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Staying In, In Five Drinks – With Penny Grant

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Words by Penny Grant.

With the current ‘situation’, our regular In Five Drinks feature has shifted focus. Rather than picking the brains of industry leading lights to find out where to go out, we’re invading their homes to glean their five liquid staples for staying in. Penny Grant from Ghanem Group (Donna Chang, Blackbird etc.) beamed in from Brisbane with her current faves.

Staying in is something new and different for a lot of us, especially for those in hospitality. We relish home time and often miss the simplest of things, like putting the kids to bed, having dinner as a family and enjoying pottering around the house. To be honest, I feel privileged to have this time, privileged to be eating too much, and most importantly privileged to be able to have a few drinks and not have to drive home. So, here are my five favourite staying in drinks…

Beer, basic flavourless beer:
Brouhaha ‘Maleny’ Lager (4-pack, $16.50)

It’s very simple, I live in Brisbane where the average temperature is always in the high 20s with a good punch of humidity to smack you in the face. There is nothing better than an ice-cold flavourless beer to rehydrate and make you feel human again, especially after massive days of running around after the kids, pretending to know how to garden, procrastinating and eating way too much.
ISO food match: Shapes Vegemite flavour – trust me… addictive.

Gin and tonic, slice of orange and good quantities of ice:
Never Never Triple Juniper Gin (500mL, RRP $62)

After that refreshing and hydrating flavourless beer, a gin and tonic will alert your taste buds. It’s hard to go past Tanqueray as a benchmark and great allrounder, but if you’re able to support your local independent bottle shops, you will most likely find small batch and rare gins like Never Never Triple Juniper. It’s made by three guys, one of them being Sean Baxter, an old Brisbane boy. Fever-Tree tonic waters are easy to come by in supermarkets and in good retailers, but be on the lookout for Strangelove tonics.
ISO food match: fried dim sims.

Go-to Aussie riesling:
2019 Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Riesling ($20-26)

My go to bottle-o purchase – especially if I have to hit up Dan Murphy’s or First Choice – is a good-quality Aussie Riesling. I can always find Pewsey Vale, Pikes and Jim Barry in these stores, and I am incredibly thankful for that. Smaller independent retailers may stock some of the Tassie gems like Hughes & Hughes and Stargazer, both Jonny (Hughes & Hughes) and Sam (Stargazer) make riesling full of interest, refinement and flavour. Any of these are sure to supply good times.
ISO food match: Mr Chen’s Prawn Hargow Dumplings (Coles/Woolies) and Lao Gan Ma chilli sauce.

Digestive aid after eating too much due to boredom:
Four Pillars ‘Curatif’ Spiced Negroni (140mL x 4-pack of tinnies, RRP $50)

What a pleasant surprise it was to walk into BWS and see a nice little 4-pack of negronis, already made and put into lovely little cans.
ISO food match: goes perfectly with your child’s leftover (stolen) Easter eggs.

Pinot Noir, all night long:
Giant Steps ‘Applejack Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2019 (RRP $65)

Friday night is now ‘pinot night’, a time for deck hangs, serious talks about the world’s problems and spending one-on-one time with some pinot noir. The Applejack Vineyard is truly one of the great Upper Yarra Valley sites, delivering bright and sour cherries with a good amount of chalky tannin, plus great length.
ISO food match: homemade pizza.

Giant Steps’ Applejack vineyard in the Yarra Valley.


Penny Grant is Group Sommelier of the Ghanem Group in Brisbane. She oversees their 10 venues, including Blackbird Bar & Grill and Donna Chang. Previous to joining the Ghanem Group, Penny worked her way through some of Melbourne’s most notable restaurants, starting as a junior sommelier at Circa the Prince in 2009. The next five years saw Penny work with Lincoln Riley as his assistant at Taxi Dining Room, Maze by Gordon Ramsay and Stokehouse St Kilda. In 2014, Penny was awarded the Pol Roger Good Food Guide Sommelier of the Year. Penny is also a prolific wine show judge.