Now Serving – Smokin’ Iced Tea

By The Gentleman

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Lord oh mercy it has not only been damn hot this summer, but humid. It feels more like the Deep South than South Australia right about now and while The Lady and I don’t like the heat at the best of times this humidity is something else. Luckily we had plenty of tea concentrate leftover from our So French 75 that we could make the perfect drink for these hot and humid conditions, a delicious and refreshing spiked ice tea! Introducing the Smokin’ Iced Tea.

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Smokin’ Iced Tea

45ml Stolen Spiced Rum

30ml French Earl Grey Tea Concentrate

Juice of Half a Lemon

Fever Tree Lemonade

Ice

Lemon peel or wedge to garnish

 

Add ice to your cocktail shaker and shake the rum, tea concentrate and lemon juice. Grab a highball glass, chuck in some ice and then pour in your boozy tea. Top with lemonade, garnish with a piece of lemon and serve with a straw.

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There’s nothing too fancy about this drink but boy did it hit the spot. It’s cool and refreshing with nice caramel and spice flavours from the rum, sweetness and herbal flavours from the tea, and a satisfyingly sharp tang from the lemon and lemonade. All of these different flavours given the drink an enticing aroma. You can play around with the measurements as well if your tastes lean more towards the rum, tea, or lemon. We think this mix provides the right balance though and we recommend Stolen Spiced Rum or something with similar coffee and tobacco flavours as it provides great flavour to the drink. Either way this is an easy drinking ice tea, almost a little too easy to drink. You’ll knock it back in no time and be wondering where the next is. It would be perfect mixed up in a big pitcher so you could just while away the afternoon, not doing anything but escaping the heat and humidity. Just make sure you’ve got plenty of ice, a comfortable chair, and a book to keep you company.

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Given we’re experiencing weather more common to the Deep South than South Australia lately it makes sense to imbibe in a bit of Southern hospitality. The Smokin’ Iced Tea is quick and easy to prepare, perfect for a hot and humid day where you don’t really want to do anything. Just sit back, relax and try not to overdo it ya hear.

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Now Serving – So French 75

By The Gentleman

So French 75

Tea, if you haven’t realised by now, is a great addition to your cocktail repertoire. This is already our fourth experiment with using tea in a cocktail and we aren’t planning on stopping anytime soon. The complex and delicious flavours of your favourite tea blend can lend a different element to your drink of choice. That’s the approach we took with our So French 75, which ramps up the flavour of the classic French 75 with a delicious concentrate made from Sydney based T Totaler’s French Early Grey Loose Leaf Tea (see what we did there, French tea for a French 75).  Props to With Food + Love for the inspiration.

T Totaler French Earl Grey

French Earl Grey Tea Concentrate

5 tsp T Totaler French Early Grey Loose Leaf Tea

1 cup boiling water

4 tsps candied cinnamon honey

 

First you need to make your tea concentrate, which doubles as the sweetness (simple syrup) you would normally add to a French 75. Start by boiling the kettle. Place tea in a tea strainer or French Press. Pour over water and leave to steep for 10 minutes. After about 5 minutes stir in your honey, making sure that it dissolves. After 10 minutes plunge your French Press and then pour out the tea into a jar or glass. Place in the fridge to cool.

So French 75

So French 75

30ml French Earl Grey Concentrate

15ml Lemon Juice

45ml Melbourne Gin Co Gin

Champagne to top (We used Jansz Premium Cuvee)

 

Fill your cocktail shaker with ice, then add the tea concentrate, lemon juice and gin. Shake well. Strain into a Champagne Flute and then top with Champagne. You can garnish with a lemon twist if you feel inclined, but alas we did not have any lemons.

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The first thing you’ll notice is the tea concentrate gives the drink a very pretty colour, a brassy, copper tone. The second thing you’ll notice is this drink has an absolutely delicious aroma and that’s all down to the tea. The T Totaler French Earl Grey is made from China Black Tea, hibiscus, roses, blue corn, marigold, and bergamot. It has a real fruity, floral and herbal aroma that stands out in the drink, which isn’t dulled but actually enhanced by the gin and Jansz. The So French 75 has a really sharp, zingy citrus flavour but there’s nice balance. It’s not too sweet and the Jansz gives it a nice dryness, a combination that leaves you quite refreshed. Be careful as this is a sneaky strong drink. The delightful tea flavours mask the strength of the gin and wine.

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I’m still not a tea drinker, but all these tea cocktails are definitely to my taste. They add something different to any drink without much effort and we are all about adding as much flavour with the least amount of effort. The tea concentrate makes quite a lot so we can’t wait to shake up a few more drinks that are bursting with floral, herbal tea flavours.

 

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Out & About – Thrift Shop Bar

By The Lady

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Image courtesy of Thrift Shop Bar Facebook page.

