One beer, one hour in: How does it affect your body?

We all know how good that first beer feels on a Friday night after a long week at work. When the clock strikes 5:30 p.m. (or thereabouts) and your colleagues invite you to the nearest boozer for drinks, it can be difficult to say no.

And why would you? That first beer goes down a treat, a well-earned reward after your week of toil. Have you ever wondered, though, precisely what happens to your body during the hour immediately following sinking that tasty beverage? Well, you can wonder no longer, as an article published by Yahoo! Health has detailed exactly what prevails within once the amber nectar passes your lips.

Thinking about drinking

The findings, unveiled with the help of several medical professionals, refer only the one drink – Ol’ Jimbob is a big advocate of drinking in moderation, and reminds readers that consuming too much can be harmful to both your health and safety, and potentially others. The Centers for Disease Control and Research state that just one drink per day is enough for a woman, with two for men. Therefore, Jim says drink sensibly and read on in fascination as to how just one beer can affect you.

Ol’ Jimbob is a big advocate of drinking in moderation.

The first few gulps of a lovely Peroni Nastro Azzurro  or craft beer are one of life’s many pleasures, and that’s because drinking beer causes the brain to release a hormone named dopamine. Now, dopamine makes us feel good about ourselves, lifting any gloom that may surround us for a short while. The hormone is also released after a good bout of exercise, which is why fitness fanatics keep going back to it – and why it’s so tempting to stay for another beer.

Do you find that once that first beer has disappeared, you feel far more talkative and socially brave than usual? You’re not alone. Even Quiet Karen from Accounts, who barely talks to anyone during the week, might find herself opening up. Why is this?

“You get more garrulous, talk a lot more, and are more likely to make a social interaction, such as going over to a colleague you’ve been wanting to meet and introducing yourself,” said Dr George Koob to Yahoo! News.

That first beer after work often tastes the best. Why is this?That first beer after work often tastes the best. Why is this?

What would happen to your body were you to stick to just one beer per night over an extended period of time? A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that sipping down just one beer per day may well reduce the chances of a heart attack, chiefly due to the antioxidants found within.

Ol’ Jimbob will drink to that, and bid you farewell. Remember, you can buy a whole raft of beer online – stay happy, and stay healthy.

Posted in Beer, Beer & Cider, Craft Beer

3 great gins to enjoy

Everyone loves a gin. The lovely drop was first produced way back in 17th century Holland, initially as a medicine to treat such ailments as gout and gallstones. Back then, gin was not something that tasted particularly pleasant, so the industrious Dutch added juniper berries to improve its flavour. A cocktail legend was born.

Most people know what the term 'Dutch courage' means – gaining a little bravery from a swift slug of booze. However, what you may not realise is that that phrase comes from British soldiers that were serving during the Thirty Years' War – the gin warmed them through the harsh winters. Those troops started to take gin back home with them, and before long, chemists up and down the country were selling it. Good old gin has never looked back.  

Gin's Cellars

It's ever-growing in popularity here in Australia, too. Figures released by Roy Morgan Research state that in 2009, a whopping 636,000 Australian adults drank gin over any 28 day period throughout the year. Four years later, that number had leapt to 947,000 people – and by 2015, the figure may well have cracked the million barrier. What's more, gin is no longer the preserve of old men wearing tweed caps and smoking a pipe (if it ever was). A huge 175,000 of 18-24 year olds drank the stuff in any given four-week period in 2013, with 205,000 gin lovers partaking in a tipple over the same span of time.

Hendrick's Gin is traditional in style, but with a modern twist that reinvents how gin should taste.

With gin more popular than ever, Ol' Jimbob took a walk through his cellar and picked out a few examples that he thought you might enjoy. Remember, you can purchase all of these spirits online, so take a look at what Jim has come up with.

Hendrick's Gin

Released relatively recently in 1999, Hendrick's Gin is traditional in style, but with a modern twist that reinvents how gin should taste. Because it's only distilled in miniscule batches of 500 litres or less, the Master Distiller has unrivalled control over how each bottle will taste.

