Now Serving – What A Steal!

By The Lady

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Following the delicious results of our first pomegranate cocktail, we take it up a notch with our next installment. In take two in our Pomegranate Trilogy, we wanted to spice things up a little …  and we really mean spice things up! Again, we were so lucky to have been given for FREE(!) a sizable bag ‘o’ pomegranates, it was such a steal! Given this, we think what better to use than Stolen Spiced Rum! We invite you to take a gander at our newest cocktail – What A Steal!

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A new favourite: Settler’s Gin

What A Steal:

30mL Stolen Spiced Rum

30mL Settlers Rare Dry Gin

30mL Pomegranate Juice

15mL Vanilla Simple Syrup

Half a punnet of raspberries

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Make your vanilla syrup by prepping a 1:1 simple syrup (equal parts water and caster sugar) then add some Bourbon Vanilla Powder. We made half a cup of vanilla syrup and used roughly a quarter of a teaspoon of powder because it is pretty strong stuff. Once your syrup is ready muddle your raspberries in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add your spiced rum, gin, pomegranate juice, and vanilla syrup. Shake it baby, shake it with ice. Strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a few extra raspberries if you feel so inclined.

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We have to say, we are digging the vanilla and rum combo. It’s kind of like a fruity, non-chocolatey truffle … if that makes sense! The vanilla, rum, and pomegranate give the drink a gorgeous aroma that immerses you in a plethora of spices and vanilla goodness. This drink was not as tangy and tart as our first pomegranate drink, but it was still as tasty. I think the What A Steal is much more of a rich drink and has a beautiful depth to the flavours included. Interestingly, the cocktail was not as fruity as you might expect it to be but was still suitably fruit flavoured. Really, the drink was more musky and woody rather than overly fruity and had an intriguing spicy aftertaste.

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We hope that you give the What A Steal a try next time you get your hands on some pomegranates. We most certainly enjoyed shaking these beauties up … and drinking them too!

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Now Serving – Tangy Friday

By The Lady

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Just putting it out there … pomegranate is somewhat of a magical fruit. We were lucky enough to be given a large bag full of pomegranates from a friend who has a tree in her back yard. Because we’re all about dem flavours at Cocktail Challenge HQ, we simply couldn’t resist a bag ‘o’ tasty, magical fruit! As we had so so many pomegranates, we decided to make a handful of cocktails to inspire, delight, and amaze y’all. Or maybe it had something to do with us craving some cocktails …

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For Christmas, The Gentleman was kind enough to gift me some Settler’s Gin. This beautiful newcomer is a South Australian made gin (yeah boy!), so naturally we had to bust this bad boy open for a cocktail worthy of its gorgeous liquor. Also, we’re all about supporting local, especially if it means we get to drink gin. Here here!

Tangy Friday:

45mL Settler’s Gin

15mL Simple Syrup

30mL Pomegranate juice

30mL Lemon juice

Add all of your ingredients into a cocktail shaker with lots of ice ice baby. Shake it all up then strain it all out into a fancy pants chilled glass. Drink. Repeat. If you like, you can also place a few extra whole pomegranate seeds into the glass. This adds and extra tangy bite at the end of the drink!

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To make our pomegranate juice, we placed the pomegranate seeds into a blender and pulsed away. Then, we strained the juice to remove the pulp and voila! Pomegranate juice. Easy as pie!

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If you’re feeling the need for a cocktail to perk you up and keep you vibrant, the Tangy Friday is certainly the one. The drink was pretty gosh darn tasty with a bitey, tangy kick. Saaaaah tangy! As you can see, the colour of the pomegranate juice in this drink added a gorgeous, inviting appearance to the drink and was clearly destined to be added to a cocktail. We’re loving the hit of the pomegranate flavour in combination with the SA great Settler’s Gin too. Keeping it local, keeping it real at The Cocktail Challenge. Please note though that it is super easy to drink, so if you’re needing to operate heavy machinery, limit yourself (if you have the willpower).

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So, if you get your hands on some damn fine Settler’s Gin and some pomegranates at the same time, we highly recommend busting out your shaker and getting some Tangy Friday action!

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Now Serving – Paddington’s Gin

By The Gentleman

Do you know who loves marmalade? Paddington freaking Bear that’s who. No honey for this sophisticated little duffle coat wearing chap. Only marmalade sandwiches will do. We’re no Peruvian bears, but we certainly think Paddington is on to something with his marmalade obsession so we decided to mix Paddington’s obsession with our own, cocktails!

