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Aløft

There's nothing new about Nordic interiors - blond timbers, concrete surfaces, warm, mid-century charm without the twee - and thank heavens for that. It's a style that augments the beauty of everything around it, in this case, gorgeous Hobart harbour, which makes up one whole wall. What is new here, however, is the food - by veterans of Garagistes, which once dazzled diners down the road, Vue de Monde in Melbourne and Gordon Ramsay worldwide. There's a strong Asian bent, but with Tasmanian ingredients. In fact, the kitchen's love of the local verges on obsessive - coconut milk in an aromatic fish curry is replaced with Tasmanian-grown fig leaf simmered in cream to mimic the flavour. Other standouts include a gutsy red-braised lamb with gai lan and chewy cassia spaetzle, pigs' ears zingy with Sichuan pepper and a fresh, springy berry dessert. While the food is sourced locally, the generous wine list spans the planet. 

Secret Tuscany

A far cry from Tuscany’s familiar gently rolling hills, Monte Argentario’s appealing mix of mountain, ocean, island and lagoon makes it one of Italy’s hidden treasures, writes Emiko Davies.

Farro recipes

Farro can be used in almost any dish, from a robust salad to accompany hearty beer-glazed beef short ribs to a new take on risotto with mushrooms, leek and parmesan. Here are 14 ways with this versatile grain.

Moon Park to open Paper Bird in Potts Point

No, it’s not a pop-up. The team behind Sydney’s Moon Park is back with an all-day east-Asian eatery.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

Discovering Macedonia

Like its oft-disputed name, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia defies simple definition but its rich diversity extends from the dinner table to the welcoming locals, writes Richard Cooke.

Grilled apricot salad with jamon and Manchego

Here we've scorched apricots on the grill and served them with torn jamon, shaved Manchego and peppery rocket leaves. Think of it as a twist on the good old melon-prosciutto routine. The mixture would also be great served on charred sourdough.

Brae

Prepare to enter a picture of the countryside framed by note-perfect Australiana but painted in bold, elegant and unsentimental strokes. Over 10 or more courses, Dan Hunter celebrates his region with dishes that are formally daring (Crunchy prawn heads! Creamy oyster soft-serve! Sea urchin and chicory bread pudding!), yet rich in flavour and substance. The menu could benefit from an edit, but the plates are tightly composed - and what could you cut? Certainly not the limpid broth bathing fronds of abalone and calamari, nor the clever arrangement of lobster played off against charred waxy fingerlings under a swatch of milk skin. The adventure is significantly the richer for the cool gloss of the dining room, some of the most engaging service in the nation and wine pairings that roam with an easy-going confidence. Maturing and relaxing without surrendering a drop of its ambition, Brae is more compelling than ever.

Game up your G&Ts with a Distiller’s Strength Gin

ARCHIE ROSE'S DISTILLER'S STRENGTH GIN, AND A G&T MADE IN A DENVER & LIELY GIN GLASS

ARCHIE ROSE'S DISTILLER'S STRENGTH GIN, AND A G&T MADE IN A DENVER & LIELY GIN GLASS

In a year packed with gin releases, Sydney distillery Archie Rose has cut through the noise in more senses than one with a its new Distiller's Strength, an overproof gin designed to shine in mixed drinks and cocktails.

"We upped the botanicals in the gin so they'd be more pronounced and pack a punch in G&T or Negroni," says Archie Rose manager Harriet Leigh. "But I've also enjoyed it in a Last Word, a Southside and a Tom Collins. I believe in thorough research."

Bottled at a hair over 52 per cent ABV, Distiller's Strength is a party starter. But it's not just the presence of more alcohol giving its potency - Archie Rose's distillers dialled up botanical notes of pears, honey and juniper in the gin to declare their presence in a mixed drink more emphatically.

It is, in Leigh's words, "a strong, juniper-forward gin with a defined floral characteristic that is very hard to capture in distillation for reasons that may well bore you if I go into them".

We road-tested it with tonic using Leigh's suggested 1:3 ratio with a lemon garnish (she gets down with a half-gin, half-tonic ratio too), and the verdict was "highly flavoursome".

We also seized on the tasting to try out the new hand-blown gin glass from Denver & Liely, the Melbourne design firm known for its whisky glasses. The gin line, which hits the market in October, features a funnel (their word) fine-tuned for botanicals to flourish.

We also believe in thorough research, so we'll be trialling the glass with a few other gins, but we're confident that the Distiller's Strength Archie Rose has the power to deliver a floral wallop outside controlled conditions, whether it be in a regular tumbler or a rusty bucket. 

Keen for a drink? Try our eight excellent gin cocktails.

Distiller's Strength Gin is available from 18 September online and at Archie Rose's distillery bar in Rosebery, Sydney, with other retailers in the works. RRP $99 for 700ml. Denver & Liely's gin glass will be available online in October, $55.

archierose.com.au; denverandliely.com

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