The Cocktail Challenge 2014 Christmas Gift Guide

By The Lady and The Gentleman


Christmas is fast approaching. Seriously it’s less than two weeks away. This always happens, you say you’re going to be extra prepared this year but it never happens. Don’t worry because the Cocktail Challenge is here to help you ace your gift buying by showing you some great items for the people in your life who don’t mind a drop or two of boozy goodness. Seeing as this is our first holiday gift guide we thought we’d give it a local flavour and show you the wine, beer, spirits, and gear you should choose this year.


Four Pillars Barrel Aged Gin

Just in time for Christmas Cocktail Challenge favourite Four Pillars have released their second batch of Barrel Aged Gin. This is a damn fine gin that’s just as good as their award-winning Rare Dry Gin, but it’s got something a little different going on from aging process. It’s a touch sweeter and hits a few different spice notes from the wine barrels. It is equally as good in a glass on it’s own with some ice or in a delicious twist on the classic Tom Collins.

Four Pillars Gift

Four Pillars Mixing Glass and Bar Spoon Set

Sticking with Four Pillars we are just in love with this simple yet elegant mixing glass and bar spoon set. Essential tools for any home bar the set continue to show Four Pillar’s dedication to good design and quality products. The Japanese-made glass looks gorgeous but is still practical with enough capacity to make two drinks and a spout for easy pouring. We love the touch of giving the bar spoon a copper finish in tribute to Wilmer. If one of these ended up under the tree we would be damn happy.


Jam Factory Wine Glass/Tumblers


Keeping it super local, the Jam Factory is an Adelaide design institution that has been instrumental in supporting designers and artists for over 40 years. The Jam Factory is always finding and nurturing great talent, like Emma Klau the designer of the Kinetic Tumbler. We just love the look of these hand blown glasses, which double as a decanter to aerate your wine. When you put it down the glass revolves around its axis to achieve aeration. We appreciate and are slightly scared by this design black magic.


Mister Bitters


We are not afraid to experiment when it comes to adding syrups, bitters, tinctures, and shrubs to our cocktails to give them that something extra or different. It appears we are not the only ones and there has been a boom in the small-batch bitters scene. As these things usually do, it has only recently caught on in Australia but luckily one of the first bitters out the gate is a beauty. Melbourne-based Mr Bitters brings together a bartender and the founder of bitters mecca to craft some damn tasty bitters. We have tried the Pink Grapefruit & Agave and love it’s bitter, but fresh grapefruit flavour. It smells heavenly and has a fun, fruity label that is all class. We can’t wait to get our hands on the rest of the range.


Mollydooker Wines Velvet Glove Shiraz and Hither & Yon Shiraz Cabernet

Being Australian, particularly South Australian, meant we couldn’t do a gift guide without talking about wine. We opted for two very different reds for very different people. Mollydooker Wines Velvet Glove Shiraz is the top of the line drop offered by the McLaren Vale-based winery. We just love this bottle. You look at it and you know what’s inside is going to be so good (but so expensive!). The Velvet Glove is for that special someone in your life who is going to appreciate a superior quality wine. We can’t quite afford such a bottle on a student’s living, but we can gaze longingly at the gorgeous bottle and salivate at the description of full bodied, complex, rich and thick flavours that coat your mouth. We are very jealous of whoever has one of these under their tree this year.


The best thing about South Australia is we are so inundated with good quality wine at a variety of prices to make present buying that bit easier. Hither & Yon, another McLaren Vale-based winery, are someone we can’t recommend enough. The Shiraz Cabernet is in the middle-price range at $35 a bottle, but it is well worth it. The tattoo inspired artwork is amazing and eye-catching and the taste, well the taste was so good we had to express ourselves by mimicking a YouTube video. Yeah, it was that good. Seriously this hits all the right notes. Great taste, reasonably priced and sweet design. Pick up a bottle for a gift and one for yourself.


Sample Brew


Melbourne is so accessible that it sometimes feels like a second city to us…other times it feels like it could be on the other side of the planet, like when we came across Melbourne-based brewer Sample Brew. We love the look of the bottles with their clean, simple yet beautiful design. We also like the sound of the beers. Sample currently brew an American style Pale Ale and a Gold Ale according to the Reinheitsgebote, a purity law which stipulates only barley, hops, water and yeast can be used in the brewing process. They promise fruity yet crips flavours as part of the brewers desire to blend classic styles with an experimental nature. The sad part is Sample aren’t easily accessible in Adelaide, making Melbourne feel like a very far away place. To all our Melbourne readers though, do your beer loving friend a favour and give the gift of Sample Brew.


