Out & About – Chihuahua Bar Take Two

By The Gentleman and The Lady

You have probably noticed by now that we like to go out to bars, but we don’t do reviews per se. Instead we just recommend and comment on the things we drink. That means we can quite easily visit the places we like several times and try different things (poor us) and tell you about it. It’s for this reason that we decided to revisit Peel Street’s resident Mexican hole in the wall Chihuahua Bar to sample some more fine Mexican Cocktails.

Image courtesy of the Chihuahua Bar Facebook page

If you didn’t read about our first visit you can check it out here. Basically we are quite big fans of the fun, kitschy decor and that hasn’t changed second time around. This visit we decided on something a little less crazy than the fresh fruit bombs, although it was hard not to get one because they were so good last time! We opted for a pretty classic tequila cocktail, the Paloma, and a Mexican twist on a favourite of ours, the Negroni, which was called a Rosita. Both of the drinks used Jose Cuervo Tradicional tequila and were pretty damn delicious, and eye-catching, in their own way.

Paloma

The Paloma

The Paloma mixes the tequila with lime and grapefruit soda, giving it a really nice pale pinky orange colour. The drink was surprisingly still and not as sweet as we were expecting. You hear soda and immediately think super sweet, but this had a really nice tangy, sourness to it and basically the grapefruit soda cuts the real booziness of the tequila so you can actually realise, “ha, this is what tequila tastes like”. The Rosita replaces the Negroni’s gin with tequila, but keeps the Antica Formula and Campari so it still has that amazing bright red colour. Being a Mexican twist on the Negroni it had its own flavour, with the tequila showing up nicely the same way a good gin does in a Negroni. The drink had a gorgeous aroma of oranges from the big orange peel that was just heavenly. There also seemed to be a touch less bitterness in the Rosita, compared to a traditional Negroni, but there’s still a great blend of flavours.

Rosita

Rosita – Chihuahua’s Mexican take on a Negroni

We reckon both of these drinks would be the perfect accompaniment to some Mexican food and and it was probably the only thing missing, some great food that we could wash down with the already fantastic cocktails. We are pretty sure we overhead that food may feature in the future and we hope that’s true. A Paloma, a Rosita, salty corn chips and some guacamole and you’ve got yourself a damn good time!

 

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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.

Out & About – Lickerish Kitchen & Bar

By The Gentleman

 

It’s been a while since we’ve done an Out & About article here on The Cocktail Challenge. Luckily that is no longer the case as The Lady and I had the opportunity to finally visit Lickerish Kitchen & Bar, a Semaphore, South Australia based eatery. Lickerish is owned by John and Justine Hall. The couple were contestants on the popular Channel 7 TV show My Restaurant Rules and actually won the first series with their restaurant The Greedy Goose. Despite winning the show the restaurant was forced to close years later when they branched out to a burger place in Glenelg before Adelaide was well and truly hit by the burger craze.

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Located upstairs on the beach-end of Semaphore Road the restaurant has a great location. We sat on the balcony and had nice views of the lit up street and the beach. The restaurant was well decorated, making good use of the upstairs space. We were greeted by Justine and easily got a table despite not making a booking, although booking is always preferable. We went there for dinner and ordered bread, which was an actual miniature loaf fresh from the oven instead of the usual few slices, while The Lady had the Kipfler Potato Pizza and I had the steak of the day. The pizza was deliciously salty and the steak cooked perfectly with crisply cooked chips while both dishes were well portioned and well priced. Justine our host and the other staff were friendly and attentive throughout the evening providing a very enjoyable dinning experience. Obviously we ordered drinks because that’s what we’re all about!

 

I had the Mojito, which from memory was made with Malibu rum, House Sugar, lime, mint and topped with soda water. The drink was okay but not the best Mojito I’ve had. It took us a while to work it out and eventually we decided that there was too much mint and not enough lime and sugar. You really only really tasted the lime in the last few mouthfuls, which tasted a lot fresher, and there was no real sweetness from the sugar. The mint was also chopped or shredded into small pieces and that may have done something to the flavour as I’ve usually had Mojito’s with the mint leaves left whole.

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The Lady had the Lickerish Negroni, which was made with gin, Campari, sweet vermouth and blood orange. It was the first Negroni either of us had tasted before. I know I know it’s a classic but this is what The Cocktail Challenge is all about, getting us to try a broader range of libations. The Negroni was quite nice. It tasted sweet at first but then finished with a deliciousness bitterness. The bitterness wasn’t too overpowering though, it just left a very fresh taste on your tongue. It seemed to be quite a well balanced drink and both of us are now ready to try more Negronis at the bars around town to see who does it best. Both of the drinks were presented in wine glasses, which is a trend I’ve started to notice around town.

 

Dinner and drinks at Lickerish provided The Lady and I with a fun and very filling night out. Great food, an excellent first Negroni and some pleasant scenery mean we will most definitely be coming back. We both have our eye on that Saffron Gnocchi.

 

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