The February issue

Our clean eating issue is out now, packed with super lunch bowls, gluten-free desserts and more - including our cruising special, covering all luxury on the seas.

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Australia's best rieslings

We’re spoilt for variety – and value – in Australia when it comes to good riesling. Max Allen picks the top 20 from a fine crop.

Fig recipes

Figs. We can't get enough of them. Here are a few sweet and savoury ways to add them to your summer spread.

Top Australian chefs to follow on Instagram in 2017

A lot has changed since we first published our pick of the best chefs to follow on Instagram (way back in the dark ages of 2013). Here’s who we’re double-tapping on the photo-sharing app right now.

Curtis Stone's strawberry, elderflower and brioche summer puddings

"Think of this dessert as a deconstructed version of a summer pudding, with thinly sliced strawberries macerated in elderflower liqueur and layered between slices of brioche," says Stone. "A dollop of whipped cream on top is a cooling counterpoint to the floral flavours."

Most popular recipes summer 2017

Counting down from 20, here are this summer's most-loved recipes.

Christine Manfield recipes

As the '90s dawned, darling chefs were pushing the boundaries of cooking in this country. A young Christine Manfield, just starting out at this heady time, soon became part of the generation that redefined modern Australian cuisine. She shares some of her timeless signatures from the era.

Chorizo hotdogs with chimichurri and smoky red relish

A hotdog is all about the condiments. Here, choose between a smoky red capsicum relish or the bright flavours of chimichurri, or go for a bit of both.

Sleep in a Grampians olive grove this autumn

Under Sky are popping up with a luxe camping hotel experience at Mount Zero Olives this April.

Cocktails by the batch

Bottled Negroni at Bar Americano

Bottled Negroni at Bar Americano

Did the cocktail game just get easier? We look at why more and more cocktails are being served straight from the bottle and not the shaker.

It might seem an odd move for a guy so wedded to the ideal of cocktail integrity that he started his own hand-carved ice company, but Michael Madrusan of Melbourne booze temple The Everleigh and neo-dive bar Heartbreaker is a convert to the cause of bottled cocktails. 

Never fear, mixology fans: he's not reaching for the Malibu and Coke can. Ordering a cocktail has become as simple as the bartender cracking a bottle and pouring the contents over ice. Easy. We've reported on it before, but in the last couple of years batching, as it's called, has been catching on worldwide, from London's White Lyan and Craft Cocktail Co to New York's Booker and Dax at Momofuku Ssäm Bar. Sydney's Dead Ringer bar and The Apo in Brisbane are also no stranger to the pre-batch. And in Melbourne the bar movement's spiritual leaders are taking up the cause. 

In Madrusan's case it was move initially driven by necessity. Batching cocktails made a whole lot of practical sense when providing the booze for a pop-up last year. It made sense to continue with Heartbreaker - "although when we first opened we had plenty of people giving us shit about it" - which, despite being patently not a cocktail bar, now shifts a thousand bottles a week. 

So did the bar game just get a whole lot easier? 

Well, from the customer's point of view, yes. No more waiting 15 minutes while an intricate display of measuring and muddling takes place behind the bar. 

From the bartender's perspective? Well, if they're done properly, not so much.  

At Fitzroy's Bar Liberty, cocktail prep begins four hours before the doors swing open. Co-owner Banjo Harris Plane says batching frees them up to make more complex recipes. Case in point: Pepe's Plums 2.0, a Negroni-esque combination of spiced house-made cherry vermouth, plums, gin, orange bitters and salt.

"Quite a bit of work goes in ahead of time," says Harris Plane. "It's about precision and being able to deliver a better quality product." 

Madrusan prefers sticking to the classics. Heartbreaker has four: a Manhattan, a Martini, a Negroni and an Old Fashioned. He has a few rules. Each bottle, for example, must represent a single serve. "And don't put anything in the bottle you wouldn't put over the bar. The quality and dilution have to be perfect." 

Matt Bax started serving a bottled Americano when his tiny Bar Americano opened in 2011 - a move due more to the complicated recipe, which involves a secondary infusion of several bitters and vermouths - and added a Negroni about two years ago. "Bar Americano, being so small, is not plagued with any issues of consistency or needing to rush. I think in bigger bars, bottling can help with consistency, but you have to put your best bartenders on during the prep to guarantee any advantages. Bottling takes skill, patience and concentration. It should be simple but it's often not." 

Bottling has an added value: it opens up a secondary take-home market. 

"Through bottling our guests can still enjoy the drink back home," says Bax. "We serve from the bottle at Bar Americano not for consistency or speed, but to demonstrate the authenticity of our bottled cocktails. It's the very same hooch you can take home."

The Everleigh, 1, 150-156 Gertrude St, Melbourne, Vic, (03) 9416 2229, theeverleigh.com

Heartbreaker, 234A Russell St, Melbourne, Vic, (03) 9041 0856, heartbreakerbar.com.au

Bar Liberty, 234 Johnston St, Fitzroy, Vic, barliberty.com

 

Looking to batch your own cocktails before a big party? Here's our guide.

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