Category: Links


Woo boy, it’s been awhile since I posted some links but between all of the fun I’ve been having this summer and the inevitable procrastination that results from sleeping in, I’ve not been able to produce anything regularly.

So… new idea. Two biweekly links posts per month. This gives me time to gather material, try out recipes and otherwise enjoy myself.

I’ve also reorganized the format slightly. DRINKS will feature cocktail recipes to try when out out on the town and make at home. NEWS will be all about the science and the politics behind what we put in our mouths while FOOD will stick to recipes.

Let me know what you think.

DRINKS

An essential list of some favorite NYC cocktails of the summer of 2011. While there’s no direct connection, I can imagine any reason why anyone planning on visiting wouldn’t pair it with the food guide below. (Off The Presses)

Looking for a fantastic cocktail at Dram? Better stay away from July 20 to the 23rd as their all-star list of bartenders will be in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail, the industry conference and booze-fest.

If, however, you’re looking for something a little more low-rent, come for 86′d, a pop-up, quintessential, dive bar experience. Depending on what sort of person you are, this is either a whole lot of fun or far too fucking precious. (The New York Times)

If you want add a silky texture to your cocktails and prevent crystallization, it’s time to start adding gum arabic to your simple syrups. (About.com)

Gum syrup will particularly benefit “tropical” cocktails. (Wired)

This Clementine Fizz sounds perfectly delicious except for one thing: they use vodka. Substitute a floral gin but keep the lovely cucumber-wrapped glass please! (Bakers Royale)

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COCKTAILS

Got the perfect summer cocktail? Whether it be something original or a clever twist on a classic, Adam McDowell would like you to submit it for his contest. Winners get bragging rights, 15 min of fame and some bar swag. I entered for the hell of it. Rob Montgomery’s already been featured with his Blackberry Cabarnet Caipiroska, a take on the Brazilian caipirinha. (National Post)

NEWS

While the situation for established and aspiring bartenders may be improving, it can still be difficult to source out all of the right products. (NOW)

Why booze doesn’t have nutritional information on the label. (The Globe And Mail)

There are macro-lagers and then there is craft beer and no matter how much Molson-Coors or InBev would like us to believe, never the twain shall meet. They can buy up as many breweries as they like but there will always be some ambitious fella who wants to make beer his way. (National Post)

Mill Street Brewery’s expanding to Ottawa. The way they’re going, it’s only a matter of time before someone comes knocking, looking to buy. (CTV)

If you’re young and Irish and your country’s going to hell, you come to Canada and ask Jimmy McVeigh Sr. to find you a job. (Open File)

Toronto used to be a whisky-town before cheap beer and Prohibition came a-knocking. (Toronto Standard)

FOOD

The best burgers are griddle-smashed burgers. Go to Burger’s Priest and then get back to me. (National Post)

While the Globe might be none-too-subtly trying to suggest birch syrup might be better than maple, I’d posit they both have their own merits. Give the former a try if you haven’t yet. (The Globe And Mail)

I know I said I’d get links up each and every Monday but it’s time for a reassessment. I have far too much fun on the weekend and not enough happens in a week that’s worthwhile compiling. Every other week, on a Tuesday, gives me time to grab some real gems and recover from whatever I trouble I found myself in from Thursday-to-Sunday.

COCKTAILS

I don’t know about you but for me summer is less about boozy, classic cocktails and more about fresh ingredients. I want it to fizz and remind me of all the fantastic things I could be doing outside!

To that end we have the Unstrung Harp, a Dark’n'Stormy by way of Italy. The NY Times is calling it the drink of the summer; I don’t know if I’d go that far but if you have a little bubbly and ginger syrup (you do, don’t you?), you might as well whip one up. (The New York Times)

We can all agree that fresh is what it’s all about when it comes to this season’s cocktails but there’s no point in punishing your ingredients. All you need to do is spank your herbs. (The Kitchn)

New York City agrees with me! Check out these outstanding cocktails and then tell me you don’t want to jump on a Porter flight tomorrow. (Time Out New York)

If you love Great Lakes’ Crazy Canuck Pale Ale as much as I do, make a cocktail out of it and convert the rest of those unbelievers! The Gringo is the perfect marriage between a couple of essential summer elements (St. Germain elderflower liqueur and freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice) and my go-to refresher. (Endless Simmer)

Summer’s different once the sun goes down and you need a different kind of drink at night. Something edgy that burns a little. You need the Spicy Lady. (Marcus Samuelsson)

NEWS

How to drink with Koreans. It’s kind of like drinking with Russians. (Los Angeles Times)

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For an experience like in the video above, get yourself a membership to the Toronto Temperance Society. I had the pleasure of checking them out a couple of months ago and their cocktail list is the shit. Exclusive tastings, ultra-professional staff and the kind of atmosphere that allows for a decent conversation don’t hurt either.

