Food Drink

Never Never unveils exciting ‘Oyster Palooza’ festival to mark World Oyster Day in August

Oyster Palooza is heading to Never Never Distilling Co. this August to celebrate World Oyster Day.

Image credit: Meaghan Coles/Now and Then Photography

Never Never Distilling Co. has announced its upcoming oyster weekend extravaganza called ‘Oyster Palooza’, set to be held at its picturesque McLaren Vale location on the south coast of Australia.

The festival, taking place on the 5th and 6th of August, celebrates World Oyster Day and will be the second of its kind held at Chalk Hill, coinciding with Pacific oysters peak season. It offers people a chance to relish in the exquisite molluscs that get people talking every year.

During the festival, ticket holders will be treated to a sensory feast, starting with oysters and cocktails upon arrival. One of the highlights will be the opportunity to indulge in specialist frozen gin-tastings served directly from the oyster shell, featuring Never Never’s unique Oyster Shell Gin.

Sean Baxter, Co-Founder of Never Never, explains that the inspiration behind Oyster Palooza was to honour the remarkable oyster and introduce people to the delights of their Oyster Shell Gin, along with the distillery’s suggested serves.

“Everyone’s heard of a shoey, well now we’re bringing out the Shelly,” says Baxter. “We take ice cold frozen Oyster Shell Gin and pour it into a freshly consumed oyster shell,” he says. 

“You then down it in one,” Baxter says. “The Shelly is an incredible way to sample our briney coastal gin, one that pops with bright salted citrus character.” 

Guests will be invited to partake in this unique tradition, which has quickly become the favoured method of enjoying the gin alongside fresh oysters in the half shell.

There will be a special drinks menu that features cocktails including their Lime Leaf Gimlet and the Pacific Martini, both featuring their exquisite Oyster Shell Gin.

Guests will also be able to purchase additional Kangaroo Island Pacific oysters, harvested only days earlier from their habitat at American River. The local oysters come  complete with accompanying condiments and dressings. They have been harvested in peak season when they are at their plumpest.

Also available will be Pinsas (a Roman version of the pizza) done by Chalk Hill residents Cucina Di Strada as well as a couple of specials that will only be available over the weekend. 

Across the weekend, live music will fill the air, with local acts Tommy Tequila and The Beach Bums adding a vibrant seafood soundtrack to the oyster festivities. 

“We love Tommy and the atmosphere he brings every time he performs, it’s an act not to be missed,” says Baxter. 

Oyster Palooza got its start as a very strategic way of capturing raw materials. While this is no longer the sole reason for the activity it was a novel approach to solving a very obscure problem. 

“Originally we launched Oyster Palooza as a way of obtaining enough Oyster Shells to create our Oyster Shell Gin,” says Baxter, “we needed hundreds and hundreds to make the volumes required, far more than our production team was capable of consuming themselves,” he laughs. 

“It’s become one of our most popular products that’s enjoyed in restaurants and bars all across the country,” he says. 

“We got to work closely with Kangaroo Island oysters, using their spent shells in our gin production,” says Baxter. “The shells are a really important part of the process of amplifying flavour, they add a soft minerality and salinity to the spirit and a subtle weightiness which makes it a perfect gin for savoury martinis,” he says. 

“To make Oyster Shell Gin, we wanted to secure an ample supply of fresh shells within a short production window and this is a wonderful opportunity for guests to help us partake in the exercise of securing enough,” says Baxter. 

The lids of the oysters are retained and steeped in ethanol overnight before being distilled the next day. This distillate forms the heart of Never Never’s Oyster Shell Gin. 

“We want to ensure every component of the oyster is celebrated and this event gives us the opportunity to do just that,” says Baxter. 

Oyster Palooza will be a feast of live music, local suppliers, food and cocktails all hosted at one of South Australia’s most popular distillery doors. 

A ticket to the event is $40 and includes two drinks, 3 oysters and a sample of frozen Oyster Shell Gin straight from the shell. Ticket holders are then able to pre purchase more oysters before they arrive or visit the oyster bar on site.

Guests are highly encouraged to prebook their seat as spots are extremely limited and like previous years, will sell out across the weekend.

Oyster Palooza
Where:  56 Field St, McLaren Vale SA 5171
When: 5th and 6th of August (two hour sitting)
Price: $40pp (ticket includes 2 drinks, 3 oysters and an Oyster Shell Gin sample straight from the shell).
Book: Click here

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