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Sea to Still - an interactive journey

Sea to Still group shot

On our last event under the Sydney Cocktail Club banner, we ventured out of the usual tasting venues for an interactive adventure in the northern beaches of NSW. Presented in partnership with Dramnation, the day saw us all meeting at Wynyard on a bright sunny morning for a bus pick up to North Curl Curl beach. Along the way, expert forager Diego Bonetto entertained the crowd with tales of how he started out in foraging together with a brief background on the ethics and legalities of foraging.

Sea to Still bus

On arrival at North Curl Curl beach, we enjoyed an informative and entertaining walk around the surrounds, Diego enthralling us all with nuggets of information about plants we encountered along the way. Who knew that the innocuous looking morning glory flower contained properties that could get you high if ingested in enough quantities???

Following our foraging walk, we stopped for a short mini-picnic by the sea, with sea inspired canapes to slake the morning pangs. On serve was a dram of Old Pulteney whisky or the Manly Distillery Gin served with a selection of PS Sodas and tonic. 

Refreshed and ready to roll, we headed to Manly Spirits Distillery Co, Sydney's first coastal distillery for a tour of their inner workings followed by a tasting of their gins and vodkas. Manly Spirits are also the first Sydney distillery to utilise foraged botanicals in the making of their spirits, and the maritime influence was evident when tasting their gin and the vodka.

Sea to Still Manly Spirits

We then made the short walk across to local brewery 4 Pines, where we were given a tour of their facilities. For those who drink whisky (of which Manly Distillery is slated to release in 2019), the process of whisky distillation essentially starts with making beer, so understanding the process of beer making gave us all an insight into what whisky makers have to master right off the bat. Our tour concluded with a generous tasting paddle of 5 of the brewery's flagship beers and many then stayed on to make the most of the food menu whilst some headed back to the bar at the distillery for a couple of cheeky cocktails to close off our Good Food Month event!

Sea to Still 4 Pines Brewery

A huge thanks to Diego Bonetto, Manly Spirits Distillery Co as well as 4 Pines Brewery for their expertise and hospitality. This was truly a Sea to Still experience like no other! A big mighty thanks also to the Jugernauts for taking some amazing photos (as pictured above) and video of the day

Tonic Taster (with a little gin)

Tonic Tasting

As the gin craze continues, so does the demand for the most ubiquitous gin drink of them all - the Gin and Tonic. So we thought it was about time to revisit this drink but the tasting session was one with a difference. Why? Because in this one, we were not examining the gin, but the mixer. Forming at least 3/4 of the drink, why wouldn't you pay the same attention to the tonic as you would the gin?

Tonic Tasting Moores Gin and tonic

So it was on a bright sunny Saturday afternoon, we gathered a bunch of gin enthusiasts at a private waterfront location to answer this very question. For this session, we chose to feature as our hero gin, the Moore's Vintage Dry Gin, most recently awarded the Double Gold in the IWSC awards in London in 2017 and a great example of a classic London Dry but with a little of an Aussie twist. Against it, we pitched the Fever Tree Indian tonic, Strangelove no 8, Fever Tree Naturally Light, East Imperial Burma and Old World tonic and the bonus; the Ledgers tonic that was the only one sweetened with the artificial sweetener Stevia. 

Tonic tasting group

As insights go, this session was mind blowing to say the least. Whilst some preferred the tonic on its own, when it came to mixing with the gin, it was another story, which illustrated our case perfectly that not all tonics are created equal. As more and more tonic providers seek to differentiate themselves in the premium mixers market, it is important that consumers understand the difference in taste between all of them and how it would pair with different types of tonics. In all of this however, there was one crowd favourite that stood our both on its own and paired with the gin - the Strangelove no 8, itself a new release at the time of tasting and slightly different to the rest for its addition of juniper in the mix.

Strangelove Tonic 8

Read on next for our encore of the next session, when we paired a different gin with a different range of tonics to find out the perfect the gin!



High Tea Cocktails & Drams

High Tea Cocktails & Drams

Following on from the Whisky Aperitif Hour, we expanded into looking at how whisky might be consumed of an afternoon in the most unlikely of whisky settings - afternoon tea! This time held in the art noir surroundings of the Long Goodbye and presented in partnership with Dramnation and Paul John Whiskies, guests arriving were greeted with a welcome drink before settling down to business - tasting whisky and sampling how they would taste in three special tea-inspired cocktails!

Paul John whiskies

On taste was the Paul John range of whiskies, crafted in Goa but turning heads in established whisky markets such as Scotland with the quality of their spirit. Our task on hand was to demonstrate how these whiskies could be used in cocktails that we would happily serve as part of an afternoon tea setting

High Tea Cocktails setting

Working with Flynn of the Long Goodbye, the first cocktail paired the Paul John Brilliance with basil infused honey water, ruby red grapefruit juice which was served in a champagne flute topped up with soda water to evoke the fizziness and look of champagne, itself seen frequently at afternoon tea.

High Tea champagne cocktail

Our second cocktail utilised an idea that had its roots in the first event we held with Redlands Distillery and inspired by fellow drinks instagrammer the Fermented Alaskan. Perfect for the theme, we served the cocktail in chocolate teacups sat atop vanilla cupcakes gaudily decorated with orange icing to bring out the vibrant colours associated with India. A cocktail one could eat and drink at the same time!

High Tea cupcake cocktail

For the final cocktail, we decided to step up the heat literally. Using the pourover method (literally like filtering coffee), Paul John Bold (which has elements of peat) was mixed with almond milk, honey and dripped through a chai spice mix to create a spicy hot tea cocktail. Perfect for cold winter nights too!

High Tea Cocktails Crowd

A big thanks to Paul John Whiskies for their support and the Long Goodbye without which the event would not be possible.


Single Cask Cocktails with SMWS and Scotch Club

Single Cask Cocktails

Echoing the sold out success of the previous year's collaboration with the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and Shirt Bar's Scotch Club (read about our shenanigans here), we returned for another sell out session pairing three single cask, cask strength whiskies with three different cocktails made with the same whiskies.

This time however, in collaboration with Shirt Bar's talented bar manager Patrick, we came up with a different concept for the pairing. Inspired by the premise of matching food dishes with alcohol, we decided to do the same...but in the form of the cocktails! A liquid food pairing so to speak.

The proceedings was kept fairly informal with everyone getting a short introduction to each whisky by Matt Bailey, the national brand ambassador for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, before the matching cocktail was brought out in the following order:

Single Cask Cocktails trio

1. Cask 41.76 Sunshine in a Glass paired with Lemon Vanilla Sponge (a vanilla twist on the Vieux Carre cocktail)

2. Cask 35.144 Punch with a Punch paired with Black Forest Roulade (a cherry chocolate twist on the Rob Roy cocktail made with the addition of Cherry Heering and Mr Black coffee liqueur)

3. Cask 3.285 Fun on the Beach paired with Hot Salted Nuts (a salted old fashioned served up with burnt rosemary and side of duck fat maple spiced nuts to evoke the experience of walking along a pier on the beach)

Single Cask Cocktails Shirt Bar set up
Single Cask Cocktails full house
Single Cask Cocktails cocktail prep

Carrying on into the night, most stayed on for more drinks, with Shirt Bar offering 20% off all dark spirits for the evening. As always, it was a great way to experience a spirit in different ways and we like to think that the cocktails highlighted and accentuated different notes in the whisky. We have to say a big thank you to the society for letting us play around with some very expensive cask strength whiskies! And of course, to Shirt Bar for hosting a wonderfully convival evening.

More information on how you can get your hands on society whiskies available here