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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Now Serving – Hibiscus Tonic

By The Gentleman

Hibiscus Tonic

For my birthday I received many great gifts, including a bottle of Melbourne Gin Co gin and a jar of Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup. It is quite evident that my love of cocktails is well known by The Lady and my friends. Both of these fine items have been sitting on my shelf for a while now and I thought it was time they met in a delicious Hibiscus Tonic.

Hibiscus Tonic

Hibiscus Tonic

45 ml Melbourne Gin Co Gin

15 ml Wild Hibiscus Syrup

1 Wild Hibiscus Flower

Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water

Ice

 

Place ice in a tumbler then add gin and hibiscus syrup. Top with tonic water and then place Hibiscus Flower on top. Enjoy!

Hibiscus Tonic

The drink is definitely not your average Gin and Tonic. There is a lot more sweetness here even though I bumped up the gin to try and balance it out (and received an enjoyable buzz as a result). The Lady described it as a classy lolly and the sweetness does linger as a pleasant aftertaste. The Hibiscus Flower replaces the lime or cucumber in the drink and brings its own fruitiness. The Hibiscus Flower has a raspberry and rhubarb flavour, but it’s not jammy or overbearing. Instead it’s got more of a tangy flavour that combines with a more subtle bitterness from the tonic water. The gin, luckily, isn’t completely lost in the Hibiscus. The strong citrus flavour of Melbourne Gin Co’s gin is still there in the aroma and cutting through the sweetness. Make sure you use a bold, flavoursome gin in this bad boy. The drink also looks gorgeous, a very pretty sparkling pink and you’re left with an edible Hibiscus Flower. It has a bit of a weird texture, but the flavour was quite pleasant with the raspberry flavour being particularly noticeable.

Hibiscus Tonic

It may be a little too sweet to be classed as a classic G&T, but that’s okay as the Hibiscus Tonic has it’s own sweet, fruity flavour that makes it rather enjoyable in its own right and a perfect drink for the warmer months ahead.

 

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Now Serving – Mr Black’s Invigorating Tonics

By The Gentleman

 

Because we’re such nice people and because you, our adoring audience, deserve it The Lady and I are bringing you not one but TWO drinks today. I know, I know we’re pretty awesome and modest people. We were just so impressed with Mr Black’s Coffee Liqueur that we had to share with you two tasty experiments.

Mr Black

Mr Black, located in Erina, New South Wales, started the recent trend in crowd funding Australian spirits on local site Pozible. They were successful and were able to bring their cold-drip coffee liqueur to the masses, which is great for us because it’s delicious. The guys at Mr Black went through over 340 iterations to find the right balance of coffee flavour that wasn’t too sweet and loaded with overbearing vanilla and caramel flavours. Mr Black comes in what at first looks like a rather nice but plain bottle. It’s very nicely shaped and the double walling of the glass shows off the deep blackish/brown of the liqueur. The real treat though, and what makes Mr Black stand out, is the artwork by Dale Bigeni. Not only is the artwork very cool, a rather dapper and impressive looking owl, but the way the art is integrated into the design of the bottle is also very impressive. The owl is done in black line-work on the inside of the back of the bottle. As you progress through the bottle the owl is slowly revealed. It’s just a very cool and different way to design a bottle that we are definitely a fan of. Plus it encourages you to get through the bottle quicker to reveal the artwork, so well played their Mr Black.

Mr Black

Mr Black have a bunch of classic cocktails that have been given the coffee treatment listed on their site. They all looked and sounded great yet we noticed something was missing, a Mr Black take on the classic tonic based libations. With some quality tonic in tow and a bit of imagination we rectified that and we think our Invigorating Tonic’s are up to the high standards of Mr Black.

