After muddling the mint leaves add the Tuaca, ice cubes, top with Sarsaparilla and stir. Once stirred add the scoops of ice-cream and drink!

tuspider1

I think the mint leaves add a little something extra to the flavor. Its very subtle but it gives it a little bit of freshness and compliments the vanilla nicely. The combination works quite well overall and it is the sort of drink where the flavor progresses overtime. At first the Sarsaparilla and its licorice tones are the dominant flavor and then as you drink more and more the vanilla takes over and the last few mouthfuls are very creamy and in this case minty.

 

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Now Serving – Gin Fizz Cocktail

The Gin Fizz, also known as an Alabama Fizz, is a super simple yet very enjoyable cocktail. As the name suggests it is another gin based cocktail. I’m not even really a gin person, but it just seems that gin is everywhere around me at the moment telling me to drink it. And I’m okay with that.

The Gin Fizz also has the honor of being our first official drink from the Ultimate Bar Book. The book lists multiple variations to the drink, such is its position as a classic, but I opted for a fairly standard version.
Gin Fizz equipo
1 1/2 ounce gin (I used South Gin)
3/4 ounce lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
Ice
Lemonade

Combine the gin, lemon juice and sugar in a shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into a hi-ball glass with ice. Top with lemonade.

Traditionally, a Gin Fizz uses soda water but I didn’t have any so I improvised with lemonade. I’ll need to compare the two as I suspect the lemonade may make it a little sweeter than it normally would. I also used slightly less gin and lemon juice than the book’s recipe, but feel free to bump it up to 2 ounce of gin if you’re a big gin drinker.
Gin Fizz
Either way the drink is still great. It is very refreshing and if you like a bit of tang (side note: how great a word is tangy…tangy, tangy, tangy) to your beverage then this is the drink for you. It allows you to do that sour face lip smack as your tongue gets stuck to the roof of your mouth after every mouthful, amazing.

 

I’d be curious to try replacing the lemon with lime to see whether the flavour changes all that much or if its still just a glass full of tangy goodness.

 

Be warned though, it goes down very well making it a dangerous drink especially if you up it to 2 ounces of gin…1 Fizz, 2 Fizz, 3 Fizz, floor?

 

Anyway, its one drink down and 999+ to go!

 

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Now Serving – Bee’s Knees Cocktail

Okay so the first cocktail is an unofficial entry. It doesn’t appear in the Ultimate Bar Book, but I came across it whilst flicking through other books in the drinks section of my local bookstore. It was also the drink that spurred the idea, once I’d finished it, so there aren’t any pictures for this one.

A Bee’s Knees, apart from having an awesome name, is a gin-based cocktail that  dates back to Prohibition times. The drink combines gin with lemon and honey, apparently the original idea was to mask the flavor of bathtub gin through the use of these flavors.

1 1/2 ounces gin (I used London Dry No.3 Gin)

3/4 ounce lemon juice

1/2 ounce honey syrup

no-3-london-dry-gin

Combine the gin, lemon juice and honey syrup in a shaker (with strainer) with ice. Shake vigorously and pour into chilled cocktail glass.

My first attempt at a Bee’s Knees is not actually the recipe listed here. I used 2 ounces of gin and only half an ounce each of lemon juice and honey straight from the bottle. The resulting mixture was like a swift kick to the guts. Holy crap it had some kick. The lemon didn’t hang around long enough to mask the fact that there was a lot of gin and the honey just solidified due to the ice and didn’t really influence the drink at all. Needless to say, powering through it left me feeling mighty buzzed.

I did randomly find that taking a bite of dark chocolate beforehand, and having that chocolate bitterness left over, made for a pretty kickass flavor combination. Regardless of strength the Bee’s Knees was going down quickly after that. Lesson learned is chocolate makes everything better.

The second attempt is the one listed here and it was a much better mix. The sweetness of the honey actually worked surprisingly well. I’d never had a cocktail with honey in it before, but I’d be open to using it more often after this. Overall it ends up being a very smooth drink with some nice flavors that is very easy to make and is something that I would have again, many, many times.

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