For a long, long time now, we have been meaning to check out Thrift Shop Bar. This little gem boasts an impressive range of 100% Australian Spirits, as well as locally produced wine and beer. We heard that all the cool kids were going there, so as we are clearly (oh so) cool, we felt it our duty to partake in a slice of the Thrift Shop Bar pie! To our delight, there was a wine tasting on that evening by one of our new favourites Delinquente Wine Co., so we both agreed that it was the perfect opportunity to head on down.

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Image courtesy of Thrift Shop Bar Facebook page.

The bar has a unique and refreshing vibe about it. The furniture is foraged from local op-shops. One feature wall is plastered with what looks like old sheet music and the light shades are pre-loved vintage dresses. My particular favourite touch from the bar was the old school glassware. It really reminded me of my grandpa and his home bar he used to love. He would have loved sipping on a whiskey or two at Thrift Shop Bar, that I am sure of!

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Image courtesy of Thrift Shop Bar Facebook page.

Throughout the evening, we had several drinks, all of which were equally as delightful. Firstly, we started off with a tasting from Delinquente Wine Co. We started with the Screaming Betty Vermentino, which had a lovely refreshing flavour perfect for hot, Australian summer days. We then sampled the Pretty Boy Nero D’avola Rosato which was described as “a rosé for those who don’t drink rosé”. We can’t agree any more with this sentiment. The Pretty Boy is a perfect gateway wine to the world of rosé if one were so inclined to follow that path in life. Finally, we sampled Roxanne the Razor Nero D’avola & Montepulciano. Personally, I would have to say this was my favourite out of the bunch. It is incredibly easy to drink and would go well with a variety of meals yet it would also be perfect by itself. As you all know already, we loved The Bullet Dodger Montepulciano when we tried it a few weeks back, so it’s really no surprise that we are digging the other flavours that DWC have on offer.

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Gingerbread Black Russian (L), Popcorn Sour (R)

Then, we were drawn to the vast cocktail menu. As it is scarily close to Christmas, I opted for the Gingerbread Black Russian. Oh my, this was tasty. The drink had a perfect blend of spiciness and richness. It really did taste light naughty, alcoholic gingerbread men too! The Gentleman opted for the Popcorn Sour which was oh so buttery. The drink had a lovely creaminess also, and tasted particularly like a lemon meringue pie with a hint of sour citrus. We are now 100% convinced that we must invest in a bottle of 666 Autumn Butter Vodka that was used to create this delightful cocktail. Really, what is not to love about the marriage of butter and vodka? We here at Cocktail Challenge HQ are clearly prepping our stomachs for food galore on the 25th as we are continually drawn to foodie cocktails. Delicious! Whilst drinking these cocktails, the bartender who made them came and sat down next to us and spoke about how he had created the two cocktails we had selected. He was very informative by explaining the creation process and it added that extra personal touch to Thrift Shop Bar.

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Storm In A Teapot

Then, we decided to share a “Pot Tail” .i.e a cocktail inside a teapot. Yes people, shit just got real. We decided to go for the Storm in a Teapot, because it sounded delightful and we loved the name. Again, a lovely spiciness and rich flavour engulfed us in a refreshing and festive manner. We could really tell that the ginger beer was homemade, with lovely natural and zesty notes. The spiced rum was a perfect addition to this pot tail! Ho ho ho indeed! The Storm In A Teapot was beautifully presented, being served in an elegant gold teapot with cute little teacups to boot that made you look damn fancy while you were drinking it.

 

Finally, we polished off the evening with two different glasses of Delinquente Wine – the Pretty Boy Nero D’avola Rosato and the Roxanne the Razor NDM.  Also, we were never without free popcorn and we think we may have consumed our body weight in popcorn that evening!

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Pretty Boy Nero D’avola Rosato (L) Roxanne the Razor NDM (R)

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our Thrift Shop Bar experience. We are always happy to drink in a gorgeous setting, especially when the establishment is as enthusiastic about Australian liquor as we are. Onya Thrift Shop!

 

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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 – Clubhouse Rock

By The Gentleman

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The Lady is a tea fiend. She is the quintessential old lady in a young person’s body who surrounds herself with cats while drinking cups of tea and showing off her eclectic tea pots. I don’t like tea (gasp!) and I think if it weren’t for my winning personality and ability to supply The Lady with tasty treats and delicious beverages it would probably be a deal breaker. For this cocktail, we decided to mix The Lady’s tea love with something we can all enjoy, booze. Introducing the Clubhouse Rock.

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Clubhouse Rock

60ml Alaskan Rock Vodka infused with Scullery Made Clubhouse Lane Tea

Juice of Half a Lemon + lemon peel for garnish

30ml Cinnamon Simple Syrup

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Infuse 60ml of vodka with 1 tsp of tea for at least 2 hours. The longer you infuse it the better and you can also make more as you need it, and why wouldn’t you, following the ratio of 60ml to 1 tsp. We chose Scullery Made because it’s a local South Australian tea seller who have some pretty amazing sounding blends. After leaving your vodka to infuse, strain it into a cocktail shaker filled with lots of ice. Add your lemon and cinnamon syrup. Shake it well. Strain it into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with your lemon peel. Try and get it to twist, but don’t worry if you can’t. Those lemons can be tricky.

