Pepsi Max celebrates the release of its new vanilla flavour by hosting the ultimate culinary journey at The Vanilla Kitchen

Pepsi Max celebrated the release of their new flavour, Pepsi Max Vanilla, with a three-day pop-up restaurant at The Vanilla Kitchen at the Old Rum Store at Chippendale from 22-24 June 2017.

For just $30, guests got to experience a unique three course meal with a digestif and cocktails prepared by Sydney’s best food and mixology talent: Mitch Orr (from ACME), Jimmy Hulston (from Guilty and Easey’s), Andy Bowdy (from Saga) and Andres Walters (from The Lobo Plantation and Kittyhawk).

Pepsi Max Vanilla was cleverly incorporated in all the food and cocktails served at The Vanilla Kitchen. The entree, prepared by Jimmy Hurlston, was The Burgerlord, a miniature cheese burger with smoked cola nut barbecue sauce and vanilla cured bacon, served with a miniature side of mac and cheese topped with a vanilla bacon crumble. The main, prepared by Mitch Orr, was the Pepsi Max Vanilla braised whole pig’s head with rice, XO sauce, fresh scallions and nori. The dessert, prepared by Andy Bowdy, was A Little Splice of Heaven made with caramelised pineapple, whipped vanilla cream, Pepsi Max Vanilla spiced gel, lime meringue shards, lime curd, vanilla buttermilk sorbet and pineapple crisps. The digestif, prepared by Andres Walters, was the Breakfast Cuba Libre, made from carbonated white rum, Pepsi Max Vanilla and citrus acid jellies, served with a small toothbrush with lime and mint paste and candied limes at the end.

The cocktails served at The Vanilla Kitchen consisted of: Brad’s cocktail (which was the welcome aperitif) made with white rum, blanco vermouth, grape, kiwi and lemon thyme syrup, lemon juice and the Grogram cocktail (which was the palate cleanser between the entree and main meal) made with spiced rum, lemon, sugar syrup, and a Pepsi Max Vanilla and stout reduction. These cocktails were also prepared by Andres Walters.

Thanks to Pepsi Max Vanilla and the team at The Vanilla Kitchen for the most unconventional and delicious cuisine.

For more information about Pepsi Max Vanilla, go to:


A night at the movies and the BLOOM Gin Garden at the Sydney Film Festival Hub

Thanks to BLOOM gin, I was given a Sydney Film Festival experience which included movie tickets to a movie of my choice and drinks and a cheese platter at the BLOOM Gin Garden at the Sydney Film Festival Hub.

The movie we watched was Pop Eye, a movie set in Thailand about a disenchanted architect who is having the crowning glory of his career, Gardenia Square, demolished to make way for a new mega-building that will grace the skyline of Bangkok. Being excluded from being part of this new architectural project, he leaves his office feling disenchanted and has a chance encounter with his childhood pet, an elephant called Pop Eye, which he repurchases. Pop Eye was sold to the circus by his family when he left his village for the big smoke. Realising that he cannot keep Pop Eye in his modern designer home, he embarks on a long arduous journey, mostly by foot with Pop Eye, to return him to the village where his uncle still resides. Along the way, he meets a few interesting characters and ends up finding that things have changed and will never be the same again.

After the movie, we headed to the BLOOM Gin Garden at the Sydney Film Festival Hub Bar in Sydney’s Lower Town Hall which was serving BLOOM Gin’s signature cocktails: BLOOM Classic G&T (made with BLOOM gin, Fentimans tonic water and a strawberry garnish) and BLOOM Rosé (made with BLOOM gin, Fentimans rose lemonade and a strawberry garnish).  We enjoyed our drinks with a lovely cheese platter.

BLOOM Premium London Dry Gin is a light, delicate and floral gin. It is created with a bespoke blend of three botanicals: honeysuckle, chamomile and pomelo.

BLOOM London Dry Gin is distilled at the oldest distillery in the UK. Established in 1761 only seven Master Distillers have worked at the distillery in its 250 year history.