This delightful drop is characterised by the many flavours that go into its production – flowers, fruit, roots and seeds from all around the world. Iconically enjoyed with a slice of cucumber rather than the usual lemon or lime, Hendrick's is a gin that is sure to win your approval. 

Tanqueray No.10 Gin

A favourite of late soul singer Any Winehouse, who referenced the gin in her melancholy hit You Know I'm No Good, Tanqueray No.10 takes its name from from what's known as 'Tiny Ten' – an old copper pot where all of this outstanding gin is produced.   

Gin is well known for its versatility - especially in cocktails.Gin is well known for its versatility – especially in cocktails.

According to Tanqueray's own website, No.10 is the world's only gin made with whole citrus fruits. These include white grapefruit, oranges and lime – coriander, chamomile flowers and, of course, junipers are later added to the mix. Don't just take our word for how great Tanqueray No. 10 is, though – when it was first released, it was named 'Best White Spirit' three consecutive times at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Basking in this glory, No. 10 subsequently withdrew from the competition and entered the Hall of Fame – to date, it's the only white spirit to have been inducted.

Aviation Gin

Cardamom. Lavender. Anise. Sarsaparilla. Ol' Jimbob hasn't even heard of most of these, but they are just some of the flavours you'll be able to pick out when you sample Aviation Gin. The more familiar gin tastes of juniper, coriander and orange peel are also in the mix, so prepare for a taste explosion when you use this brand in your Friday afternoon G T. 

Aviation is a peculiar gin, for sure, but one that isn't afraid to go where other ginmakers haven't dared to venture – give it a go!  

Posted in A Specialty in Spirits

What are the world’s rarest whiskys?

Jim prides himself on the good value of the many beers, wines and spirits that he sells out of his cellar, but that doesn't mean that his head isn't turned when he spots a rare diamond passing by for a price that would make your head spin. Recently, he stumbled across a news article which stated that a whisky made right here in Australia is commanding a princely sum of AU$10,000 per bottle.

Sullivans Cove, a Tasmanian-based distillery, has created 'Manifesto', made from an exceedingly rare French oak single malt from its revered casks. These include French Oak HH0390, French Oak HH0509, and French Oak HH0525 – drops that have won World's Best Single-Malt Whisky and Best Australian Single Malt 2015, amongst many other accolades. Indeed, we waxed lyrical about the latter when it emerged victorious at the World Whisky Awards, and the good stuff fair flew off our shelves when we managed to get some in. 

A whisky made right here in Australia is commanding a princely sum of AU$10,000 per bottle.

The price is right?

Though we still try to stock very limited supplies of HH525, we can't provide Manifesto to our lovely customers, though we wish we could. That's because there are only two bottles of this super-rare brew in existence, and at that price, the occasion better be worth it once it's finally uncorked.

"Using whisky from our top awarded casks plus some of our finest unreleased casks, we've created a malt that stands head and shoulders above the rest and promises the connoisseur the treat of a lifetime, not to mention a slice of whisky history," said Sullivans Cove malt master, Bert Cason.

This got Ol' Jimbob thinking: What are the most expensive rare whiskys? Taking to the internet, Jim hunted high and low for the most elusive of drops. With a glass of Aberlour A'bunadh Scotch Whisky in his hand, Jim found some bottles that are worth more than some homes, nearly causing him to spill the lovely liquor over the keyboard. Composing himself, Jim settled his nerves and listed those elusive bottles. This is what he found:

Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 23 Year

Price: AU$3,063.32

The brilliantly-named Pappy Van Winkle has steadily been building an enviable reputation among whisky aficionados. The cream of the crop is this 23-year-old example – at 96.5 per cent, it packs an almighty punch. At over $3,000, it doesn't come cheap, but then it wouldn't – this is a whisky that you'll want to savour again and again.