Mr Black

Mr Black’s Invigorating Tonic #1

45ml Mr Black Coffee Liqueur

2 dashes Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters

Fever Tree Tonic Water

3 Coffee Ice Cubes

Lemon twist

Coffee grounds

Mr Black

To make the coffee ice cubes brew your coffee as usual then freeze. Put the ice cubes in the glass, add a dash of bitters and top with tonic water. Add the Mr Black, lemon twist, second dash of bitters and coffee grounds.

Mr Black

The first tonic was super decadent. Combining the coffee liqueur with the coffee ice cubes gives it a deep, rich coffee colour, aroma and, most importantly, flavour. The two coffee flavours combine as the ice cubes melt rather quickly and together they are very strong and tasty, but not too overpowering as the lemon twist gives it just enough tart sweetness to make it very drinkable. The tonic also doesn’t impart too much flavour to make the drink overly bitter. It’s also quite a fun drink as the tonic water generates a lot of froth and foam when its added to the coffee ice cubes and bitters. A small amount of this foam remains when you’re drinking the drink, which makes it very reminiscent of an espresso coffee.  The richness of the drink, and I assume the foam, also contribute to a very thick, but nice mouthfeel. Even though it’s a cold drink it feels more suited to a winter’s day, something to finish your evening with. The second tonic, on the other hand, is very much the reverse but equally as good.

Mr Black

Mr Black’s Invigorating Tonic #2

45ml Mr Black Coffee Liqueur

2 dashes  Bittermen’s Hellfire Habanero Shrub

Fentiman’s Tonic Water

Ice cubes

Lemon slice

Coffee grounds

Mr Black

Put the ice cubes in the glass. Add one dash of the shrub and top with tonic water. Add the Mr Black, lemon slice, second dash of shrub and coffee grounds.

Mr Black

The first tonic may have been a decadent winter drink, but the second tonic is a much fresher and brighter drink that’s definitely suited to a hot summer’s day. It’s lighter in colour and the tonic didn’t generate that intense foam, which gives it a lot lighter feel on your tongue. The coffee flavour, which dominated the first tonic, becomes more of the background flavour as the lemon and shrub come to the front as the initial flavours. The habanero shrub gives the drink this really nice spicy heat. People might think it’s weird to add chilli heat to coffee, but man does it work here. It just gives the drink that something different that’s a little bit special. The lemon again provides the sweetness and the coffee, mixed with the more herbal Fentiman’s tonic, gives the drink a slight herbal bitterness to finish. You really get a multitude of different flavours here, going from spicy, to sweet, to a pleasant bitter end which leaves you feeling mighty refreshed.

Mr Black 9

Mr Black’s Invigorating Tonic #1

Mr Black 3

Mr Black’s Invigorating Tonic #2

Normally The Lady and I like to keep our tonic with our gin. We really love a good gin and tonic. That being said, a Mr Black and tonic is damn fine thing. These are just two experiments with this tasty coffee liqueur that show off the wide variety of applications for this very nice liqueur and we can see many more delicious variations in the future.

 

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Now Serving – Glorious Gin and Tonic

By The Gentleman

 

You may recall a little while ago we added the Breuckelen Distilling Glorious Gin to our On The Shelf category. At that stage we hadn’t yet had the chance to crack open the bottle and sample what the Brooklyn based distillery had to offer. Well, we’ve rightly rectified that and indulged in a few Glorious Gin and Tonics.

glorious3

30ml Breuckelen Distilling Glorious Gin

90-100ml Fentiman’s Tonic Water

Slice of Grapefruit

glorious4

In the Breuckelen Distilling On the Shelf article I highlighted that the gin is made with grapefruit and I’d like to make a Glorious gin and tonic with grapefruit in it. It was a good thing that I got one as it really went well with the gin. I had to cut a few slices of grapefruit before I got a good piece and I squeezed the juice from those few slices into the gin as well. I think those few drops of juice helped the flavour. It was just a really well balanced gin and tonic. The Fentiman’s Tonic Water is great, it has a very nice smell from all the botanicals used, and seemed to compliment the gin. The drink wasn’t sweet but it wasn’t overly bitter either which most gin and tonics at a bar tend to be.

glorious5

It is safe to say that the Breuckelen Distilling Glorious Gin tastes as good as it looks. The use of a grapefruit slice instead of a lime is key here I think as it suits the gin and I was pretty pleased with my first experience with the Fentiman’s Tonic Water. A simple but delicious mix you should all try.

