Now Serving – Grape Time

By The Gentleman

Grape Time

When I was little my family would always have prawn cocktails as a starter before Christmas lunch. I hated it. I just can’t get over the texture of raw seafood. Everyone always said when I got older I’d grow accustomed to the taste, but I never did. For some reason, instead of having a prawn cocktail I would have a bowl of grapes (served in the same fancy glass as everyone’s prawn cocktails). This may sound like a punishment, but I loved it. I would just chow down on grapes and look at everyone else like they were the weird ones. I don’t have a bowl of grapes now, but I still always associate Christmas with eating grapes and that’s the inspiration behind our very grapey festive cocktail, Grape Time.

Grape Time

Grape Time

45 ml Alaskan Rock Vodka

45 ml White Grape Juice

15 ml Noilly Prat Dry White Vermouth

5 ml Grand Marnier

15 ml Grape and Balsamic Shrub

Ice

Grapes for Garnish

Soda Water

 

In a mixing glass half filled with ice mix vodka, grape juice, vermouth and Grand Marnier until chilled. Strain into a champagne flute. Add crushed ice, grapes and top with soda water. I cut a few grapes in half and put them in the glass and then slit one so it could rest on the lip of the glass. Grab your shrub and pour it in over the back of the spoon to get a layered effect. Add a pretty straw so you can mix in the shrub as you desire.

Grape Time

All of this stuff is pretty easy to find except the grape shrub. I made that myself by macerating grapes in sugar overnight before transferring it all to a mason jar with balsamic vinegar, which was left in the fridge for a week and the grapes were strained out. I use a 1:1:1 ratio for shrubs. If you don’t have the time to make it don’t stress, the shrub gives a slightly different flavour but was mostly for presentation.

Grape Time

This was exactly what I wanted, something that was oh so grape flavoured to bring me back to Christmas when I was younger. Vodka is the perfect partner because it doesn’t interfere with the flavour of the grape juice. Vermouth is also an obvious choice, adding a slightly herbal flavour and keeping it from getting too sweet but not veering too far away from that lovely grape flavour. If you can make the shrub then I encourage you to do so because it not only makes the drink look impressive, it also gives it a little bit of bite and something different. We are definitely fans of what balsamic can bring to a cocktail and it paired really nicely with the grape juice. It was basically an explosion of sweet, light grape flavour with a hint of fizz that was topped off by some booze soaked grapes at the bottom of the glass. I certainly didn’t get to eat those Christmas day, but I wouldn’t be turning them down now.

 

The Grape Time isn’t your normal festive cocktail and that’s okay because it’s damn tasty. Just roll with it, it’ll be fine and while you’re at it, have a bowl of grapes on Christmas day. It’s not weird at all…right?

 

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Out & About – Bank Street Social Take Two

By The Gentleman

Bank Street Social

After visiting new local bar Bank Street Social on International Rum Day we were invited back to sample some more of the bars delicious Australian gin. We also ventured back there as a bit of a collaboration with fellow blogger Lee from Adelaide Food Central, for a night of food and drinking blogging. Sometimes it’s good to be a blogger.

 

We revisited Bread & Bone for dinner and you can read Lee’s review of our experience at his website. The Lady enjoyed another of their fine Negronis and I tried the Feral Hop Hog IPA. The Hop Hog was very fruity and refreshing with little bitterness, a thoroughly drinkable and enjoyable beer.

 

You already know our feelings about Bank Street Social’s decor. We just love the old school, speakeasy style. Hot tip, if you want to really soak in the design of the bar and enjoy your drink while quietly relaxing in a booth then head their on Wednesday night. The bar was relatively quite and had a far more subdued atmosphere compared to the crazy, high-energy of a Saturday night. The relaxed atmosphere allowed us to really notice all the little details that help make the bar come alive, like the old photos near the entrance and the cabinet filled with various old bottles, clocks and books. Coming on a slower night also allowed us to talk to the bar staff who really know their stuff. We spoke to Cameron who was knowledgeable and passionate about the experience Bank Street Social is trying to offer. We had a good chat about the bar’s focus on Australian spirits and the difficult, but rewarding experience of introducing bar goers to the wonderful world of Australian spirits.

Botanic Australis Gin

The Lady and I didn’t need any encouragement to drink Australian and we had a hard time choosing a different Australian gin to try. We eventually settled on the Botanic Australis Gin from Queensland’s Mt Uncle Distillery. The gin is made with 14 native Australian botanicals including Lemon Scented Gum, River Mint, Wattle Seed, Lilly Pilly, Lemon Myrtle, native ginger and Finger Limes. The gin has a lot of flavours going on but it works so well. Smelling the gin in the bottle it had a really pleasant cinnamon aroma. Cameron prepared a simple gin and tonic with Schweppes Tonic Water and an orange twist. The orange added a pleasant citrus scent and a hint of sweetness to the drink. Paired with the tonic water the Botanic Australis is so lovely to drink. You get a whole bunch of different herbal flavours before a really pleasant mint and pepper finish that leaves your mouth feeling so fresh. We could definitely drink these all night.

