Party season is thirsty work, and with so many options, it can be difficult to narrow it down, so we’ve turned to the three wise men of booze to ask what they’ll be drinking over the festive period. Dave Withers, Master Distiller at Archie Rose; Brendan Hawker, Chief Winemaker at Yering Station; and sixth-generation Coopers Brewery family member Andrew Cooper share their tips for the drinks that will make perfect food matches and the best drink gifts for Christmas.
Brendan: My parents-in-law live on a beautiful farm in the Adelaide Hills and there’s always a full house at Christmas. Unwrapping presents on Christmas morning always features a few bottles of very special Champagne, be it a Grandes Marques style or a top Australian cuvée. Margaritas are also an important part of Christmas. It’s like peeling the prawns – making the margaritas is one of those family bonding experiences.
Andrew: Christmas here is by the beach on the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia. It’s a rolling eating-and-drinking affair. We also start the celebrations with Champagne, then quickly move on to beer.
Dave: The centre of our day is what we’re drinking, to be honest. We usually start with some type of aperitif – last year we did a Christmas martini to get the ball rolling. We used the Archie Rose Signature Dry Gin because it’s an excellent martini gin in my opinion. The amazing thing about a martini is you can pre-batch it. Just stick it in a bottle and put it in the freezer, then it’s pour, garnish and away you go
Andrew: We have a large group of friends around on Christmas Eve. I supply the beer so naturally there’s lots of Coopers Original Pale Ale. It’s a very versatile beer when it comes to food pairings – we keep it simple with a backyard barbecue, our Original Pale Ale goes great with char-grilled chicken with a bit of spice. Then Santa always gets a Coopers Sparkling Ale with his cookies – it’s a perfectly complex balance of full malt, crisp bitterness and fruity esters [with a suitably red label]. He knows a good ‘red’ when he sees it!
Brendan: We have a seafood lunch with a lot of chardonnay and rosé. The Yering Station Little Yering Chardonnay has nice crisp acidity and citrusy notes that go so well with barbecued barra or snapper. The Yering Station Into the Valley Rosé has a little bit more texture and is beautifully fragrant and crisp – we usually have that with chargrilled octopus.
Andrew: We start with seafood and open a Coopers Pacific Pale Ale. The dry hop character and tropical aromas pair well with prawns, crayfish, even blue swimmer crab. Then we move on to roast pork where I might crack a Coopers XPA, that extra hop flavour with citrus and lemon becomes moreish with pork crackling.
Dave: In the evening we have another stiff drink. There’s usually fancy chocolates on our table at Christmas and the Archie Rose Single Malt Whisky pairs nicely with those flavours. It has quite a chocolatey finish and a really nice digestif flavour. It also has these nutty, amaretto-like praline flavours that go great with fruitcake.
Brendan: We use all those crustacean and prawn shells from the day before to make a great big stock that we then use to make paella. We usually begin with sparkling rosé, then move onto the Yering Station Pinot. It has such a beautiful perfume and it goes so nicely with the paella.
Andrew: We go fishing on Boxing Day. A few years back I caught some squid and made a Coopers Pacific Pale Ale batter for salt and pepper squid. The yeast in the beer brings the batter up really nicely.
Dave: You don’t want to be thinking too hard about what you’re drinking on New Year’s Eve, which is why I’m a big fan of the pre-batch. Last year I did a Paloma with smoky mezcal. I’ve also done a Vodka Cranberry. It’s a 90s throwback but it is delicious and the Archie Rose Cut Vodka is perfect for it. It’s a very authentic Australian vodka with subtle botanical flavours and fruity aromas. It goes really well with cranberry juice
What drinks trends do you predict for the year ahead?
Andrew: This summer we’ll see lots of exciting new lager beers, but with a contemporary take. Our new Coopers Australian Lager pours clean and bright. It hits all the refreshment buttons you’d expect from a lager, but with a beautiful balance of flavour and subtle tropical aromas. It’s our modern Australian take on a traditional beer style, that’s all too easy drinking.
Dave: A lot of those daggy old cocktails have been having a renaissance, building on the Cosmo and Japanese Slipper comebacks. I’ve heard the Blue Lagoon cocktail is doing a comeback in hipster bars. It’s blue curacao, vodka and lemonade.
Brendan: We’re going to see a bit more grenache in 2024. It has a lot of similarities to pinot, even though they’re totally different in their expressions. There’s this perfume and purity that I see in both varieties. They’re both wines where less is more.
Products featured are available from 15/11/23 to 26/12/23, while stocks last. Some products or varieties featured may not be available in all stores.