Archive for October, 2010

This has been a great year for festivals and tastings for the city of Toronto. Besides the old stalwarts like the Toronto Festival of Beer and Whisky Live we’ve got Session, the Toronto Wine  Spirit Festival and the Conscious Food Festival getting off the ground and offering new products and fresh perspectives.

Events like Toronto Beer Week also help raise awareness of Ontario Craft Beer and that, along with a more noticeable presence at the LCBO, should result in residents of Ontario taking more pride in what this province has to offer.

Next week, be sure to check out The Toronto Beer Experience, a one-day event held at The Berkeley Church on Oct. 21st, that promises to do just that with a seasonal preview that will see local brewers (Church-Key, Muskoka, Flying Monkeys, Mill Street and more) bringing  new beer that they’ve brewed specifically for this day or that they’re about to release. While details on all the beers which might be there are not available, I wouldn’t be surprised if Muskoka’s upcoming seasonal release, their Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout, makes an appearance. Great Lakes and Mill Street are bringing their Guard Dog Dunkel and Rauchbier (smoked beer), respectively. Most interesting is Flying Monkeys who are bringing a Cookies and Cream Ale; I have no idea how that will taste but I can’t wait to try it.

For those of you don’t like beer (shame on you!) there will be a variety of local wines on hand as well as cocktails made with Victoria Gin (118737, 750 mL, $49.95). I had a couple this summer at the Toronto Wine & Spirit Festival and it’s a well-balanced spirit that follows in the vein of more floral gins like Hendrick’s and Bulldog. Also on hand will be dishes prepared by the Church and live music from local musicians.

There’s also a deal on Groupon right now that offers two tickets for the price of one at only $25! This is only going to be up for the next seven hours so rope in a date and make a night of it.

The Toronto Beer Experience is on Friday, October 21st., from 6pm to 11pm. It will be held at The Berkeley Church which is located at 315 Queen St. East. See you there!

michael prueMPP Michael Prue has introduced a bill in the Legislature that will prevent restaurant owners and management from being able to dip into their staff’s gratuities.

The following is an excerpt from Bill 114:

“14.1 An employer shall not take any portion of an employee’s tips or other gratuities.”

As anyone who’s worked in the service industry can tell you, there aren’t many protections available to them. A quick scan of Craigslist will show you examples of restaurants offering less than minimum wage to potential employees and there are many stories of workers being forced to pay into “house” or “breakage” fees. Tipping out the back-of-the-house staff is often just another way for the owner to offset some of the costs of doing business instead of making sure they’re paid a decent wage.

Sure, I’ve read the stories about profit margins for restaurants averaging 5 to 8% and there’s little room for error but that’s no excuse for cheating your staff who rely on tips for a living. Ideally, we would be living in a world where everyone is paid a fair, equitable wage for a day’s work. Sadly, restaurant workers rely on the tips they make to get by and taking that away from them, even a little bit, hurts.

I’ve heard folks saying that people who work in retail don’t get tips so why should servers? Leaving aside the fact that it’s difficult to make a living on a retail wage, a good server provides an experience that can very well make a person’s night. It’s the kind of personal exchange that can vary greatly depending on the needs of the guest and like any individualized service, deserves to be recognized with a little something if it’s good.

After that nonsense with MPP David Caplan introducing a bill that would ban auto-gratuities, it’s nice to see a politician taking the side of restaurant workers for a change. Here’s hoping this initiative goes somewhere.

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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whisky live 2010

After spending most of the year with gin, rum and tequila; it’s time to give whisk(e)y a little love. The nights are getting longer, it’s getting a little colder outside and I want whatever I’m drinking to give me the warm fuzzies in my gut. No more tall cocktails filled with ice; give it to me straight and preferably in a flask!

Whether you’re an enthusiast who always has a couple of their favorite bottles handy or someone who’s partner just got them into scotch, Whisky Live is a outstanding event to explore that interest. Currently in its fifth year, this celebration of the “water of life” truly has something for everyone with guided tastings by the distillers themselves, plenty of tasting booths, food, live music and exclusive bottles prepared specifically for the show.

With over 40 exhibitors, including Jura, Compass Box and Auchentoshan; this is an excellent opportunity to sample many bottles you might not have seen at your LCBO, especially when it comes to cask-strength bottlings. Last year, I remember being guided through both the Macallan and Glenrothes portfolios and it was interesting to see how the different ages and casks they were aged contributed to the tasting experience.

Whisky Live 2010 is held on Friday, October 22nd, at the Metro Convention Centre from 7pm to 10pm. Tickets are $60 ($70 at the door) which includes your tasting glass (I still have mine from last year; it’s really nice), 5 drink tickets and all the food you can eat to soak up that booze.

If you’re feeling flush, you can get a VIP ticket for $95 ($110 at the door) which ups your tickets to 10 and gets you in at 4pm. This is also the only way you’ll be able to attend some of the Masterclasses held by distillers from the likes of Johnny Walker, Bulleit and Highland Park. Those cost $20 each and six of ‘em are already sold out so if that’s your thing, you better register soon.

Even if you don’t register for a Masterclass, take the time to talk with some of the brand ambassadors if you both have the time. These guys are passionate about their product and you can learn a lot of you’re willing. I’ve always thought that it could be one of the best jobs in the world and listening to them, I pretty damn sure I’m right.

For those of you who might be moved by such an incentive, I’m pleased to be able to offer a 10% discount for readers of The Jolly Inebriate. Just add this code (to436) to your shopping basket when you’re purchasing your tickets online.

Last year was a lot of fun and I hope to see you there!

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