Tag Archive: industry


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)

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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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“Why do you have so many pictures of food on your Facebook?” a coworker recently asked me, more bemused than concerned.

“What do you love?”, I asked him. “My family,” he instantly replied. His albums are full of photos of them so I presume this to be true. I don’t know him well enough to understand why he wouldn’t make that connection but there it was. Having photos of your family publicly demonstrates your love and fidelity but having photos of the steak you cooked last week seems a bit proud, a little snobby and maybe even gluttonous.

Gluttony’s a really dirty word, the n-word for people who enjoy eating and it can sting a bit when tossed at someone considered guilty of it. While it has its roots in the Latin word gluttire, meaning to gulp down or swallow and is generally assigned to the overconsumption of food, Catholics went one better and really broke it down. St. Thomas Aquinas thought there were five components:

Laute – Eating food that is too luxurious, exotic or costly.

Nimis – eating food that is excessive in quantity.

Studiose – eating food that is too daintily or elaborately prepared.

Praepropere – eating too soon, or at an inappropriate time.

Ardenter – eating too eagerly.

Clearly not the kind of man who enjoys himself at the dinner table.

Many people, let alone gourmets, have been guilty of all of the above at one point in their lives. It doesn’t make them gluttons (well, maybe not all of them). While we’re a far cry from fifteenth century Europe, where the class you were born into determined what you were allowed to eat, when you could eat it and how much of it you could ingest, there still live among us those frown at taking too much pleasure in a meal.

B.R. Myers is one of those fellows. Last month he wrote a screed in The Atlantic aimed squarely at gourmets. Appropriately called a “crusade” and taking up the cause of Aquinas, he went on to lay a veritable host of sins at their feet, backed up by cherry-picked quotes from fellow writers and chefs such as Anthony Bourdain, Michael Pollan, Jeffrey Steingarten and Gabrielle Hamilton.

If one were to take his article at face value, one might think we were facing the reemergence of Legion, with the epicenter of demonic activity being New York City. According to Myers, foodies are obsessive carnivores taking pleasure in the suffering of animals being butchered and enforcing elitist ideals when it comes to agriculture whilst flying around the world to blithely appropriate whatever local food customs and culture suit their agenda. They get off on the weird dishes they eat and view religious traditions, such as keeping kosher, as outmoded restrictions ripe for sabotage.

Does this sound like anyone you know?

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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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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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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.

Nora Maynard asks a great question and since nothing is more appealing to me than being stuck in a tropical paradise with an unlimited supply of booze, I’ll answer it.

1. Pink Gin-and-Tonic

One of my favorite cocktails made so much better with the inclusion of Fever-Tree Tonic Water.

2. Dark-and-Stormy

Because I’ve been drinking ginger beer since I was little.

3. Mai Tai

It’s so hard to find a good one and we’re lucky to have three or four bars in Toronto who do it justice. The quinessential island drink.

4. Black Velvet

A bit of an oddball choice but I really enjoy ‘em.

5. Manhattan

Always a Manhattan, never a Martini. I can’t help which camp I fall in… What are your desert island cocktails? |The Kitchn|

James Chatto’s swan song for Toronto Life finds him celebrating the architects of the current renaissance our city’s cocktail culture is currently reaping the benefits of. Having finally gotten around to visiting Barchef, I think I need to make my way to both the Black Hoof and Ame. |Toronto Life|

Malcolm Gladwell wonders why we’re surprised when we treat drinkers like sex-and-violence-crazed ruffians and then they behave that way. His idea of using culture to constrain our expectations surrounding the consumption of alcohol has merit. |Toronto Life|

Speaking of ruffians, the City of Toronto has approved temporary changes to the serving hours for bars during the World Cup. You’ll be able to get your booze one, whole hour earlier! |blogTO|

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The provincial government’s new tax on cellared wines has proven divisive, with the big boys like Peller Ltd. and Vincor Canada crying foul and claiming that it will drive consumers further into the seductive charms of cheap reds from South America.

Whatever… It’s a good idea. Promoting wines grown and cellared in Ontario and protecting our greenbelt by making vineyards economically-viable productions sounds a whole lot better to me than adding to the coffers of the Canadian arm of a multinational corporation that buys wine in bulk overseas to blend with its local product.

The big boys do have a point though. Without a concerted effort to educate consumers on why they should be taking a second look at VQA, they may very well heed the call of the bottom line and buy foreign wine.

Also, this change needs to extend to the LCBO. Give VQA even more shelf space and extend the selection to include vineyards who were excluded before because of their smaller production runs. Only so many people will pay attention to ad campaigns; making a change at the end of the line could have a far greater impact.

(If you want a real laugh, read some of the comments left by readers of the article, howling with outrage over another tax… These people are truly and utterly without a clue.) |The Globe And Mail|

While I’m not a big fan of the trend towards noisy restaurants with minimal padding, the science behind why this makes people drink more certainly rings true. Apparently, people eat and drink faster when sonically assaulted because they want to get the hell out of there which results in bigger profits for the owner.

Maybe I’m just old-fashioned but doesn’t this seem like a bad idea? How does this create a pleasurable dining experience? I fucking hate the music at Jack Astor’s; if you’re right under a speaker it’s nearly impossible to converse with the person next to you. I’ll take an old-school bistro with small two-tops any day. |The Daily Beast|

It gives me quite a bit of pleasure to share a cocktail that not only comes from my family’s country but employs a whole lot of their bitters: The Queen’s Park Swizzle. |Rum Dood|

Another classic drink that doesn’t get the attention it deserves is the Blood and Sand. Like Paystyle says, bump up the Scotch and OJ to achieve nirvana. |Happy Hour|

If you love gin as much as I do, you’re gonna love this collection of gin cocktail recipes, freshly-conceived at a recent Thursday Drink Night. |The Mixosoleum|

I’ve broken my fair share of glassware while washing it so sponges that are shaped to clean ‘em perfectly seems like a good idea to me. |The Spoon Sisters|

Ready to move beyond buying your beer in bottles/cans but not into the idea of brewing your own (it’s not that hard but whatever)? Build a kegerator! |Kegerators.com|

Down in New Orleans, this museum turns into a bar at night. They even tie in the cocktails with the exhibits! This is much better (and a hell of a lot more egalitarian) than the AGO’s members-only wine-tastings.|NOLA.com|

Those of us who don’t have access to flying “Upper Class” on Virgin Atlantic have to make do with what we have around us when it comes to drinking on flights. |Jaunted|

And last but not least, impress your friends and pay off hefty bar tabs with this neat trick of opening a beer bottle with a bill. |Wonder How To|