Out & About – Espresso Martini at Melt Pizzeria

By The Lady and The Gentleman

After sampling the latest Coffee Experiment from Loft Wine Bar we were reminded of an experience that we meant to write up but never got round to…until now. It was during the height of the crazy February-March Adelaide event season when we managed to nab the last counter spot at one of our favourite city locations, Melt Pizzeria. It had been a long and hectic day and aside from wanting some damn fine pizza The Lady had one other craving on her mind, the perfect Espresso Martini. Let us tell you dear readers that we came pretty close to finding it that day.

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Our bartender buzzed around like a mad thing and we only caught glimpses of what was going into this glorious creation. Vodka, a large shot of freshly made espresso, and magic. The first thing we noticed and admired was the heavenly, strong coffee aroma with something a little extra going on and the thick, inviting foam. Try as we might we can never quite get enough of that delicious foam that elevates an okay to cocktail to the spectacular. We had to bow down in appreciation of the epic foam on the Melt Espresso Martini, which made you just want to eat it up. We almost didn’t want to take a sip, it looked so damn good. Of course, we did, we’re only human after all.

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Taking that first amazing sip the hidden scent in the aroma was revealed, a delicious note of orange. It was almost like drinking the best damn alcoholic, coffee infused Jaffa cake dreamt up in an Adriano Zumbo fever dream. The bitterness of the coffee was balanced out by the light creaminess of the foam and the slight sweetness and acidity of the orange yet it still tasted strong enough to keep you perked up all night long. We’ve done our own experiments with coffee and orange and this just confirmed that these two flavours deserve to be up there with other great partnerships throughout history like Ben & Jerry, Hewlett & Packard, Mawson and all the other guys who went to Antarctica but no one ever remembers. We’d like to say more but our urge to devour this amazing glass of coffee goodness took over. What we’ll leave you with is a throwing down of the gauntlet and a promise. This is probably the best Espresso Martini we’ve ever had. Period. Therefore, the rest of the Adelaide bar scene has been put on notice because we’re coming and the bar has been set.

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Now Serving – The Dude

By The Gentleman

“Hey careful, man, there’s a beverage here!” – The Dude

The Dude

And a damn fine beverage at that! The Dude certainly knew where it was at, worrying more about preserving his cocktail while he was being manhandled into a limo than the fact that he was being manhandled. There’s a drinking game that goes with The Big Lebowski where you have to drink a White Russian every time the dude does. With the addition of cold brew coffee and a touch of vanilla we think this is the perfect beverage to go drink for drink with The Dude.

The Dude

The Dude

45ml Fire Drum Vodka

30ml Mr Black Coffee Liqueur + 5ml for garnish

30ml Cold Brew Coffee

Whole Milk (We used B.D Farms)

1/4 tsp Bourbon Vanilla Extract

Grab a tumbler and fill it with ice. Pour in the vodka, Mr Black and cold brew coffee. Give it a bit of a stir and then top with whole milk. Sip and add vanilla extract to taste, just to smooth out the flavours. Top with extra Mr Black.

The Dude

Drinking The Dude you can really understand why The Dude drank so many White Russians in The Big Lebowski. It’s creamy and delicious. The B.D Farms Paris Creek Whole Milk is so delicious and it really takes the drink to another level of creaminess. The coffee flavour wasn’t as pronounced as you would expect with the combination of coffee liqueur and cold brew coffee, but there is a more subtle and pleasant coffee flavour. Cold brew isn’t as acidic so a more mellow flavour is probably to be expected. Not to mention the coffee aroma is just intoxicating. The whole milk and touch of vanilla make it so smooth and easy to drink. They just take the bite off the alcohol, which makes this a deadly little drink. It’s packing a fair bit of alcohol but you can drink it so damn easily.

The Dude

Everyone loves The Dude and we are sure everyone will love drinking The Dude just as much as we did. Just be careful when you are trying to keep pace with Mr Bridges and make sure you keep a firm hand on your glass, there is a beverage here after all.

 

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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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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 – Fire Fueled Cider

By The Gentleman

Fire Fueled Cider

We’re all about finding and using locally made spirits here at the Cocktail Challenge. You already know of our love affair with Australia’s award-winning gin and our continued education in the wide world of craft vodka. Over the next few posts we’ll be showing you our latest find, Fire Drum Vodka. We spent all weekend playing with fire and mixing up some fresh drinks with this fine Tasmanian vodka. Our first drink is the Fire Fueled Cider, which pairs craft vodka with craft cider…we are so crafty.

Fire Fueled Cider

Fire Fueled Cider

45ml Fire Drum Vodka
B Cider Company Two Pink Ladies Cloudy Apple Cider
Juice of a Lime
2 dashes Bittermen’s Burlesque Bitters
Ice
Apple for garnish

Fire Drum Vodka

Fill your cocktail shaker with ice and then pour in your vodka, lime and one dash of bitters. Shake hard for about 20 seconds. Grab a champagne flute and pour into the glass.  Add the second dash of bitters and then top with the cider. Garnish with an apple slice.

