Tag Archive: cocktails


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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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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With Cinco de Mayo happening this weekend, it’s only appropriate that Tequila and More, the first trade show centered around the spirit, it’s  smokier cousin mezcal and Latin American food and culture, should roll into town the day after.

Although both spirits have made significant inroads into bartending culture, a certain reserve still remains when it comes to widespread acceptance amongst the drinking public. Long viewed as a shooter, their presence at any gathering will inevitably provoke a number of cautionary tales centered around an instance where the story-teller over-indulged.

I would argue that the main reason for this has to be the widespread availability of the shitty stuff, known as mixto tequila, which is only required to be produced with only 51% agave sugars, the other 49% being cane sugar and additives such as caramel coloring, oak extract, glycerin and sugar-based syrups.

Drink poorly-made booze and you will get a hangover.

Tequilas and mezcals made from “100% agave” are a good starting point and hopefully, this second outing of Tequila and More will help shift the public perception of the spirits image as a hangover-waiting-to-happen to a worthy companion to whisky, gin and rum in the liquor cabinet.

I spoke to Allan Fryman, one of the organizers, about the show, tequila and its bad reputation.

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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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Some people overdo it. They drink quarts of the stuff, liberally spiked with their poison of choice, for most of December and up to New Year’s Eve. They culminate this excess with a night of drinking that would put the Founding Fathers of America to shame and then spend the next week bitching and complaining through all channels about how much pain their in.

Eggnog’s not mentioned till the end of next year and why? It’s a perfectly decent after-dinner libation and for those of us who don’t binge, I can’t think of why it shouldn’t be enjoyed throughout the season, particularly in light of all this snow we’ve just received.

So, if you’re like me and you still feel like indulging in a bit of ‘nog, read on! I promise you that very little planning or preparation is needed and at the end you will be enjoying a rich and creamy cocktail that is yards ahead of anything you can buy commercially.

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As I mentioned in my previous post, one of my favorite things about St. Martin was the vast, selection of readily-available booze. The first time I entered Le Grand Marche, the biggest supermarket on the island, I spent a good half-hour in the spirits aisle, alternatively picking up bottles I’d only heard about and marveling over the prices.

On the way down, I’d talked constantly about rhum agricole with my companions; as far as I was concerned, it was going to be my first purchase. You can’t get it in Canada and while I’d tried cachaça (the Brazilian spirit also made from cane sugar) the differences in production make these two cousin spirits more different than people might imagine.

Funny thing is, my first purchase ended up being a bottle of mezcal, El Senorio Joven con Gustano. I knew nothing about it beyond that it was not aged (joven means young). It wasn’t until four days later that I even noticed it had worms in it  (gustano). While the latter is considered a bit of a marketing gimmick and is not exactly a selling point, I’d already finished a third of the bottle and was hardly in a position to consider returning it.

The prominent smoky and woody nature of this spirit didn’t exactly lend itself it to mixing with anything but I figured I’d give it a shot, partially because I didn’t want to waste what I’d purchased and mostly because I like a challenge. One of my favorite scotch cocktails is The Laphroaig Project and so I decided to use that as an inspiration for the flavors I wanted to incorporate into my cocktail. Lime juice and this funky anise bitters I’d picked up in Philipsburg were in the first draft.

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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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