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The Qantas first class lounge has a well-stocked selection of wines and spirits, including a trio of gins which are worth trying on their own or even with your meal. Except maybe breakfast.
The lounge's 'signature gin' comes from the highly-regarded Four Pillars distillery, based in Victoria’s Yarra Valley. This is the Bartender Series' Modern Australian Gin, developed with Qantas' Rockpool mixology team using a selection of botanicals which seems to take inspiration from the First Lounge kitchen.
In terms of taste, the red and green sichuan peppers fight for your attention up front; things cool down quickly with the apples, tangelos and grapefruit peel, rounding out with a macadamia and juniper finish. At 45% AbV it's a little boozier than most regular proof gins, but still very well balanced.
Even with the wide array of flavours, the Modern Australian Gin is quite flexible in its application.
As a Gin Spritz – a twist on the famous Aperol Spritz – it makes a superb aperitif, especially in warmer months. The bitterness of the Aperol balances very well against the spiciness of the gin.
If you’re enjoying some of the spicier dishes on the lounge's menu, the Modern Australian Gin makes quite a nice pairing in a simple Gin and Tonic.
Even if you opted for wine or champagne with the main course, try an Australian Martini made with MAiDENii Dry Vermouth to round out your meal.
I love a good bone-dry gin martini, but seeing as the MAiDENii Dry Vermouth has such a lovely flavour I think it’s worth being a little heavy-handed with it.
This recipe isn’t standard on the bar menu, but the ingredients and measures are very straightforward: 60ml of Four Pillars Modern Australian Gin, 10ml of MAiDENii Dry Vermouth and grapefruit peel.
As far as I’m concerned, James Bond got his martinis very wrong: stir the gin and the vermouth together until everything is nicely chilled and combined, then strain into an ice-cold cocktail glass and garnish with a twist of grapefruit peel.
Seeking something a little more conventional? You can rely on two classic London Gins on the menu: Beefeater London Dry and Bombay Sapphire.
If you’re after pedigree, look no further than Beefeater. With a recipe from the 1800's and one of the very few London Gins that are actually produced in the City of London, Beefeater London Dry is about as traditional as it gets.
It’s a juniper-forward gin with loads of citrus that is very well suited to a G&T with a wedge or two of lime.
For something a bit easier on the palate, try Bombay Sapphire. Arguably the trailblazer for the 'premium gin' market, Bombay Sapphire’s secret is in the distillation process – instead of steeping the botanicals in the spirit, they are placed in to baskets at the top of the still column and vapour infused in to the gin.
The milder flavour makes a fantastic base for cocktails in summer months or warmer climates. I really enjoy it in a Bramble, but it’s equally tasty in a Mr Tom Collins.
What are your favourite gins and gin-based cocktails to enjoy when travelling?
Sampling the gin selection at the Qantas first class lounge
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