Now Serving – Apricot and Date Infused Gin Old Fashioned

By The Gentleman

Apricot and Date Infused Gin

Randomly we were given a huge bagof apricots from a neighbour’s apricot tree. As it was just before Christmas, everything was too stressful to think of anything major we could do with them, like a pie or something. So instead we did the only logical thing. Grabbed some Gordon’s Gin that had been hanging around for a while, chucked it into a mason jar and filled that bad boy up with apricots and dates. That way we didn’t have to think too much about what to do with them and would hopefully have something tasty for little work. After the craziness of Christmas ended we decided to test the fruits of our labour, whipping up a classic Old Fashioned style cocktail that got a big kick of flavour from the infused gin.

 

Apricot and Date Infused Gin Old Fashioned

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp water

2 dashes Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters

60ml Apricot and Date Infused Gin

Date to garnish

1 large ice cube

 

In an old fashioned glass muddle the brown sugar with the water until you can’t hear it crunching. Add your two dashes of bitters and the large ice cube. Pour over your apricot and date infused gin and then stir to combine. Garnish with a date cut into strips.

Apricot and Date Infused Gin

For the apricot and date infused gin start off with 1 cup of gin, 5 apricots quartered and 3 dates chopped. We opted for fresh apricots but we have heard dried apricots also give off a good, albeit different flavour. After a few hours we added 2 more apricots and 2 more dates and then the next morning we added another apricot and 2 more dates. Leave it for at least 2 days. It was hard at first to gauge how much flavour was being imparted as even after almost 2 days it still smelled a lot like gin, but once we strained it and it had rested for a few days the date flavour really came forward. Make sure you strain it well because the dates will produce a fair bit of sediment.

Apricot and Date Infused Gin

We chose something relatively straightforward because we really just wanted to see how the apricot and date infused gin was. We are pleased to report that it turned out quite well. The dates given the gin a sweet, caramel flavour that has a fruit aftertaste from the apricots. We were worried the dates may have overpowered the apricots, but they didn’t. They provide a nice balance to the dates and stopped it from being too sweet. What was quite interesting was the almost syrupy consistency the gin developed. The infusion really stripped everything out of the dates and started to take the juices out of the apricots, giving it quite a thick mouthfeel. It was quite delicious and there was no real hint of alcohol or the original Gordon’s Gin. It was very smooth and easy to drink with just a touch of spicy chocolate from the bitters.

Apricot and Date Infused Gin

We’re not sure what else we will pair this with because it has a whole lot of flavour on it’s own, but we would be more than happy to just see the bottle out drinking infused Old Fashioneds because they tasted mighty fine.

 

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Now Serving – Sir Mörkalot’s Naughty Hot Chocolate

By The Gentleman

Hot Chocolate

After what felt like one of the coldest and wettest winters down under we are finally on our way to Spring. Just to spite everyone though, the weather has decided to remind us that it can still be damn cold and wet in September. While it may be rather miserable outside, The Lady and I realised it’s also the perfect opportunity to indulge in some boozy hot chocolate to celebrate the last of the wintery weather. We also really wanted to make something a little naughty with our recently acquired Mörk hot chocolate powder. So, without further ado we present to you Sir Mörkalot’s Naughty Hot Chocolate (I have no idea why it is called this, but The Lady was rather adamant this would be the name).

 

Sir Mörkalot’s Naughty Hot Chocolate

Naughty Whipped Cream

300ml Thickened Cream
1 teaspoon Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters
1 teaspoon Mörk Dark Chocolate and River Salt Cacao Powder

 

Make your cream first. In a jug beat your cream with an electric mixer. When it is almost whipped, add your chocolate bitters and cacao powder. Give it another quick whip so everything is mixed together. Put in the fridge until you’re ready. You’ll have some left over for more delicious treats the next day. You can now start making your ho cho!

Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate

2 tbs Mörk 65% Dark Chocolate and River Salt Powder

200 ml milk

1/2 tbs maple syrup

1/4 tbs brown sugar

Pinch of salt

60 ml Bulleit Bourbon

Marshmallows

Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters

 

In a small saucepan over a medium heat whisk together your chocolate powder, maple syrup, brown sugar, pinch of salt and 50ml of milk. When it becomes smooth and oh so velvety, add the rest of your milk. Whisk again and leave for about 4-5 minutes to heat through. The hot chocolate isn’t going to get scalding hot and nor do you want it to be. After your hot chocolate mix heats up add your bourbon. You only want to leave it on the heat for about a minute so everything gets nice and warm but the alcohol doesn’t cook out of the bourbon. Grab a mug and drizzle a few drops of chocolate bitters in the glass. Pour in your hot chocolate then top it with a good dollop of whipped cream. Top it off with a marshmallow that has been rolled in chocolate bitters. Marvel at your chocolatey creation and enjoy immediately!

