Tag Archive: mezcal


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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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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Over a week into my vacation on St. Martin and I’m not sure I want to come back. This is quite possibly one of the best islands I’ve been to and considering how little decent information is available online, I’m pleasantly surprised.

Of course, the weather’s really nice. Most days, there was a constant breeze and although it got really hot in the afternoon, it was temperate the rest of the time. I did get a bit of sunstroke but this can easily be avoided by heading out to the beach early, from 8 am till about 11.

The beaches aren’t spectacular but they suffice. For some reason, the French side has a nicer waterfront (come to think of it, the French side is pretty much better in every way) but no matter which end of the island you’re on, you’ll be able to find some sand to settle down on. I liked Grand Case best.

The people are very friendly but this holds true for most French islands as opposed to the British ones. Those who have good manners will go far. I enjoyed my stay here far more than I did my visits to the Virgin Islands and Antigua.

No, I think my favorite thing about St. Martin is the how cheap and available the booze is.

I’m going to get into that and, in the process, offer you a decent guide to the island. This is not where you’ll be looking for where to rent a car or which hotel to stay; those sort of mundane details are best left to the forums.

Many of the articles written about the nightlife of St. Martin read like the authors never hang out in those places. While I may not have visited every bar on the island where drinking is a national pastime (except during the Heineken Regatta where they add sailing into the mix) it pays to know the ins and outs of the system that fuels the party.

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Tequila, which still struggles a bit with its undeserved, low-rent reputation, may very well be find itself being thought of on better terms after Tequila and More, the first trade show largely devoted to the spirit, comes to the Metro Convention Centre on December 3rd.

While it could be argued that a larger presence on LCBO shelves and an incredibly-successful marketing campaign by the makers of Patron have done a lot for tequila’s image, misconceptions abound.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people respond with a “I can’t drink that!” when I’ve asked if they’d like to indulge. While perfectly understandable when framed within the context of overconsumption, the response has less merit when attributed to the myths that tequila has more alcohol in it (it’s rarely overproof) or, like absinthe, possesses some mystical ingredient that causes the imbiber to become more drunk than they would if they had consumed whisky or vodka.

If you drink anything too quickly and too often, you’re going to regret it the next morning and if you compound the error with cheap stuff, you’ll only make it worse. While the amount of congeners (complex organic molecules) present in any spirit are largely responsible for hangovers,  impurities also play a part.

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Hennessy is finally waking up to the fact that not just old dudes are into their product and have released Black, a cognac designed specifically for mixing. Still, aAt $74.95, it’s not really priced like a mixer and I don’t think this will stop me from wincing every time someone orders a Hennessy-and-coke at the bar. |The Globe And Mail|

A bootlegger in PEI has been fined $10,000 for selling beer and liquor from his home. It’s not too clear whether he was making his own or just reselling stuff he bought (not sure how the profit margin would be on that). It’s also funny how uptight we are compared to the States over this sort of thing. We’re still stuck in the last century while they have The American Distilling Institute. |CBC|

I’ve talked about Beefeater 24 before (one of my favorite gins) but if you haven’t tried Frankie Solarik’s 24th Symphony at Barchef, you’re missing out. I had three last time I visited. |Toronto Star|

NYC’s proposed soda tax has floundered due to a duplicitous industry ad campaign that calls it a “tax-grab”. (And our eco fee was just scrapped in a similar fashion. I hope to see these kind of things work in my lifetime.) |The New York Times|

Instead of having to travel all over town to visit your favorite bartenders, a new bar in NYC is cutting the crawl to a destination of one (and they’re bringing their signature drinks too). |The New York Times|

A good restaurant menu is a thing of beauty. Not surprisingly, people analyze this sort of thing. |Travel+Leisure|

While a real maraschino cherry is miles ahead of the toxic-red atrocities we see in most bars, there’s nothing preventing you from experimenting with different types of spirits and cherries. Bourbon is amazing! |The Kitchn|

Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (boutique/gallery space based out of Philly) makes some of the most interesting and delicious-sounding spirits I’ve ever heard of. Hot on the heels of their Root (an herbal precursor to root beer if you will) is Snap, the liquid equivalent of a ginger snap cookie.