A subscription service – The Cocktail Kit/White Possum Craft Spirits

Still too hard even with all these awesome recommendations? Then maybe you need to check out the latest kid on the Australian liqour scene, subscription services. Simply sign up, choose your plan and let them take over the hassle of finding and sourcing a range of great drinking products. Need to buy for some who is an amateur mixologist? Checkout The Cocktail Kit, a monthly curated cocktail experience that provides you with all you need to make select cocktails plus access to online instructional videos. We can attest to the quality of the end result. You can choose a sample pack, with small bottles, or go the whole hog and get the party pack so they can mix up cocktails for everyone.


Or maybe you need to buy for the discerning spirit drinker, someone who is always on the lookout for the next big or different thing or is sick of the usual spirits on offer. Then checkout White Possum Craft Spirits, a subscription service that specialises in finding and delivering Australian craft whisky, gin, vodka, and liqueurs. Each bottle comes in a nice box complete with distillery profile and drink recipes to help you craft the perfect drink to highlight each spirit. There’s a great selection of Australian distillers on offer and we like the range of subscription options including monthly, quarterly and on-demand. Plus you can tailor the subscription to a particular type of spirit or be a bit daring and choose the random box. Either way you’re helping some great Australian distillers and are probably going to get something pretty tasty.


And The One That Got Away – Denver and Liely Whisky Glass


We were a little bit in love with the new whisky glass from Melbourne-based Denver and Liely when we saw them. They combine the tumbler and the snifter into one glass to provide a better whisky experience. You get the wide base to allow air contact, but also the tapered barrel to focus and direct the whisky. It’s a sleek and stylish glass that looks amazing. Sadly, by the time we were alerted to these gorgeous new whisky glasses everyone else had realised Denver and Liely were onto something special. They glasses were all snapped up quick smart but you can pre-order for the next batch which will be available in mid-January. We highly recommend this as a present to yourself for surviving the hectic nature of the holidays.


We hope this guide helps you shop small and give local this year. Australian makes some great gear and we’re sure anyone would be happy with one of these gifts, we sure know we would be (hint hint, nudge nudge).


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Small Mouth Week – Now Serving – Small Sunset

By The Lady

As this is our last date with Small Mouth Vodka,  we thought it would be rather romantic if we took it to see the sun go down. With our first taste of the adorable Small Mouth, we went for a classic. For the second, we opted for something with a bit more of a buzz. We’ll admit, this next one is a strong drink which packs a punch, but by gosh it was delicious. And, in our opinion, the perfect way to finish off Small Mouth Week. We’d like to introduce you to … Small Sunset.

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We used :

85mL Small Mouth Vodka (We are aware that this is a lot of vodka. Stay with us … )

40mL Orange, Kiwi Fruit & Cayenne Shrub (super secret recipe made by The Gentleman)

10mL Organic Ginger Syrup by The Ginger People

2 Dashes of Mister Bitters Pink Grapefruit & Agave Bitters

Lots of ice

1 dash of Cawsey’s Grenadine

Orange peel to garnish

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Shake your vodka, shrub, ginger syrup, bitters and ice in a cocktail shaker. Leave a few ice cubes aside for the end.  Strain your drink out into a glass without the ice cubes used in the shaker. Put two or so fresh ice cubes in your drink. Carefully and slowly pour the grenadine over the back of a spoon into your drink. You should get a look where the red colour sits at the bottom of the glass and fades upwards. If you haven’t done this before, I would suggest doing a test run with a glass of water so you can practise. At the very end, add your orange peel by twisting it before placing it on the surface of the drink. This will help release some of the orange smell and flavour.

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So, we’ll admit, this is a lot of vodka. But, to be honest, because Small Mouth is such a high quality  vodka, it tastes quite delicious. We thought it tasted quite smooth and not overly boozy at all. If you were to use a cheaper or low quality vodka, I would suggest using less, perhaps 60mL instead. Also, if you don’t have access to purchase shrubs, or don’t know how to make it, you could use orange juice with a pinch of cayenne pepper instead. Overall, the drink was very delicious, and was a very pretty looking drink. The drink has a very nice mouth feel, really coating your tongue with all the powerful flavours we’ve got going on. It wasn’t quite as intense as the Señor Shrub, which left your mouth buzzing with flavour 5 minutes after you’d taken a mouthful, but there was definitely some magic happening. All the flavours went well together, and the orange peel at the end was a lovely touch to accentuate the orange flavours (kudos to us).

Grenadine 2

We’re a little sad to be ending Small Mouth Week, but we have a feeling this is not the end for us. The possibilities are endless with Small Mouth Vodka, and we think there is a future for us together, an oh so boozy future. In moderation of course ;).


As always remember to like, share, and follow The Cocktail Challenge on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.


Disclaimer: The Cocktail Challenge was provided a free sample bottle of Small Mouth Vodka for this article. Although this post is sponsored all opinions are our own. Thanks again to Small Mouth Vodka for supplying us with this sample and giving us an opportunity to get to know their vodka.