Jim's Value For Money Alternative:

Basil Hayden's 8 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon

This beautiful whisky has been aged for a shorter length of time than Pappy Van Winkle, but it's none-the-poorer for it. A smooth, easy-drinking bourbon filtered straight form the heart of whisky country, Basil Hayden's is a drop well worth looking at.   

How much would you pay for a bottle of whisky?How much would you pay for a bottle of whisky?

Macallan 64 Year In Lalique

Price: AU$640,035.65

That's right. You could get a decent apartment in Sydney for the same price as this Scottish bad boy. Indeed, until recent times, the Macallan was the most expensive bottle sold, but why does it change hands for such vast sums of cash? Well, it was drawn from three separate casks, each made of sherry-seasoned oak. In 1942, the first was filled with Macallan single malt whiskey, with the others following suit in 1945 and 1946. When it was bottled, all three were used, lending a unique, rare blend that cannot be replicated anywhere else.

Jim's Value For Money Alternative:

Glenlivet 18 Year Old Scotch Whisky

Another classic drop hailing from the Highlands, after 18 years maturing in century-old American and European oak vats, this one bursts with hints of ripe fruit and toffee. This whisky is best enjoyed after you've enjoyed a hearty meal – ideally haggis, neeps and tatties! 

Remember, you can buy each of Jim's Value For Money Alternatives online – and you won't have to break the bank! 

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Posted in A Specialty in Spirits

3 funky vodka cocktails, just in time for summer

If there's one thing that Ol' Jimbob likes, it's a refreshing cocktail in the glowing Australian sun. Though he's not averse to a warming whiskey in the winter, it's the summer that he really looks forward to. As the daffodils unfurl and the big yellow ball in the sky stays out for a little longer, barbecues across the country are getting fired up and drinks are being poured – just the way Jim likes it!

Vodka is among the most versatile of all spirits, and can be mixed with almost anything

Of course, the commencement of summer means that we'll soon be cracking open those warm-weather drinks to go with our burgers and hotdogs of an evening, brews such as XXXX Gold and Grolsch Premium Lager. However, to really get your party in full swing, you'll want to wheel out the cocktails. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, of the 12 summers that have passed since 2002, seven of them rank in the hottest seasons that Australia has ever seen – and this one promises to be a good 'un!

With several months of summer just around the corner, Jim dug deep into his cupboard and pulled out his trusty list of cocktail recipes. Vodka is among the most versatile of all spirits, and can be mixed with almost anything, as Jim found out when he perused his list. What's more, it even comes in a variety of flavours – honey, citrus … you can buy any of these spirits online!  Fruits, juice, other liquor and anything else you care to mention – vodka can be mixed with them all. So without further ado, here are Jim's three funkiest vodka cocktails, crafted especially for summer!  

Golden Handcuffs

Ingredients

Absolut Vodka (One measure)

– Martini Extra Dry Vermouth (One measure)

– De Kuyper Peach Schnapps (Half a measure)

– Vok Blue Curacao Liqueur (Half a measure)

No, this isn't a lucrative financial incentive tying you to your current workplace, but it is just as tasty. There is no beating around the bush with this summer treat – simply add all of the ingredients into a mixing glass crammed with ice, then give it a little stir. Pour it into your tumbler, add a twist of lemon and et voila! A drink as golden as the sands of Bondi!

There are few things in life better than sitting on a beach, cocktail in hand.There are few things in life better than sitting on a beach, cocktail in hand.

Purple Rain

Ingredients

– Ketel One Vodka (One measure)

– Heering Cherry Liqueur (One measure)

– Vok Blue Curacao Liqueur (One measure)

– Lemonade

'Purple rain, purr-rple rain,' crooned funk legend Prince on his seminal 1984 album … um … 'Purple Rain.' Hopefully, it won't be raining too much in Australia this summer, and if it's purple, Jim advises that you stay out of it and check the weather forecast.

The cocktail, named in honour of Prince's masterpiece, is a beautiful, velvety concoction that tastes something akin to Parma Violets, those wonderfully nostalgic sweets that are sure to remind you of your childhood. To make this drink, pour each of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker (along with a generous dollop of ice and shake away. Once you've given it enough, pour the contents into any receptacle you like (a clear one will really show off the vibrant purple hue) and fill with lemonade. Take a sip, and immediately feel funkier.

