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Beer / Cider / Spirits

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It’s the quintessential aperitif and has in recent years become the summer go to party drink that Australians simply adore. We’re of course talking about the brightly orange luminescent coloured Aperol Spritz. Given its popularity we’re pleased to share the news of the 100 years of Aperol celebration coming to Melbourne this summer. One of Essentials very favourite inner city boutique hotels, the Adelphi on Flinders Lane has collaborated with the Campari Group to celebrate…

This cheeky little bourbon cocktail is an easy to create American spring-inspired gem, taken from Chyka Keebaugh’s new book Chyka Celebrate. Maple Bourbon Cocktail 1 untreated orange 60ml bourbon 30ml freshly squeezed orange juice 15ml pure maple syrup 1–2 dashes angostura bitters ice cubes, for shaking and serving mint sprig, to garnish Serves 1 Using a small knife, cut a thin, long strip of orange peel and twist it. Add the ingredients, except the garnishes,…

It’s been a busy twelve months for the seemingly ever expanding team at Billson’s Brewery, Beechworth in High Country Victoria. After successfully restoring an 1800s mineral spring water well on site and reviving a secret stash of historic beer recipes, owners Nathan and Felicity Cowan have this week launched a cafe menu featuring the venue’s iconic brews, classic sodas and cordials as key recipe ingredients. Also included on the menu are salad dressings, pickles and…

Nine craft breweries now officially make up the High Country Brewery Trail with two newcomers joining the ever-expanding fold – Mitta Mitta Brewing Co. with its new range including a cracker Belgian-styled farmhouse ale and Billson’s Brewery Beechworth, a brand that’s relaunched a series of historic beers using original recipes taken from a recently discovered secret brewer’s diary. Earlier this week all member brewers travelled to trail’s most north-easterly point Mitta Mitta, for the annual…

Finally this week, some good news from Hong Kong! Billed as the highest rooftop bar in the world, Ozone has just launched an epic new cocktail menu that draws inspiration from the five elements of nature — metal, wood, water, fire and earth. Promising a tasting experience that’s worth the journey to the top of Hong Kong’s tallest skyscraper, the International Commerce Centre building in Tsim Sha Tsui, these drinks coupled with sweeping views of…

Seedlip is a novel non-alcoholic distilled drink – the perfect tipple to drink when you’re not drinking – that has launched to great acclaim in the US and the UK and been embraced by celebrated Michelin-starred restaurants and award-winning bartenders, from Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck to Eleven Madison Park (named the World’s Best Restaurant in 2017) and Dead Rabbit (named the World’s Best Bar of 2016). Seedlip, the brainchild of UK-based entrepreneur, botany enthusiast…

Among the fields of milk thistle breathing salt sea air, Sailor’s Grave might well be Australia’s most lonesome brewery; however upon launching in 2016, partners Chris and Gabrielle Moore quickly proved that Orbost in East Gippsland was a unique place for crafting some mighty-fine ales. Taking organic pickings from the region, their Sea Fret is a beautifully balanced light and refreshing wheat beer featuring coastal saltbush. Similar to a Belgium farm-house ale, it finishes with…

Essentials checks into Saint Petersburg’s oldest restaurant, L’Europe at the Tsarist-era Grand Hotel Europe, to relive its golden heritage and sample some of the finest vodkas and caviar served today. Saint Petersburg’s oldest restaurant, L’Europe, opened in 1905 within the Belmond Grand Hotel Europe. The hotel today retains several unique historic suites that evoke classic turn-of-the-century Tsarist elegance and explain why the hotel once attracted Russia’s aristocracy and well-to-do, including the composer Tchaikovsky. When the…

There was a buzz about Bridge Road Brewers when they first opened in a shed behind a house near the old stone bridge over Newtown Falls way back in 2005. There was this young bloke fresh from Europe with his beautiful Austrian partner and co-founder Maria Frischmann making exceptionally balanced craft brews served with hot pretzels from the oven. Back then, Ben Kraus was an up-and-coming winemaker making award-winning drops alongside some of the best…

There is a new gold rush in Western Australia, flowing from the quaintly named Middle Swan in the renown wine district North East of Perth. Kimberley Rum Company – yes their name is somewhat geographically challenged – has struck a rich vein of gold, both literally and metaphorically. Their Canefire rum has won a swag of glittery 1st prizes around the world and across their range of fabulous spirits. And it is a very extensive…

