Posts Tagged ‘cocktails’


It’s been a while since I’ve mixed something up in the monthly cocktail party that is Mixology Monday and I’m well and truly past the deadline. But I’m hoping that Kevin over at Beers In The Shower (one of my all time favourite pastimes along with shower pow-wows) will accept the submission.

The concept of the “Money Drink” is one I’m so familiar with, a friend comes over, sees your bar and asks you to whip them up a tastey cocktail. They aren’t sure what they like, and you want to blow their socks right out of the water. Where do you turn? There’s a few decisions you have to make, do they want something hard or something smooth? Sweet or perhaps dry? The answers all of course depend on your punter. Old Fashioned, Manhattan or a Negroni are my favourites, the beauties that I turn to when I want to impress myself. But when I want to impress someone else, the best place to start is with a Mojito.


  • 45ml rum. I think any lighter, unnaged rum is good. Traditionally of course it is Cuban, illegal in the US. Here in Australia we don’t have a problem with that so Havana Club is a cheap option, but Matusalem Platino is amazing.
  • 30-45ml lime juice. This depends on how tangy the lime is. I usually use around 1 1/2 limes.
  • 1 barspoon brown sugar. This is supposed to be cane sugar but I  use brown sugar. Palm sugar is a good option also, it gives the drink a slightly cleaner taste.
  • Mint. Go out to the garden and grab a handful of mint, leave the stalks on there is a heap of flavour hiding in there.


Put the lime juice (and the shells if you like), sugar and mint in an old fashioned glass and gently muddle it. Add the rum, and then top the glass up to the top with crushed ice. Add a splash of soda water (or not.) Clap a sprig of mint nice and hard and garnish.

Double Happiness, Chinatown

Double Happiness is the quintessential Melbourne bar. Small, out of the way and quirky, this is the sort of place that you would walk past without batting an eye lid, but just try that asian inspired door at the top end of Chinatown and you are in for a surprise.

Propaganda at Double HappinessPresided over by a statuette of chairman Mao and state sponsored propaganda, the space consists of an open arrangement of low couches and the obligatory stools at the bar. Forget about boothes and intimate tables for 2, this open community style arrangement forces you into conversing with your fellow drinkers or provides for a jovial place for a larger group. Even the toilets take the community feel with 1 door between seat and smoking area, unisex toilets and one old laundry sink for your hands.

The asian theme permeates throughout the establishment, the cocktail list consists of contemporary cocktails with asian herbs and flavours. Coriander and ginger, lychee and cardamom mixed deliciously in a combination of smashes, sidecars and martinis. Apart from the strange question of  “How would you like your manhattan, sweet, dry or perfect?” the barman constructed a perfectly balanced cocktail with a perfect dose of sweet vermouth, the requested matuselum 12 year old and a healthy dose of maraschino juice (in the absence of liqueur) topped of with 2 cherries.

Subsequent visits have been met by nothing short of happiness from the barstaff to experiment. Reza (sp?) is the man that always seems to be there and most recently was happy to concoct a libation involving a secret Double Happiness recipe spice syrup, coriander, rye whiskey and vermouth which resulted in a very eastern style mint julep. Dangerously easy to suck down, but perhaps not quite ballsy enough. This collaborative effort with yours truly is what sets this bar apart and seems to be a regular occurence.

It seems that the personalised service isn’t restricted to me alone. Behind the bar there are a number of lockers, storing regular customer’s specially ordered bottles of this and that. I’m told they can and will get just about anything and keep it there just for you when you stumble in late at night for a rare single-malt tipple.

Everything about this bar is friendly, the staff don’t necessarily have the orthodox customer service manner yet it is friendly and welcoming. Their attitude is great, capping off what isn’t necessarily the most popular or trendiest bar in Melbourne. It is more like an old favourite, a comfortable place to go for a late night drink on your own or with friends. A place to sip on a great drink that’s not out of your price range but still made with all the care you deserve. Perhaps this is the communist way.

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Cocktail Bitters in Melbourne

As any good cocktail enthusiast or bar tender knows, the difference between a good cocktail and a great one can all come down to one ingredient. Bitters. Each bottle is packed with more bitter flavour than anything else known to man (this may or may not be true) a dash or 2 of this and a dash or 2 of that can really take that Manhattan to the next level. Finding these little bottles of joy can be a challenge, but in Melbourne, luckily they are available.

There are a variety of different flavours of bitters, Angostura is the most common has a dark brown colour and is perhaps the most bitter. Peychauds is next on the list of commonality with a reddy-pink hue and a tarty almost-sweet flavour. Following these 2 brands there are a variety of different brands, Fee Brothers and The Bitter Truth are worthy of mentions. The bitters these 2 companies produce come in a variety of flavours, Orange, Old Fashioned, Peach. Mint, Lemon, Grapefruit, Whiskey Barrel Aged, Celery and Jerry Thomas’s own pretty much cover the list. These flavours are not as intense as the 2 former brands but they certainly add a unique flavour to cocktails.

All this is well and good, but if you are in Melbourne, actually getting your shaking little hands on a bottle of anything but Angostura is nearly impossible. Nearly being the operative words, as the staff here at My Aching Head have wandered long and wide in the windy city to tell you of 2 outlets of these necessary ingredients.

Wigs Cellar, 172 Queen St.

Wigs Cellar is the best bottle shop in the CBD. The prices are a bit high (especially compared to Dan Murphy’s) but the range is without compare. They stocks Peychauds and Fee Brothers bitters as well as a myriad of absinthes, whiskeys and rums. The old bloke who runs the place will love to have a chat about whatever you are buying, he might even have a recipe or 2 of his own.

