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Sip into summer

Refreshing, thirst quenching and palate-pleasing – there’s nothing quite like sipping a cocktail on a balmy afternoon or evening. With a suite of fresh ingredients to choose from, body temperatures to regulate and socialising to be done – summer is an acceptable excuse to get inventive with your imbibements.



While classic concoctions will always have their place, why not flex your mixologist muscles and introduce some new tricks into your tipple repertoire. A chilli margarita is a spicy twist on an old crowd pleaser, while watermelon is a sweet and refreshing addition to modernis e a mojito, and replacing regular rum with gin creates a Light ‘n’ Stormy.

Exercise your right brain by experimenting with new ingredients, textures and colours and learn some new flavour combinations to add to your aperitif arsenal. Have you heard of sparkling shiraz spiked with vanilla ice cream to make a very grown up spider? What about a fruit salad punch, or substituting liquor altogether with an alcohol-free spirit?

Take advantage of the seasonal fruits, flowers and herbs and get creative with your garnishes. Whether it’s a slice of citrus with a sprinkle of berries and handful of fresh mint or twig of rosemary. Or, freeze some beautiful blooms in ice cubes, mix up a sweet, salty, spicy (or all three) rim dusting, or pop in some pomegranate seeds or passionfruit pulp.


World-first bubbles!

Just when you thought there was nothing better than bubbles, Champagne Lanson went and made bubbles better, with the world’s first fully organic and biodynamic champagne – Lanson Organic Brut NV.



Biodynamic farming is the haute couture of food production. Based on a set of farming principles developed in the 1920s, it is understood to conserve and energise the soil, producing healthier plants.

“Working closely with our growers in the Marne Valley in the champagne region of France, we have crafted our champagne to be fresh and vibrant whilst retaining the heritage style of Lanson and meeting strict regulations to be labelled organic and biodynamic,” says Champagne Lanson President François Van Aal, who flew in from France to launch the new Lanson Green Label Champagne within the lush surrounds of Amazonita, on Oxford Terrace.

Time-consuming and expensive, biodynamic principles are a significant step-up from simply being organic.

Lanson Organic Brut NV is produced using organic grapes grown exclusively on an estate vineyard at Verneuil, in the heart of the Marne Valley.

“Committed to organic and biodynamic cultivation for many years, the vineyard is dedicated to protecting the ecosystem and respects the balance between soil, plants and humans,” François says.

“As per the Lanson style, this wine doesn’t undergo malolactic fermentation with the long maturation period offsetting the high levels of malic acid in the champagne.”

In keeping with the new product’s commitment to sustainability, the bottles are light-weight, the labels are made of recycled paper and the champagne is also vegan-friendly and vegetarian.

Lanson Organic Champagne is only available exclusively in Christchurch and sold in two on-premise accounts and one fine wine retailer across the city.

“We are proud to be one of only two accounts in NZ to be selling Lanson Organic Champagne with the opportunity to share with our guests,” Amazonita General Manager Josh Peat says.

“The wine expresses fresh, fruity and elegant notes which we have paired with the best organic produce. Our canapés of Clevedon oysters, Mount Alpine cured salmon and organic tempeh enhance the minerality and long finish of the champagne.”

New kids on the block

We’re quickly heading into entertaining season, so let’s toast the new kids on the culinary block; some of the hottest tipples making waves in our southern spot.



  1. Pete’s Natural
    Pete’s Natural, a small family-owned business located in Motueka, is the first to market in New Zealand with a hemp seed-infused functional beverage. Its Hemp Manuka Sparkling beverage and Lemon Manuka Switchel have just hit the market after legislation changed in November 2018, allowing hemp seeds to be incorporated into foods. Not only rich in both omega 3 and 6, these seeds also contain high levels of antioxidants that support a healthy heart, healthy skin and reduce inflammation. Beverages are brewed using 100 percent New Zealand-grown freshly squeezed spray-free fruits, and natural ingredients. They contain no additives, artificial preservatives, concentrates, colours or flavours, and are gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan-friendly.