Hot Chocolate

Sir Mörkalot’s Naughty Hot Chocolate has a whole lot flavour going on. The Lady and I have already indulged in quite a few Mörk hot chocolates on their own and they have a lovely rich chocolatey flavour. It’s not overly sweet or sickly compared to some other powders. This is perfect for this boozy hot chocolate as it means the brown sugar and maple syrup aren’t going to send you into some kind of sugar induced coma. Mörk’s gorgeous, deep dark chocolate flavour also means it can stand up to the two shots of bourbon. The Lady isn’t a fan of solo dark spirits and reckons some people may want to dial the booze back a bit as it can be quite strong but I found it to be a suitable amount. Sure, the first sip was a bit potent but for the majority of the drink it was a delightful blend of chocolate and bourbon with the bourbon giving the drink a subtle spiciness and warmth. The extra chocolatey whipped cream just heightens the chocolate and spicy flavours. We are definitely a fan of adding chocolate bitters to whipped cream and it gives an added creaminess and richness to the drink without diluting the chocolatey goodness. Seriously, this is definitely a chocolate lovers drink as it’s chocolate on chocolate. The marshmallow is a nice little presentation touch and the whole drink has a real dessert feel to it. Something indulgent and special to cap off a cold night out or a snuggled night in.

Hot Chocolate

Sir Mörkalot’s Naughty Hot Chocolate is our way of sending off winter and the last of the cold weather in boozy style. Spring is upon us and that means fresh, fruity and refreshing cocktails are the go but goddamn we’re going to miss the indulgent mug of chocolatey goodness that is the Sir Mörkalot’s Naughty Hot Chocolate. Till next time winter.

 

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Now Serving – Mr Black’s Invigorating Tonics

By The Gentleman

 

Because we’re such nice people and because you, our adoring audience, deserve it The Lady and I are bringing you not one but TWO drinks today. I know, I know we’re pretty awesome and modest people. We were just so impressed with Mr Black’s Coffee Liqueur that we had to share with you two tasty experiments.

Mr Black

Mr Black, located in Erina, New South Wales, started the recent trend in crowd funding Australian spirits on local site Pozible. They were successful and were able to bring their cold-drip coffee liqueur to the masses, which is great for us because it’s delicious. The guys at Mr Black went through over 340 iterations to find the right balance of coffee flavour that wasn’t too sweet and loaded with overbearing vanilla and caramel flavours. Mr Black comes in what at first looks like a rather nice but plain bottle. It’s very nicely shaped and the double walling of the glass shows off the deep blackish/brown of the liqueur. The real treat though, and what makes Mr Black stand out, is the artwork by Dale Bigeni. Not only is the artwork very cool, a rather dapper and impressive looking owl, but the way the art is integrated into the design of the bottle is also very impressive. The owl is done in black line-work on the inside of the back of the bottle. As you progress through the bottle the owl is slowly revealed. It’s just a very cool and different way to design a bottle that we are definitely a fan of. Plus it encourages you to get through the bottle quicker to reveal the artwork, so well played their Mr Black.

Mr Black

Mr Black have a bunch of classic cocktails that have been given the coffee treatment listed on their site. They all looked and sounded great yet we noticed something was missing, a Mr Black take on the classic tonic based libations. With some quality tonic in tow and a bit of imagination we rectified that and we think our Invigorating Tonic’s are up to the high standards of Mr Black.

Mr Black

Mr Black’s Invigorating Tonic #1

45ml Mr Black Coffee Liqueur

2 dashes Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters

Fever Tree Tonic Water

3 Coffee Ice Cubes

Lemon twist

Coffee grounds

Mr Black

To make the coffee ice cubes brew your coffee as usual then freeze. Put the ice cubes in the glass, add a dash of bitters and top with tonic water. Add the Mr Black, lemon twist, second dash of bitters and coffee grounds.

Mr Black

The first tonic was super decadent. Combining the coffee liqueur with the coffee ice cubes gives it a deep, rich coffee colour, aroma and, most importantly, flavour. The two coffee flavours combine as the ice cubes melt rather quickly and together they are very strong and tasty, but not too overpowering as the lemon twist gives it just enough tart sweetness to make it very drinkable. The tonic also doesn’t impart too much flavour to make the drink overly bitter. It’s also quite a fun drink as the tonic water generates a lot of froth and foam when its added to the coffee ice cubes and bitters. A small amount of this foam remains when you’re drinking the drink, which makes it very reminiscent of an espresso coffee.  The richness of the drink, and I assume the foam, also contribute to a very thick, but nice mouthfeel. Even though it’s a cold drink it feels more suited to a winter’s day, something to finish your evening with. The second tonic, on the other hand, is very much the reverse but equally as good.

Mr Black

Mr Black’s Invigorating Tonic #2

45ml Mr Black Coffee Liqueur

2 dashes  Bittermen’s Hellfire Habanero Shrub

Fentiman’s Tonic Water

Ice cubes

Lemon slice

Coffee grounds

Mr Black

Put the ice cubes in the glass. Add one dash of the shrub and top with tonic water. Add the Mr Black, lemon slice, second dash of shrub and coffee grounds.