For more information about BLOOM gin, head to:

The Australian LGBTI Awards return to Sydney

On Thursday 15th June 2017 we were invited to the launch of the 2nd annual Australian LGBTI awards. Bloomberg, one of the awards top sponsors, did the honours of hosting the event on their sky terrace on the 27th floor of their offices at one Bligh Street.

Guests were greeted with drinks on arrival and enjoyed the impressive views of the city. A delicious buffet style lunch was provided and included: sushi & nigiri (with wasabi, ginger soy, yuzu and togarashi), chinese vegetarian fried rice, and southern fried chicken.

The director of the Australian LGBTI Awards, Silke Bader, explains why the awards are so important by saying “as a whole the LGBTI community spend a lot of time fighting for equality, it’s nice to be able to take some time out to come together to celebrate one another, and this is what the Australian LGBTI Awards is all about.”

James Breko Brechney was the emcee for the event and did a great job of keeping the audience entertained and the energy up for the duration. Peter FitzSimons hosted the lively panel discussion that took place with three winners from the 2017 awards: Michelle Heyman (sports personality), Sharon Carroll (inspirational role model 2017) and Julie McCrossin (broadcaster and presenter of the year).

Michelle Heyman was the only openly gay athlete to represent Australia at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She is a role model to many members of the LGBTI community for her outlook and positivity. As part of the panel discussion regarding why the awards are important she commented “everyone needs to be who they are and love themselves, and I get to do that everyday and it’s just nice to be able to spread that to the world.”

There are a total of 18 categories in the Australian LGBTI Awards 2018. This year the awards have added several new categories. The awards are split into two sections: Public and corporate. The public awards will be decided by public voting only and voting will close on 31 December 2017. The corporate awards will be nominated online by the public and then scored by the Australian LGBTI Awards judging panel to determine a winner.

Below is a list of all the awards and their previous winners.

Public Awards:

  • Brand and Marketing Campaign (sponsored by Coca-Cola), SBS
  • Celebrity Ally, Lucy Lawless
  • Community initiative/ Charity, Australian Marriage Equality
  • Destination (sponsored by oaks hotels and resorts), Airbnb
  • Hero, Ro Allen
  • Journalist, Chloe Sargant
  • LGBTI Celebrity, Ruby Rose
  • Politician, Penny Wong
  • Sports Personality (sponsored by GM HOLDEN), Michelle Heyman
  • Student &  LGBTI Rising Star, Caitlyn Georgeson

New Categories in the Public Awards: Music Artist (sponsored by The Star Sydney), International Celebrity.

Corporate Awards:

  • LGBTI Employee Network Group (sponsored by Big W), Accenture
  • Inspirational Role Model (sponsored by Bloomberg), Sharon Carroll – Australia Post
  • Lifetime Achievement Award (sponsored by Vodafone), Molly Meldrum

New categories in the corporate awards: Corporate Allies, Diversity Champion.

Nominations are now officially open for the Australian LGBTI Awards 2018 and you can nominate by visiting

Written by Abigail Andrew.

Sydney Event Blogger was an invited guest.

Metaxa 12 stars launches in Australia with explorer Mike Horn

On Tuesday 13 June 2017, we embarked on an exploration of Metaxa 12 Stars (a Greek brandy-like spirit) with master distiller Constantine Raptis and South African explorer Mike Horn at View by Sydney at Walsh Bay.

Metaxa 12 Stars is an amber-coloured spirit made with grape distillates, muscat wines from the Greek Island of Samos and 12 blends Including May roses and Mediterranean botanicals. Every ingredient is completely natural and organic. On the nose, you can smell the dried figs, orange peel and aromatic herbs. On the palate, you can taste the chocolate, honey, figs, orange and licorice. And for the finish, you can taste a touch of spice and orange peel.