Sea Breeze

Ingredients

Smirnoff Vodka (One measure)

– Vok Blue Curacao Liqueur (One measure)

– Lemonade

Australia is an island nation (okay, a very big island), and this means that the sea is something of a way of life to us. Whether we're earning a living from it when we head out in our fishing boats, using it for recreation as we surf the waves and avoid the sharks, or simply lounging around on the beach, Aussies love the big blue.

Why not toast the ocean with a Sea Breeze? Once again, give all of the ingredients a good shake, pour over ice and add a slice of lemon – class in a glass! 

Posted in A Specialty in Spirits

Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum (which you can buy online!)

Arr! International Talk Like a Pirate Day might be behind us, but there's no reason you can't still enjoy the spoils of a pirate life! Minus the actual piracy, of course. 

As you probably know, rum is the classic scurvy sea dog's drink, favoured by stereotypical ocean outlaws for years during the 1700s. With summer around the corner – and all the themed parties it can bring – now is perhaps a great opportunity to buy excellent rum online to host your own pirate soiree! 

Let's quickly go through the story of rum, then discuss some of the best labels you can buy online right here.

A brief history of rum

Though historians can date fermented sugarcane drinks back to China around the 14th century, it likely gained its immense popularity in Western culture thanks to our favourite sea criminals and their British Navy rivals.

It is believed that in the 17th century, slaves from the likes of Barbados discovered that you can ferment molasses skimmed from sugarcane into a sweet, powerful spirit. In no time at all, this concept took off among many of the plantation owners, turning it into a potential business venture.

However, England did not want the drink exported outside of the colonies, so supply began to outstrip demand. With the build up of stock around the area, it's no surprise that this eventually became a regular part of a sailor's diet – which means it became a part of a lucky pirate's!

So, curious as to which brand of the sweet stuff to pick out of your local Sydney bottle store? Here are our suggestions.

Pyrat XO Reserve

We didn't just choose Pyrat XO Reserve because its name can be pronounced similarly to certain sea scoundrels, but because it's also a fantastic drink. Each bottle is blended from a variety of Caribbean rums and aged in either an American oak or French Limousine barrel. The decanter itself is even shaped like rum once was back in the 1800s, so you can feel like a true pirate as you sing shanties and drink with your shipmates.

Pusser's Navy Rum

For a taste of history, pick yourself up an award-winning bottle of Pusser's Navy Rum Aged 15 Years. The original owner of Pusser's purchased the time-old rum recipe that was used by the British Navy back when sailors were issued the drink regularly, hoping to recreate the iconic taste. This means that it has no additives that you might find in modern variants – it's 100 per cent au naturel! 

Buy this liquor online and you'll find out why the sailors loved it so much.

Ron Zacapa Centenario Rum

How often do you get to say you're drinking something that was first made in Guatemala? Ron Zacapa Centenario Rum Sistema Solera 23 is one such beverage, hailing from the town of Zacapa in the eastern portion of the nation. The 23 range has been painstakingly crafted using rum blends ranging from 6-23 years old, giving it a beautiful butterscotch, spiced oak taste.

English Harbour Antigua Rum

In the West Indies, you'll find a distillery that dates all the way back to the 1930s: Antigua. Its English Harbour range was conceived in 1994, when its distillery wanted to create a label that symbolised the country's fascinating colonial history. It was definitely worth their time, as English Harbour Aged 5 Years has taken home numerous awards, including the International Rum Festival's gold award, and a title of the same name at the 2010 Rum Masters competition. 

As for its taste? Expect hints of apple, coconut and cinnamon, with a gentle smoky nose.

Posted in A Specialty in Spirits

Support your country at the Rugby World Cup 2015 by drinking the national brew!

