On The Shelf – Four Pillars Gunpowder Proof Gin

By The Lady

Four Pillars Gunpowder Gin

A few weeks back, we were lucky enough to attend the Adelaide launch of Four Pillars Gin and were one of a few to sample, prior to the release date, the great and powerful Gunpowder Proof Gin. At the launch, we were all told the story behind the name of the gin which we found rather interesting. Back “in the olden days”, sailors in the navy were provided with a supply of gin and those clever sailors suspected that perhaps their beloved liquor was being watered down. In order to test this hypothesis, they mixed a sample of their gin with gunpowder and set it alight. If the gin fired up, then it got the sailor seal of approval. However if it did not catch on fire, those sailors were not happy chaps! Hence, gunpowder gin offers us “proof” that it is a big deal, highly boozy, super tasty gin!

Four Pillars Gunpowder

Four Pillars have emulated their classic, timeless label design and incorporated a “navy” feel by replacing the copper and black for royal blue and crisp white. We already love the Rare Dry Gin as well as the Barrel Aged Gin, so it is no surprise that we are falling for the dapper design and smooth flavours of the navy strength Gunpowder Proof Gin that continues to rock native Australian flavours, this time in the shape of finger limes.

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Dapper Design in all its glory! (L) Rare Dry Gin (R) Gunpowder Proof Gin

Clearly, it was a given that we were going to have to add this one to our liquor cabinet! After receiving our very own bottle in the mail, we decided to put it in a glass and have ourselves a good time. We opted for a variation on a classic gin and tonic, which we must say was refreshingly tasty. We’ve decided to call it the Gunpowder G&T.

 

In the Gunpowder G&T, we used :

45ml Four Pillars Gunpowder Proof Gin

Juice of half a grapefruit

3 sprigs of fresh coriander

2 wedges of lime. Squeeze in juice of one and one for garnish

Ice

Schweppes Indian Tonic Water

 

In a cocktail shaker, mix the gin, leaves from two sprigs of coriander and grapefruit juice with ice. Strain into a tall glass. Top with tonic water and the lime juice. Add a few coriander leaves on the top to decorate.

Gunpowder G&T

The resulting drink was very delicious and the perfect accompaniment for a warm evening. The gin and tonic was very herbal with the coriander providing a very different flavour for a G&T. We think that all the extra ingredients pair well with the big flavour of the Gunpowder Proof Gin, which does a nice job of standing up to the coriander and grapefruit and making its presence felt. The new gin uses turmeric for an added earthy character and we think the coriander played nicely with those notes in the gin. Also speaking of grapefruit, it gives a really nice bitterness and a touch of sweetness that the lime picks up on as well so you’re treated to a whole host of wonderful flavours. Additionally, our Gunpowder G&T had a gorgeous colour and fragrant scent.

Gunpowder G&T

Similar to the Barrel Aged Gin, this one has a limited release due to the seasonal ingredients (mainly finger limes!) that are used. So, we recommend snapping up a bottle quickly if you want one in your life. Because let’s be honest, who doesn’t need quality Australian made navy strength liquor in their life?

Gunpowder G&T

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Now Serving – Hibiscus Tonic

By The Gentleman

Hibiscus Tonic

For my birthday I received many great gifts, including a bottle of Melbourne Gin Co gin and a jar of Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup. It is quite evident that my love of cocktails is well known by The Lady and my friends. Both of these fine items have been sitting on my shelf for a while now and I thought it was time they met in a delicious Hibiscus Tonic.

Hibiscus Tonic

Hibiscus Tonic

45 ml Melbourne Gin Co Gin

15 ml Wild Hibiscus Syrup

1 Wild Hibiscus Flower

Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water

Ice

 

Place ice in a tumbler then add gin and hibiscus syrup. Top with tonic water and then place Hibiscus Flower on top. Enjoy!

