Now Serving – Tangy Tatiana

By The Gentleman

Tangy Tatiana

Hey there readers, after the success of our Ballsy Berry you didn’t think we’d stop at just one crazy concoction with balsamic syrup did you. That would just be crazy talk. No we went there again and were just as happy with the Tangy Tatiana.

Tangy Tatiana

Tangy Tatiana

45ml Four Pillars Gunpowder Gin

15ml Balsamic Syrup

2 Blood Orange Bitters Sugar Cubes

4 Mint Leaves + 3 for Garnish

Fentiman’s Ginger Beer

Ice

 

Using your leftover bitters sugar cubes (check the Ballsy Berry for a refresh on how to make them), muddle 1 sugar cube and mint leaves in balsamic syrup in a cocktail shaker. Mash it up real good so the sugar is all dissolved and the mint is, well, minty. Add gin and ice then shake like crazy. Grab a large wine glass, chuck in some ice and the other sugar cube then pour in the goodness. Top with about 100ml ginger beer and garnish with mint leaves.

Tangy Tatiana

The Ballsy Berry was a bit of a savoury Susan, but this is all Tangy Tatina (wow, so that just happened…moving along). Seriously though, the ginger beer and the balsamic syrup pair really well together. The Fentiman’s Ginger Beer gives the drink a lovely ginger smell and also has a really nice spiciness that makes great friends with the bitters sugar cube. The tang and the spice combined create a very pleasant sensation on your tongue.  It gives you a nice warming feeling that just gets all in and around you and you will like it! Like the Ballsy Berry the balsamic syrup gives the drink a really dark, interesting colour, that is actually even darker because the Fentiman’s Ginger Beer is a deep brown. Also be warned, we whipped up the Ballsy Berry and Tangy Tatiana at the same time and after essentially drinking 3 shots of Gunpowder Gin we were ready to partaaaay. That Gunpowder Gin, it’ll knock you for six in short order but damn is it good (seriously though, no driving or operating heavy machinery after a few of these).

Tangy Tatiana

After a few drinks made with the balsamic syrup we can definitely say that we are fans of this tangy little addition. Next time you’re looking for something to shake up your usual libations don’t be too quick to dismiss the simple yet flavourful balsamic syrup. It certainly made the Tangy Tatiana something we thoroughly enjoyed.

Tangy Tatiana

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Now Serving – Capone’s South Side

By The Gentleman

South Side

Usually we kind of just fly by the seat of our pants and make this cocktail stuff up, pouring whatever we have on hand with some vague idea of what we are doing. It usually works out…usually. This time though we thought we’d use a pretty classic cocktail recipe and there are few drinks more classic than the South Side a drink with a long, but murky history. One version has the drink originating at the Twenty-One Club in New York while another lists it as a favourite of South Side gangsters in Chicago during Prohibition. We like the latter as it reminds us of Boardwalk Empire and we could definitely see Nucky Thompson knocking back a few of these while hashing out a deal with Al Capone.

 

South Side

60ml Four Pillars Barrel Aged Gin

30ml Lemon Juice

15ml Simple Syrup

7 mint leaves

Dash of bitters

South Side

In a cocktail shaker shake all the ingredients with ice. Shake it up real good to get all the flavour out of the mint and then fine strain it into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a few mint leaves.

 

South Side

The South Side is a classic cocktail and it is easy to see why. The drink is all class and super easy to drink. It has a lovely, vibrant mint aroma and a fresh, crisp flavour. The mint, lemon and gin blend together so well, giving you this delicious mix of sweetness, tart lemon and slightly numbing mint. The South Side also has this really interesting and pleasant aftertaste, with that kind of numbing mint melding with the tangy lemon leaving your mouth fresh. Using the barrel aged gin gave the drink a slightly darker, deeper colour and sweeter flavour, but the drink still looks really nice with the lemony yellow playing well with green of the mint leaves.

South Side

Do yourself a favour, get in touch with your inner Chicago gangster and shake up a few South Sides. A simple, classic cocktail that won’t disappoint.