  2. Roku Gin
    Roku is the premium Japanese craft gin created by the House of Suntory in Osaka, Japan, built in 1919. Adored by many, Roku has taken the New Zealand market by storm, known for its unique combination of botanicals. Roku in Japanese means ‘six’ which references the six Japanese botanicals used; sakura leaf, sakura flower, sencha tea, gyokuro tea, sansho pepper and yuzu peel. What we love most about Roku is its focus on achieving excellence and perfection, aligning with the Japanese concept of Shun. The botanicals used in its creation have been harvested in their prime season to ensure the utmost freshness and flavour.

  3. Legent
    East meets west as this first-of-its-kind bourbon melds Kentucky distilling tradition with Japanese blending excellence. Legent (pronounced ‘lee-jent’) is a unique innovation that starts as a Kentucky Straight Bourbon with the Beam classic family recipe and is aged in wine and sherry casks before being blended with more Kentucky Straight Bourbon, resulting in a perfectly balanced yet complex and layered whiskey. The super-premium bourbon is expertly distilled by Fred Noe, seventh-generation Master Distiller of Jim Beam and great-grandson of the man himself, and artfully blended by Shinji Fukuyo, fifth-ever Chief Blender of Suntory, the founding house of Japanese whisky.

Gin-tastic!: Curiosity Gin

Curiosity Gin is rebranding and relaunching with a new logo and bottle, but it hasn’t changed the Genièvre that Cantabrians have come to love so much.



Found in the finest of bars, the logo has been displayed at the distillery at 11 Sandyford Street for the past few months but the new bottles are more modern in design, and will be larger at 700ml.

“We went into making gin very quickly with the intention to learn as much as we could about the spirits market as fast as we could,” Curiosity Gin’s Antony Michalik says.

“One thing we have learnt is that almost every decision we made about the packaging in the beginning was wrong! They are the same fantastic gins, but now the bottles will look as good as the gins taste!”

Along with the new bottles, they are finally building the room for their new still. Those who have taken the tour will have seen the still assembled in place but not operating. “The new still gives us 10 times the capacity of the previous still and will allow us to start making whisky again at small scale,” Antony says.

“Speaking of whisky, we are looking forward to launching our first proper three-year-old single malt in December. It’s been a long wait, but the samples are tasting great and we can’t wait to have a product for whisky lovers to taste and purchase.”




Raise a glass

We’re quickly heading into entertaining season, so it’s time to raise a glass to the exciting new bevvies that are being made right here, in our own Kiwi backyard.


1. The Fermentist
Christchurch-based craft brewery, The Fermentist, is bringing the nation its first carboNZero certified beer, following product certification by Enviro-Mark Solutions for its Kiwi Pale Ale (KPA). The official certification forms part of the craft beer brand’s wider goal to be the first fully carbon neutral brewery in New Zealand by 2020.



2. The Mountaineer
From the makers of Mount Michael Wines, The Mountaineer is launching an inaugural Pinot Rosé and Pinot Gris alongside a beautiful second vintage Pinot Noir, to form its first-ever collection of quality, artisan wines.

Made by Jody Pagey, talented head winemaker at Mount Michael Wines, each drop in the new range has been carefully handcrafted to provide wine-loving Kiwis with an exquisite variety of Central Otago boutique wines at affordable prices, for all to enjoy.



3. Happy Booch
The Premium Liquor Co. and Good Buzz have partnered together to launch New Zealand’s first ever 100 percent natural, kombucha-infused, clean vodka, Happy Booch.

Available now from liquor stores nationwide, Happy Booch has been crafted to offer Kiwis an alternative alcoholic beverage that’s made from 100 percent natural ingredients, is naturally low in sugar and contains the added goodness of Good Buzz Kombucha.




Alcohol Consulting Group

Hospo Help for Alcohol Licensing: Alcohol Consulting Group

A successful hospitality business in the 21st century requires not just the magic mix of taste and style with an acute business sense, but also a deep knowledge of the regulatory environment.


Alcohol Consulting Group


The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act, 2012 considerably increased the responsibilities of hospitality owners. With an overarching objective of ‘minimising harm’, owners must show actively how they are doing this. With a combined 30 years’ experience in alcohol licensing, Christchurch’s own Alcohol Consulting Group recognises that the knowledge required to gain and retain an alcohol license can be daunting for small and large businesses alike. Comprising specialists from a regulatory background, Consultants Helene Faass, Al Lawn and Jenn Ramsay have worked within the range of agencies that have an interest in the granting of licences.