Bank Street Social

We finished the evening with what is fast becoming a favourite drink of ours, an Australian Martini. There is such a growth in good quality Australian gin and vermouth that you would be foolish not to pair them together. This time our barman mixed the drink with West Winds Sabre Gin and Maidenii Dry Vermouth. To make it just that extra bit special, and to enhance the flavours present in the martini our bartender also roasted some rosemary over the top of the drink to release the flavours and aromas from the rosemary before dropping it in the glass. The martini was so smooth and easy to drink. It had warmth and intensity from the spirits but it wasn’t so strong that it was unpleasant. The combination of the rosemary with the gin and vermouth was very nice. It really enhanced the flavours and the aroma of the martini and took it to that next level. It’s becoming very hard for us to go past an Australian Martini when they keep being this good.

West Winds Gin

Bank Street Social certainly didn’t disappoint on our second visit. The relaxed atmosphere, knowledgeable staff and quality drinks made it the perfect way to power through hump day and celebrate the fact that the week was half over.

Australian Martini

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Australian Martini

Disclaimer: The Cocktail Challenge was invited back to Bank Street Social and provided with complimentary gin and tonics for this article, but paid for the martinis. Although this post is sponsored all opinions are our own.

Now Serving – Yarratini

By The Lady

 

While it is true that James Bond gets many things right, I always wonder why he opts for the “vodka martini – shaken, not stirred”.

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(L) Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin (R) Causes & Cures Semi Dry White Vermouth

 

After recently adding to our On The Shelf collection some lovely Yarra Valley goods, I thought The Gentleman and I should give this old classic a go. Having been very delighted after trying both Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin and Causes & Cures Semi Dry White Vermouth, as well as the fact that they are neighbours, it seemed only natural to create a modern Australian twist on an old fashioned favourite. We named it : The Yarratini – shaken, not stirred.

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We used :

40mL Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin

10mL Causes & Cures Semi Dry White Vermouth

Lemon twist

Ice (for the shaker)

 

Add all the ingredients to your cocktail shaker. Shake like crazy. Pour into your fancy martini glasses. Use a strainer to ensure only the liquor (not ice cubes) end up in your glass. Garnish with a lemon twist (I need to work on my garnish cutting skills … )

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The first time I ever had a martini was about a week after I turned eighteen. Thinking I would attempt being all suave and sophisticated, I ordered said drink. All I remember of that night was that it was a very strong and boozy drink.  Luckily for us, our Yarratini was a much more smooth and refined version of the cheap impostor I sampled back in the day. Yes, it certainly was a strong drink (it does have 50mL of alcohol after all!) but it was the sophisticated drink I had hoped and dreamed for many years ago. Given that the Four Pillars Gin is made using whole oranges and the Causes & Cures Vermouth suggests the pairing with oranges,  I was definitely able to taste the orange flavour coming through. This delightful orange tone was a pleasant and unexpected surprise, which made me want to try it in the future with some sort of orange addition to further enhance the flavour. It may be the liquor talking, but I also thought I could taste a rose flavour coming through. I personally LOVE anything rose flavoured, so again, this has inspired me to partake in some rose-flavoured cocktail making!

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The Yarratini was a very tasty and grown-up cocktail although I wouldn’t drink too many in one sitting for fear of my oh so dignified self becoming not so dignified! Moderation is the key! Yay for the power of our Yarra Valley friends at Four Pillars and Causes & Cures to get you smashed in a stylish and quasi modern Australian James Bond style!

 

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On The Shelf – Causes & Cures Semi Dry White Vermouth

By The Lady

 

Another recent addition to the shelf is a bottle of Causes & Cures Semi Dry White Vermouth created in Yarra Valley, Australia. (Hooray for the local lads and ladies!). This particular vermouth uses a selection of herbs such as orris root, wormwood, saffron, star anise and bay leaf to name a few. I would be interested to try it with some Gabriel Boudier Saffron Gin to highlight some of the saffron notes. The label describes a medieval treatise that recorded “beneficial and restorative powers of all known herbs and spices” which was also called ‘Causes & Cures’, hence where I am guessing their name comes from.

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Let’s be honest, as much as I pretend I’m not when I stroll through my local liquor store, I really am a sucker for stylish labels. And this Causes & Cures label is one dapper label. The heptagon framing the brand, name of the drink and logo is intersected by notations regarding its creation and ingredients. The selections of fonts is aesthetically pleasing and aids in making it a unique and interesting label. Additionally, I am interested to find out more about the creature featured within the brand’s logo and on the cap of the bottle. Curiouser and curiouser.

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Not really having had much vermouth previously, aside from in cocktails (aka a chilled mixture of deliciousness), I was curious as to the ways in which one might serve vermouth on its own. I somewhat followed the suggestion on the side of the bottle and was pleasantly surprised. I used :

30 mL Causes & Cures Semi Dry White Vermouth

Juice of about half an orange

An orange twist

Lots of ice

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The resulting drink was very smooth and rather tasty, if i don’t say so myself! I initially thought it may taste too strong by itself, but this vermouth has such a clean, crisp and refreshing flavour – just the right balance of strength and subtlety. The orange compliments this liquor extremely well, so thanks for the tip Causes & Cures! Being a small batch craft vermouth, supplies are limited so if you are eager I would suggest to snap up your own bottle quick smart.

 

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