FAQ: Why did I call my bar Cupid?

So, last year this crazy thing happened. I need to stop discrediting myself by saying “somehow I ended up owning a bar” and say “after working a heap of different hospitality jobs for different companies over the last 14 years and soaking up every snippet of advice I could about starting a business, running a business, and general witchery I decided to take a calculated risk.” Not too calculated mind you, I mean there was certainly an element of crazy there.

Naming my new bar, as it turns out, was one of the hardest decisions I had to make. Why did I call my bar Cupid?

Sam Cooke looking perplexed

The short answer is, because someone told me not to.

The longer answer is, because more than one person told me not to and I had to think really hard about what I was in this for.

The business I thought I was going to start – my specialty craft beer shop – was going to be called McGinty’s Beer Shop. A bastardisation of my surname that nobody can remember or pronounce: McEntegart.

That’s a sensible name for a beer shop. But I didn’t start a beer shop. I bought this alluring little bar in what was formerly the entranceway to an art deco style cinema built in 1929. It is rumoured to have a few resident ghosts (thankfully I don’t see them but I am certainly not doing any séances in the bar). It’s been a vibrant, messy, banging rock and roll venue as well as its time spent as a cinema and it wants to put its name back on the map.

For this bar, I felt it needed a strong name that people would remember, that referenced history, nostalgia, romance, tragedy, human emotions like love and despair. When I came up with Cupid it seemed to fit all the grand illusions I was having. I was pulling off opulence on a budget.

I came across this brilliant post by a woman called Ash Ambirge whose blog I follow. Titled “My Brand is Boring as Fuck. With a capital F.” it helped me to realise what I wanted to do.

I didn’t want to be Boring as Fuck. I wanted to play Nick Cave songs and drink enough whisky to start growing a beard while swanning about dressed like Stevie Nicks and turning men into toads. I’m halfway there, in case you’re wondering.

Stevie Nicks album cover, 1981

Unsurprisingly, there are a number of musical references to Cupid (the first of which was my main inspiration if you haven’t guessed).

“Cupid”, Sam Cooke, released 1961

“Don’t Mess With Cupid”, Otis Redding, 1968

“Hello from Cupid”, Jonathan Richman, 1998

“Cupid”, The Brunettes, 2002

“Happy Valentine’s Day”, OutKast, 2003

“Cupid”, Amy Winehouse (cover of Sam Cooke) released 2006

“Cupid Carries a Gun”, Marilyn Manson, 2015

Music has become an important feature in my bar, which perhaps is unsurprising given that it owes its name to a song. If you want to hear my playlist, click the link on my website here: www.cupidbar.net/links/

Intuition, AKA trusting your gut, plays a really big part in running a business. So does defining your values and being true to yourself. I have been waiting an excruciatingly long time for my opportunity to shine, and while I know I’m a slow burner, I’m not (as some would say more bluntly) here for the heavy petting of arachnids. I’ll be okay as long as I don’t go kissing any more amphibians.

crazyrunninggirl.kiss-frogs-prince copy
This is the worst advice ever. No you fucking don’t need to kiss any frogs. You’re better than that.


FAQ: Why did I call my bar Cupid?

Beer+food Tasting Party: Menu 2

The first act felt like a challenge to follow up, but now I think I like this menu better…. it forced me to be creative and think about the way the beers and dishes follow each other.

Watch this space guys…. hopefully next time we’ll have a proper venue and some industry support: Dreams are free (and sometimes they come true) xxx




Beer+food Tasting Party: Menu 2

On arrival: Cheeseboard with grapes and crackers

First course: Moa Southern Alps White IPA and salted toffee cashews

Brewed with Vienna and Pale Wheat malts, Moa Southern Alps is hopped and dry hopped with a blend of Nelson Sauvin and Citra hops giving a strong citrus/lemon grass aroma. Add the esters from a Belgian ale yeast and coriander for spicing and you have quite some complexity in this fusion of Belgian Wit and I.P.A. Goes lovely with salted toffee cashews.

165ml serve / 6.4% ABV

Second course: Hallertau Copper Tart with Mushroom Risotto balls and honey

Warming things up a bit, the Copper Tart is a red ale and its caramel flavours offer a nice continuity from the previous dish. Mushroom and honey are a surprisingly good partnership, and this one goes down a treat.

165ml serve / 4.2% ABV

Third course: 8 Wired Cucumber Hippy with Smashed Cucumber Salad

Yes! I converted some of you to the Cucumber Beer Cult. This beer is truly life-changing, it’s made me look at beers in a completely new way. Try it. I’m looking at cucumbers in a new way too cos if we’re gonna smash capitalism and the patriarchy and stuff we might as well start in the kitchen…. that’s where the knives are kept.