 

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Now Serving – Orange, Lemon and Coriander Infused Gin

By The Gentleman

 

The Lady can attest that I am a bit of a tinkerer. I like to experiment and try new things especially when it comes to the kitchen. Naturally I also like to tinker with my drinks, hell that’s what this whole site is kind of about anyway. I’ve recently started to look at infusing spirits at home and it has been a fun and tasty experiment. One infusion that I want to share with you is my recent Orange, Lemon and Coriander Infused Gin. For the infusion I used:

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300ml Gordon’s London Dry Gin

Peel of 1 lemon

Peel of 1/2 and orange

1 tsp coriander seeds

 

Peel the fruit. Place peel and coriander in a sealable jar (I used a Ball Mason Jar) then top with gin. Leave for 3 days, checking once a day to see the progress of the flavours and giving the bottle a shake as well. When ready strain out peel and seeds and pour gin into clean bottle.

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I used Gordon’s because The Lady had a bottle hanging around she didn’t want to use anymore. The flavour combination was based on researching Gordon’s London Dry Gin and discovering that the gin already utilises orange peel, lemon peel and coriander seeds in the distillation process. I thought using those ingredients would just enhance the flavours already found in the gin and let everything blend well together. I also only used 300ml just in case the flavours didn’t mix well together and there goes all my infusing gin. A lot of recipes I’ve found call for a whole bottle of gin or whatever meaning the infusion can become an expensive process if your flavours don’t get a long.

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Throughout the process I checked on the infusion. At first the coriander seeds were quite powerful, obviously giving off their flavour first. I wondered whether they were going to be too intense as when I opened the jar you got hit with this spicy almost peppery smell. Over the next few days though the citrus peels gave off their flavour and toned down the spicy flavour I was getting early on. When it was ready I made myself a gin and tonic (using Fentiman’s Tonic Water) to test it out. The gin had a very citrusy flavour that paired really well with the Fentiman’s. It was very smooth to drink with a pleasant citrus smell and slight yellow tinge. I’d definitely say this infusion was a success and I look forward to making my next experiment.

 

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On The Shelf- Breuckelen Distilling Glorious Gin

As part of my cocktail journey I am still seeking out well designed and interesting distillers and brewers to help broaden my spirit knowledge. For my birthday I was lucky to receive a bottle of Breuckelen Distilling’s Glorious Gin. As you might expect Breuckelen Distilling are located in Brooklyn, New York. They mill, mash, ferment, distill, mature, fill, and label each and every bottle of spirits they produce, placing a real emphasis on being made by hand.

Glorious Gin

Glorious Gin

I’m yet to open my bottle but the site claims the Glorious Gin is distilled with juniper, lemon, rosemary, ginger, and grapefruit. It sounds like quite a flavorful combination and I’m really looking to opening it and pairing it with some nice tonic water and a slice of grapefruit to just appreciate the flavors.

Glorious Gin

Glorious Gin

The label is beautiful and elegant, utilising black and white to really standout on the clear bottle. On the shelf it has a striking presence and the flowing typography of the label really catches the eye. It is a simple, clean bottle which is just the sort of thing I like. It also gets bonus points for including a random dog on the back of the bottle. Seriously, puppies win every time.

If the Glorious Gin tastes half as good as it looks then I’ll be in for a real treat.

 

UPDATE: The guys at Breuckelen Distilling got back to me on Twitter to inform me that the puppy on the bottle is not Random, but Charlie the very happy Breuckelen Distilling booze hound.

 

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