How to Make a Great Martini (featuring The Botanist gin, Spirit of Hven Organic Vodka and Lillet Blanc)


My interest in making a good martini was sparked in what may be the most unlikely of places. It was not in some swanky cocktail bar in Melbourne or London. It was in the tropical heat of far north Queensland, Australia.                                 

I was at the Nautilus bar in Port Douglas on a scorching December evening. The menu listed a selection of cocktails and martinis. A martini made with The Botanist gin caught my interest, primarily because this gin is made by the Scottish single malt producer Bruichladdich on the isle of Islay (with a still nicknamed “ugly Betty”, so I’m told). As soon as that expertly made icy cold martini hit my lips, I forgot about the tropical heat as my attention turned to the fascinating world of the martini.  

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What the heck is “moonshine”? A look at Melbourne Moonshine, Crazy Uncle Moonshine and Bearded Lady Charred Moonshine

“Moonshine” is now a fashionable word. You may know it as hooch, bootleg, firewater, rotgut or white lightning, or as just plain old moonshine. Some dictionaries will tell you that “moonshine” is illegally made alcohol while others will explain that it is smuggled liquor that got its name because it used to be transported at night.    

The story of the “moonshiner” seems to start in the 1800s in southern Appalachia, which stretches along Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. During that time, people would illicitly distill spirit because they saw it as the best way to make money from corn crops. Interestingly, according to the Dictionary of American History, the liquor they made was commonly known by locals as “brush whiskey” and “blockade”, and not many people called it “moonshine”. By the time Prohibition came around in the 1920s, “moonshine” was used to describe any illegal liquor.

Moonshine may conjure thoughts of bathtub hooch and smuggler bootleggers but, these days, the stuff is going legit. While perusing bottle shop shelves or online liquor stores you may notice a product labeled “moonshine” which certainly is legal.

What gives? What the heck is this legal breed of “moonshine”?

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Monkey Shoulder Scotch Whisky

Type: Malt blend 

Origin: Scotland 

ABV: 40%

Monkey Shoulder is described as a “triple malt”, presumably because it marries single malt from three distilleries which are located in Scotland’s Speyside region.  This means that Monkey Shoulder is all malt whisky, and there is no grain whisky in its recipe. Continue reading

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Hellyer’s Road 10 year old Slightly Peated

Type: Single malt 

Origin: Tasmania, Australia 

ABV: 46.2% 

Hellyer’s Road is one of Australia’s trailblazing whisky distilleries, being among one of the first to make Australian whisky. In the years since it started producing single malt, its whisky range has grown beyond a simple core range. It has had limited releases, of which The George is one of my favourites. And, it is also making more peated whisky. 

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Padron 1964 Anniversary Series (maduro)

Padron 1964 Anniversary Series. Makes my dreams come true paired with Octomore. ❤🌋🔥#whisky #cigars

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It was a sunny afternoon in Melbourne and the thought of smoke whet my appetite for a stogie. A few worthy contenders sat in my humidor. I closed my eyes, opened my humidor, and plucked out a cigar. In my hand was a stick of expertly rolled Nicaraguan tobacco – a maduro Padron 1964 Anniversary Series. Continue reading

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Royal Lochnagar Distiller’s Edition

#Whisky and #watches! ❤ Royal Lochnagar alongside my Armand Nicolet.

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In 1852 Prince Albert purchased an estate at Balmoral, which to this day is an estate of the British Royal Family – Balmoral Castle. Adjoining the estate is the Royal Lochnagar distillery, which was founded in 1826. It is said that both Prince Albert and his wife Queen Victoria came to favour the Royal Lochnagar malt whisky after visiting the distillery at the invitation of the distillery’s manager.  The whisky was then supplied to the Queen and Royal Lochnagar earned a Royal Warrant in 1848. Continue reading

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The Kraken Black Spiced Rum

Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum! The Kraken Spiced Rum👍#rum #tropical #spice

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The Kraken is Caribbean rum blended with natural flavours and bottled at 40%abv. 

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