165ml serve / 4.5% ABV

Fourth course: Guinness with slow cooked lamb and polenta

It’s cold outside, it’s warm inside…. the house smells good and there’s leftovers. What more could you ask for? Oh, and I made polenta taste good.

165ml serve / 4.2% ABV

Fifth course: Epic Armageddon IPA and Creme Brulee

Yay I actually made the brulees set properly this time. I think the culinary blowtorch was key. Also I used pretty small ramekins but it packed a punch and so did the beer. Burning stuff is fun.

165ml serve / 6.66% ABV

^ 666. I love it when brewers do stuff like this. Attention to detail.

Links to recipes on blog below my brother:



Salted toffee cashews: https://beertruths.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/beer-food-matching/
Mushroom risotto balls: https://beertruths.wordpress.com/2017/06/04/beer-food-pairing-13-mushroom-risotto-balls-hallertau-3/
Smashed Cucumber Salad: https://beertruths.wordpress.com/2017/05/08/beer-food-pairing-12-berliner-weisse-and-chinese-smashed-cucumbers/
Lamb: https://beertruths.wordpress.com/2017/07/17/beer-food-pairing-14-slow-cooked-lamb-with-guinness/
Creme brulee: https://beertruths.wordpress.com/2016/05/02/beer-food-pairing-6/
Beer+food Tasting Party: Menu 2


Let me interrupt your Game of Thrones life for a minute: I GoT meat and beer? No? Ok, I tried…..

This is a recipe I followed from a cookbook, but I tweaked it a bit. I added cumin, coffee and mustard because I like my lamb with warm Mediterranean spices and I found these brought out the flavours of the Guinness better too.

A super rich, decadent winter meal that deserves a good beer to wash it down. The lamb is slow-cooked in a stock with Guinness, onion and spices. I tried a couple of richer and hoppier dark beers with this dish, they worked as an aperitif but they clashed with the flavours of the dish itself. The sweet onion and bay leaf are delicate components, while the lamb is rich and strong. The right beer pairing needs to compliment but not overpower these elements, and it needs to cut through the richness of the gravy to refresh the palate. Guinness was perfect for this.

I hope you get the opportunity to try it for yourself.


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2kg lamb shoulder (bone-in optional)
  • 2 onions
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 Tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp hot mustard
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • cracked black pepper
  • 60ml malt vinegar
  • 250ml Guinness
  • 250ml vege/chicken stock
  • 250ml brewed coffee (e.g. plunger)
  • instant polenta or mashed potato to accompany
  • more Guinness (not optional)


You can cook this dish using a slow-cooker, a conventional oven, or even pot-roast. If you’re using the oven, pre-heat to 160C. Choose a piece of lamb that will fit the dish/method you are using, or cut it into 4 parts.

  1. In a heavy based frying pan, heat the oil and then fry the lamb until the outside is browned.
  2. Add the onions, halved and then chopped into wedges. Add the garlic, roughly chopped.
  3. Once the onions have begun to cook, add the bay leaf, cumin and sugar. Gently turn the lamb and onions to cook evenly.
  4. Add the mustard, malt vinegar, salt and pepper. At this point you may like to transfer the lamb into a roasting dish or slow cooker. Add the final ingredients: Guinness, stock and coffee.
  5. Cook for 4-6 hours, depending on cooking method. I like to prepare the dish in advance, pre-cooking the dish in the slow-cooker on the previous night or in the morning for 2-3 hours. Then I let it cool and scrape off the excess fat, remove the bones and cook a further 2-3 hours.
  6. Once the lamb is ready, and is nice and tender, I drain off most of the gravy through a sieve into a large measuring cup. I add a bit of boiling water to make it up to 2 cups of stock. Then I used this stock to make instant polenta on the stovetop.
  7. For 500ml of stock, use 125g of polenta. For 350ml of stock, use 83 grams or around 3/4 of a cup. Add a third of the polenta at a time and use a wooden spoon to beat the mixture rapidly. Cook for around 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  8. Serve the lamb and polenta immediately, garnished with a small bay leaf. Drink Guinness.




Beer+food Tasting Party: Menu 1

Whoop! So I pulled off 2 lovely afternoons filled with beer, food, good friends and conversation. All of the recipes I used can be found on my blog, I will list them below.

Now it’s back to the drawing/tasting board to plan Menu 2.




Beer+food Tasting Party: Menu 1

First course: Garage Project’s Salted White Peach Sour with a Cheeseboard

Cheese goes well with fruit, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that it goes well with a fruity beer too. The carbonation as well as its dry finish makes it a great food beer. I threw in a bit of prosciutto, dried apricots and other fruits, as well as 3 types of cheeses – parmesan, creamy blue and camembert.