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Paddington’s Gin

60ml Melbourne Gin Co Gin

15ml Honey Syrup

15ml Lemon Juice

3 tsp Four Pillars Orange Marmalade

Orange peel to garnish

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Prepare your honey syrup by combining equal parts honey and hot water. Stir to combine the two and leave to cool down. Put some ice in a martini or coupe glass to chill it. Grab your cocktail shaker and add the gin and marmalade. Stir the two together so the marmalade will get nicely incorporated into the drink instead of freezing to the ice (trust me it happens). Add the other ingredients and lots of ice. Shake hard. Remove the ice from your glass and pour in (you can strain it to get any bits of marmalade out). Twist your orange peel over the drink to release the oils then drop in.

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While we don’t condone giving alcohol to bears, particularly those targeted at a children’s audience, we certainly think Paddington would approve of the healthy orange marmalade aroma the drink maintains. It smells like a jar of orange marmalade and the flavour has a big orange punch. It’s a nice and tart citrus hit with a hint of bitterness, which pairs very well with the orange in the Melbourne Gin Co gin. It should also be noted that this was probably the perfect cocktail marmalade because it’s made with the oranges Four Pillars use in their gin. So they’ve been steamed and distilled in the botanicals of the gin to give them some extra spice flavour. This isn’t Paddington’s ordinary marmalade, but something a little special. We were concerned the drink may have been too sweet, more something that rapscallion Winnie The Pooh would like, but the honey provides a subtle sweetness that helps to balance out some of the tart bitterness of the marmalade. We couldn’t be bothered straining the drink so there were a few bits of orange skin, but they just provided a bit of character and texture to the drink (at lest that’s how we are justifying our laziness).

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Pack up your suitcase, put on your red hat, grab your duffle coat, and crack open the marmalade, it’s time to treat yourself to some children’s character inspired cocktails. You know you deserve it.

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Now Serving – Bitter Fire

By The Gentleman

Bitter Fire

Gosh darn, it’s been heating up here at Cocktail Challenge HQ in 2015, with so many delicious new cocktails to try. So what are we to do when things start getting a  little hot? We decided to follow the advice of our friend Tom Jones when he suggested to “Fight Fire With Fire“. The only logical cause of action would be to add some of our new fave Fire Drum Vodka into the mix! This time, we pair Fire Drum with some Campari and tonic water to create a bitter, but oh so delicious little number. Introducing the Bitter Fire.

Bitter Fire

Bitter Fire

30mL Fire Drum Vodka
45mL Campari
30mL lime juice
4 or 5 large mint leaves + 1 mint leaf for garnish
1/2 tsp sugar
Lime wedge
Tonic Water

In your cocktail shaker muddle mint leaves with vodka, Campari, sugar and lime juice for a few minutes until the mint is fragrant. Add lots of ice and shake. Grab a tall glass and half fill with ice. Squeeze lime wedge over ice and drop in. Pour liquor into glass then top with tonic water. Garnish with another mint leaf.

Bitter Fire

The Campari makes this a very pretty drink with a lovely light red colour. It looks even more attractive as the Campari mix is light enough that you can see the lime wedge, ice, and mint leaf floating in the drink. It just looks very fresh and eye-catching. While the drink has a definite edge from bitterness of the Campari and tonic water, this is very easy to drink. The lime and mint leaves balance out some of the really strong bitter flavours, leaving you with this really interesting bitter mint flavour. The bitterness and the mint are both refreshing but in very different ways. I also quite like the smell of Campari and this drink maintains that delicious bitter orange Campari aroma with just a hint of sweet mint. The Fire Drum Vodka provides the perfect canvas for all the other flavours to come together. It provides some intensity and oomph as well as a slight hint of those malty flavours.

Bitter Fire

After playing around with Fire Drum Vodka we are very happy with the results. It paired equally well with all of the different flavours we threw at it. Additionally, Fire Drum and helped us to make three damn fine drinks so really, in the end, that’s all you can ask for…Well that and another glass!

Bitter Fire

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On The Shelf – Koerner Wine Shiraz Mourvèdre

By The Lady

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We believe that summer is the perfect time to be lapping up some delicious wines … well, any time of the year is a good time. Who are we kidding? But seriously, summer Down Under is great as the evenings are warm, light, and lend themselves for sipping down a glass or two of vino to wash away the day. Our most recent venture is with local winemakers Koerner Wines.