The House of Metaxa was founded in Piraeus in 1888 by Spyros Metaxa, the creator of the original Metaxa. The business expanded where in 1900, he started exporting to the United States. It became an instant success in the spirit market where he sold 36,000 cases in 1916. It has won several gold medals at international spirit competitions, the most prestigious was the Grand Prix in the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. It is now sold in more than 60 countries worldwide.

At the launch, we had a tasting lead by master distiller Constantine (Costas) Raptis. He is the fifth master distiller since its inception and is the person who guarantees the continuity of Metaxa. He selects the ingredients, ages and blends them to create the unique spirit of Metaxa. He created Metaxa 12 stars. At the event, he described how he sourced the best muscat wines from Samos. He blended and aged them. Then, when he felt they were right, he combined them with grape distillates that had been matured in Limousin oak casks of various degrees of toasting. He added the botanicals and, as a final touch, he added longer aged muscat wine blends and grape distillates.

We also saw a presentation by the ambassador for Metaxa 12 stars, South African explorer Mike Horn. Mike Horn became the first man to cross Antarctica solo only towed by skis in February 2017. He covered 5,100km in only 57 days! He is currently on the expedition Pole2Pole, a two-year circumnavigation of the globe via the two poles. He became famous in 2001 for completing an 18 month solo journey around the equator without any motorised transport. In 2004 he completed a 27 month solo circumnavigation of the Arctic Circle, and in 2006 (along with Norwegian explorer Børge Ousland) became the first men to travel without a dog or motorised transport to the North Pole during winter, in permanent darkness.

Mike Horn showed us some amazing photos of places that very few have seen. He told us of the dangers of exploring and how he overcomes them (including how he climbs mountains at very high altitudes without oxygen. He also told us about his personal love of Metaxa 12 stars and how he carries crates of it in his sailing boat. He even told us he has drunk it with ice from the ice age (which makes it taste very different).

Mike Horn asks drinkers to go on a journey and explorer Metaxa 12 stars. “METAXA 12 Stars is so unique that the principle of discovery is what matters. You sense it, you look at it, you listen to it. You don’t drink METAXA 12 Stars, you explore it!”

Metaxa 12 Stars is best drunk neat or with a single ice cube.

Metaxa 12 Star is now available at select Dan Murphy’s and independent liquor stores fo the RRP $70.

Discover more about Metaxa 12 stars at:




Jacob Cohen wins the Southern Comfort Travelling Tales Cocktail Competition

The soul of New Orleans was brought to Sydney on Tuesday night by Southern Comfort as NOLA hosted the National Finals of the 2017 Southern Comfort Travelling Tales Cocktail Competition.

NOLA Smokehouse and Bar in Barangaroo was a suitably fitting venue, with NOLA being an abbreviation of Southern Comfort’s birthplace, New Orleans.

South Trade International have recently added Southern Comfort to their impressive portfolio and are on a mission to bring some authenticity back to the brand. Prior to the takeover Southern Comfort didn’t actually contain any whiskey, and for this reason was discredited by many bartenders. South trade International have brought the spirit back to its roots and returned it to it’s rightful whiskey shelf, much to the delight of everyone in the room at NOLA.

Bartenders across the country entered the Southern Comfort Travelling Tales Cocktail Competition by submitting an original Southern Comfort-based cocktail inspired by an authentic story for their chance to be crowned Australia’s national champion.

Ten of Australia’s finest mixologists made it through their respective state finals, two from each state. On the night of the final, each finalist presented their cocktail by creating it live in front of a panel of judges, whilst describing the story that inspired it.