It's only every four years that the Rugby World Cup rolls around. This prestigious event brings together the best of the best in egg-chasing talent, all battling it out for the chance to grab hold of the Webb Ellis Cup. This year, the tournament is being held across the world in England and, even though those of us here in Australia will have to get used to the idea of 4 a.m. kick-offs, there's no reason why you can't get behind your team, whomever they may be.

Why nation will reach glory at the Rugby World Cup 2015? Which nation will reach glory at the Rugby World Cup 2015?

With 20 nations set for action this September and October, who will you be throwing your support behind? Even if you can't make the long trip to England, you can still crack open a craft beer, uncork the red wine or unwind with a whisky as your team (hopefully) racks up the tries. Why not try to match the drink with your team of choice? This is a great way to show your support and have a good time all at one – and it's far better value-for-money than shelling out for an overpriced replica jersey!

Here, Jim has chosen a few nations who he expects great things of during the 2015 Rugby World Cup. He's also matched up that nation with a beverage that famously originates from the country, so get out your flags, invite your mates round (even if it is during the early hours) and get ready for a six-week long festival of rugby!

New Zealand

But of course. The legendary All Blacks are the current holders of the trophy, having won the thing on home soil in 2011. They also won the inaugural tournament, also held in Aotearoa, in 1987, and they are hot favourites to become the first nation to make it a hat-trick of victories this time around. According to leading sports betting company, Coral, New Zealand are an incredibly short 5/4 to retain their crown, and only the foolhardy would bet against them. However, they have never won the World Cup away from the comfort of Eden Park – can they break this hoodoo in England?

 – Monteith's Golden Lager

The Monteith's brewery has been churning out beautiful beer since 1868, when the family set up shop on the West Coast of the South Island all those years ago. Golden Lager is the sparkling jewel in this crown – a yeasty, malty example that sums up everything great about this traditional brand.

With this sparkly delicious in your hand, the All Blacks will also be trying to get their hands on something golden come the Final at Twickenham on October 31 – but will they do it? 

England

The Red Rose host the tournament for the first time since 1991, and the men in white will be looking to emulate their triumphant tournament of 2003 when they lifted the trophy right here in Australia. On home soil, the English are a deadly bunch who can beat anyone on their day, a statement backed up by the fact that they are second-favourites for the tournament, behind only the All Blacks. Coral has them priced at a short 4-1 – but what beer should you sup as England pour forward?

John Smith's Extra Smooth is the perfect accompaniment to a night in front of the rugby.

 – John Smith's Extra Smooth

Ever since the Extra Smooth version of John Smith's was launched in 1993, the brew has gone from strength to strength, and is now England's best-selling ale. Easy drinking, going down a storm (especially if England are surging to yet another victory) John Smith's Extra Smooth is the perfect accompaniment to a night in front of the rugby.

Australia

It's rare that Australia can't count themselves as one of the front runners for a Rugby World Cup, but write them off at your peril – last time the tournament was staged on the Sceptred Isle, the Wallabies returned home with the trophy. At 8-1, they are a medium-to-long shot – well worth a flutter!

Roar on the Wallabies with some XXXX Gold Stubbies – the quintessential Aussie brew! 

Posted in Beer, Beer & Cider, Craft Beer

Try these 3 great cocktail and punch recipes for this year’s Halloween party!

Goodness, has it been a year already? It seems only yesterday that we were cowering in the darkness as ghouls, zombies and monsters of all kinds were parading through the streets asking for sweet treats by banging on the door.

Well, regardless of how time flies, that spooky time of year is closing dangerously upon us, with October 31 barely a month away! That means it's time to start planning the next haunted house party for you and all your friends. 

Pop to your local bottle shop in Sydney, pick up a few bits and pieces and see if you can make a few of these great cocktail and punch recipes!

Witches Brew

It's time to pull your cauldron back out of the broom cupboard again so you can make this spine-tingling drink. Oh, you don't have one? Well … a bowl will probably work, too.