Hibiscus Tonic

The drink is definitely not your average Gin and Tonic. There is a lot more sweetness here even though I bumped up the gin to try and balance it out (and received an enjoyable buzz as a result). The Lady described it as a classy lolly and the sweetness does linger as a pleasant aftertaste. The Hibiscus Flower replaces the lime or cucumber in the drink and brings its own fruitiness. The Hibiscus Flower has a raspberry and rhubarb flavour, but it’s not jammy or overbearing. Instead it’s got more of a tangy flavour that combines with a more subtle bitterness from the tonic water. The gin, luckily, isn’t completely lost in the Hibiscus. The strong citrus flavour of Melbourne Gin Co’s gin is still there in the aroma and cutting through the sweetness. Make sure you use a bold, flavoursome gin in this bad boy. The drink also looks gorgeous, a very pretty sparkling pink and you’re left with an edible Hibiscus Flower. It has a bit of a weird texture, but the flavour was quite pleasant with the raspberry flavour being particularly noticeable.

Hibiscus Tonic

It may be a little too sweet to be classed as a classic G&T, but that’s okay as the Hibiscus Tonic has it’s own sweet, fruity flavour that makes it rather enjoyable in its own right and a perfect drink for the warmer months ahead.

 

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Out & About – Bank Street Social Take Two

By The Gentleman

Bank Street Social

After visiting new local bar Bank Street Social on International Rum Day we were invited back to sample some more of the bars delicious Australian gin. We also ventured back there as a bit of a collaboration with fellow blogger Lee from Adelaide Food Central, for a night of food and drinking blogging. Sometimes it’s good to be a blogger.

 

We revisited Bread & Bone for dinner and you can read Lee’s review of our experience at his website. The Lady enjoyed another of their fine Negronis and I tried the Feral Hop Hog IPA. The Hop Hog was very fruity and refreshing with little bitterness, a thoroughly drinkable and enjoyable beer.

 

You already know our feelings about Bank Street Social’s decor. We just love the old school, speakeasy style. Hot tip, if you want to really soak in the design of the bar and enjoy your drink while quietly relaxing in a booth then head their on Wednesday night. The bar was relatively quite and had a far more subdued atmosphere compared to the crazy, high-energy of a Saturday night. The relaxed atmosphere allowed us to really notice all the little details that help make the bar come alive, like the old photos near the entrance and the cabinet filled with various old bottles, clocks and books. Coming on a slower night also allowed us to talk to the bar staff who really know their stuff. We spoke to Cameron who was knowledgeable and passionate about the experience Bank Street Social is trying to offer. We had a good chat about the bar’s focus on Australian spirits and the difficult, but rewarding experience of introducing bar goers to the wonderful world of Australian spirits.

Botanic Australis Gin

The Lady and I didn’t need any encouragement to drink Australian and we had a hard time choosing a different Australian gin to try. We eventually settled on the Botanic Australis Gin from Queensland’s Mt Uncle Distillery. The gin is made with 14 native Australian botanicals including Lemon Scented Gum, River Mint, Wattle Seed, Lilly Pilly, Lemon Myrtle, native ginger and Finger Limes. The gin has a lot of flavours going on but it works so well. Smelling the gin in the bottle it had a really pleasant cinnamon aroma. Cameron prepared a simple gin and tonic with Schweppes Tonic Water and an orange twist. The orange added a pleasant citrus scent and a hint of sweetness to the drink. Paired with the tonic water the Botanic Australis is so lovely to drink. You get a whole bunch of different herbal flavours before a really pleasant mint and pepper finish that leaves your mouth feeling so fresh. We could definitely drink these all night.

Bank Street Social

We finished the evening with what is fast becoming a favourite drink of ours, an Australian Martini. There is such a growth in good quality Australian gin and vermouth that you would be foolish not to pair them together. This time our barman mixed the drink with West Winds Sabre Gin and Maidenii Dry Vermouth. To make it just that extra bit special, and to enhance the flavours present in the martini our bartender also roasted some rosemary over the top of the drink to release the flavours and aromas from the rosemary before dropping it in the glass. The martini was so smooth and easy to drink. It had warmth and intensity from the spirits but it wasn’t so strong that it was unpleasant. The combination of the rosemary with the gin and vermouth was very nice. It really enhanced the flavours and the aroma of the martini and took it to that next level. It’s becoming very hard for us to go past an Australian Martini when they keep being this good.

West Winds Gin

Bank Street Social certainly didn’t disappoint on our second visit. The relaxed atmosphere, knowledgeable staff and quality drinks made it the perfect way to power through hump day and celebrate the fact that the week was half over.

