There are many new roles we’ve taken on over lockdown – baker, teacher, beautician, video conferencing expert and perhaps one of the most rewarding – mixologist. Not being able to visit our favourite establishments (and having little else to mark the end of a working week) has left us mixing up our beloved beverages at home. In fact, it may come as little surprise that in the year to June 2021, consumption of both spirits and RTDs climbed significantly, with alcohol consumption overall, increasing 4% year on year.
On that note, let’s look at what’s trending in the spirit world (not the spooky kind) and explore some of our favourite cocktails to add to your at-home repertoire:
Reigning supreme for us Aussies, it’s whisky in the top spot. With just over 9% of Australian’s consuming it over an average four-week period (this doesn’t account for bourbon/American Whisky which comes in at 7.5%). Whether you mix, sip or pair your whisky, one thing is for sure – we have an impressive selection available right here at home. As of March 2020, there were nearly three hundred registered distilleries operating in Australia, with fifty of these having at least one whisky on the market. It’s an industry experiencing growth too with boutique craft distilleries on the rise. Find your new local favourite – Australia’s Best Distilleries.
Officially the spirit of choice for Australian women, our thirst for gin is growing exponentially. While Australia’s long been known for its fine wine production, local distillers are crafting innovative and exciting flavours from local ingredients. Native botanicals are putting Australia on the global gin map; inclusions like Lemon Myrtle, Pepperberry leaf, native Quandong, Wattle seed and Eucalyptus are pushing international flavour boundaries. Find your new local favourite – Guide to Australian Gin
While it may be a Slavic word interpreted as little water, don’t be fooled by the name or water-like appearance. Vodka packs a punch and tends to be the spirit of choice for 18–24-year-old Australians. Vodka’s versatility and adaptability lends itself to cocktails and simple mixes, but in recent years, we’re seeing a renaissance of vodka as a spirit to swill solo. Vodka O is the standout when it comes to local vodka’s – the first batch was bottled in an old mechanic’s garage in Sydney in 2003, but it’s now owned by giant Asahi and is the best-selling vodka in Australia. Find your new local favourite – Guide to Australian Vodka
Nothing quite says party like tequila with a side of salt and lime! Most of us have been there, and either love it or hate it as a result, but tequila times are changing. Premium brands in the category like Patron have been on a mission to reposition the spirit as high-end rather than one to be slammed at 2am in the club, and celebrity alignments like Nicki Minaj’s nod to Patron in her 2012 hit Starships have bolstered this image. In fact, tequila sales skyrocketed by 46% in 2020. The key ingredient of tequila – Agave, grows well in warmer parts of Australia which means it’s likely we’ll see more than the current handful of local distilleries pop up, but Mexico still reigns supreme for all things Mezcal and Tequila.
Find your new favourite – The World’s Highest Rated Tequila Distilleries
And of course, you can’t have a Margarita without tequila, which leads us nicely into our favourite make-at-home cocktails.
Last year DIY margaritas surged in popularity, but it’s not entirely understood what made this the standout pandemic-proof cocktail. Whether it’s the holiday vibes that accompany it or the fact that it’s an inexpensive and uncomplicated at-home creation, it appears we’re well and truly on board. The beauty of the Marg is that it’s difficult to mess up, so once you’ve got your hands on the equipment and ingredients, you’re almost guaranteed to have a delicious beverage as a result. If you need another excuse to get shaking, National Margarita Day (celebrated globally) falls on Feb 22nd – giving you plenty of time to perfect your craft. Our favourite recipe – Jamie Oliver’s Margarita
Hailing from the British Navy in the 1860s, this drink was originally concocted as a substitute for poor quality water and as a means to get a good dose of scurvy fighting citrus. The mix was then sweetened with sugar and topped with water. These days, a Whisky Sour typically contains a healthy splash of whisky, some lemon juice, sugar and optionally a dash of egg white – giving it the distinctive foam layer (also sometimes called a Boston Sour). You can also transform it to a New York Sour with a couple of spoonfuls of full-bodied red wine floated on top – that’s three cocktails in one! Our favourite recipe – Whisky Sour Recipe
Legendary London bartender of the 1980s Dick Bradsell is lauded with inventing the Espresso Martini for its perfect blend of pick me up and calm me down in one tasty package. This boozy and buzzy beverage is, today, king of the dessert cocktails, but has also wormed its way into our lockdown households as a special drink come week’s end. Connoisseurs claim it’s all about combining quality ingredients – from the coffee to the vodka – and achieving that hallmark frothy top thick layer to balance a couple of espresso beans on. Best of all, Espresso Martinis can be batch made ahead of time – what a way to wow a crowd! Our favourite recipe – Classic Espresso Martini Recipe
Set down the fruits and blenders and get to know the real Daiquiri. A true Daiquiri is a simple, refreshing affair with just three ingredients – white rum, lime juice and a simple syrup. Once you taste it, you’ll never think of the slushie rainbow-coloured concoctions ever again! Our favourite recipe – Classic Daiquiri Recipe
At just over one hundred years’ old, Negroni has the Italian chic of Prada and Versace in a perfect, punchy package. While the classic recipe hasn’t changed, it’s a cocktail that has only really hit mainstream in the last 15 years – it even has its own week! The Negroni lends itself nicely to those precious hours between work and dinner, which let’s face it, have become somewhat blurred. It’s oh so simple to concoct – as seen in actor Stanley Tucci’s hugely popular tutorial – making it a great addition to your at-home repertoire. Our favourite recipe – The Ultimate Negroni Recipe
On the rocks, shaken or stirred, have fun but drink responsibly.
So, there we have it – our favourite spirits and cocktails for 2021. If you can’t wait to get mixing your own cocktails, try an at-home cocktail kit from Mr Consistent, Cocktail Porter or The Cocktail Shop. Or if you’d like to mix things up with alcohol-free versions Seedlip have plenty on offer. Remember, while a drink or two can be fun, always remember to stay safe and drink responsibly.
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