330ml serve / 2.9% ABV

Second course: Panhead Xtra Pale Ale with Bread and Butter Pickles

Panhead started in Upper Hutt, launched out of the old Dunlop tyre factory; the brand has a distinct motorhead aesthetic. The pickles recipe comes from ‘Ladies, a Plate: Jams and Preserves’ so this is a collision of two worlds, re-working something a bit old-fashioned. When you try the two together – pow wow! You will want to eat this every time the sun shines.

165ml serve / 4.6% ABV

Third course: 8 Wired Saison Sauvin with Ceviche

The distinctive Nelson Sauvin hop has similar characteristics to Sauvignon Blanc, a wine that is often paired with seafood. This is the only Saison Sauvin I have come across, as one blogger says it is “a little bit special and very tasty”.

165ml serve / 7.0% ABV

Fourth course: Good George Rocket Coffee IPA and Vege Skewers with Satay Sauce

The chilli and peanut flavours really bring out the coffee notes in this beer, backed up by the caramelized notes of roasted kumara – it’s even vegan. What more could you hipsters possibly want?

165ml serve / 6.0% ABV

Fifth course: Renaissance ‘Stonecutter’ Scotch Ale with Pulled Pork, Roasted Carrots and Harissa Labneh

This is an amazing food pairing beer, 9 malts are blended together to make Stonecutter, which is why you get so many layers of complexity from it. Add the warm spicy flavours of the pork and labneh, and this is foodie heaven.

165ml serve / 7.0% ABV

Sixth Course: Funk Estate Afrodisiac Stout and Cookies

Funk Estate’s most critically acclaimed beer to date, it’s an imperial stout that contains five aphrodisiac ingredients including chocolate, figs and maca root. Paired with these easy-like-Sunday-morning walnut and dark chocolate cookies. Yum!

165ml serve / 8.0% ABV

Links to recipes on blog here:

Pickles: https://beertruths.wordpress.com/2016/03/10/beer-food-pairing-5/
Ceviche: https://beertruths.wordpress.com/2016/12/19/beer-food-pairing-9/
Satay Vege Skewers: https://beertruths.wordpress.com/2016/10/15/beer-food-pairing-8/
Labneh and pork: https://beertruths.wordpress.com/2016/02/11/beer-food-pairing-4/
Cookies: https://beertruths.wordpress.com/2016/09/28/love-bitterness-beer-food-pairing-7-beer-aperitivo-pairing-a/
Beer+food Tasting Party: Menu 1

Beer + food pairing #10: Champagne and strawberries, the beer drinkers’ version

Tonight, due to necessity (A.K.A. my resistance to the idea of either leaving the house or making an actual meal) and also creativity (A.K.A. my resistance to tidying my room, yes the truthful words of a 30-something procrastidrinker)…. I came up with this delightful pairing.

Something like that.

Champagne and strawberries is a bit of a cliché, but I am not here to deliver your stock standard.


I have tried making beer bread before, using a standard beer, but this time I decided to splash out on some quality ingredients. I’m telling you, it’s worth it!!! The smell of this beer bread cooking was fairly saliva inducing.

Maybe this in inadvertently inspired by Garage Project’s Beervana offering of Fairy Bread to match their 5th Birthday themed beers. This is kind of the adult version. I’m hoping they would approve.

I chose a pretty fancy sounding beer (Hops on Pointe was brewed for the Royal NZ Ballet) and initially I had an idea to pair it with something equally high brow. However, when searching the shelves for an appropriate beer to make a beer bread, this one seemed to fit. German malts, Nelson Sauvin hops, and Champagne yeast. A pale gold lager with a crisp, clean palate, rich tropical fruit aromas and tight champagne bubbles.

Hops on Pointe teases the traditional boundaries between high and low culture. I imagine drinking this with good friends and the resulting scene being like something from Absolutely Fabulous.



  • 330ml can of Hops on Pointe Champagne Pilsner
  • 2 and 3/4 cups of self raising flour
  • 3 tsp white sugar
  • friends (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil (or butter)
  • more Hops on Pointe Champagne Pilsner
  • strawberry jam and coconut butter (or whipped cream) to serve



  1. Make sure your beer is at room temperature for the beer bread, or heat it up it slightly.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  3. Mix the first 3 ingredients in a bowl. Lightly grease a loaf tin with some coconut oil or butter, pour the bread batter in (it will be quite a wet dough) drizzle with a little more coconut oil or butter and bake for 50 mins.
  4. Slice and serve while warm, with either coconut butter (I’m going for some vegan and dairy free options here, don’t judge me) or cream, and strawberry jam.
  5. Match with Champagne Pilsner, and follow with red wine or anything else you desire.