There is movement at the old Billson’s Brewery and the news is very exciting. Just off Beechworth’s main drag is a great brick chimney towering over an historic brewery. Down a laneway, past great wooden doors and under a naturally rising avenue of deciduous trees is a little stone and brick well. Clear, cold and pure, the water filters through the surrounding rock and sits just a few metres below the surface. This is the…

The aroma of citrus fills the air in the small factory in Melbourne’s west. Boxes of thick-skinned lemons are piled up on the floor. Jon Caneva smiles as he carefully takes to the lemons with a small, sharp knife. ‘You have to remove the outside of the skin without taking any of the white pith, otherwise the limoncello will become bitter,’ says Jon. He’s a man who wears a happy demeanour like a well-fitting jacket.…

With the great gin revival a certified trend, Australian distillers are looking to their backyards for inspiration. Remedy by Reed and Co Pure mountain spring water is essential to Bright chef Hamish Nugent’s pet project – gin. He has also embraced native Australian botanicals, alongside juniper, to make his wonderfully perfumed spirit. His distillery is based at 15 Wills Street, Bright, in a former mechanic’s workshop that has been transformed into a great new food…

Melbourne’s MoVida crew launches their latest venture in true Spanish style – welcome to Bar Tini. The greatest bars in Spain are very simple affairs. There’s a bar, someone behind it to pour the drinks and one person out back making very tasty morsels. Sometimes they don’t even have a cook – just the barman slicing off little morsels of jamón and aged cheese, perhaps opening a tin of exceptionally good mussels. That is the…

A collaboration of Tony Conigliaro of East London’s Drink Factory and Ashley Palmer-Watts, Chef Director of Dinner by Heston (Melbourne & London), has resulted in a cocktail list utterly unique and, in part, influenced by Australia’s maritime history. As head bartender Darren Leaney of Dinner by Heston Melbourne explains, research into the history of alcoholic beverages and cocktails in particular can be sketchy at best, but small nuggets of information can be plucked from the…

What do the explorer and botanist Joseph Banks and vermouth have in common? They’re both celebrated at Banksii Vermouth Bar & Bistro, Sydney’s first vermouth restaurant. If you’ve shied away from the new foreshore precinct, Barangaroo, it’s time to change course and promenade up the foreshore, leaving Darling Harbour and King Street wharf behind. Go hungry, go willing. Take a seat on the harbourside terrace and let them coax you into an aperitif of rosé…

Rutherglen’s Mandy Jones, of Jones Winery and Vineyard,has perfected a French-style aperitif wine that is light and aromatic. Wines that have had botanical aromatics infused with them are the perfect way to start a party or begin a meal.  You might shake some white vermouth with vodka and ice for a martini a la 007 or pour a generous splash of Martini Rosso the Italian way, on the rocks with a twist of orange. These…

Over the past couple of years Essentials has sampled a range of Victoria’s best boutique gins but non as impressively unique as Simon Brooke-Taylor and Wendy Williams’ new Yardarm and Evolution gins, produced at their Hurdle Creek Stillhouse at Bobinawarrah, (near Milawa) Victoria. Made using their own barley and oat base spirit, these gins are vapour distilled – a process that allows subtle botanical flavours and fragrances to develop with an unmatched delicate integration. The…

Photography Richard Cornish Fresh hops smell like dope. Weed. Cannabis sativa. They also can smell like tropical fruit and flowers. When you pour hot unfermented beer over them the air fills with the aroma of a 1980s student share house mixed with Port Douglas fruit salad and a florists on Valentine’s Day. Hops are normally added dried or as pellets but the brewers around the High Country are lucky enough to have hands on access…

It’s one of the highest-altitude breweries in Europe, with an international reputation for making premium quality ales using locally grown alpine barley-malt and hops. BierVision-Monstein Brewery, sited 1625 metres above sea level, has become Switzerland’s highest beer-tourism hotspot, attracting 250 tour groups to the tiny 190-inhabitant village of Davos-Monstein each year. Essentials spoke with brewery manager Carlo Wasescha, who says the brewery is also well known for its specialty range of air-dried meats including dried…

When three Goulburn Valley apple and pear growers and their wives came together to create a cider, a quirky name stuck, but the product reigned supreme. We’re mighty impressed with Too Many Chiefs’ craft blend of pear and apple cider made 100 percent from Goulburn Valley fruit – it’s beautifully balanced and certainly more-ish. Also just released, an apple-only cider for purists. Cases can be ordered online at: www.toomanychiefs.com.au