We’re kicking off this list with something that’s got a bit of sweetness and a bit of colour. When something is the bee’s knees, it means that it’s excellent – so it makes sense to consider any cocktail called the Bee’s Knees a top sip. The cocktail first emerged in Prohibition-era America, when honey and lemon were commonly mixed with harsh bootleg booze to make it more palatable. These days you don’t need to worry about masking the taste of bathtub moonshine, all you need is some gin of your own choosing, some honey, fresh lemon juice and fresh orange juice. Simply add the gin and honey to a shaker and then stir until the honey dissolves. Add lemon juice, orange juice and ice and give it a good jiggle before straining into a martini glass and garnish with an orange twist. If you want our recommendations, we suggest pairing some Poor Tom’s Sydney Dry Gin with a few dollops of Southern Byron Bay honey from urban beekeeping crew Bee One Third.
Image: Gin Foundry
Boasting a nice balance between herbal savoury notes and a sweet base, this refreshing take on a spritz is great for relaxed sundowners or as an accompaniment to a weekend roast or barbecue. To whip up a batch of these, make sure you have a great crisp dry gin on hand (we dig the ever-reliable drop from Melbourne Gin Company), a bottle of pear liqueur (Tamborine Mountain Distillery is usually our go-to liqueur resource), some fresh lemon juice, basil leaves, prosecco and soda water. The directions are super simple – combine everything except the basil and prosecco in a shaker with ice, shake then strain into a wine glass with fresh ice, top with prosecco then add a leaf or two of basil for that herby kick. Here’s to having another reason to keep a herb garden at home!
Incorporating an egg white into a cocktail is no big deal – if you’ve done any kind of baking you’ll nail this, and if you haven’t then don’t fret. This sip is fairly straightforward to create – all it requires is gin (duh – we’re big fans of Archie Rose, by the way), Campari, fresh lemon juice, orange bitters, an orange wedge for garnish, simple syrup and one egg white (obtained thusly). First, you’ll want to make the simple syrup, which is (as its name attests) simple to make – just mix equal parts granulated sugar and water (half a cup of each will do the trick) and warm up in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Ta da! Wait for the syrup to cool and then mix everything but the garnish in a shaker filled three-quarters with ice and shake until the egg white blends and the mixture becomes frothy. Strain into a glass, garnish and sip contentedly knowing that you’ve got this mixology thing in the bag.
The negroni has fast become a staple of many cocktail-bar menus, boasting a lineage that stretches back decades to the very beginning of cocktail culture. There are plenty of interpretations of the negroni out there, and while we personally like to keep it traditional, there are some small twists that really help to change the drink’s profile in curious ways. This cocktail recipe blends red-hued sloe gin into the mix to add a bit of extra sweetness to the established formula, but you’ll still need some dry gin, Campari, sweet vermouth and oranges on hand like normal. Cape Byron Distillery’s Brookie’s Byron Slow Gin is a nice way to add a local twist here – it’s made in the tradition of English sloe gins, but using Davidson plums to attain the rich colour and sweet flavour. A splash of this and some of Brookie’s dry gin (might as well grab a bottle if you’re making a purchase) will up your negroni game with minimal effort.
Brûléed blood orange spiced winter gin and tonic
Winter has arrived which means many of us will be dusting off our old mulled wine or hot toddy recipes. This drink is also perfect for winter – it might not be warm, but Queensland winter is mild, so perhaps you’ll still find an opportunity to give this lightly spiced sip a try (frankly it’s great for any type of weather). To make, you’ll need some gin (this recipe uses Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin, which is just fine by us!), a teaspoon of cane sugar, a cinnamon stick, some star anise pods, tonic water (Fever-Tree or StrangeLove tonics are a must-have) and some brûléed orange slices (here are some step-by-step instructions for brûléeing citrus). Add ice, star anise, cinnamon and orange to a chilled glass, pour over the gin and let it infuse for a little bit, then top with tonic and stir. It might not chase away the chill, but we guarantee it’ll give you some warm feelings inside!
Image: Craft and Cocktails