Ginuary 2017: the relaxed edition.

So, here’s the thing.

I’ve got five completed Ginuarys under my belt, and what an achievement that’s been! I went from suggesting Ginuary as a joke one October (or Ocsober, which is what set me off) to completing gin a different way every day for five years, or for 155 days in total.

That’s heaps good! But it’s also ridiculously time consuming. It takes a surprising amount of planning, calendar-arranging, stockpiling, and purchasing to run Ginuary successfully. I don’t get anything out of it apart from the pride of having once again completed it.

There’s also the fact that my life changed fairly dramatically a couple of years ago to where summer is without hesitation the busiest time of the year for me. I also have less cash flow these days (but I’m overall happier, which is super important). Planning ahead for what’s already the busiest month of the year has gotten a little stress-inducing, and a bit less fun. If I was just drinking gin every day, mark my words, that challenge would be far easier—and yet boring to blog about.

I’ve decided to make the call to relax Ginuary rules for 2016. I’m going to be instagramming over on Miss Ginuary, and I’ll possibly tweet and update facebook a bit (OR NOT! Who knows!), but I won’t be having gin a different way every day. Not in 2017, anyway. There will still be gin—there will be PLENTY of gin. It is the middle of summer, after all! But I know I’ve made the right decision for me because the relief I felt after making the call flooded through me so deliciously that I could have curled up and taken a nap right there and then.

I’m looking forward to a cruisy and relaxed Ginuary with friends, where I don’t have to rush home at the end of the day to get my content done, or get up early before work just for prep work. I’ve loved almost every moment of challenging myself for the last five years but I’m loving the idea of a stress-free Ginuary so much more right now.

Cheers to you for reading and following, and I’ll see you on social media. Happy new year, and happy new Ginuary.

Ginuary 31st: sloe on the rocks.

And once again we’ve come to the end of the road! I marked the occasion today by heading to the end of another road, to drop into Nonesuch Distillery for my first visit.

You’ll find the distillery around half an hour out of Hobart, just past Sorell. Nonesuch currently exists as a humble wee thing of a shed on a working farm, but there are a whole hoard of expansions on the horizon. I need no more than a shed, a still, and a whole bunch of gin to be pleased, so I was sorted. Nonesuch first hit my radar a few months back at a little whisky house, hidden over on the small gin shelf (which I made a beeline for, of course). The question I really wanted answered was: why lead with sloe gin as your distillery champion?

Funnily enough, despite having a big chat with Nonesuch’s head distiller Rex, I don’t think I really got an answer to that. Don’t you need to lead with gin to make sloe gin? Yes, of course… and can adding sloe and sugar hide a bad base product? No, not really. You have to start strong! Rex is proud of his sloe and the gin that bolsters it, so he has finally buckled to pressure and bottled Nonesuch Dry Gin as well as the sloe champion. But today is a day for sloe gin, and so Nonesuch Sloe Gin it is.

 

Bonus feature succulent.

 
One of my questions for Rex was, “How do you best enjoy sloe gin?” I guess I still don’t really have my head around it. Is it meant to just be treated like normal gin when you look at things like G&Ts and martinis? Rex says yes, why not? He recommends the best sloe G&T is actually half sloe and half dry, so I’m going to have to try that one soon too. I’m still getting my head around sloe gin, so I’m obviously going to have to head out and have another chat to Rex sometime in the near future.

  
But for now, keeping things simple and lovely, cheers to the end of another Ginuary. Thanks for coming on the ride.

Ginuary 30th: Pink Lady Sugar Cookies.

Today’s a busy one! No time to muck about! Squeeze that gin in where you can! Ah, a bit of prepared baking. Perfect. Nailed it.

Pink Lady Sugar Cookies

  • 225g unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1.5 cups caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp gin (I used Monkey 47 + The Retiring)
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 2.5 cups flour

Cream the butter and sugar for a few minutes, until fluffy. Add egg and beat until well mixed. On low speed, mix in the remaining ingredients.

Chill the dough for a couple of hours. Preheat the oven to 175°C. Prepare the icing in the meantime, because the biscuits cool bake quickly.

  • 60g butter, softened
  • 1.5 cups icing sugar
  • 1 Tbsp gin (I used Bombay Sapphire)
  • 1 Tbsp Grenadine
  • 1-2 drops food colouring for fanciness

Cream the butter in a mixer. Add the rest and mix slowly to combine, then beat on high for a couple of minutes until fluffy.

Back to the biscuits! Line a tray with baking paper and place tablespoon-sized balls roughly 5cm apart. Bake for only 10-15mins—until the biscuit is raised, barely browned at all. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before icing.

must… photograph… before… eating

Ooh lawd I love biscuits! As an Australian, ‘biscuit’ is a more common term for me than ‘cookie’ (while meaning the same thing) so apart from the official title I gotta stick with my roots, as well as converting some of the measures from the original American recipe.

