Tag Archive: bitters


Ask the Inebriate – Sunday, September 12th

ask the inebriateRobert from east of here (somewhere around Ottawa I think):

“well hello!

so, was just desperately scouring the interwebs for any advice on shopping for bar tools in Toronto when I happened along your blog. the blog is awesome btw.

it would seem that you might be my last hope as the interwebs have proved fruitless. I spent the last two days going here and there, all around TO, to all sorts of places you’d figure would carry things like Hawthorne strainers, Julep strainers, jigger, muddlers, Boston shakers, bitters (don’t even get me started!), bar spoons, mixing glasses etc..

I have a few hours left tomorrow afternoon to find… everything?anything.. thanks in advance for any advice you could pass along to a very weary traveller!”

You can try Kitchen Stuff Plus at 703 Yonge St. (one block south of Bloor St.) for some bar gear. They have a lovely selection of OXO knives, some juicers and other odds and ends. Williams-Sonoma has some stuff too but they’re pricey and overrated. A stand at the St. Lawrence Market sells my favorite shaker, the Oxo Stainless Steel, in the basement area (look for the stand with all of the kitchen gear; they’ll have other stuff too).

Dinetz at 231 King St. East (just west of Sherbourne St.) has pretty much everything you might want. While you’re in the east end, you can always check out Nella Cutlery at 433 Queen St. East. They mostly service restaurants and the like but their store may very well interest you. If you want to go a bit further afield, try out Cayne’s in Thornhill. They kind of remind me of those ads you see in the Sun but you can’t argue with the prices.

I’ve never shopped here but every time I pass by Calphalon (425 King St. West, just west of Spadina Ave.) they always have spiffy tool displays in the window. Seeing as they supply Williams-Sonoma, they’re probably pricey but they might be cheaper than shopping at the latter. Hell, even if you don’t buy anything, I can think of worse ways to spend an afternoon.

For bitters, you’re pretty much out of luck if you’re looking for anything but Angostura. The Toronto Institute of Bartending carries Fee Brothers but that’s it. Their store is located at 487 Adelaide St. West (just west of Portland St.). The LCBO carries three types of four types of Amaro, Campari, Cynar, Fernet-Branca and Unicum but I don’t think that’s what you’re looking for. Be sure to check the website because not all stores will carry them.

On a side-note, you can find lots of fun stuff at Value Village, particularly glassware, and its cheap. Don’t buy crystal; it’s going to break anyway.

Hangover-free booze + fifteen other links

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I really, really love Jen Kirkman. She’s pretty much always funny but I think she’s even hotter when she’s drunk.

Korean scientists have found that adding oxygen bubbles to alcohol reduces the time needed to recover from a hangover by about half-an-hour. They also found that the effects stack so even if you drink a lot of this booze, the effects of the hangover are not as debilitating and happen with less frequency.

Just what people need. A way to drink more often and not pay for it. Why don’t we just snort alcohol? |i09|

Or you could just chase your whiskey with pickle juice which is what I’ll be doing come next Wednesday (St. Patrick’s Day!!) |The Washington Post|

Tired of shitty cocktails made by bartenders who don’t care? Give a robo-bartender a try! (Or you could just patronize good bars.) |Wired|

If you’ve ever made a bad drink, you probably tried to fix it. Seeing as it’s all about balance, here are some great suggestions for reviving dead-on-arrival cocktails. Ginger beer is so easy but I agree with the bitters comment. If an ingredient always makes a drink better, it is really a cheat? |Kaiser Penguin|

We don’t get any of Sierra Nevada’s line up here but the idea in this article that I find interesting is the idea of a good, solid beer being overlooked when something new and stylish comes along. A good example of that up here would be Black Oak’s Nut Brown Ale. Another example might be Mike Duggan’s No. 9 making Mill Street’s Tankhouse Ale seem bland. |CHOW|

The Barbacoa combines ginger and chipolte among other things. I would imagine the peppers work very well with mezcal and the idea of garnishing with beef jerky gets me all tingly. Can’t wait to try it! |Saveur|

If you’re looking for something a bit sweeter, try the Oh Pear. I’d substitute a scotch for the Irish whiskey and I would necessarily use a pear liqueur (maybe a cinnamon syrup?) but it looks delicious regardless. |Imbibe|

I really like the cocktail pitcher but several of these bar tools are must-haves for entertaining at home. Square ice cube trays really are essential. |Valet|

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One year ago… The Jolly Inebriate anniversary!