Some people gripe about the price but it’s cheaper than a gym membership and you’ll probably use it more.

NEWS

Ontario’s finally becoming a little less staid as the provincial government says it will relax the liquor laws come summertime. Whether this is pandering to voters in the upcoming provincial election or not, I know it will make this year’s festivals so much better. (The Globe And Mail)

In a move designed to gussy up its image a bit, The Beer Store is opening a new concept in Liberty Village called “The Beer Boutique”. While it will feature the same selection as other stores, customers will be able to feel better about buying their beer from a private monopoly. No word on whether the boutique will feature transients returning empties in shopping carts. (PostCity)

A profile of Will Predhomme, the sommelier of Canoe and the fun, fascinating and often tricky world of purveying wine. (Toronto Life)

Even the tea leaf has its own sommeliers now. Andrew Marone and Judy Lin who run t-buds will find the perfect cup for you. (PostCity)

El Gordo, the food court home to Agave & Aguacate, now has a patio. No more standing up while you make a mess of Francisco Alejandri’s tostadas! (Spice City Toronto)

If you think the only good champagne is branded Dom Perignon or Veuve Cliquot, think again. Their blends don’t compare to individual vineyard’s efforts, known as “grower champagne”. (Good Food Revolution)

For those of you excited by that recent Japanese study, let me rain on your parade with a little calorie-counting. Two pints of beer can equal about 45o calories. Two cans of regular soda contain 300 calories. I always felt kind of smug about not drinking soda but I’m going to stop right now (feeling superior that is; I’m still going to drink beer). (National Post)

FOOD

If you couldn’t get enough of his amazing sandwiches, Caplanksky’s is about to increase the ways to enjoy them with two delivery bikes and a food truck! Sure beats a hotdog… (Taste T.O.)

Supermarkets that are open all twenty-four hours of the day can be awfully convenient but get some shopping done at one of the many farmer’s markets operating in Toronto. (The Globe And Mail)

Nick auf Der Mauer, owner of Porchetta (one of my favorite places to eat in the city), shares his recipe for rapini with garlic and chili. I’ll still go to his shop for the sandwiches. (The Toronto Star)

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I recently met Philip Duff at the G’Vine Connoisseur’s Program 2011 Preliminary at Swirl Wine Bar. (I competed too; more on that in a future post.) A bartender and consultant who travels around the world, he was in town to promote that program and G’Vine’s gins. He gave a lecture on the spirit and the history of distillation that was funny, interesting and not at all boring. The video above, which rips into bartenders who walk into other bars and make life hell for their colleagues, shows more of that wit.

COCKTAILS

Forget the sweet stuff. The latest trend is is herbal and vegetal. The red pepper puree is my new favorite mixer. (Details)

Cinco de Mayo may be over and done with but summer’s just starting and this is going to be a good year for tequila! Brush up on your history whilst drinking a Margarita Tenacatita. (Salon)

Caribana (I’m still not used to the new name) is coming up and while I’m not the biggest fan, I’ll be using the festival as an excuse to cook up some tamarind syrup. The fruit is tart but still a bit sweet. Mixed up as El Tamarindo, you won’t find a more refreshing highball. (12 Bottle Bar)

The blog above also has an outstanding post on infusing simple syrups. Even if you don’t have a herbal garden, you owe it your cocktails and your guests. (12 Bottle Bar)

If you have pomegranate juice, you can make your own grenadine syrup. (CHOW)

How to make Falernum #9. No Zombie is complete without it! (Post Prohibition)

One of most refreshing juices I can think of comes from the hibiscus flower. Too bad Agave & Aguacate stopped serving it. (Muy Bueno Cookbook)