Melbourne Temperance Society, Der Raum

The Melbourne  Temperance Society is a cocktail club with benefits at the bar Der Raum. Der Raum itself has probably the biggest range of alcohol of any bar in Australia and through the Melbourne Temperance Society they make some of it available to buy. The website doesn’t seem to have any information about it, but last time I was in the bar I’m quite sure they had The Bitter Truth bitters for sale as well as some home made Der Raum bitters. The only problem is, there is a $40 membership fee for the Temperance Society and the bottle shop is only available to members.

Libation, Brunswick St, Fitzroy

Libation, Brunswick St Previously known as The Bar with No Name and for whatever reason it now has a name. Libation’s definition is The pouring of a drink offering as a religious ritual, fitting for an establishment which brings high quality drinks down from their pedestal. Its decor is understated and elegant with antique style furnishings and a great view out onto the busy corner of Johnson and Brunswick St or a back room if a little privacy or intimacy is more to your liking.

The selection of booze is everything you would expect for any high calibre cocktail bar in Melbourne. The fridge is stocked with a great range of beers from a range of boutique breweries, Moo Brew Pale Ale being a standout. The wine list has been carefully crafted from local wines, the house red, white and sparkling even sport Libation brand as is happening across the town.

The range of spirits is where Libation really shines. There is no great collection of single malt whiskey or agave tequila but the back bar covers a lot of ground.A few flavours of absinthe opens the account backed by a range of liqueurs and syrups that look like they see some use. Maraschino liqueur is a bottle rarely seen on the backbar of establishment in these parts and Luxardo is a particularly good brand. 42 Below, Grey Goose and Belvedere cover the bases with every flavour of vodka imaginable. 10 cane rum has a major presence on the shelves but doesn’t outshine the Havana Club 8 year-old or the Angostura 1919. Gin-wise the offering is solid, the shelf holds Tanqueray, South and Hendricks as well as the old favourites, Bombay and Plymouth.  Where the gin-shelf is lacklustre, the whisky shines. Laphroaig, Glenmorangie, Asyla and Dewars  backed up by all the styles of Johnnie Walker, Chivas Regal, Glenfiddich and Jamesons.

imgp5322 The cocktail list is a contemporary affair but the classics are well represented. Sitting at the bar on a quiet afternoon your drinks will be served by knowledgable and friendly staff who are happy to have a chat but this isn’t always the case.  On weekend nights the service won’t be as personal but happily the quality doesn’t flag. Despite a recent Sunday being busy, the request of a Mint Julep was given a strange look, a few whispers behind the bar and the recipe confirmed. The end result was garnished beautifully, tasted great but lacked bitters, an easy omition.

This bar is another gem in Melbourne’s small bar scene, intimate and full of character it would be a crime to compare it to the top end cocktail bar’s like Der Raum and 1806. Its beauty lies in its straightforward, down to earth approach which brings well made cocktails, good wine and beer at good prices to everyone.


Another Cheese Cocktail

I was reading the December Edition of the Australian Bartender Magazine and stumbled upon an article written by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Gary Regan wherein he writes about a cocktail made with not only cheese, but ham and tomato to create the Ham, Cheese and Tomato Toasted Sandwich Martini. It sounds amazing, and I would love to get in contact with David Stanton and learn where he got his inspiration.

For some history, I attempted to make a cheese cocktail quite some time ago. It tasted alright but was really fatty and not that pleasant to look at.

Advokaat Cocktails

As the theme for Mixology Monday this week, hosted at A Mixed Dram is  “Broaden your Horizons” I headed down the local liquor store and started browsing. The budget was a little bit tight otherwise I might have taken home a bottle of brandy, a bottle of  Irish Whiskey and a bottle of Advokaat and started mixing but all I ended up grabbing was the Advokaat.

Fiery Dick - Advokaat and Vodka As far as I can tell there is really only 1 common cocktail that’s made with Advokaat – the “Fluffy Duck.” This is quite nice although it is a little too creamy. However, I thought a change here and there could truly turn it into something nice. The resulting cocktail, the “Fiery Dick” is:

  • 30mL Vodka
  • 45mL Advokaat
  • 30mL Lemon Juice

Build over ice in that order and top with soda and garnish with a lemon wheel.

The Elusive Cheese Cocktail

Brandied Brie Cocktail For quite some time now I have been chasing a crazy cocktail, a cocktail of which one of the main ingredients is Brie. Finally I have finally done it, while it’s not something I will probably ever make again, it was tasty but the process of making it just isn’t that workable.

Brandied Brie

  • 45ml Remy VSOP brandy
  • 15ml Grand Marnier
  • 30ml apple juice
  • 2 wedges of Brie, one for garnish

Put the brandy in a brandy glass and set on fire. Using a toothpick or a fork, melt one of the wedges of Brie over the flame letting the melted cheese drop into the brandy. When all the cheese has been melted add the Grand Marnier and the juice and leave to cool. Strain into a champagne flute and garnish with Brie. Optionally replace the apple juice with champagne.

There is a couple of things to note, the glass that you melt the cheese into is not going to be easy to clean. Best bet is to soak it with some detergrent. Secondly, a regular strainer is also going to be really hard to strain, so best off using some sort of disposable filter. These 2 problems and the fact that the fluid itself doesn’t look very appealing kind of make this quirky drink a bit of a let down. Well worth trying once though.