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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