Ingredients

170 grams flavoured gelatin powder (around one packet) – lime will give you the best freaky colour
2 cups boiling water
2 litres ginger beer
3 cups either pineapple or cranberry juice
2 cups chilled vodka
A rubber glove filled with water (you'll see)

First, tie the end of the water-filled glove tightly, so it can't leak. Afterward, put it in the freezer overnight. 

For the punch itself, pour your boiling water into your cauldron or bowl and dust over with the gelatin powder. Stir this, cackling maniacally, for around two minutes or until the powder has totally dissolved.

Next, stir in the rest of your ingredients. You can switch out any of these for whichever drinks your like. For example, if cranberry or pineapple doesn't take your fancy, pour in apple juice and buy great cider online instead of the vodka. These are for the bulk of the flavour, so experiment to see what suits your fancy.

Once everything is mixed, let it all cool to room temperature. When you want to serve, cut away the rubber glove from your frozen water and place the hand in the punch bowl. This will give it a spooky, ghostly hand garnish that guests will love!

Spooky Screwdriver

This next recipe comes from Elegant Affairs Catering's Andrea Correale. It takes your classic screwdriver and adds a dark secret to it.

Ingredients

180 millilitres fresh orange juice 
120 millilitres Smirnoff Double Black Vodka

In a large, wide glass (perhaps a port glass or brandy snifter), add in your orange juice. Next, take a dessert spoon and hold it upside down, just above the juice. Pour your vodka very, very slowly over the spoon so that the liquids don't mix properly, but remain layered. The vodka will likely sink a bit, but this will give the glass a sweet rotting effect as your guests drink it! Garnish with a lemon wedge, splashed with dark food colouring to look mouldy.

Bloody Vampire Punch

To finish your mad-scientist-worthy experimenting, try this fruity, scarlet drink. 

Ingredients

6 cups of pomegranate juice (cranberry would also work)
4 cups fresh orange juice
4 cups rum (white works best, which you can buy online here)
Half a cup of fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice (or both!)
1 litre of carbonated water

Combine your fruit juices and rum in a bowl, mixing well. You can splash them in wildly if you want to feel more crazy, possibly while wearing a bloody lab coat. Set this aside in the fridge until party time, to cool down.

Just before you serve, stir in the carbonated water to bulk up the punch. Punchbowl recommends garnishing with gummy vampire teeth, though you could also throw in insects, eyeballs and fingers as well. Not real ones, obviously.

Posted in A Specialty in Spirits, Beer & Cider, Cider, Other

Jim’s top 3 ways to knock a hangover for six!

We're all guilty of it. Whether you've had one (or three!) too many after leaving the office on a Friday afternoon, or sank a little too much of that delicious new craft beer, hangovers are the price most of us pay when we've been slightly over-indulgent.

Well, now, Jim's not one to lecture anyone over the dangers of excessive drinking – he's long been a proponent for enjoying in moderation – but we're all familiar with the feeling. Waking with a head pounding like a ghetto blaster, dry, acrid mouth (replete with tongue stuck to roof of mouth) shaking, unable to concentrate, vowing never to drink again – the list goes on and on.

Hangovers aren't directly harmful to health, but Jim thinks that we can all agree that they are not a condition to be fond of. With this in mind, Jim set off on a fact-finding mission to discover just what are the most effective hangover treatments out there, as proven by science. So, whether you've enjoyed a little too much Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey Whiskey at the wedding, or perhaps downed too many Tiger's, here is Jim's indispensable guide to recovering as quickly as possible the morning after the night before.

Eating is not cheating

If you know that a night of drinking might be on the cards, as is the case with a Friday night office knees-up or a stag/hen party, it can pay dividends to prepare your stomach for the long night ahead. You can do this by eating an ample amount of good, solid food throughout the day –  a packet of peanuts just before your first pint will not suffice! If there is plenty of food in there before you hit the tiles, the amount of alcohol absorbed by your system will be significantly slowed. 

Hangovers are the price most of us pay when we've been slightly over-indulgent.

