Cocktails filled with popping candy and molecular gastronomy ingredients, the perfect dry martini, and dinners paired with unusual spirits are on the menu for the Canberra Times Good Food Month, which starts on Wednesday, October 1.
Many of Canberra's best restaurants are hosting themed dinners or putting on special menus for Good Food Month, which is part of Australia's largest food festival and is coming to the capital as a stand-alone event for the first time.
Several of the dinners feature cocktails and spirits ranging from a sake degustation at Japanese restaurant Iori to the molecular-style cocktails on display at Parlour Wine Room on Wednesday, the first event of Good Food Month.
Bartender Josh Nedeljkovic came up with the cocktails for the "Tale of Tapas and Cocktails" dinner at Parlour.
One of the cocktails features jasmine liqueur and is served in a teacup with gunpowder tea. Another cocktail, based on the flaming Blue Blazer, is a dessert in itself. "It's a walk into the candy shop, there's spiced rum, macadamia syrup, so it's nice and rich, chocolate bitters and some popping candy," he said.
At Pod Food on October 24, mixologist Phillip A. Jones is making martinis to go with a gin dinner – five courses created by head chef Dan English and his team.
He'll start with a mini masterclass in making "the perfect dry martini" and will go from there.
Mr Jones said interest in spirits such as gin was growing.
"Australian craft gin is really having a moment. In the last couple of years people are much more interested, they're interested in the provenance ... where it comes from and who's making it," he said.
Japanese restaurant Iori in Civic will feature a seven-course sake degustation created by chef Mamoru Aizawa with dishes matched to various styles of sake on October 23 and October 30.
And at the Elk and Pea in Braddon, tequila and agave take centre stage with a South American-themed meal matched to agave-based drinks and with dishes that feature tequila.
Both Mr Jones and Mr Nedeljkovic said Canberrans were increasingly interested in cocktails with a twist. Classic cocktails such as the Old Fashioned were being rediscovered by a younger generation, while bartenders were also challenging themselves to create new drinks.
While cocktails might be one of the highlights of Good Food Month, the festival also features a sold-out appearance by celebrity chef Frank Camorra from MoVida in Melbourne, who will present signature dishes from his restaurant at Parlour on October 23.
Other events include Eightysix in Braddon opening its doors for breakfast for the first time, every Sunday during Good Food Month, one-off barbecue dinner at Temporada, and a boundary-pushing dinner at Thirst Wine Bar that challenges diners to try exotic and unusual dishes, such as fried crickets.
The Canberra Times' Good Food Month runs until October 31. For the full program go to canberra.goodfoodmonth.com