Canvas Drinks June 5 2021

The Great Kiwi Cheeseburger

I can’t think of anything nicer to wash down mouthfuls of juicy, beefy burger than the Esk Valley Artisanal Hawke’s Bay Malbec Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 ($24.99). It’s bursting with bright berries, omega plum, cherry and smoked blueberries on the nose and palate. Meaty, peppery, spice-saturated and heaving with a bouquet-garni of dried herbs, the tannins are furry and elastic and showing classic Gimblett Gravels grittiness.

Tulum Fish Tacos

All the crispy, gum-tingling goodness of chilli, lime & coriander are perfectly soothed by a few sips of the sensational Whitehaven Marlborough Chardonnay 2020 ($28). Packed with ripe peach, punchy pineapple, roast almond and buttery, slightly charred, cinnamon toast. The acidity is crisp, the textures taut and sexy and it’s a ripe, stylish thing indeed.

Flourless Chocolate Peanut Ripple

The second I saw the words ‘chocolate’, ‘peanut’ and ‘ripple’ I dove into my stash of Hamilton-brewed, Bootleg Brewery Scarface Meraki Smoked Porter 500ml ($102 per doz) because not only is it up to its socks in soft smoke and cocoa characters, it’s been given a lick of kanuka honey sweetness from Waikato’s Meraki Honey. At just 5% abv, it’s lightly-styled, frisky-fresh and sealed with a snazzy ring-pull crown-cap for easy access. Nice.

Drinks menu for Nook/Lowdown

I love that Nooks beersies have a Japanese bent and that you can choose between Asahi Dry Black, Suntory, Kirin and Orion, but also locals like Hallertau’s Mr Yakimoto and Piha Brewery’s Lowtide. Lowbrow have a rotating tap list, but their packaged brews consist of an eponymous Lowbrow Lager and offerings from Sawmill, Fortune Favours, Boundary Rd and a cider from Three Wise Birds. I couldn’t see any zero-alc beers listed, and with this being one of the fastest-growing beer categories, there’s no valid reason for the omission. Nook’s house sake is Otokoyama, but they’ll happily pour you three of our own international award-winning, Queenstown-based Zenkuro sake’s, expertly crafted by certified sake professional, Dave Joll. Whisky-wizzes can wander through no fewer than twelve Japanese examples, plus there’s a sneaky little corner called ‘etc’ housing sparkling sake, house-made yuzucello, umeshu (plum liqueur) and a couple of ‘chu hi’ which are sort of like shochu-based seltzers. Wine-wise, if you’re a fan of the natural, wild, skinsy, slightly sour and funkily feral styles then you can fill your faux-leather boots from Lowbrow’s list, because that’s all that’s on offer here. And if herbaceous, smoky stuff is your thing, then go large on their house-hopped cocktail dubbed ‘Gin & Chronic’. I reckon the shared-drinks list idea is groovy and the fact that between 3pm and 6pm Lowbrow and Nook have $14 Negronis and $10 wine specials, gives me all the carrot I need to visit.