 

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Now Serving – Ballsy Berry

By The Gentleman

Ballsy Berry

I have to warn you, dear reader, that if you continue on things may get a little weird here. Don’t worry I don’t mean emotional weird…that would be too weird. THERE WILL BE NO BREAKDOWNS OR TEARS! Okay? Okay. Good. Things are going to get weird because we straight up put balsamic vinegar in our drink…and we liked it. Now we’ve shrubbed before and we will shrub again, but this was different. We didn’t mix any fruits or herbs, we just syruped together some balsamic vinegar and simple syrup. Then we got liquored up, a sugar cube or two may have been involved. It was an experience and one we are happy to share with you, the Ballsy Berry.

 

Ballsy Berry

60ml Four Pillars Gunpowder Gin

15ml Balsamic Syrup

2 Blood Orange Bitters Sugar Cubes

4 Basil Leaves + 3 for Garnish

2 strawberries halved + 1 for garnish

Black peppercorns

Fever Tree Club Soda

Ice

Ballsy Berry

Make your balsamic syrup by bringing together a 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar with a 1/4 cup of simple syrup. Bring to the boil then turn down to a medium heat for about a minute. It should get thick and syrupy. Take off the heat and leave to cool before bottling. Whip up your sugar cubes by mixing caster sugar with bitters on a ratio of 1 cup sugar to 1 tablespoon bitters. This will make a lot of cubes so you can halve or even quarter the mix to your needs. Mix the sugar and bitters until the liquid has combined with the sugar then pack the sugar into a mini ice cube tray. If you are super prepared you can leave the sugar in the tray overnight to harden, but if you need them in a flash place the tray in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Check to see how firm before turning them out because they may need a touch longer to harden up. You’re now ready to cocktail.

 

Muddle strawberries, 1 sugar cube, a few grinds of pepper, and basil leaves in balsamic syrup. Mash it up real good. Add gin and ice then shake like crazy. Grab a large wine glass and ice and the other sugar cube then pour in the goodness. Top with about 100ml club soda and garnish with a strawberry and basil leaves.

Ballsy Berry

We warned you things would get weird and they did. The balsamic syrup and pepper make this one of the most savoury cocktails, outside of a Bloody Mary, we’ve ever tried. It’s maybe not everyone’s cup of tea (there really needs to be a better cocktail equivalent), but we definitely think you owe it to yourself to be a little adventurous and try it out. It smells amazing. Anyone who has ever had some strawberries tossed with a little balsamic vinegar will know what we’re talking about.  The balsamic is quite noticeable, giving it a savoury, tangy vinegary flavour, and the strawberries just give it a touch of sweetness.  The sugar cubes, apart from smelling divine in your kitchen, add needed sweetness  to help balance the savoury flavour. Also the Gunpowder Gin earns its stripes here, providing a necessary punch to cut through the other bold flavours. The balsamic syrup gives the Ballsy Berry a dark, interesting colour which makes it quite impressive when serving to guests. They’ll try to puzzle out what gives it the colour. On a personal note I really need to get a proper cocktail strainer, but hey all those extra bits of strawberry and basil just give it extra character right?

Ballsy Berry

This is definitely a drink to engage your more adventurous side, throwing up some flavour combinations and aromas you may not normally associate with cocktails. We liked it though and look forward to adding the interesting flavour of balsamic syrup to more drinks in the future.

Ballsy Berry

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Out & About – Four Pillars Gin Launch at Mother Vine Bar

By The Gentleman and The Lady

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The other day we mentioned that things were changing here at The Cocktail Challenge with big things happening that we were very excited about. Aside from getting our act together and getting some better branding, what we were really excited about was the opportunity to go to a local launch of Cocktail Challenge favourite Four Pillars. We were excited to not only try the new Gunpowder Proof Gin that Four Pillars were launching, but to checkout new East End joint Mother Vine for the first time since it opened recently. Gin and a cool new venue, count us in!

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For those of you who don’t remember Four Pillars are one of the new breed of Australian craft distillers. They are located in Victoria’s Yarra Valley and the inside word from the event revealed they will soon be able to move to their own location after occupying a limited space in the back of  a winery. We will definitely be heading over to checkout the new location when it is ready. They launched with their Rare Dry Gin and won a double gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, beating out industry titan Hendrick’s, a surprising but deserved award. It was quite interesting to listen to the guys from Four Pillars talk about winning the double gold, as they revealed that they only entered the event to gain some valuable feedback and criticism on the blend they had developed for the Rare Dry-Gin. The gin uses some native Australian flavours, including lemon myrtle and Tasmanian pepperberry leaf, which are obviously quite new to gin distilling and they wanted to know how the flavours were mixing. Apparently they worked rather well!