Therefore – here comes the science bit – your digestive system will be better placed to cope with all that alcohol, as there is less acetaldehyde for your insides to cope with. 'Acetalde-what?' It's a chemical compound that is created when your liver is breaking down the alcohol, and it's even more toxic than the booze itself. Acetaldehyde is one of the main players when it comes to concocting an evil hangover, so the less of it hanging around, the better!

The Breakfast Club

Didn't manage to get a hearty meal in before you cracked open a bottle of exquisite red wine? Oh dear, oh dear. Time to go to Plan B, and it still involves food. You'll either feel like you have a stomach like a walnut and can't eat a thing, or will be ravenous to the extent that anything pork-based, greasy, fatty and hot will do for you – and the obligatory black coffee, of course. Resist temptation, and opt for something lighter – according to Health Magazine, there is precisely zero scientific evidence that such foods will ease your self-inflicted suffering.

No one likes the feeling of a bad hangover, and the only tried-and-tested treatment for them is time.No one likes the feeling of a bad hangover, and the only tried-and-tested treatment for them is time.

"Greasy food is just going to give you heartburn," said Dr Charles Cutler, to the publication. So what does the good doctor prescribe for those sore of head and queasy of stomach? It's best to go for lighter bites – toast, cereal and eggs are good choices. The coffee will have to go too – drinking alcohol causes you to became dehydrated, but so too is the lovely, warm brown stuff. You could be making things worse, so drink water and juice until you're feeling right as rain again.

Sleep it off

Though alcohol is renowned for its sleep-inducing powers, it won't be long until it wears off, and the quality of sleep will not be great. Therefore, you should try and get as much shut-eye in as possible – not only will you be unconscious, giving you an escape from the hell of a hangover, you'll also be giving your body a chance to reload.

Don't sleep in if you have work the next day though – Jim's not sure that a hangover is reason enough for a sick note, and your boss won't either! 

Posted in A Specialty in Spirits, A World Of Wine, Beer, Beer & Cider, Craft Beer, Red Wine

The wonderful world of chocolate-flavoured drinks

It's hard to imagine how human society developed chocolate. We went from looking at ripe cocoa beans in South American rainforests to cutting them down, splitting them open, fermenting them in a batch, roasting the batch, grinding it up and then pressing it, to be exported to chocolatiers around the world.

However, regardless of how we arrived at the point where you can get chocolate on nearly anything, we are here, and likely here to stay for a long time. Chocolate is a wonderful treat, much like our favourite beers, spirits and other drinks. If you're in the market to buy alcohol online, consider opting for cocoa-flavoured variants for something new.

Here are some great examples, available at your local Sydney bottle store. 

Patron XO Cafe Dark Cocoa

Patron's range of tequilas are a firm favourite in many households, particularly the Cafe range, which includes coffee and chocolate. The spirit maker describes Patron XO Cafe Dark Cocoa as having a luscious, rich brown colour, with flavoursome hints of both coffee and Criollo chocolate. 

As you take your first sip, you'll taste the famous agave notes of tequila, followed by a subtle hint of sweetness. This precedes a gorgeous dark chocolate palate, a hint of pepper and a lingering sweet aftertaste.

Mozart Liqueur Black Chocolate

For another stronger drink with a beautifully chocolate taste, look no further than Mozart Liqueur Black Chocolate. This drink is what happens when you mix 87 per cent pure cocoa, Bourbon vanilla and other exotic ingredients to create the ultimate recipe.

This is an Austrian delicacy that would go perfectly in a fancy cocktail night for you chocolate lovers, or as a classy addition to your dessert. Not only did it win a bronze medal at the 2011 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, but it then took home a gold at the same competition the following year.

Rogue Chocolate Stout

You won't just find hints of chocolate in your liqueur, though. Sweet-toothed beer lovers will get a kick out of the many chocolate stouts available to buy online. Rogue Chocolate Stout is one such example, hailing from the US. In fact, this is the only American beer to take home an award at the French Mondial de la Biere Festival, according to Rogue's site.