Australian Martini

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Australian Martini

Disclaimer: The Cocktail Challenge was invited back to Bank Street Social and provided with complimentary gin and tonics for this article, but paid for the martinis. Although this post is sponsored all opinions are our own.

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 – 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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Now Serving – Hendrick’s Gin & Tonic

By The Lady

Hendrick's

We here at Cocktail Challenge HQ love us some gin. Oh yes we do. So, we wholeheartedly agree that this is a super easy and really tasty classic that everybody should have at least once (read : a million times) in their lifetime. A while ago, The Gentleman bought me a bottle of Hendrick’s Gin which came with a super cute Hendrick’s cup and saucer. In this grim weather we are having Down Under, we thought it was a perfect opportunity to crack open the HG and make one of these beauties. Who am I kidding though, it’s always g&t weather!

 

30mL Hendricks Gin

150mL Schweppes Indian Tonic Water (or enough to top a glass)

Slice of cucumber, to serve

Ice, if you like

 

Pour your gin and tonic water into a glass, or Hendricks cup and saucer if you are lucky enough to own one, add ice if you like and top with a slice of cucumber to bring out the cucumber flavours in the gin. And voila! You have yourselves a perfect g&t!

Hendrick'sHendrick's

I just love the bottle and design of the Hendrick’s label. The label has a quite old fashioned look and is quite a short and stout bottle, which I think is refreshing and fits quite well considering they also produce matching “tea” cups and “tea” pots. I don’t know where or how I can get my hands on one, but I hope to one day get one of the Hendrick’s “Tea” pots to accompany my cup and saucer. They are just so gosh darn cute and would give me an excuse to fill it with the oh so lovely combination of tea and gin!

Hendrick'sHendrick's

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Out & About – Street ADL

By The Lady

Recently, The Gentleman and I visited the reasonably new kid on the Rundle Street block – Street ADL. This fine establishment is where we were able to sample a duo of gin based drinks recommended by the bartender. The Gentleman ordered the Native Currant Bramble and I opted what the bartender referred to as a “Proper” Gin & Tonic. Being a HUGE gin lover, this prospect excited me a little more than I would usually publicly acknowledge. While we didn’t eat a full meal, we did order a serve of tasty fries which really hit the spot!

street

After informing the bartender of my love of gin, he informed me that in his opinion, the “Proper” Gin & Tonic that he was going to prepare for me would include Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin, Fever Tree Soda Water and El Guapo Tonic Syrup. Of course, I accepted. The resulting drink was very refreshing and went down far too easily I must say! Due to the El Guapo Syrup being used, the drink had a slight golden hue. I felt that pairing the El Guapo Tonic Syrup with the Monkey 47 Gin was a perfect combination that enhanced the botanical flavours in the gin. Also, the “Proper” Gin & Tonic had a lovely citrus scent, so it really was an enjoyable flavour sensation. I might have even paid the $48 that I misheard the bartender quote me!

"Proper" Gin & Tonic (L) & Native Currant Bramble (R)

“Proper” Gin & Tonic (L) & Native Currant Bramble (R)

The Native Currant Bramble, which The Gentleman sampled, was beautifully presented and a gorgeous magenta colour. The drink included gin (a crowd favourite), lemon juice, native currants as well as some Gabriel Boudier Crème de Cassis. Using native Australian ingredients is Street ADL’s jam and it makes for a nice change in the local cocktail scene. The drink was very similar to boysenberry ice-cream, so clearly, a very enjoyable experience! Also, it had a nice tangy taste, which was very well balanced with all the other flavours in the drink.

East End Style at Street ADL. Photo credit Street ADL website http://streetadl.com

East End Style at Street ADL. Photo credit Street ADL website http://streetadl.com

Street ADL definitely fits in very well in the East End of Adelaide with its very cool vibe and impressive drinks list. The interior of the bar includes interesting black and white murals painted on the walls as well as large share tables and knowledgeable staff to boot! We both look forward to revisiting Street ADL for another gin filled afternoon or evening in the near future! They have recently started doing Gin Bench Sundays and The Gentleman and I definitely approve of this development because there isn’t a better pairing than gin and Sundays (well gin and any day is good really).

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