I haven’t made a batch of biscuits for ages, so this was a real treat, even if I did finish at around 3am because time management isn’t my strongest forte. The original recipe called for an American gin, Jack Rabbit by Beehive Distilling. I don’t own any Jack Rabbit (not even sure if it’s available in Australia) but now I’ve looked it up, I would love to. Its more notable botanicals are sage and rose petals, and while I was baking and subbing I was thinking sweet thoughts of honey, thanks to the name of the distillery. I had to pick my own subs, so I went with a mix. Because I’m crazy like that. I used Tasmania’s The Retiring, Germany’s Monkey 47 and threw Bombay Sapphire through the icing.

I think the flavour of the gin gets mostly lost in the biscuit itself but has a bit more chance to make an impact in the icing, so I kind of wish I’d done my gins the other way around. Still! Biscuits are delicious! Or cookies! Whatever you want to call them! And I’m going to make lots of friends with my leftovers tomorrow.

Ginuary 29th: Monkey Gland.

I have so many things to say about today’s choice that I don’t quite know where to begin, so let’s wait until I’m drunk to write it all out. Here’s the drink!

Monkey Gland

  • 50ml gin (I used Bombay Sapphire)
  • 30ml fresh orange juice
  • 2 drops absinthe
  • 5ml grenadine

Shake well over ice, double strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupe.

Nice placemat, tell me more!

That was easy. Now let’s talk about how I got here.

Back late last year I was recapping the first four Ginuarys on instagram, in both an effort to flesh out the new account and a way to hype myself up for the new month and try to maybe sorta kinda be a little bit planned, as opposed to previous years. Both ideas worked, much to my delight. But in recapping and reliving the past months, I discovered a few glaring holes in my history of Ginuary. I’ve done a few drinks inspired by or expanded on classic drinks, without blogging those classic drinks themselves. The Southside was one, and I hit that up earlier this month.

Monkey Gland was another. Way back during the first Ginuary, I had a Monkey Taxonomy at the now-defunct Salon bar in Brisbane. It was an “improved” version, a riff of the classic, with blood orange juice, a grenadine glaze, a big fat frozen plum, a very large and impressive block of ice. The drink came served inside a latex glove, and you snipped a finger off to pour it into its glass. If you know the origin of the Monkey Gland cocktail, this all makes more sense: the drink is named after a surgical technique of grafting monkey testicle tissue into humans. Yes, you read correctly. The procedure was vogue in the 1920s, and the drink came from that same decade.

But to this day I’d never given its predecessor a day of Ginuary. It almost fell by the wayside this year, too… until the fabulous Gin Monkey sent me a copy of her beautiful new book, the Periodic Table of Cocktails. I’ve been slowly amassing a collection of cocktail books, and those written by fellow bloggers are personal favourites before I’ve even read them, to be honest. Monkey’s combines cocktails and science in a wonderful way of reflecting two facets of her life. Straight from the Monkey’s mouth: The idea behind the book is to take the concept and principles behind the periodic table (that orders all of the known elements that make up the world by atomic number and therefore chemical properties and behaviour), and apply them to the topic of cocktails. The book is therefore structured around the table that sits at the front of the book (and at the back in a fold out colour poster), and the cocktail recipes within are ordered as such.

Speaking as someone fairly geeky, I’m tickled by the way each of the drinks was meticulously chosen for this book and sits so well in its element. Naturally I thumbed through in search of gin drinks, but with over a hundred recipes, this book covers all bases—no matter what your preferred spirit (and individual spirit preferences are very easy to navigate to using the index at the back). Each included drink has a short spiel, and most are classics. It’s a beautiful introduction to cocktails for a new home bartender, and a classy addition for the rest of us.

For Ginuary, though, it was straight to the index for gin. I worked my way down the list, ticking off each one I’d done. I started to worry. But wait. Of course. Monkey Gland from the Gin Monkey. It was almost too perfect.

Ginuary 28th: the Twenty-Eighth.

I had another plan for tonight, but then it was a beautiful, rainy evening and I wanted somebody else to do the work for me. So I texted my pal Barnes and went down to say hi to him at South Seas Cocktail Lounge. The name ‘Barnes’ may ring a bell—he made me a beautiful Beetroot Collins at Ash & Bester’s last Ginuary. Between then and now he’s opened this new tiki bar. Funnily enough, it’s still a tiny, dark space, like A&B… I should talk to him about that; maybe he works best in the dark!

South Seas is coming up on its first birthday in Hobart and it’s such a joy to have it. It’s honestly tiny, only fitting a maximum of 25-30 people (and even that’s cosy). It’s also very well hidden, close to Salamanca but far enough away that you have to want to go to South Seas, and South Seas alone. It’s a tiki bar, yes, but the cocktail menu ranges from zombies to classics to bowls to new creations. There’s something for everyone!

I had originally planned on having a Suffering Bastard, but when Barnes said he was whipping up something just for me, I wasn’t going to dispute that luxury!

  

I got to name it, and historically I have a very numeric approach to drinks of Ginuary. My bespoke bottle of gin made at McHenry last year was named Ginuary 10. This bespoke cocktail made of Tanqueray, Aperol, Dolin bitters, lemon and grapefruit, topped with crushed ice and soda? This is the Twenty-Eighth. Fresh, summery and desperate to be drunk on a beach somewhere, this drink is my jam. Thanks, Barnes. 

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