The top ten finalists were:

  1. Wen Yu Wang, Bro Fist (NOLA smokehouse & bar, NSW)
  2. Emma Burns, The Shoreditch Sazzy (The Clock Hotel, NSW)
  3. Jacob Cohen, The Bootlegger (Three Wolves, QLD)
  4. Ryan Lane, Lalaurie Zoom (The Gresham, QLD)
  5. Gregory Perrot, Southern Comfort Hot Toddy(Skycity Casino, NT)
  6. Dan Wall, Saving Grace (Nola, SA)
  7. Genevieve Maladay, Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop (Garden State Hotel, VIC)
  8. Hayley Dixon, Battle & Hum (Lily Blacks, VIC)
  9. Peter Van Zeller, Blazing Heron (Daddy Long Legs, WA)
  10. James Mason, Berry Herbed (Ku De Ta, WA)

The winning cocktail was The Bootlegger created by Jacob Cohen from Three Wolves in Queensland. His cocktail was made with 60ml Southern Comfort, 25ml NOLA rebirth pale ale/aperol/honey reduction, 20ml lemon juice, one barspoon of saline solution. He will receive an all-expenses paid trip to New Orleans including tickets to ‘Tales of the Cocktail’ and an honorary bartending spot at one of the city’s top bars.

There were three refreshing cocktails created for those who came to see the Southern Comfort Travelling Tales Cocktail Competition final: Southern Hurricane (made with Southern Comfort, fresh lemon juice, orange juice, pineapple juice and a splash of grenadine), Southern Lousiana Lemonade (made with Southern Comfort, triple sec, sour mix, a dash of bitters and topped with lemonade), and Southern Comfort Old Fashioned (made with Southern Comfort, soda water and bitters).

The delicious canapes on offer were oysters rocks and pacific, wood fired capsicum tartlet, hiramasa kingfish pastrami, blackened voodoo wings, tuna sashimi lightly torched, seared scallops, chargrilled lamb ribs, buttermilk fried chicken bites, smoked garlic potato croquettes and a selection of sliders.

For more information of Southern Comfort travelling tales cocktail competition visit:

Post was written by Abigail Andrews.

Sydney Event Blogger was an invited guest

Coffee and cocktails unite with the Tia Maria + Coffee Project launch in Australia

On a wet Wednesday night, Tia Maria and coffee roaster Welcome Dose Specialty Coffee celebrated the Australian launch of Tia Maria + Coffee Project.

Tia Maria is a coffee liqueur made with Arabica coffee beans, vanilla and Jamaican rum. It was popular in the 80s drunk straight or over ice. Now, Tia Maria has a new-look, sleeker bottle and is back in vogue. It is more commonly drunk as a base for an espresso martini or other coffee cocktails.

Tia Maria + Coffee Project is a global initiative combining coffee and cocktails. Tia Maria aligns itself with bespoke coffee roasters in each region to make delicious coffee cocktails. In Sydney it has teamed up with Rosebery based Welcome Dose Specialty Coffee to launch Tia Maria + Coffee Project to Sydney trade and media.

The night started off with the ever so popular classic Espresso Martini. Guests enjoyed the drink mixed with Tia Maria and snacked on beef sliders and delicious tiramisu desserts. Continuing to the next refreshing station, guests tried the Tia Mint Americano and the Tia Mint Frappè, both great cocktails.

As the rain continued, Tia Maria’s brand ambassador, Matteo Fabbris, explained the flavour sensations of Tia Maria when combined with quality coffee beans. Then guests went back to listening to great tunes and chatting all things coffee and cocktails.

The night finished off with and Iced Popcorn Frappè, a pure indulgence!

All guests were given a bottle of Tia Maria to take home and the six recipes listed below:

  • Tia Espresso Martini – 25ml Tia Maria, 25ml vodka, double or single shot of espresso, 5ml sugar syrup
  • Tia Mint Frappe – 25ml Tia Maria, double shot of espresso, 6 mint leaves and 50ml milk
  • Tia Mint Americano – 25ml Tia Maria, double shot of espresso, 10ml sugar syrup, 6 mint leaves and 30ml sparkling water
  • Tia Iced Popcorn Frappe – 50ml Tia Maria, 50ml milk, double shot of espresso, 20ml of popcorn syrup and popcorn
  • Tia Flat White – 25ml Jamaican Rum, 25ml Tia Maria, shot of espresso, 5ml demerara sugar and 30ml milk
  • Tia Cappuccino – 25ml Tia Maria, 25ml vodka, shot of espresso, and morello cherry or salted caramel foam.