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Koerner Wines is based in the Watervale area of the Clare Valley and run by SA brothers Damon and Jonathan Koerner. While they have both spent time gaining valuable experience around the nation and the globe, they both grew up in the Clare Valley and I suspect they have a nostalgic urge to keep it local. Thus, most of the grapes used in their wine comes from the local surrounds and from a vineyard owned by their own father! Koerner specialise in super-low production runs, think batches of only 10 cases, so when you come across one make sure you snap it up quick like we did. We managed to acquire a few of their delicious treats, and decided to start with the Shiraz Mourvèdre.

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The Shiraz Mourvèdre was a perfect blend of the rich Shiraz and the bold Mourvèdre. It had a bright colour, attractive colour that really caught the eye.  The wine also had the perfect amount of weight and oomph to it for a summer’s eve. You can definitely drink this now, there was almost a juicy freshness to it, but if cellaring is your thang then we could see this developing some deeper, richer and smoother flavour. Additionally, the spiciness and fruity aromas were rather prominent in this lovely beauty and translated into a delicious drop of wine with a nice balance between dark berries and spice. We also really love the design of their labels. Each bottle proudly dons the same filigree style grapevine in a rainbow of wine inspired colours. Let me tell you, I am certain their is a pot of gold at the end of the Koerner rainbow!

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Now Serving – Fire Grenade

By The Gentleman

Fire Grenade

Did you know that grenadine, that bright and flavoursome cocktail syrup, gets it’s name from the word grenade. See grenadine is traditionally made from pomegranates and sugar and the French word (because the French have given us so much) for pomegranates is grenade. We are all about enhancing your cultural education as well as your cocktail education at the Cocktail Challenge. We are also about getting you away from thinking grenadine is just something you add to a tequila sunrise to give it a bit of colour. The Fire Grenade is packed with rich grenadine flavour that we just know you’ll love.

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Fire Grenade

45ml Fire Drum Vodka
Juice of half an orange
Juice of half a lemon
20ml Wilks & Wilson Grenadine
Orange peel for garnish

Chill a coupe glass with ice. Grab a mixing glass, fill it with ice and then add all of your ingredients. Using your bar spoon stir everything together for a few minutes to combine and chill. Once it is well chilled remove the ice from your coupe glass and strain it in. Garnish with your orange peel.

Fire Grenade

The Fire Grenade is a fitting name because this thing will blow up your tastebuds. It’s packed with tangy, fruity citrus flavour that dominates the top half of the drink. You’ll notice the richness of the almost caramelly, molasses flavour of the grenadine as a slight aftertaste. About halfway through the roles are flipped and the grenadine dominates. It goes from a light, fresh drink to a richer, more tart affair. There’s a nice thickness, but it’s not too syrupy. The strong grenadine flavour is quite delicious and gives the drink a gorgeous aroma. This natural grenadine doesn’t have the intense red colour of other brands, but it still made a pretty drink. We are okay with that because in exchange for the colour we get a better, more flavoursome mixer. We really appreciate cocktails that are both balanced in flavour yet allow you to experience different elements as you go through stages. There is also a good kick from the vodka making this quite a pleasant sipping drink, something you want to savour.

Fire Grenade

Do yourself a favour and pull the pin on the Fire Grenade. It’s blend of traditional style grenadine, tangy citrus, and vodka kick won’t leave your tastebuds disappointed.

Fire Grenade

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Now Serving – Apricot and Date Infused Gin Old Fashioned

By The Gentleman

Apricot and Date Infused Gin

Randomly we were given a huge bagof apricots from a neighbour’s apricot tree. As it was just before Christmas, everything was too stressful to think of anything major we could do with them, like a pie or something. So instead we did the only logical thing. Grabbed some Gordon’s Gin that had been hanging around for a while, chucked it into a mason jar and filled that bad boy up with apricots and dates. That way we didn’t have to think too much about what to do with them and would hopefully have something tasty for little work. After the craziness of Christmas ended we decided to test the fruits of our labour, whipping up a classic Old Fashioned style cocktail that got a big kick of flavour from the infused gin.

 

Apricot and Date Infused Gin Old Fashioned

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp water

2 dashes Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters

60ml Apricot and Date Infused Gin

Date to garnish

1 large ice cube

 

In an old fashioned glass muddle the brown sugar with the water until you can’t hear it crunching. Add your two dashes of bitters and the large ice cube. Pour over your apricot and date infused gin and then stir to combine. Garnish with a date cut into strips.