Beer + food pairing #10: Champagne and strawberries, the beer drinkers’ version

#shrublife (What to drink when you’re not drinking)

At some point in January 2017 I was flicking through old journals from 1.1.16 and found the following goals:

  • at least 1 day per week no alcohol
  • at least 1 day per week go to the gym

Then I cried.

I have reached the point in my life (again) where I am ready to start new, healthier habits. Drinking alcohol and having naps have become my main hobbies, and although I am genuinely passionate about beverage research and building a solid relationship with my mattress, there are more things I want to be doing with my life.


If you are also considering staging an intervention with yourself, or if you’re just one of those nice wholesome freaks who doesn’t drink alcohol everyday, you may be interested in an initiation to the world of Drinking Vinegars!

I was first introduced to shrubs through my place of work, and have been thrilled to find many recipes online, amidst myriad wholesome blog posts featuring pretty mason jars. The word shrub stems from the Arabic word “shariba” which means “to drink.”

One example cites 19th and early 20th century housekeeping manuals as a common place to find recipes, since shrubs gained popularity during the Temperance movement. Yes, 19th century housewives I feel your pain!

They are an economical and simple way to make a preserved fruit syrup, since the sugar and vinegar does most of the work and they require no cooking (yay!)

(Note: You can still add gin or whiskey or vodka and they taste very nice. Or rum… oh rum!)

I have stuck to the same basic recipe for various fruits; plum, strawberry, guava, feijoa. I don’t skin them, just wash and remove large stones, or top and tail them then slice in half. A little bit of natural fermentation is not a problem because the vinegar will kill any bugs. I normally use fruit that is available freely (i.e. growing in my backyard or obtained from a friend).

Plum and balsamic shrub

For the plum shrub I used balsamic as well as apple cider vinegar; with the other fruits I used only 2 cups of apple cider vinegar. The citrus peel can be added depending on the fruit you are using, such as orange peel with the plum or lemon with the feijoa. You can also add fresh ginger.


  • 4 cups of plums, halved and pitted
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 20 black peppercorns
  • 2 pcs orange or lemon rind or ginger (optional)
  • soda water and ice (to serve)


  1. Muddle fruit and sugar in a large sealable jar with the peppercorns.
  2. Leave sealed for at least 24 hours, stirring daily. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the vinegars. Stir and leave 2-5 days for the flavours to infuse. Then strain through a sieve or muslin cloth. Keep the syrup refrigerated.
  3. (Sadly I have found no use for the discarded fruit besides a drink garnish, I guess you could try adding some to a fruit chutney.)
  4. To make your drink, pour a little syrup into a tall glass, add ice and soda water.


Good luck


Recipe inspiration credited to the blog post below:


#shrublife (What to drink when you’re not drinking)

When to admit you were wrong (Wednesday)

I just committed a heinous crime. It is made so much worse because I purchased what is probably the most beautifully labelled bottle of beer I have ever seen. It is adorned with a mermaid holding two full beer glasses, her seaweed-like hair swishing around and it is called “Punk’in Drublic”.

It is made by Coronado Brewing Company, California, an Imperial Ale aged in brandy barrels and brewed with pumpkin and spices.


A hefty 8% ABV it is a rich golden colour, smells and tastes as expected: sweet spices, fruit leather, barrelly tones. Now this is when I committed that terrible sin: I added lemonade.

My beautiful handmade craft beer, travelled across the ocean, placed ceremoniously on the shelves of Liquorland Newmarket, sitting in my fridge for a week waiting for an occasion to drink it (occassion: it’s a Wednesday) – and I turned it into a shandy.

See, the problem is that I don’t actually like barrel aged beers. I did a stupid thing and bought one cos I liked the name and the label. I’m sure we’ve all been here before. The last time was Moa’s Rum Barrel Aged Sour (a whole lot less drinkable than this one). It is not a bad beer by a very long shot, it’s just that I’m the wrong person to make a happy match. This is a view I have adopted lately of human relationships. Two people can be perfectly great as individuals but sometimes they just don’t work together in harmony.

So, if you do make this mistake with your beer selection, here are a few things to try:

  1. Try food with your beer. I happened to have some maple syrup & pecan cream cheese on hand (how convenient!) and this went very nicely with the beer. (Interestingly, my significant other uses this same “just add food” technique on me – I’m as sweet as pie as long as you remember to feed me frequently.)
  2. Take your time. Maybe your palate got a shock, maybe you need a bit of time to adjust to the bitterness, hoppiness, sourness or sweetness of the beer because it just wasn’t what you were expecting.
  3. Add lemonade. This is the most delicious shandy I have ever tasted.
  4. Admit you were wrong, and move on! Don’t suffer silently or say bad things about it. There are plenty more fish in the sea!
When to admit you were wrong (Wednesday)