Is it bad that the first thing I want to do with this recipe for switzel, a spicy non-alcoholic drink is add some dark rum to it? (The New York Times)

So you’ve just gotten used to Angostura bitters? Learn about the next essential bitters you need to have in your home bar: orange. (Serious Eats-Drinks)

Everything you ever wanted to know about amaros. My current favorites are Nonino (933796, 700 mL, $42.95) and Montenegro (601484, 750 mL, $24.15). (Post Prohibition)

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Is the idea of legalized public drinking inexorably linked for you to the sort of behavior in the video above? While the cynical boozehound in me views the proposed changes to our province’s liquor laws as an attempt by McGuinty and Co. to ward off PC leader Tim Hudak and Ford Nation, I can’t help but get a little excited.

No more beer tents! Whether you’re going to a music festival or the Ex, this is potentially huge. No lineups! No more missing bits of the show because you need another drink.

Anyone who claims we’ll have more drunk assholes like the fella above is missing the point. They’ll always be around. There’s no sense in punishing the vast majority of responsible adults because a few idiots can’t handle their liquor. If they get out of line? BAM, the hammer falls. Zero tolerance.

Of course, Hudak chimed in that he was all for “treating people like adults and not children”. While his point that the Liberal provincial government ignored similar recommendations made in a 2005 study is a good one, I fail to see how bringing back “buck-a-beer” is a grown-up idea.

Wet blanket and New Democrat leader Andrea Horwath stated that “when and where people drink beer is not a priority for most Ontarians”.

Andrea, last time I looked, you’ve never come close to winning an election and judging from the comments appended to this article, I’d say people do give a shit. Maybe you’re not as in-touch with the people as you think?

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Some brewery needs to hire David Cross to do a couple spots. It would make everyone’s day.

ALCOHOL IS LESS FATTENING THAN YOU THINK. Quote. Now stop buying Molson 67. |Toronto Sun|

Adam McDowell has some good ideas when it comes to bars stepping up their game for 2011. |National Post|

We will soon get to try sake the way the Japanese intended when Toronto’s first sake brewery opens in the Distillery District this spring. |Toronto Life|

And as if we really need another reason why NYC is better than us, they’ve gone and protected their front-of-the-house staff’s tips. Not sure if that’s really anywhere near Mayor Ford’s give-a-fuck list but it would be nice… I could always give him a call. |Toronto Life|

I have to say, I have to agree with Beppi when he posits that older whisky is not necessarily better. My favorite range is often the 12 to 18 year-olds. |The Globe And Mail|

Hmm, maybe where Toronto shines is our lack of pretension? A brilliant diatribe against arrogant bartenders. |Threepenny|

But then again, NYC has these three cocktails. Pretty tasty. |The New York Times|

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Huzzah! Best TV spot I’ve seen in awhile. You can watch the apology for it and the apology for the apology here. |AdFreak|

Cross-border shopping is impossible unless you’re willing to stay over for a couple days. Thankfully, the LCBO is finally catching up with America in some ways. You can get St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur (180695, 750 mL, $49.95), Aperol (176834, 750 mL, $22.95) and four different Amaros but where’s my Luxardo Maraschino and Crème d’Yvette?

Despite the snarkiness from some of my colleagues, it’s still nice to see the LCBO bringing in some quality, established products and I really hope they penetrate into the mainstream bar-consciousness. |The National Post|

What if an iconic beer brand died and no one gave a shit? Josh Rubin’s calling the near-future expirations of Molson Canadian and Labatt Blue. Maybe they’ll revamp it like 50 but in a market where people are drinking better, it’s going to be difficult to make them marketable. |Toronto Star|

While I’d love to see more BC wine in Ontario, I’d rather see the rules preventing this not be struck from the books if it means being flooded with cheap, foreign stuff. Maybe an amendment of some kind could work which allows for personal imports/exports? |The Globe And Mail|

Apparently, a new study says that couples who drink together, stay together. Drinking apart or not drinking the same amount tends to make things worse but I feel like that’s the kind of wisdom my papa would’ve laid on me before I get married. No surprises here. |Physorg|

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beer clipBecause I’m all about respecting the inner MacGyver, isn’t this a genius solution to preventing beer from rolling around in your fridge? This represents a revolution in beer-storage!