Jenn and Helene understand what agencies are looking for from potential licensees. They have seen licences refused and understand why; they know how agencies work, what they are looking for and why they want things done a particular way. By using their knowledge and experience, they can explain to agencies and decision-makers why it might be difficult for a hospitality operator to respond to certain requirements. As well as agency experience, Al Lawn has been a District Licencing Committee member. As a decision-maker, he understands exactly what current decision-makers are looking for.

In their previous roles, Helene, Jenn and Al have seen people struggle with what was being asked for and needing help. Working nationwide, the team can travel to clients at their premises. Seeing hospitality premises on site and in action enables them to give the best possible advice. Recognising that office hours do not apply in hospitality, they are available as and when they are needed. They bring a 360-degree approach to licencing. They’ll help with making applications, training staff and all aspects of risk management, including alcohol management plans.

They understand how to balance regulatory requirements with success in hospitality. “We minimise your compliance costs and help you to fully focus on the entertainment side of your business,” Helene says. “We perform a liaison role as well,” Jenn adds. “We work with the 2012 Act daily and we know it inside out, so we can help legal teams get to grips with paperwork and hearing preparation to get good results faster.”

“We also strongly advise developers to consult from the outset about how design affects licencing,” Al says. “It will save you money and provide you with certainty.” Alcohol Consulting Group tailors assistance to the assessed risk of each premises, so that clients don’t end up paying more than they need.



The secret’s out!

The secret’s out! Alcohol’s hidden secrets

At the height of the 1920s prohibition era, when the possession, purchase and consumption of alcohol in the US was illegal, there were as many as a hundred thousand illicit booze joints in New York alone!


The secret’s out!


Speakeasies, as they came to be known – because they were only spoken of quietly – sprang up in response. People wanted to drink alcohol and entrepreneurial types, many with ties to organised crime, established secret bars and lounges whose location was carefully guarded. In hidden rooms, basements or attics, these concealed saloons flourished. Word of mouth and secret passwords or handshakes were often the only way to get in.

Non-descript and elusive, speakeasies broke down social barriers between races, men and women, rich and poor. They introduced jazz music to new audiences. New ways of imbibing alcohol were invented. Some say the cocktail was revolutionised in the speakeasies as bartenders tried various ways to mask the poor quality, cheap alcohol some of them were selling, to make it more palatable.

Prohibition ended in 1933 and speakeasies largely either disappeared or returned to business as usual in most states (Mississippi enforced prohibition until 1966!). The temperance movement attempted to get prohibition established in New Zealand in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but generally failed. Jump forward to the 21st century where the night-life and alcohol industries are still very well established in western culture and the continual quest for the different has seen a resurgence in popularity of cocktail bars styled after the speakeasies of American history.

Just what makes a booze joint a speakeasy these days is a matter of hot debate. There seems to be some agreement however, on the inconspicuous, even hard to find, location and a serious cocktail programme to satisfy the punters. With social media, inconspicuous may be a hard ask; a line-up of spectacular cocktails is somewhat easier. Littered throughout Christchurch, a number of speakeasy style lounges are very popular, each with its own distinct vibe. Some are easier to find than others. For those already in the know, that drycleaners is literally just a front. Go through it to a sophisticated, seated-service, opium den themed cocktail lounge serving exotics such as the Opium Sour and Disturbance.

That bookshelf? Yep. Secret entrance. Behind it, a dimly lit, opulent cocktail bar where you can imbibe such classics as The Manhattan, or specialties such as Mystery of Suite 12.  Another very popular inner city social club is “completely dedicated to, and somewhat obsessed with, the craft of the cocktail,” and there’s a sneaky little cocktail bar in the heart of Riccarton. Not everyone is a fan, however. Harrison Jacobs, in a piece for Business Insider says “there is no trend in nightlife culture that has more outlived its welcome than the speakeasy bar.

“No way!” says one Christchurch speakeasy manager. “Not true at all.” The speakeasy is alive and well, and in fact immensely popular. “The numbers don’t lie.” If you are looking for a great night out, or a unique private venue, fire up the google machine or ask around. You never know what you may find in some of those hidden rooms behind discreet doorways or bookshelves.