Mr Black

The first tonic may have been a decadent winter drink, but the second tonic is a much fresher and brighter drink that’s definitely suited to a hot summer’s day. It’s lighter in colour and the tonic didn’t generate that intense foam, which gives it a lot lighter feel on your tongue. The coffee flavour, which dominated the first tonic, becomes more of the background flavour as the lemon and shrub come to the front as the initial flavours. The habanero shrub gives the drink this really nice spicy heat. People might think it’s weird to add chilli heat to coffee, but man does it work here. It just gives the drink that something different that’s a little bit special. The lemon again provides the sweetness and the coffee, mixed with the more herbal Fentiman’s tonic, gives the drink a slight herbal bitterness to finish. You really get a multitude of different flavours here, going from spicy, to sweet, to a pleasant bitter end which leaves you feeling mighty refreshed.

Mr Black 9

Mr Black’s Invigorating Tonic #1

Mr Black 3

Mr Black’s Invigorating Tonic #2

Normally The Lady and I like to keep our tonic with our gin. We really love a good gin and tonic. That being said, a Mr Black and tonic is damn fine thing. These are just two experiments with this tasty coffee liqueur that show off the wide variety of applications for this very nice liqueur and we can see many more delicious variations in the future.

 

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Boozefood – Red Wine Chocolate Cake

By The Gentleman

Last weekend The Lady went on a trip to Melbourne to visit a friend of ours. Her weekend was filled with cake, coffee, and cocktails. All the essentials in life. Upon returning, I was fearful that she may be in cocktail/coffee/cake withdrawal so I baked her a welcome home present. May I present to you – The Red Wine Chocolate Cake!

Wine Cake

Props go to the very talented people at Smitten Kitchen for providing the inspiration for this recipe, which I made a little extra boozy and indulgent because that’s what we do at The Cocktail Challenge.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (145 grams) firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) white granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
3/4 cup + a good splash extra, I used Innocent Bystander Syrah
2 teaspoon Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters
1 cup + 1 tablespoon (133 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Wine Cake

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Grease and line a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment. This is a one bowl recipe so grab a large bowl and on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy. Add the egg and yolk and beat well with the electric mixer, then add the red wine and the chocolate bitters. The batter takes on a lovely purple colour at this stage and may look a little uneven, but that’s alright. Next you’re going to sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together, right over your wet ingredients. On a low setting mix the mixture until it is 3/4 combined, then grab a spatula and fold the rest together. At this stage I tasted it and decided to add a splash of extra wine. The mixture isn’t too wet so it can take the extra liquid.  Transfer the batter to your prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. The top of the cake should be shiny and smooth when it’s done. Cool in the pan on a rack for about 10 minutes, then flip out of pan and cool the rest of the way on a cooling rack.

Wine Cake

Chocolate Cream

300ml Thickened Cream
1 teaspoon Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters
1 teaspoon Mörk Dark Chocolate and River Salt Cacao Powder

Whip your cream. I showed off and did it in a mason jar. No going to the gym for me. Once your cream is pretty whipped, add in the bitters and cacao powder, and whip a little bit more to incorporate. You could maybe add a little bit more of either, but I think the cream was delicious as it was. It had a fantastic flavour, which wasn’t too sweet so it paired well with the cake and didn’t make things too intense. The bitters give it a spice flavour that has a bit of a kick and the cacao powder provides that chocolate flavour, but with the bitterness again making it very tasty without being sickly. You can definitely dollop a big spoonful of this cream on your cake and not worry too much (well maybe you should worry about your waistline, but ain’t nobody got time for that when cream and cake are around). The leftover cream is also amazing added to a Mörk hot chocolate or to flavour your coffee.

Wine Cake

The cake doesn’t really rise and it ends up being a low cake, which feels very much like a dessert cake. Really you can eat cake anytime, and you should, but some cakes just gravitate towards a certain time of day. The mix of wine and bitters also lend it to being an after dinner cake, a fine way to finish off an enjoyable evening. Adding the bitters was a last minute but rather amazing move. We had run out of vanilla essence and I was going to add some brandy or the like instead but then I remembered the bitters I had got from a friend. Chocolate bitters for a chocolate cake, perfect. The bitters just enhanced the flavour and smell so much. Instead of just being chocolate there was a depth to the aroma, a whole host of spices coming out to play. That depth carried over to the flavour, which was so nice. A wonderful blend of spices and chocolate that wasn’t too sweet and really invited you to eat more. In the Smitten Kitchen article they said the wine doesn’t completely cook out. I couldn’t taste booze per se, but some of the fruity flavour of the red wine was there. The red wine also helped make the cake very moist, and deliciously dense. Next time I’d like to really use my Mörk cacao powder in the cake as well. They may scold me for not using it for hot chocolate, which is devine by the way, but the Mörk powder has such a wonderfully deep, dark, and bitter flavour that I think would really add to this already amazing cake.

Wine Cake Wine Cake

Slathered with the chocolate cream this is one fine dessert that is perfect for impressing that special someone. The Lady was certainly happy to see it on the counter when she got home and for a moment she forgot all about her wonderful time in Melbourne and was glad to be home. Good cake will do that to you.

Wine Cake

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