Archive for June, 2011


If you attended the first outing of Session last year, you might have been inclined to think it didn’t have a much of a future. Despite the quality of the beer and a thoughtful crowd, the location at Sunnyside was difficult to arrive at, the weather was tempermental and the G20 was a collective bummer in Toronto’s psyche.

Thankfully, Jared Corbeil and Curt Dunlop are back this year with a second iteration of the Session Craft Beer Festival, this Saturday (June 25) and desire to a expand on the possibilities of what a beer festival can be.

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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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toronto wine and spirit festival 2010

Thanks to the Attorney General of Ontario, the summer of 2011 will go down in provincial history as the first season where people can attend their favorite festivals and drink to their heart’s content without being crammed like cattle into beer tents. Scenes like the above from last year’s Toronto Wine & Spirit Festival are now a thing of the past.

While the Distillery District is quite pleasant to look at, the experience left a lot to be desired. Once a drink was purchased, it had to be consumed before one could move on to the next tent, which lead to traffic jams, overcrowding and rushed consumption.

While over 8,000 people attended (and I think most of us had an outstanding time), Scott Rondeau, the president of Power Juncture (the event company behind the festival) thought they could do better.

“[We saw] Polson Pier as one big open area with 215 feet of untapped waterfront and we liked it. You’re right on the water, watching the sun set and there are no more pavilions. You don’t have to finish your food or drink before moving on to the next vendor.

If you’re in a group and each one of you wants to try something different, you can do that and move along. No one’s stuck.”

When asked about the changes to the liquor laws, Scott is enthusiastic.

“While the onus will always be on the organizers to provide responsible service, it’s nice to see the public be treated in a more adult fashion.”

With 45 vendors bringing over  200 products for guests to sample, the new set-up should make it that much easier to get around and give everything a taste. According to Scott, most beer samples will cost $1; with wine costing up to $3 more and rarer spirits fetching no more than $8. The cigar lounge from last year will return although this time, the smokes will be paired with scotch instead of rum.

Tickets are available in advance for $25 or you can purchase them at the door for $30. As usual, your entrance fee starts you off with 5 tickets.

The Toronto Wine & Spirit Festival is open from 6pm until 11pm on both Thursday and Friday, June 16th and 17th, respectively. On Saturday, June 18th, the festival opens at 12pm and, except for a brief period from 5pm until 6pm, will remain open until 11pm that night.

(Photo taken from the Toronto Wine & Spirit Festival blog.)

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