Thanks to Tia Maria, coffee lovers can now enjoy coffee from a morning cup to an evening cocktail!

For more information about Tia Maria + Coffee Project, go to:

The Lobby Bar at Le Montage launches in the Inner West

Sydney’s first whiskey and cocktail bar designed with events in mind, The Lobby Bar at Le Montage, launches in Lilyfield on Wednesday 7 June 2017.

Le Montage is an elegant wedding venue with views of Iron Cove Bay. In my early 20s, I attended a couple of weddings here and was impressed by the elegance of the venue. Now, the Navarra family (who have owned the venue since 1996) have added another touch of sophistication and style to the venue with the new concept Lobby Bar that is perfect for pre-events, post events, private events or for just coming in for a drink.

The Lobby Bar at Le Montage is contemporary in style and decor.  It is a haven for whiskey and cocktail enthusiasts serving the finest local and international whiskeys sourced from around the globe, and making their signature cocktails from the best ingredients. The wine bar has premium local wines and craft beers, alongside their exposed wine cellar.

If your impressed with the luxurious decor of The Lobby at Le Montage, be prepare to be blown away with the menu, which is designed by Vanessa Martin and her team of executive chefs. Vanessa Martin started her culinary career in 1999 when she opened her first restaurant, Il Piave in Balmain, at the young age of 24. She received the first of six conservative one chef hat awards after being open for just six months. She closed it down and set up Mercato e Cucina in Gladesville with her brother, Robert Martin. Mercato e Cucina is part deli, part cafe, part up-market providore, part restaurant, part bar, part pizzeria, part patisserie, part bottle shop, part greengrocer. She then set up the Italian food and wine emporium, Bel & Brio at Barangaroo.

Guests were guided through the venue by MC Peter Deppeler, a reporter from the Kyle and Jackie O Show on KIIS 1065. They night started upstairs in one of the reception rooms where guests sampled the culinary delights made by Vanessa Martin, including: sesame crusted sashimi tuna with white balsamic soy dressing; Waygu bresaola cigars, artichoke hearts and endive; tempura zucchini flowers filled with mixed cheeses; mini fried chicken sliders with chilli mayo and slaw; pea panna cotta with blue swimmer crab meat and snow pea leaf; mini eggplant parmigiana with micro basil; and vitello tonnato made with Italian crispbread, seared veal and tuna mayonnaise.

After dinner, guests moved downstairs to the Lobby at Le Montage where they were served french fries with graded cheese and drunk gin and tonic from the Hendricks cart; rusty nail from the whiskey bar, and house beer and wines from the main and wine bar.

The Lobby Bar at Le Montage is located at Le Montage at 38 Frazer Street, Lilyfield NSW 2040.

The Lobby Bar at Le Montage is open Wednesday and Thursday evening from 5pm until late and Friday through to Sunday from 4pm until late.

For more information about The Lobby Bar at Le Montage, go to:


The Toast the Macallan event series launches The Macallan Double Cask 12 Years Old in Australia

The Macallan, the world’s most luxurious whisky brand, has something in common with Australia. The Macallan Estate started making whiskey in 1824, the same year Australia got its name. To celebrate this common beginning and to launch The Macallan Double Cask 12 Years Old in Australia, The Macallan hosted an exclusive pop-up dining experience called Toast the Macallan from 1 to 3 June 2017 at the Roslyn Packer Theatre, Walsh Bay, Sydney. I attended the event on Friday, 2 June 2017.

The Toast the Macallan dining experience included: signature cocktails served alongside perfectly matched canapes on arrival; a whisky-tasting masterclass featuring the Fine Oak 12 Years Old, the new Double Cask 12 Years Old, and The Macallan Rare Cask expertly guided by Brand Ambassador Sietse Offringa; and a perfectly paired three course menu, curated by one of Australia’s most acclaimed chefs – James Viles of Bowral’s two hatted Biota Dining – and designed to complement The Macallan’s rich, fruity, full bodied flavour characteristics. James Viles was present on the night to introduce every meal.