Fire Fueled Cider

Fire Drum Vodka is made from 100% Tasmanian barley and Tasmanian mountain water. There is quite a pronounced barley and malt aroma, hinting at it’s full bodied but slightly sweet flavour. We really think the malty flavour of the Fire Drum Vodka paired well with the spiciness of the bitters. The drink had a nice peppery spice aftertaste as well as a subtle pepper and apple aroma. You got quite a nice tingle on your lips. The B Cider Cloudy Apple Cider proved a great addition to the spicy bitters and malty vodka. B Cider Company are a small South Australian cider maker who make good cider with cute and quirky labels. It had a more subtle apple flavour than we expected but it had a delicious richness that paired well with the malty flavour of the vodka. The cider also provided a little bit of fizz, giving the drink a nice texture, and wasn’t as sharp or sweet as other ciders. Also you definitely need to dip your apple wedge in and enjoy the boozy flavour soaking through the apple, delicious. We also have to warn you that this drink is alcohol mixed with alcohol and it’ll send some heat through you. Tread carefully friends.

Fire Fueled Cider

For our first go-around with Fire Drum Vodka we were suitably impressed. It had a nice aroma and rich malty flavour that made a damn fine cocktail. We can’t wait to show you what else we whipped up with this bad boy, but for now sit back and enjoy some Fire Fueled Cider!

Fire Fueled Cider

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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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Now Serving – Luscious Orange Martini

By The Gentleman

Dark Chocolate

We were pretty happy with our first impression of the Cocktail Kit subscription service. The recipe and spirits provided allowed us to make a damn fine Espresso Martini . Naturally though we wanted to do our own thang because what really excites us about the Cocktail Kit is it’s ability to open us up to some new techniques and spirits we might not have thought to try before. So we put on our creative hats (okay there is no hat, we just kind of went on a tangent while enjoying our Espresso Martini) and came up with something rather decadent, delicious and a little bit naughty, the Luscious Orange Martini.

Dark Chocolate

Luscious Orange Martini

30ml 666 Vodka

30ml Tia Maria

30ml dark chocolate orange syrup (we used Willie’s Cacao Luscious Orange)

10-15ml fresh orange juice (I kind of just gave half an orange a good squeeze, you don’t want too much juice)

Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters

Ice

Grated chocolate for garnish

Orange twist for garnish

Dark Chocolate

To make the chocolate orange syrup break up your chocolate, in this case the 50g block of Willie’s chocolate, and melt it over a double boiler, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. When it starts to melt add a few drops of chocolate bitters and a teaspoon of water at a time until you get a pourable, syrupy consistency.

Dark Chocolate

Grab a fancy coupe glass and chill it down with some ice. In your oh so grown up Boston Shaker pour in the vodka, Tia Maria, chocolate orange syrup, orange juice, and two dashes of bitters. Half fill with ice and then shake like the wind. When your hand starts to feel like it might be getting frostbite then you’re down. Ditch the ice from your glass, and add a dash of bitters to the glass. Now double strain the drink using the Hawthorn strainer and the tea strainer. Grate some more chocolate over the top (get some height so it looks you’re one of those fancy TV chefs) and cut a length of orange peel to twist and hook over the side of the glass.

Dark Chocolate

We’re going to make a big call here and say that this is up there as one of the Top 5 cocktails we’ve made here at The Cocktail Challenge. “What?! How could you make that statement?” I hear you say, well let me explain why this cocktail will rock your socks. We’re partial to a bite or two of chocolate…okay a block or two, but this isn’t about our mild chocolate addiction. It doesn’t matter if it’s the cheapest block in the store or something you feel you need to mortgage your house for we just need all the chocolate all the time. Willie’s is a nice chocolate that’s just starting to catch on in Australia and this drink tastes EXACTLY like the chocolate we used. It’s amazing and almost a little like black magic that we were scared…of it’s awesomeness. You get bitter dark chocolate, but the vodka and Tia Maria actually soften some of that really bitter chocolate and make it really smooth to drink. You then get this lovely orange after taste that’s not too overpowering and provides a nice fresh contrast to the chocolate. This is pretty much exactly how the chocolate tastes. The bitters also give it a bit of an aromatic kick that is always welcome. It’s a decadent drink yet it’s not sickly or too sweet. It’s rich and quite velvety with a gorgeous chocolate colour and we could easily spend an evening enjoying a few of these. Also the last mouthful is something to be savoured as the grated chocolate has melted and there’s some syrup that settles at the bottom, which makes for a thicker, even more intense final flourish to the drink.

Dark Chocolate

The Espresso Martini shook up our coffee routine and the Luscious Orange Martini can definitely shake up your dessert because sometimes it’s just as good to drink your dessert as it is to eat it.

 

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Disclaimer: The Cocktail Challenge was provided a free “The Sampler” Cocktail Kit as well as a Bar Kit for this article. Although this post is sponsored all opinions are our own.