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Next time you’re going out on the town with your mickey, put together a proper cocktail. Sure, you could just fill it with vodka but you don’t want to be the guy getting plastered all on his lonesome. Share and bask in the appreciation!

One of my favorite mixes (for an 8oz flask mind you, go for 16oz and be the life of the party!) starts with 6oz of bourbon. Add 1oz of Frangelico, 1oz of Cointreau and a 3 heavy dashes of Angostura bitters and you’re good to go. |NOLA|

Bored with bourbon? Substitute your spirits and be delighted with the infinite variables now open to you! |SF Gate|

A good example of this would be the “Rum Manhattan“. |Eat.Drink.Think|

For those of you who like a little protein with your cocktail, try one of these ten fat-washed cocktails. I’m totally down with the Irish Bacon Sour but maple syrup makes everything better. |Time|

Fruit will always be popular and when combined with gin, you really can’t go wrong with a cocktail like The Bramble. Remember, anything vodka can do, gin can do better. |Science of Drink|

Don’t believe me? Try the Orange Blossom (a far superior Screwdriver). |SLOSHED!|

Moonshine’s not just for country-folk anymore; the nerds have taken over! |The Atlantic||McClatchy|

I love mezcal even more than tequila. It’s smoky deliciousness and I’m digging how it’s starting to get its due. It’ll be the next big thing after rum, mark my words. |The New York Times|

If you were a student (or poor or both) in the first part of the twenty-first century, you probably bought a case of Lakeport at least once or twice. Labatt is closing the Lakeport Brewery in Hamilton and moving its production south-west to London to save money.

They’re not releasing any figures but I’m betting consumers faced with better, equally-cheap options have moved on. |The Globe And Mail|

While Ontarians are losing their jobs, Danish workers are striking because Carlsberg has decided to limit the consumption of beer to lunchtime. Drivers in particular are upset, pointing to a “very old right” to get buzzed on up to three beers per day. |Sky News|

Researchers at Harvard University are saying that a person’s social network may influence their drinking, with folks being “50 percent more likely to drink heavily if a person they are directly connected to drinks heavily and 36 percent more likely to drink heavily if a friend of a friend drinks heavily”.

This is pretty worrying, especially when you factor in that people are 28 percent more likely to jump off a cliff in the presence of their peers. |Sifiy News|

Socially-responsible branding only seems to happen in Canada (and maybe Scandinavia). Over in the EU, two Germans  have received permission to sell their beer which goes by the name of “Fucking Hell”, the former being the name of a small town in Austria and the latter the German term for a pale lager.

The loophole seems to be the absence of a reference to a particular person, group, act or instruction which rules out the half-dozen brands my friends and I came up with one drunken night (everything from “Tranny Surprise” to “Uncle Joe’s Pogrom Ale”) |New Zealand Herald|

While we might have the Toronto Temperance Society, cities down south have been playing this game for awhile: Washington DC has the Columbia Room which, while not having a membership, charges $65 per person for a boozy prix fixe. |The Washington Post|

For those who want the appearance of a speakeasy without the exclusivity, the little town of Bethlehem (Pennsylvania) has The Bookstore, an homage to all things turn-of-the-century. |Lehigh Valley Live|

Or there’s always the top ten most unusual bars in the world. Cover all of your bases. |Travel Vivi|

Beer Goggler: The perfect app for anyone experiencing one night stand regret. |App Shopper|

Or you could just have standards (but you probably wouldn’t have as many good stories). Another useful accessory for saving your seat and/or drink is the Seat Saver, a clever amalgamation of coaster and marker. |Beer Mats Rule!|

(Photo taken from Anne Taintor’s website. Go buy a flask from her.)

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