If you’ve started pulling out the woolly jumpers and cosy scarves, get ready to update your bar cart, too. The cooler seasons usher in warm and hearty food, crackling fires and slow evenings with friends at home, which calls for delicious drinks to match. Plus, as our 2023 Best of Whisky and Rum Awards judges note, a seasonal drinks cart refresh offers the perfect opportunity to explore new and exciting spirits.
“There is literally a world of spirits to discover,” says Dan Calvert, distiller and production manager at Bass & Flinders Distillery and a 2023 Best of Whisky and Rum Awards judge. “When the nights become longer and colder, it’s nice to let the mint bush replenish and indulge in something with a bit more warmth and spice.” If you need inspiration for a wow-worthy winter drinks trolley, let our experts lead the way.
Nothing hits the spot at this time of year like a quality single malt whisky, says Eddie Brook, co-founder of Cape Byron Distillery and 2023 Best of Whisky and Rum Awards judge. “Winter brings to mind warmth and bigger, richer flavours, and for me, winter is whisky,” he says. One of the finalists in this year’s Best of Whisky and Rum Awards is the Lark Classic Cask Single Malt Australian Whisky, a double-distilled drop aged in sherry and port small casks, which gives it rich notes of citrus and Christmas cake spice. “It’s a prime example of treating yourself,” says Dan, who notes that Lark’s combination of craft, experience and pure Tasmanian water makes this world-class whisky one to savour.
Spiced rum is another bar cart essential at this time of year, adds Eddie. “You can’t beat a really good spiced rum with a quality ginger beer and lime.” The Kraken Black Spiced Rum is a dark, smooth spirit ideal for simple cocktails that pack a flavour punch, like our dark and stormy inspired gingerbread rum spritzer. Its caramel and toffee aromas develop into warming vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg on the palate, with a lingering, spicy finish.
Now’s the perfect time to experiment with inventive seasonal gins. The new flush of red wine grape steeped gins, with their spicy, berry flavours, are ideal for putting a contemporary twist on classic winter warmers such as mulled wine. “If you’re having a winter dinner party, you could do a fruit-infused mulled gin cocktail,” suggests Eddie.
The Never Never Ginache Gin is a spin on traditional sloe gin made with grenache grapes from McLaren Vale. The jammy, raspberry and plum flavours of the grapes are an unexpectedly brilliant match for the spicy citrus tang of juniper, making this gin a bright pick-me-up in the cooler months.
A classic choice for any drinks trolley is the Archie Rose Signature Dry Gin. This Australian gin stand-out is infused with native botanicals including sunrise lime, Geraldton waxflower and Dorrigo pepperleaf. Its warming eucalyptus, pine and citrus flavours deliver head-clearing bite in a gin martini or a spicy Negroni.
If you’re hosting a soiree, show off your cocktail prowess with a sophisticated espresso martini or White Russian, drinks that make the most of rich and indulgent coffee liqueur. Also starring in our coffee margarita recipe, VIVIR Café VS coffee liqueur blends award-winning craft tequila with Mexican coffee beans and piloncillo, a natural Mexican cane sugar. The result is a deep, authentic roasted coffee flavour with a silky smooth finish. You could even tip a nip of this over vanilla ice cream for a wicked dessert.
A well-stocked drinks trolley is a thing of beauty, but don’t stop at the spirits. Invest in stylish accessories and play around with glassware to create a gorgeous home bar cart that you’ll love using.
“I keep the top level of my bar cart for my staple spirits and for presentation, and then the bottom level for the overflow,” says Eddie. “And if you’re going to make a great cocktail, invest in decent quality accessories, like a crystal mixing glass, a good little chopping board and knife, and a bar spoon.”
Eddie also loves to show off vintage cocktail shakers found in antique stores to give his drinks trolley real wow-factor. When it comes to glasses, “I’m really enjoying drinking out of coupes at the moment, and a really good, heavy crystal whisky glass. I also love something a bit fun, like enamel mugs,” he says.
Dan’s tip is to invest in some oversized ice cube trays for adding pizzazz to a classic cocktail like an old fashioned, manhattan or Negroni. “A big solid piece of ice is the only way to go!” he says. He also recommends searching out add-ins such as bitters, mezcal and sweet and dry vermouth to “open a lot of doors” for your next drinks night. Cheers!
Products featured are available from 17/05/23 to 27/06/23, while stocks last. Some products or varieties featured may not be available in all stores.