There were two canapes on arrival with matching cocktails consisting of: pear and sheep’s milk blue, charcoal and whipped roe which was matched with Fine Oak 12 Copa (made with The Macallan Fine Oak 12 Years Old, Oloroso Sherry, Tonic and lemon thyme); and fermented garlic and clay cooked beetroot tartare, duck ham, endives and goats cheese which was matched with a Double Cask 12 Old Fashioned (made with The Macallan Double Cask 12 Years Old, brown sugar, Angostura and orange bitters).

For the entrée guests were served: smoked kingfish loin, finger lime, white radish and kelp oil; corn cooked over coals; and citrus and wild fennel salad matched with The Macallan Fine Oak 12 Years Old. For the main, attendees enjoyed glazed beef rib, chestnut crème and and rappe stem; gathered wild mushrooms from the local Southern Highlands forest matched with The Macallan Double Cask 12 Years Old. For dessert, guests tucked into the honey crème, toasted rye and j choke ice-cream matched with The Macallan Rare Cask.

The Macallan 12 Years Old Double Cask is made by seasoning American and European casks with Oloroso Sherry for 18 months. The emptied casks are then filled with The Macallan to make the new spirit. Once it has matured, the whiskey in the two different cask types is blended together to make The Macallan 12 Years Old Double Cask.

The Macallan distillery makes Highland single malt Scotch whiskies. The Macallan 12 Years Old Double Cask has a creamy butterscotch, toffee apple, candied apple and vanilla custard aroma. On the palate, you can taste ginger and nutmeg, citrus, caramel, raisins and resinous. The finish is oaky, warm, sweet and drying.

The food was amazing and the whiskey was first-rate. Guests had a mixed preference between the The Macallan 12 Years Old Double Cask (which retails at approximately $100-$120 a bottle) and The Macallan Rare Cask (which had a Christmas cake aroma and retails for about $700-$800 a bottle). At the first Toast the Macallan dinner attended by industry on 1 June 2017, The Macallan Rare Cask (of which there is limited supply) almost sold out! The Macallan Rare Cask whiskey is a collector’s item and will increase in value over time 9as have their previous whiskeys).

Further, Toast the Macallan was an event open to the public on 2 and 3 June 2017 for the cost of $90. The food alone was worth so much more!

For more information about The Macallan, go to:


The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes launches in Australia

You can put your detective skills to the test by visiting The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes launched at the Powerhouse Museum on Thursday 1 June 2017.

The author of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, has made Sherlock Holmes one of history’s most enduring characters. His work of fiction has influenced the world to seek truth through forensic science.

The setting of the exhibition is Sherlock Holmes’ Victorian London. Visitors are given a notebook to help solve the mystery of 221B Baker Street by conducting their own experiments. The exhibition is divided into three rooms. The first room focuses on the author and features over 350 objects, including original manuscripts and first editions, The second room is one of the world’s most accurate recreations of 221B Baker Street, the home of Sherlock Holmes and his trusty sidekick Watson. The third room is the most comprehensive display of Sherlock pop culture items since his creation 127 years ago.

There are a range of programs during the exhibition including a MAASive Lates night, a True Crime Panel Talk and Sherlock Trivia Night.

The exhibition is also aimed at children. There is an entire case for junior detectives to solve, documenting their crime solving skills in a detective file, as they work through the exhibition.

This is the first time this exhibition has toured outside North America and It will be at the Powerhouse Museum until 29 October 2017. The exhibition is brought to the Powerhouse Museum through a unique arts partnership between Exhibits Development Group (EDG); Geoffrey M. Curley + Associates; Conan Doyle Estate Ltd.; and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. This is the first time a Conan Doyle family member has been involved in a Sherlock Holmes exhibition.

On view: The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes
1 June – 29 October, 2017
Address: Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris Street, Ultimo
Tickets via

General admission for adults is $27
Concession $25,
Children $16
Family Pass $65.
Discounts available for pre-purchased tickets and groups