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So I’ll be first to admit that the Scullery Made Clubhouse Lane tea smelt pretty damn good. The Clubhouse Lane blend is made with a rooibos-like tea called honeybush, along with orange zest, cinnamon, cloves and calendula petals. I don’t really know what any of that means, all I know is it had a very strong smell with a hint of cinnamon. It was that cinnamon flavour in the tea that I wanted to capture and enhance with the cinnamon syrup. The tea was perfect for a cocktail. It gave the drink a very pretty colour and the smell of the tea carried over to the cocktail, with a stronger cinnamon scent and just a touch of lemon. It infused really well and there was no harshness from the vodka, it provided the perfect canvas for the tea to shine. The drink is sweet, but all the spices from the tea and the cinnamon syrup really balance it out. Also be warned, I downed this bad boy in a few sips and didn’t even realise. It is so easy to drink.

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I may not be a total tea convert but after making a tea infused cocktail I am definitely open to imbibing in more tea cocktails. Also there are so many options for different infusions with different teas and spirits. I think this is the start of a long and beautiful friendship.

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Alaskan Rock Week – Now Serving – Bittersweet Alaskan Tea

By The Lady

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Usually, we like to post every second day during the week, but for some unknown and peculiar reason we actually had a social life this week. So we apologise for the late delivery of our last instalment of Alaskan Rock Week. We decided that we wanted to get a little fancy this week and perhaps try a few little new cocktail tricks. Firstly, this cocktail (as the name suggests) includes tea as one of it’s main ingredients. We also wanted to try our hand at using dehydrated fruit because, well, why not? I had lots of lonely looking mandarins in my fruit bowl that were longing to be be put to good use. They did just the trick for dehydrating! Combine these experiments along with our flavour of the week Alaskan Rock Vodka and you’ll have one rocking (ha!) cocktail. We present to you : Bittersweet Alaskan Tea!

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We used :

60mL Alaskan Rock Vodka

60mL Campari

30mL Mandarin Syrup (see recipe below)

1 cup (250mL)  T2 Turkish Cherry Tea  (left to cool down)

1 dehydrated mandarin slice

1/2 teaspoon mandarin powder (ground up dehydrated mandarin segments)

Lots of ice

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Mix the vodka, Campari, mandarin syrup and room temperature tea in a cocktail shaker with lots of ice. Shake it guuuurl! Strain into a large glass. Dust the top of your drink with the mandarin powder and place one slice of dehydrated mandarin to garnish.

 

With a little preparation, this beauty is a super easy cocktail! Don’t be scared by the mandarin syrup and dehydrated mandarins. This is all REALLY easy, it just takes a little forward thinking. Apparently, you can buy dehydrators for your dehydrating purposes, however I just set my oven to the lowest temperature possible (90°C on my oven) and placed my slices and segments on separate trays and left them in the oven for approximately six hours. The segments possibly could have come out earlier, as they were smaller pieces than the whole slice but they do have a lovely caramelised flavour that is quite appealing. Also, for the purpose of this drink where I actually ground up some of the segments, I don’t think it really matters whether they are a little extra dehydrated.

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We also decided to make a mandarin syrup while we were on the mandarin bandwagon. Again, this was super easy and I would say you could use any fruit you fancy.

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Mandarin Syrup

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

2 mandarins, split into their segments

2 drops of vanilla essence

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Combine water and sugar in pan over medium high heat. Add mandarin segments and vanilla essence. Bring to boil then simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat for at least 20 minutes. Press on mandarins to release all the flavours. Strain syrup liquid into a jar/bottle/container.

 

The Bittersweet Alaskan Tea was a very tasty cocktail and far too easy to drink. We can definitely see ourselves offering up big pitchers of this to friends and family on a regular basis! The drink was a perfect balance of the sweet flavours from the tea and fruit as well as the bitter tones from the Campari. It was a very pretty colour, with the tea being a very similar colour to Campari which gave the drink a lovely vibrant colour. Additionally, after the mandarin slices had been dehydrated it brought out some deeper orange/red tones, which complimented the colour of the drink well. Be careful though as it is deceptively strong, that beautiful mix of a lot of alcohol without that overwhelming booze flavour. Pace yourself friends.

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Well the Bittersweet Alaskan Tea brings us to the end of Alaskan Rock Week. We hope you have enjoyed our week long engagement with this great vodka, we know we have!

 

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Disclaimer: The Cocktail Challenge was provided a free sample bottle of Alaskan Rock Vodka for this article. Although this post is sponsored all opinions are our own.