When you pour this brown delight into your glass, you'll see it fizzing gently with a big, creamy head. The smell that wafts up will tickle your nose with hints of coffee, chocolate and roasted nuts, followed by a malty, hoppy taste with a chocolate truffle finish. 

Clown Shoes Chocolate Sombrero Stout

On a similar note, try something that is the same but different in the form of Clown Shoes Chocolate Sombrero Stout. Buy this magic US beer if you want added sweetness to your stout, but with an extra kick.

Clown Shoes' variant on the classic choccy stout takes dark, roasted malts and throws them into the mix with plenty of chocolate, then it also adds an aromatic hint of cinnamon and a dash of ancho chili for that extra oomph.

The final product is an interesting mahogany blend with a powerful chocolate and coffee smell, followed by a sweet taste and spicy finish.

Chocolate Box Shiraz

For something a little different, why not try a home-grown wine with a sweet, cocoa surprise? 

Rocland Estate's Chocolate Box Shiraz is one such bottle, a wonderful Barossa Valley vintage that wouldn't look out of place in your online shopping cart. It has been described as having sandalwood, nectarine and turmeric notes, with dense, chocolatey flavours to accompany its creamy, full body.

Posted in A Specialty in Spirits, A World Of Wine, Beer & Cider, Craft Beer, Other, Red Wine

Where is it from? A guide to California’s favourite breweries

There is no feeling quite like enjoying a finely crafted beer, be it local or from far afield. You wouldn't think that unusual crops such as barley and hops could be used to create such a diverse range of drinks, but yet here we are, with an eclectic mix of beer available to purchase online. 

So whether you're a stalwart stout drinker or more of a lager-lover, here is some insight into the beer brewing game in sunny California. 

California brewin'

If you thought wine was the only alcoholic beverage coming out of California, guess again. It is also a world-class destination for craft beer of all styles. In fact, according to the California Craft Brewers Association, the local beer industry contributed an astounding US$6.5 billion (AU$9.3 billion) to the local economy thanks to its army of around 570 brewing companies. The same organisation says that this fantastic region exports more craft beer than 47 other US states even produce, which means they export more craft beer than non-craft beer.

"US$6.5 billion?" you say. "Bah, that's nothing compared to Australia!"

Well, actually, it is quite significantly different. Indeed, though home-grown craft beer is growing here in the land Down Under, our combined market worth is still far smaller than our US counterparts. According to Deloitte, our local brewers total about AU$130 million (US$90 million).

So if you're thinking of trying something a little foreign, why not let your taste buds experience a fresh, hoppy sip from California's mighty market? Here are some of the local breweries who you can sample from by visiting your local Sydney bottle store.

Sierra Nevada

The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is one of the best-known labels from the Golden State, with its original and primary premises located in Chico, north of Sacramento. 

Though the first brewery officially started brewing in 1980, the story begins a year earlier with one man and a passion for beer – a passion which he has been engrossed by his whole life. Ken Grossman loved making his own home brew, a skill he was taught by the father of a friend. This led him to open his own supply shop while at the same time experimenting with different beer recipes. 

As you can no doubt guess, these experiments soon blossomed into an idea to open an actual brewing house, and soon Sierra Nevada Brewing Company was formed and open for business.

Buy a bottle or two of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale online, as it is the original classic, and a must-try if you want to try a Californian drink.

Bear Republic

It's not often that enthusiasts from other countries get to sample a bottle from a microbrewery outside of its home area, so you can believe the lads at Bear Republic when they say their beer is great. After all, it's been imported to Australia!

This great label was first opened back in 1995, founded by the Norgrove family in Healdsburg (that's wine country!). The brewery states its recipes are time-tested and proven, which must be true because by 2006 it had grown enough to warrant purchasing a new factory around 16 miles north, in Cloverdale.

The Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale is particularly great, with a lovely Scottish-style hoppy goodness to it.

So to sample a little taste of the state we see so much of on our TV and silver screens, make sure you jump online and buy craft beer for your next party! 

Posted in Beer & Cider, Craft Beer, Other

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