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The event really showed off the Four Pillars range quite well. We started the afternoon with a Gin & Tonic made with Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin and Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water. The Mediterranean Tonic Water isn’t the standard Fever-Tree you’ll find around town, that’s the Indian, and Stuart from Four Pillars reckons it’s the best tonic water going around. (Given that the lads from Four Pillars initially wanted to develop a tonic water worthy of Australian drinkers, this is really saying something!) The Gin and Tonic was refreshing and very tasty, a perfect way to kickoff the afternoon.

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The Gin and Tonic was followed by a damn good martini. This particular martini was again made with the Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin and it also used another locally distilled product, Maidenii Dry Vermouth. The combination of the Four Pillars and the Maidenii gave the martini a really nice spiciness and the two spirits really complemented each other well as they both feature native Australian flavours. It was just a really well made martini that was so easy to drink.

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The afternoon finished with a go around with the star of the show, the new Gunpowder Proof Gin. The Gunpowder Proof Gin is marketed as a barman’s gin, meaning it’s the perfect gin to mix cocktails with as it has big flavours and can take a lot of mixers and still give you that great gin taste. As Cam and Stu say, this gin is able to “stand up by itself in a drink”. The Gunpowder Proof Gin features a few new botanicals including tumeric, finger limes and ginger that give a flavour and aroma distinct from the original Rare Dry Gin. For the event the Gunpowder Proof Gin was mixed in a classic Negroni. This was the perfect drink for the final cocktail of the event as not only was it made using the brand-spanking-new Gunpowder Proof Gin, the drink itself looked absolutely gorgeous. It almost looked like a giant sparkling ruby had been placed in each glass. Being 58.8% alcohol, we certainly could tell that this was, indeed, a gin that could hold its own in a drink. Surprisingly, given the high alcohol percentage, this cocktail was by no means overpowering or too much (can gin ever really be ‘too much’?). Instead, the Four Pillars Gunpowder Negroni is a confident cocktail that packs a punch and isn’t afraid to speak its mind. A beautiful mix of big gin flavours with a pleasant bitterness to finish from the Campari.

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We were also lucky enough to have a long chat with both Stuart and Cameron, who told us of the history behind the brand (including a jealousy inducing road trip through America to sample and soak in the massive craft distilling scene), their future plans for Four Pillars (including a possible companion for their gorgeous copper still Wilma) as well as a discussion about our long and blossoming Twitter friendship. It was really great to meet the people behind Four Pillars and see how passionate they are about their product.

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Mothervine was a gorgeous venue for this event, and it was a real treat to see how they had transformed the space from the previous tenant (now across the road) East End Cellars. We are looking forward to going back again to experience their true colours as a wine bar and to experience what they do best.

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We feel very privileged to have been invited to the Adelaide launch of Four Pillars. While it has not officially been released, we can’t wait to get our hands on a bottle of the oh-so-confident Gunpowder Proof Gin. Not only is this gin mighty marvellous, we also may or may not be in withdrawal from this gorgeous liquor. We would never want to be called quitters, so there is really no point in fighting our feelings for FP. Could this be love? We think so!

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Disclaimer: The Cocktail Challenge was invited by Four Pillars to this launch and provided with free cocktails  for this article. Although this post is sponsored all opinions are our own.

Now Serving – The Deadline

By The Gentleman

 

As you may recall it was end of semester time around Cocktail Challenge HQ as The Lady knuckled down to smash out her last essays. As the night dragged on, the light summer fruityness of the Campari and Corona didn’t cut it. This was serious business with a serious deadline and The Lady needed something strong. Enter The Deadline, a spicy, herbal libation that will help you own your deadlines (or at least that’s what we would say if advertising regulations didn’t forbid the promotion of the effects of alcohol in such a way).

The Deadline

The Deadline

45 ml Four Pillars Gin

30ml Pineapple Sage and Juniper Simple Syrup

20 ml fresh lemon juice

2 good dashes of Angostura Bitters

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker and with ice. Give it a good shake. Then strain into glass.