I’ve stopped mourning summer and have gotten on with the fall. Whisky, sausages and root vegetables are the order of the day and I don’t mind wearing jackets anyway because that means three extra pockets for me!

Lately, my links have moved away from cocktails with lots of news and more of a focus on beer. While I’m sure we can all agree that beer is terrific stuff, there’s nothing like a good, stiff drink to take the bite out of those chilly breezes that have been plaguing us lately. With that in mind, these links are almost entirely based around that theme. Enjoy!

Zubrowka is one of my favorite spirits, giving what is nominally vodka a kick of cinamon and herbal notes. Ever since I used to spend my days at Rasputin Vodka Bar in Leslieville, I’ve consumed it either neat or with apple juice. Considering how much of it I imbibed, it’s surprising I never realized it was named Tatanka. Another nifty autumn cocktail is the Sharky Punch, an older recipe featuring calvados, rye and soda to great effect. |The National Post|

It may be getting chilly out there but it’s never too late for Porch Crawlers! |The Bitten Word|

A less potent version of the Negroni substitutes sparkling wine for gin, soaks the oranges in red vermouth and then roasts them. Not all drinks need to be stiff! |The Huffington Post|

While the warm weather may be done, I’m can’t quit gin yet and neither will you after you try The Last Word. |foodtease|

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michael davidson - tequilaIn news that is sure to please college students and horrify parents everywhere, a study that’s currently making the rounds online suggests that boozers live longer than nondrinkers. Those who currently abstain but used to drink also suffered high mortality rates. Perhaps the best news is that moderate drinkers (one to three drinks per day and the category I fall into) live the longest. The most interesting thing about the study is the attention made to the sociable aspects of drinking and the impact this interaction has on mental and physical health.

So next time someone says you’re drinking too much, knock back the spirit pictured above (tequila) and tell ‘em you’re doing it to live better and longer. |Time|

For those of us already comfortable with our levels of alcoholic consumption comes Toronto Beer Week, from September 20th to the 26th. With a home-brewing contest and a series of talks and tastings at a variety of good, local bars (including Bar Volo and C’est What?), it should prove to be the latest in a series of successful events this year celebrating Ontario craft beer.

The week  culminates in a urban treasure hunt of sorts called Toronto Beer Quest. where teams will race around the city solving clues that teach them about the history of beer around them. While I think they’re missing a great opportunity by not involving any actual drinking during the game, it should be fun.

With beer and champagne being found at the bottom of the ocean and whisky being found in Antarctica, it’s only a matter of time before we see new products that are crafted from approximations of their recipes. Whether they’ll taste any good is another thing altogether.|Yahoo, CNN, The Daily Telegraph|

Pabst, in an effort to diversify from its iconic brand beloved by hipsters and other cheap beer-drinkers alike, has released a new beer imaginatively titled Blue Ribbon 1844 in China. No word on whether it’s ever going to be sold over here but I think it’s safe to say we’re probably not missing out on much. |The Baltimore Sun|

Ever wanted to own a pub (and who hasn’t)? One of the most out-of-the-way spots in Britain is being sold. Accessible only by boat or a lengthy hike, it’s strangely quite popular with everyone from the locals to travelers and would continue to be quite the draw I would imagine. It just goes to show you that if you serve good food and drink and have a great vibe, folks will quite literally make the trek to stop in. |Herald Scotland|

Speaking as someone who doesn’t generally order cocktails in an unfamiliar bar, this list of the top ten ways to screw up an Old Fashioned is dead-on. |Bogost|

Some may find it incredibly pretentious but I laughed at a couple of these “cocktails” on the Atlantic’s drinks list. Located at 159 Dundas West, it’s basically the successor to The Boat and follows the same idea of a seafood restaurant becoming a dance club at night… except with less room. Still, they do serve bottles of Duggan’s No. 9.

Toronto’s always been a bit stiff and the new bylaws prohibiting patios on quite a few streets in our fair city ram that rod just little further. |The Globe and Mail|

Predictably, the cocktails designed for the Toronto International Film Festival sound pretty shitty so Adam McDowell asks four local bartenders to come up with something better (not a difficult task). |National Post|

Whisky made from the piss of diabetics? Why not? |James Gilpin|

(Photo by Michael Davidson, courtesy of Time)

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