Wow, it’s been three days past the date last year when I first started this blog. Due to a hangover, I wasn’t in much of a mood to celebrate on the day of but this Tuesday finds me in a much more charitable, if not expansive, mood.

To honor the day (and help me digest the lovely breakfast I just made for myself) I put together a little drink that, while admittedly cobbled together from what I had lying around the kitchen, is not too bad and totally in the spirit of The Jolly Inebriate.

THE FORTIFIED LUSH

1 1/2oz London Dry Vermouth
1/4oz L’abbe Francois Cassis
1/4oz Strawberry/rhubarb syrup
1/2oz Angostura Bitters
Soda water

Fill a highball glass with ice and pour in the first four ingredients. Top up with soda and stir.

This cocktail has the chief advantage of being perfect for afternoon drinking when you might not want too much alcohol. The larger-than-usual amount of bitters keeps the sweet stuff in check and plays well with the vermouth as well.

You can substitute most of the ingredients for other brands if you wish and the recipe for the strawberry syrup can be found here.

I can’t show you a picture because I’m currently without a camera (a long, sad story involving a fat man and Lee’s Palace during Halloween) but it’s red and murky. You could probably garnish it with a blackberry on a stick but don’t go out of your way; drinks made before happy hour should be consumed with as little fanfare as possible.

How to plan your party + six other links

Man, I’m feeling rough. Too many parties and not enough time at home. For reasons that don’t make much sense now, I’ve been out every night for the past week-and-half and my stomach (at least I think it’s my stomach, my liver could very well be joining in too) has finally told me to fuck off and give it a rest. Next week, I’m going to try drinking once. We’ll see how that goes.

Although I’m not in the best condition to be writing about booze right now, I’ve got a bunch of links for you and they won’t post themselves! Here we go…

For those of you who have trouble with party math ( x number of guests requires x number of bottles), Sebastien Centner of the Globe and Mail offers a spinning wheel that you can print out and assemble, thereby ensuring you’ll never run out of anything.

Beppi Crosariol, also of the Globe, reviews Nicholas Pashley’s new book covering the history of beer in Canada. Looks like a good read.

Speaking as someone who loves a liberal portion of Angostura bitters in some of his drinks, it’s nice to see Oh Gosh!‘s Jay Hepburn offer up some recipes that use an ounce of the stuff.

Leaving aside all the other nasty things over-consumption of alcohol can do to you, a Spanish study claims that even heavy drinkers are less likely to suffer from heart disease than teetotalers. I have to ask, why even bother publicizing this kind of information? Anyone who takes it to heart probably should’t be reading it in the first place.

Still, if you’re going to overindulge, you should be prepared for the next day. Drinkhacker.com reviews a new beverage that claims to stop your hangover in its tracks. I haven’t tried it but personally, I’d stick with Gatorade.

The Underhill Lounge offers up slighty-different take on the Savoy Cocktail Book’s Rose Cocktail and if that’s not enough for you SLOSHED! offers a list of ten autumnal cocktails culled from cocktail bloggers all over.

Lastly, the best seasonal liqueur you could possibly make would be from cranberries and Inn Cuisine has a terrific recipe! Using the liquored cranberries is a damn good bonus too.

(Image taken from Married To The Sea.)

Bars that don’t carry bitters

bitters2

In the past week, I’ve found myself at two bars that don’t carry bitters.