The Deadline

So you’re probably noticing this Pineapple Sage and Juniper Simple Syrup. Yeah I was tinkering again. During the summer I planted a whole bunch of herbs to make shrubs with and now that we are in Winter they have mostly died off, except this Pineapple Sage plant which must have ‘I Will Survive’ as it’s theme song. It keeps growing bigger and bigger and I decided it was about time I did something with it. You can definitely use normal Sage for equally as good results. The method I used for this simple syrup is a little different to others you might have read but I read on some blog somewhere that this method gives a better flavour. Who really knows but for me it worked fine. I also used raw sugar because that is what we always have handy. I think it gave the syrup a deeper caramel sort of flavour and colour.

 

Pineapple Sage and Juniper Simple Syrup

1 cup water

1 cup raw sugar

8 Pineapple Sage leaves

15 Juniper Berries + 5

In a pan bring your cup of water to a simmer over a medium-high heat. Add your sage leaves and the 15 juniper berries. Simmer for about 2 and a half minutes. Add your sugar and simmer until dissolved. Remove from the heat to cool then add the extra 5 juniper berries. Once cooled strain into a jar or bottle.

 

By now you’ve probably realised that we are fans of gin and have a particular love affair with local distiller Four Pillars. Surprisingly this was the first drink we had made with Angostura Bitters that classic bitters everyone knows about and everyone seemingly has stashed away somewhere (like we did…it was a rather vintage bottle I think). The two combined exceptionally well to make this drink. The first thing you’ll notice about The Deadline is it smells amazing with all the spices from the bitters, the simple syrup and the botanicals from the gin. I could strongly smell juniper and allspice berries (or something like that). I was a little heavy handed with the bitters (what’s a dash anyway) but luckily Angostura Bitters have both a pleasant aroma and taste that it didn’t really matter. It reminds me of when I was little and would bake with my mum. I’d open the cupboard to get the spices and you’d just be hit with this strong yet enticing and warming baking spice smell. Anything that reminds me of those good childhood times is definitely a plus in my book. The drink has a really pleasant sweetness to it, not overly sweet but more of a tangy sweetness probably from the lemon juice.  The drink is quite layered between all the flavours and a bit mysterious, but like I said I went a little crazy with the bitters and they really rock it. One sip was heavily spiced then another was citrusy, another sweet and finally boozy. It leaves a very nice feeling in your mouth, with a good coating and nice pleasant burn.  The Lady could also pick up some pineapple from the pineapple sage which is good as I wasn’t sure how much flavour the leaves would give out and whether the raw sugar would overpower them.

The Deadline

A spicy, sweet, bold drink that doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to flavour The Deadline is what you need when you’re working to a deadline. A serious drink for serious business.

The Deadline

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On The Shelf – Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin

By The Lady

 

As a gift for my birthday from The Gentleman, I received a lovely bottle of Rare Dry Gin from the new distillery kids on the block Four Pillars. Four Pillars started their craft gin odyssey by crowdfunding through Pozible, selling through the entirety of their first 420 bottle batch within four days! Now that’s impressive!  I love that a small Australian distillery, located in the Yarra Valley,  has had such a great head start and look to have a promising future. At Four Pillars, their top priority is to “elevate the craft of distilling and celebrate the craft of cocktail making in Australia”. They also believe that people should “drink better, not more.” Cheers to that!

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Their name comes from a desire to have everything they make crafted upon four pillars. (ONE) Still. Their gorgeous copper pot still was made in Germany by CARL. They’ve named their still ‘Wilma’. How delightful! (TWO) Water. They claim they use the best water in the world, located in their home in the Yarra Valley. (THREE) Botanicals. Four Pillars use a mixture of Australian botanicals as well as those sourced from around the world. For example, they use whole Australian oranges (a rather unusual practice for gin making) in combination with cardamom . This dedication to unconventional flavour pairings makes for a truly unique gin.  (FOUR) Love. I am always happy to find other gin lovers, especially so close to home.

 

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What I love about this gin, before I even open the bottle to sample its fine contents, is the sleek, classic design of the bottle and label. The copper colour mirrors the metal of Wilma, the copper pot still. Four Pillar’s logo is a string of four dots, representing their name and the four pillars that drive their success. Their logo also features on the glass of the bottle itself, yet another hint towards their fine attention to detail and dedication to their gin. Their bottle design is simply beautiful, as I am sure the gin will also be.

 

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I am thoroughly looking forward to tasting this promising Australian Dry Gin. So, let’s raise a glass to Four Pillars Gin for stylishly and deliciously bringing Australia’s attention to classic craft gin, and for urging us to always choose quality over quantity. Here, here!

 

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