Alaskan Rock Week – Now Serving – Hot Rock

By The Gentleman


We’re back as Alaskan Rock Week continues and The Lady and I shake up a cocktail to make you forget the winter blues. It’s the perfect mix of vibrant fruity freshness, Alaskan Rock Vodka, and warm chilli spice to responsibly chase the cold away. The recipe was inspired by an article on Bon Appetit that sent us to the drawing board and allowed us to come up with the Hot Rock.

Hot Rock

Hot Rock

2 Strawberries halved
1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
60ml pineapple juice
60ml Alaskan Rock Vodka
15ml homemade Jalapeño Syrup
2 dashes Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub
Pineapple chunks for garnish
Strawberry for garnish

Hot Rock

Muddle strawberries in shaker with sugar. Add ice, pineapple juice, vodka, jalapeño syrup and Bittermens. Shake until combined and very cold. Strain into rocks glass. Prepare garnish by grilling or cooking  fruit in the pan with some brown sugar. Cook until they’re nice and brown then skewer the fruit to garnish.

Jalapeno Syrup

Jalapeño Syrup

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup water

1 fresh jalapeño pepper, washed and stemmed

Add the sugar and water into a pot. Slice jalapeño lengthwise and add into the pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer, and simmer for three minutes. Remove from heat let steep. I left my syrup for a good 40 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a bottle. This should make 250ml.

Hot Rock

Making the jalapeño syrup is not necessarily an essential step if you have ready access to canned or jarred chillies in syrup. You could just use the syrup from there and a lesser amount, about 1/2 a teaspoon, but I didn’t have any jars or cans. Plus,  I do enjoy a little experiment so making the syrup was something I was probably always going to do. The syrup had a really nice balance of sweetness from the brown sugar and heat from the chili. I was expecting it to be a lot hotter than it was after letting it steep for so long but instead it was a really smooth, mild heat that was quite pleasant. That mild heat was perfect for the Hot Rock. I was worried the heat might overpower the rest of the drink but instead it all came together rather nicely. The strawberries and pineapple juice provided enough sweetness and freshness to balance out the heat from the syrup and the shrub while the vodka provided the boozy background to the whole drink. Despite having two shots of vodka, the alcohol didn’t dominate or give off any weird flavours that might otherwise spoil the drink, it just provided that necessary extra kick. This is key as you wouldn’t want to ruin those lovely strawberry, pineapple and chilli flavours which worked so well together. At first you got the fruitiness and a bit of sweetness as well as the flavour of the chilli, not the spiciness but the actual taste of the pepper. It’s after that you get the spicy heat, which leaves a pleasant warmth in your mouth. The caramelised fruit top off the drink nicely, especially if you drop them in the drink at the start like I did. They soak up the flavours and make for a nice finishing bite at the end of the drink, an explosion of fruit juices, caramel and alcohol. Swoon.

Hot Rock

We’re halfway through Alaskan Rock Week but so far we’re enjoying every minute of it. Exploring and experimenting with interesting flavours is what the Cocktail Challenge is all about and sometimes we hit on the right mix to bring you a great drink like the Hot Rock.

Hot Rock

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Alaskan Rock Vodka

Disclaimer: The Cocktail Challenge was provided a free sample bottle of Alaskan Rock Vodka for this article. Although this post is sponsored all opinions are our own.


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.

Flavour Thesaurus 1

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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Now Serving – Pimm’s Cup

By The Lady


During the Mad March festival rush in Adelaide, the Gentleman and I visited the Pimm’s Bar within the Garden of Unearthly Delights and became utterly smitten. Upon our first visit (amongst many), the lovely bar assistant was rather charming and even offered us a picnic rug to use whilst sipping away at our Pimm’s Cup. So when a lazy Sunday afternoon recently presented itself to us, we decided naturally it was the perfect afternoon to crack open a bottle of Pimm’s No. 1.

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We decided to loosely base our recipe upon the classic Pimm’s Cup recipe, mainly because we didn’t have the exact ingredients and we couldn’t be bothered going to the supermarket to buy them! So instead, we used :

1 cup Pimm’s No. 1

1/4 cup homemade tonic syrup (made by the Gentleman. You don’t have to add this, we just decided to for extra fun Pimm’s times)

Around 600mL Waterfords Diet Lemon, Lime & Bitters

Half a punnet of Strawberries

1 Lemon

3 Limes

1/3 of a Large Cucumber

Handful of Basil leaves

Lots of ice

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Basically, cut up all your fruit and cucumber into desired shapes and mix all the ingredients together in a jug. I would suggest tearing the basil leaves to release some of the flavour.  This is a very rough guide, and if you compare our recipe to the classic Pimm’s Original mentioned earlier, you will see that traditionally the Pimm’s Original has mint and orange instead of basil, lemon and limes. Because there are a number of ingredients, and the ones we substituted are quite similar to the original ingredients, the flavour won’t vary that much I imagine. However, if you are a traditionalist or just really don’t like to mess with recipes, I suggest being more organised than we are!

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While I wish we had the correct ingredients to make a proper Pimm’s Original, our Pimm’s Cup really did hit the spot on our lazy Sunday afternoon. The drink was very refreshing with a lingering fruity taste which would be perfect for a warm summers day, or perhaps a picnic in the park. In the future, I would love to try it with oranges and mint, or maybe even with orange juice instead of a soft drink. I urge you all to hop on down to the supermarket and pick yourself up the ingredients for this number, because it sure will result in a jolly fine afternoon!


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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!


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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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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