A few weeks ago we held a sell-out event focussed on showing people how to grow, prepare and consume Australian native plants. Check out all the details here and here and peruse the photo album here.

Maidenii co-creators Shaun Byrne and Gilles Lapalus (who make Australian vermouth) created native botanically-enriched aperitifs and drinkies to enliven the mood. It was our first foray into the world of native cocktails and it served to tickle our tastebuds suitably.

Such was the guests’ enthusiasm for these native cocktail creations that we’re hosting the wonderful Shaun in an exclusive 24 ticket-only cocktail making class at The Gin Palace in Melbourne.

The event is being held at The Gin Palace, 10 Russell Place, Melbourne on Tuesday 13th August, 6:00pm – 8:00pm. Click HERE for full event details.

Below, Shaun gives us a little insight into the world of native cocktails, and shares one of his favourite recipes you can easily make at home:

The French word ‘terroir’ initially inspired us to use Australian natives in our vermouth
Terroir is a French word traditionally used a lot in winemaking circles. Its loose translation is “a sense of place” and it’s used to describe how the geography, soil and climate of a place can express itself in the product grown on that land. It’s commonly used in coffee and tea circles too. Since we are making Australian vermouth, it seems fitting to show the terroir of Australian vermouth by using Australian botanicals. The bonus we found when we started looking at native botanicals is not only the amount that is out there but also the sheer uniqueness. Strawberry gum, for example, has a smell like no other. One sniff and you are taken to the bush on a rainy day with the smell of fresh eucalypt mixed with chilled air filling your nostrils. This is just one example of how intriguing and unique native botanicals are.

When you start looking, you find native botanicals everywhere
We are often asked if sourcing native botanicals is challenging, but it’s quite the contrary – there are plenty of sources on the internet for dried native botanicals and many you can actually grow yourself at home. Some boutique greengrocers have also started stocking fresh and dried native ingredients due to popular demand.

Using native ingredients in alcohol is still pretty niche in Australia
There are a few gin producers in Australia championing native ingredients, but besides that there isn’t too much going on in the space. I’m guessing this has to do with being unfamiliar with the ingredients. I must admit I wasn’t aware of over half the native botanicals we now use in our vermouth (we use 12) before we set out to make vermouth. We were forced to find out specifics to achieve an overall goal – most people aren’t faced with this challenge, so something wonderful goes by the wayside.

My 5 favourite native botanicals are…
Strawberry gum, wattleseed, rivermint, sea parsley and finger limes.

Try this cocktail at home, you will never go back:

The gin & tonic with lemon myrtle syrup & finger lime at our
Twisted Tucker event. Check out all the pics here.

Twisted Gin and Tonic with Lemon Myrtle Syrup and Finger Lime

60ml Gin (Australian Made – we use The Westwinds Gin)
20ml Lemon Myrtle syrup (make in advance, see recipe below)
250ml Tonic (we use Daylesford and Hepburn Springs Tonic Water)
Half a finger lime or 2-4 Desert limes

1. Build all ingredients over ice in a tall glass.
2. Top with tonic.
3. Garnish with lime(s).

Lemon Myrtle Syrup
1kg caster sugar
1L water
150g dried lemon myrtle leaves

1. Warm sugar and water in a large pot on stove until sugar dissolves.
2. Add lemon myrtle.
3. Cool and store in a glass container in the fridge for one week before straining and adding to your cocktail.