Getting Into The Christmas Spirits

Rebecca Varidel
24th Nov 2023

Each holiday season is certainly filled with good spirits, and our Sydney Christmas is a fun filled time for catching up with friends. For entertaining at home these holidays, here's our Sydney Scoop guide to stocking your home bar and Christmas stockings with booze.


“Oyster shell is an ingredient which delivers minerality and a subtle sea spray character to our gin,” says Sean Baxter of Never Never Distilling Co., of our favourite Australian Gin. “It’s a flavour supported by the carefully considered inclusion of other coastal ingredients such as Geraldton wax, olearia, salt bush and Tasmanian wakame,” Sean continues.

“It’s as contemporary as you can get in the gin category” and he adds “it plays the role of a coastal citrus gin with more exciting flavour combinations than anything else on the market.”

It’s actually the lids of Kangaroo Island Pacific oysters that are critical to the flavour and mouthfeel of the Never Never Oyster Shell Gin. The lids of the oysters are retained when the oysters are processed and steeped in neutral spirit before being distilled the next day. This distillate forms the heart of Never Never’s Oyster Shell Gin.

“The inclusion of the shells add weightiness to the gin’s mouthfeel and creates a subtle coastal character that makes it unmatched in a contemporary martini,” he says. “Lashings of wax flower, wakame and salted citrus scratch the itch of anybody who loves a savoury martini.”

“We love it dry with a lemon or grapefruit twist, obviously accompanied by a fresh local oyster where available,” says Sean.

“For those partial to a gin and tonic, it works really well with Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic water and a lime leaf garnish,” says Sean, “it’s the perfect example of a sophisticated, citrus-forward coastal highball.”

However, when it comes to something truly memorable, Never Never’s favourite way of consuming their Oyster Shell Gin is frozen from the oyster shell itself.


Grainshaker Australian Vodka has been crowned Vodka Producer of the Year at this year's International Wine & Spirits Competition London. This marks only the second time in Australian spirits history that an Australian brand has been awarded this honour, after Four Pillars Gin.

The Melbourne-based distillery, which launched in 2020, outperformed over 200 producers including global giants Whiteclaw and Anora PLC to take home the top prize at the annual event that celebrates the best in spirits and alcohol production worldwide. Awarded by nine of the world’s best judges, Grainshaker was commended for its commitment to quality and innovation, and its smooth, flavourful vodka. On behalf of the judges, David T. Smith said "a stylish and versatile spirit. Light in body and gently warming, the palate shows great purity. Fresh citrus notes provide lift and balance amid the creamy mouthfeel. Very smooth offering showing good character on the finish."

Proudly hand made in Australia, the distillery sources all its ingredients from Victoria and New South Wales and employs a team of 80 in the north of Melbourne. Award-winning Grainshaker Vodka are available exclusively at national Coles Liquor retailers including Liquorland, First Choice Liquor Market and Vintage Cellars stores from $59.


Mellower than a tradie when it’s raining, Bundaberg Rum’s latest release Bundaberg Campfire is a smooth and mellow blend of the finest Aged Reserves and Bourbon Barrel finished rums.

This one tastes different, because it is different. And it has uickly become the favourite afterwork bevvie at our house, mixed with ginger ale and a squeeze of lime - even though we are not tradies... Although some more traditionalists might drink their Bundy with Coke/Pepsi, we also love it neat or just over ice. In fact, we went through quite a few bottles when it was first released and it displaced all other spirits at our place! Featuring an experimental and indulgent flavour profile with toasted caramel and vanilla notes, it’s a delicate and smooth drink thanks to those Bourbon barrels. Perfect for a Barbie beverage, and when there is a total fire ban over summer you can still get your Campfire in other ways.

The Bundy Rum Distillers have also developed something new for this Christmas, a new limited edition Xmas Pudding with Brandy Sauce Flavoured Liqueur. This delightful sweet concoction captures the warming tastes of dried fruit, treacle, spices and a hint of Brandy for a deliciously seasonal drink. Bundaberg’s take on the classic Christmas staple is available for a limited time in the lead up to the holiday season.

Xmas Pudding Liqueur can be enjoyed neat over ice or served over a dollop of ice cream for an indulgent dessert. Would work well lighting the Christmas pudding too, we reckon.


Brandy from the Cognac region, this French appellation is highly regarded as a Christmas drink. While we love a Cognac as a digestive it is awesomely good in mixed drinks and cocktails, as well as of course, the Christmas pudding. I was brought up on Cognac, with dry it was my Mum's favourite tipple, so I acquired an early taste for it - mixed and straight.

Monnet Cognac was founded in July 1838 under the name of Société des propriétaires vinicoles de Cognac by a hundred of the smallest local growers, becoming the very first co-op in the Cognac industry, wishing to escape the quasi-monopoly of the big brands (Hennessy, Martel, Courvoisier, and Remy Martin). Depending on your purpose, chose from XXO through to VS.

“Cognac is a spirit that is going to be massive in the next few years. It is an exciting time to be bringing this spirit to the attention of the Australian public!” explaines Top 5 bartender Andie Bulley.

“Cognac can be seen as unapproachable, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. It is a delicious spirit that can be used in a multitude of ways, either straight, in cocktails or on the rocks. It has so many diverse uses, and due to its floral and tart flavour notes, it makes it the perfect spirit to add to any of your favourite cocktails.”

To tempt your taste buds, let's get you started with a Cognac cocktail recipe by award winning bartender Andie Bulley using her favourite brand.

Monnet VSOP Fix

This little fruity number is perfect for hot days on the deck. It’s zesty, refreshing and is the ultimate segway for introducing Monnet into your cocktail collection.

45ml Monnet VS

15ml Barley Syrup (add 100g of white pearl barley to 1kg sugar and 1kg water to pot, cook on medium to low heat for 20 minutes, strain and store)

15ml Peach Verjus (To 1 litre of Verjus, add 700ml Peach Liquor, stir until combined)

20ml Lemon Juice

Combine all ingredients to a shaking tin
Shake cocktail until reached desired dilution/temperature
Double strain into coupe glass
Garnish with lemon wing

Also check out Ben Blair's Five Tips To Building A Home Bar (from our archives) HERE.