Apricot and Date Infused Gin

For the apricot and date infused gin start off with 1 cup of gin, 5 apricots quartered and 3 dates chopped. We opted for fresh apricots but we have heard dried apricots also give off a good, albeit different flavour. After a few hours we added 2 more apricots and 2 more dates and then the next morning we added another apricot and 2 more dates. Leave it for at least 2 days. It was hard at first to gauge how much flavour was being imparted as even after almost 2 days it still smelled a lot like gin, but once we strained it and it had rested for a few days the date flavour really came forward. Make sure you strain it well because the dates will produce a fair bit of sediment.

Apricot and Date Infused Gin

We chose something relatively straightforward because we really just wanted to see how the apricot and date infused gin was. We are pleased to report that it turned out quite well. The dates given the gin a sweet, caramel flavour that has a fruit aftertaste from the apricots. We were worried the dates may have overpowered the apricots, but they didn’t. They provide a nice balance to the dates and stopped it from being too sweet. What was quite interesting was the almost syrupy consistency the gin developed. The infusion really stripped everything out of the dates and started to take the juices out of the apricots, giving it quite a thick mouthfeel. It was quite delicious and there was no real hint of alcohol or the original Gordon’s Gin. It was very smooth and easy to drink with just a touch of spicy chocolate from the bitters.

Apricot and Date Infused Gin

We’re not sure what else we will pair this with because it has a whole lot of flavour on it’s own, but we would be more than happy to just see the bottle out drinking infused Old Fashioneds because they tasted mighty fine.

 

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Now Serving – Ho Ho Ho-Cho!

By The Lady

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As I am sure you are all aware, Thursday was Christmas Day. Accordingly, at the end of a very long day, The Gentleman and I collapsed on the couch in a food induced comma after driving cross country! While we were completely stuffed, we still had a hankering for something festive, decadent,  and a little bit naughty. Therefore, we introduce to you, the Ho Ho Ho-Cho!

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During the week, my housemate kindly gifted us a jar of The Food Curators’ Healthy Nutella. From the outset of receiving this tasty spread, we knew it was destined to be incorporated into one of our drinks. Considering that a hot chocolate would be the perfect drink to satisfy our festive urges, the Healthy Nutella was the perfect addition to our Christmas nightcap. Also, after our first visit to Bank Street Social on International Rum Day, we fell in love with Stolen Spiced Rum (I think we possibly may have drank their entire supply that night!). We finally got around to acquiring a bottle of our own to demolish, so this too was to be an essential ingredient in our festive ho-cho.

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Ho Ho Ho-Cho!

1 cup of milk

3 tablespoons of The Food Curators Healthy Nutella

1 tablespoons of Mörk Original Dark Hot Chocolate Powder

60mL of Stolen Spiced Rum

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Add the Healthy Nutella, Mörk Hot Chocolate powder, and the milk into a saucepan on a low heat. Stir until the chocolate powder has dissolved completely. Turn off the heat and add the spiced rum. And ta-da! Have yourself a Ho Ho Ho-Cho!

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The Ho Ho Ho-Cho was the perfect end to the day, really. The Healthy Nutella, made by the lovely ladies at The Food Curators, had a lovely nutty texture which really added a unique textural element to our naughty ho-cho. The spiced rum had a deliciously warm and festive flavour that really packed a punch. Overall, we think we may have to make the Ho Ho Ho-Cho a yearly occurrance!

We hope you all had a great a Christmas filled with cocktails and delicious things. Now onwards to the New Year!

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Now Serving – Pop My Cherry!

By The Gentleman

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I discovered something recently that I feel I should have know earlier. Cherries are basically crack to The Lady. Last Christmas there was a bit of a shortage of cherries so I don’t remember experiencing this, but this year cherries are in abundance and she is just going crazy for them. We got given a massive bag of cherries and by the time I got around to making a drink with them they were almost all gone! So, readers, you’re quite lucky that we can even post this drink as the crucial ingredient was almost missing. Introducing Pop My Cherry!

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Pop My Cherry

For 2

150 ml Breuckelen Distilling Glorious Gin

1 bag Tea For Who Christmas Tea

6 fresh cherries

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp bourbon vanilla extract

1/2 tsp sugar

120 ml Nudie Cloudy Apple Juice

20 ml lime juice

Ice

Cinnamon for garnish

Dehydrated Orange for garnish

In a glass infuse the gin with the Christmas tea for at least 5 minutes. While the tea is infusing muddle the cherries in the base of a cocktail shaker with the cinnamon, vanilla and sugar. Once you’ve finished muddling the cherries remove the tea bag from the gin and pour it in with the cherries. Add the lime juice and apple juice and then fill with ice. Shake it real good then strain into ice-filled brandy balloons. Garnish with a dehydrated orange slice and a dusting of cinnamon.

