Food and Drink


Milk Bar Mag Goes To Juniperlooza

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If you’re at all like me and cocked your head when you heard that Melbourne’s first ever gin festival was named ‘Juniperlooza’, I’ve got a fun fact to start your reading with; without juniper, there is no gin. Not only is it the essential botanical used in producing the liquor, it must also be the principal flavour used in anything wishing to be classified as gin. This fact firmly in hand, let’s dive into an insight into Melbourne’s newest premier event, a celebration of the industry and local produce.

On this blissful afternoon, the sun is beating down on Federation Wharf, where it’s easy to move between stands and soak up the atmosphere beside the Yarra River. With the event strategically spread over two bars, Riverland and Pilgrim, the hum of a happy crowd mixes with the loud, spirited comedic entertainment engaging the attendees in some Sunday fun. There are no lines, as the team have made sure there is plenty of space to chat with the producers, and picnic tables pepper the sides so that revellers can sit down with big groups of friends, or make company with couples sitting on the same table.

Each station showcases the classic gin and tonic, as well as a signature cocktail to highlight their specialities and unique tasting profile.  The official partner, award winning West Winds Gin, really stand out as the go to vendor for the event, with partners Paul and James using their unique team spirit to draw the crowds; we are beckoned over by Paul White, who is hollering compliments through a megaphone at people passing by. My friend and I are guided through the tasting profiles of three different gins by James Clarke, who is clearly confident in his understanding and belief of the product. Their Sabre is smooth in texture, led by a citrus base and a hint of coriander seed, whilst the Cutlass is more robust, kicking its way down your throat with a hint of cinnamon. My personal standout is the Broadside, which draws audible satisfaction with a strong, salty profile, stepped with a hint of parsley. My head, my blood, my limbs, they’re all swirling with the kick of liquor, and I embrace the opportunity to take a spot in the sun to sip on the West Winds signature cocktail.

An event such as this wouldn’t be complete without the food, and Juniperlooza truly delivers. The strong relationship between gin and seafood is acknowledged, with oysters on the menu at Pilgrim, complete with a gin-infused spritz. Dessert lovers are proffered a real treat on this spectacular day with Popstic Icecream serving up gin cocktail flavoured sorbets including the classic G+T and the Singapore Sling. Those after something a little more substantial can enjoy the Indochine pop-up stand, Bang Bang, which is soon to launch in Elsternwick and showcases a selection of its menu at Juniperlooza including a delicious chicken curry and rice paper rolls. The traditional Riverland favourites are on order, and their chunky chips are the perfect pairing with a zesty chicken schnitzel burger.

If you missed it this year, this event is worth noting down for 2016. Without a doubt, this taste sensation will be gracing our river banks for years to come.

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