|Crowds enjoying Cocktail Island on Cockatoo Island, 20 November 2011|
|Part of the Outpost Project on Cockatoo Island|
Sufficiently warmed after the walk to the Upper Island, we headed straight to the exhibition hall where cocktails could be bought for anything from 3 to 10 Island Dollars (which equated to normal Aussie dollars) from a range of spirited stands and associated fun-loving bar hands.
|Cocktail with St Germain, sparkling wine and lemon zest|
|Cocktails with Hendricks Gin|
|The West Winds Gin - Australian gin!|
|666 Vodka served with young coconut juice in a young coconut|
|Tasting Theatre: History and Future of the Margarita|
|Sample of Patrón Silver (it's a shot sized, 30ml cup)|
The shaken margarita was decidedly better, made with Patrón Citronge; the citrus flavoured tequila in place of Cointreau as per a traditional margarita.
|Patrón tequila in the Tasting Theatre|
It was an educational session where we learnt that the correct service of a margarita entails two questions: "On the rocks?" and "Salt rim?".
While these are standard for a Tommy's Margarita (more further down), apparently it's not for a traditional margarita which is most commonly served straight up with a half or full salt rim.
I also learnt that National Margarita Day occurs on 22 February every year - so chuck that one in next year's diary (note: buy 2012 diary).
|Picnic area on Cocktail Island|
|Free popcorn at Cocktail Island|
|Seven Drinks to Try Before You Die at Cocktail Island|
A little too easy to drink, the bitterness of the juice makes this an ideal pre eating drink. With a salt rim, and sometimes gin instead of vodka, the drink becomes a Salty Dog.
|The Official Mixer's Manual - first published circa 1934|
I remember a Mai Tai creamy in flavour (Cruzer rum, lime juice, orgeat, triple sec and vanillar) before being lumped a with a full serve of The Blinker, consisting of Jim Beam Rye Whisky, golden grapefruit juice and grenadine.
|Final themed bar of the Seven Drinks to Try Before You Die tour|
In this last themed room, we sampled a Mint Julep which for me was sweet enough to hide the Maker's Mark bourbon, and a Blood & Sand with Scotch cherry liqueur, sweet vermouth and orange juice.
|Jason Crawley, Creative Director at Mixxit|
|Cognac Punch - 1920s style|
All cocktails we currently drink are essentially a form of punch with something added or removed. Called the "founding father" of all mixed drinks, it makes sense as punch dates as far back at 1576.
|Cognac Punch (right) and Blood & Sand (left) cocktails|
|ABSOLUT Flavour Akademi Master Class with Ben Davidson|
|Age Matters tasting session by Chivas Regal, Royal Salute and The Glenlivet|
The Chivas Regal 18- and 21-year-old whiskies were getting pretty fine indeed, and rather warming as a light sprinkle of rain started outside.
|"Slàinte mhòr" - a Gaelic toast to health|
The day was getting long but there was no missing the final session in the Piazza Tasting room; a pretty old sandstone building yet an entirely appropriate room for tequila tasting.
|Julio Bermejo - creator of Tommy's Margarita|
|Phil Bayly of Cafe Pacifico|
Bermejo is the Ambassador of Tequila to the US for the Mexican Government and, wait for it, the creator of Tommy's Margarita. He started serving this version of the margarita - with 100% agave tequila, agave nectar and lime juice sans an orange liqueur - at his father's restaurant Tommy's in the 1980s. Just don't forget to serve it on the rocks with a thick salt rim.
I honestly don't think I've had this much tequila since my teens and I must admit, my behaviour has improved vastly since those days. I didn't try to crash the after party at Island Bar, but rather sensibly joined the other Cocktail Islanders straggling onto the last ferry off Cockatoo Island.
The trip back to Circular Quay was definitely vocal, but I think showed that everyone, water bottles in hand, had a great day of drinking and learning about the cocktails on the island. See more photos of the day at my Facebook page.
Food, booze and shoes received media admission and Island Dollars for Cocktail Island courtesy of The Cru Media - thanks for keeping us well watered and educated.