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The drink had cherries in it so The Lady was always going to like it, but there were a few extra elements that made this Pop My Cherry! Mainly the drink had a gorgeous bright pink colour. The apple juice tones down the really deep, dark tones of the cherries and makes it a lighter and very pretty colour, and we all know pretty things are always a winner. The Lady also loves tea so that’s another big tick. This time the tea didn’t infuse as strongly as the Clubhouse Rock, but we didn’t infuse it as long. We wanted to make sure we got the balance between the tea and the gin, which tends to have more of an independent character than most vodkas. We didn’t want one to overpower the other. The Tea For Who Christmas Tea has nutmeg, almond, and orange flavours and we think these gave the drink a nice spicy, warming aftertaste. The tea paired really nicely with the cinnamon and vanilla that we added because there’s not a lot that doesn’t benefit from a dash of cinnamon or vanilla. Also given the fact that there’s two and a half shots of gin it was very smooth and easy to drink. This is a drink to get you comfortably sauced with minimal effort so watch out. Finally, the cherries gave the drink a nice tart and sour flavour that moves to a spicy aftertaste. It’s an interesting but delicious combination. We think the cloudy apple juice also makes the drink less sweet than if we used normal apple juice. That mix of sweet and tart flavours made the drink taste like some sort of fancy-pants cordial and we are all about the classier things in life so that’s okay with us.

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The cherries may only be available for a short period of time, and even shorter period of time if The Lady keeps eating them, so grab a bunch quick smart and mash those bad boys up so you can indulge in some fine Pop My Cherry! One sip and you’ll be hooked.

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Now Serving – Santa’s Milk

By The Gentleman

Santa's Milk

Spoilers ahead people, my dad is Santa. At least, he was in my house. As usual it took us a while to realise this but in retrospect it should have been pretty easy to work out. Instead of a glass of milk we left Santa an iced coffee, apparently he liked a bit of variety on his travels, but really it was because dad was an iced coffee fiend. Great detectives we were not. So, with that as an inspiration we made the Santa’s Milk, a decidedly more adult offering for Santa.

Santa’s Milk

40 ml Mr Black Spirits Coffee Liqueur

15 ml Tuaca

30 ml Cream

Cocoa powder for garnish

Ice

Cookies or biscuits

 

Pour the coffee liqueur, Tuaca, cream, and ice into a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously. Strain into a small port-style glass. Dust with cocoa powder and serve with cookies or biscuits for dunking.

Santa's Milk

Sadly, we do have to admit that the way we served this drink was not exactly how it was meant to go. Initially, instead of shaking everything together we were trying to get a layered effect with the coffee and Tuaca down the bottom and the cream on top. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and we’re not sure why. We had everr hot mess. The cream didn’t form one layer, but a bunch of separate blobs. It wasn’t good. So I jumped on that hand grenade (we can’t afford to waste any liquor here) and made The Lady’s drink in the shaker to much better results.

Santa's Milk

The Santa’s Milk had that creamy Bailey’s sort of consistency without the sweetness. It was very smooth and did taste like a fancy, adult iced coffee. That’s what we were hoping for in the end because iced coffee is basically an essential survival tool for Australian summers and it is particularly essential in South Australia, where the people are rather proud that iced coffee (Farmer’s Union to be precise) outsells Coca-Cola and is close to the only place in the world where a milk drink outsells a cola. We certainly love our iced coffee, it’s perfect on a hot day, and this had a good coffee kick behind it. The Tuaca also just helped make it easy to drink, providing a delicious vanilla finish. You definitely want to serve this with some cookies or biscuits, not something soft but more of a biscotti or almond bread that has some substance so you can dunk it in. It’s damn tasty.

Santa's Milk

The saying goes when in Rome do as the Romans do so, we feel Santa (or my dad) would approve of an iced coffee, with a touch of something extra, when traveling through South Australia on a hot Christmas Eve. Still, we don’t want him getting too happy and there being a recreation of the Tim Allen movie The Santa Clause. We would not look good in a fat suit. Instead we think we’ll keep this one to ourselves.

 

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