I don’t have high expectations when it comes to going out because this is Toronto but I would’ve thought that most bars, especially ones in Little Italy, would carry Angostura bitters. Maybe not Pechaud’s or Averna or even Unicum but Angostura for sure, right?

Wrong.

Toronto, you have managed to disappoint me once again. The first bar, Clinton’s, is not exactly the most classy place but they had a nice selection of bourbon and I felt that a Manhattan would hit the spot. No luck although the bartender did offer to throw a splash of Jagermeister in there which failed to make its mark.

Now I like Clinton’s. It’s a good venue and every week, they throw Shake a Tail, one of the best dance parties in town. I’m quite happy to stick to beer and shots there but part of me wants to buy them a bottle of Angostura’s just so I can have it available when I’m around.

The second bar I went to, Strange Love, didn’t get off as easy. It comes across as the Social of Little Italy which is not a compliment. The Social, for those who don’t know, is a coke den/club on West Queen St. West that caters to hipsters and a motley assortment of jocks and 9-to-5ers looking for a little credibility. Strange Love is like The Social’s stranger, grubbier little brother with no cover and cheap drinks (if you get there before 11).

Still, any place that offers bottle service and claims to offer a “sophisticated lounge experience” should damn well have some fuckin’ bitters to offer! I was feeling poorly and thought that an ounce of bitters in my rye and ginger would be just the thing to settle my stomach but the girl didn’t even know what I was talking about.

You may be asking yourselves why I’m working myself up into a righteous fury over an absent bottle. You may even feel that this smacks of outright pretension (point taken) but I can’t see why any bar worth its salt can’t take the time to head out to the nearest grocery store and pick up a bottle of Angostura. It’s cheap, it will probably last forever and when an individualist like me comes in, you’ll keep him happy.

It’s like not having scotch! Yes, we know the plebes will stick with their bar rail and god bless ‘em, they represent the bread-and-butter of every bar. God knows I serve enough on the weekends and I certainly don’t begrudge them their mediocrity.

But!

When someone enters your bar and desires something a little more substantial, maybe a drink with a little complexity (and I cannot think of a more appropriate example of this than a Manhattan, the king of cocktails), you damn well better have the ingredients on hand to please them.

Especially when everything about your bar suggests that you care about that kind of thing.

I leave you with my favorite version of the Manhattan which isn’t that radically different than the classic recipe except I generally forgo rye in favor of bourbon and I like a touch more vermouth and bitters. And I really like cherries.

JAPHET’S MANHATTAN

2 oz Woodford Reserve (substitute Maker’s Mark or Wild Turkey if necessary)
1/2 oz sweet vermouth
4 dashes Angostura bitters
3 Maraschino cherries

Stir the liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with the cherries.

How to make orgeat syrup + five more links

syrup_bottle_5What the hell is orgeat syrup, you ask? Why it’s made from almonds and if you don’t know why it would be an excellent addition to any cocktail, you clearly haven’t ever eaten a handful of freshly-roasted almonds. Learn how to make it over at Kaiser Penguin. (Sidenote: Trader Tiki mentions a orgeat syrup made with cane sugar and vanilla beans… fuck me.)

The Mixosoleum features one of my favorite spices, cinamon. Learn how to make cinamon syrup, what flavours go well with it and a few choice cocktail recipes.

Over at CHOW, they delve into the creation of bitters. Tired of Angostura or Peychaud’s? I know I am!

Tom of cogito, ergo creo starts a batch of elderberry liqueur and shows you how to do it yourself. With any luck, it’ll be ready just in time for summer.

By the way, don’t use your simple syrup recipe for all of these homemade concoctions! You want to make sugar syrup and Homebrew Underground will show you how.

Last but not least, a new bar opens up in Amsterdam that does away with the bartenders. To my mind, this is like renting a private karaoke room when you can go sing at your local bar. Leaving aside issues of crappy drinks and stupid drunkeness at bottle-service levels, it just sounds so goddamned contrived. Sure, you might have more control but whatever happened to enjoying unplanned, random fun? I’ll take the unknown any day…

(Image taken from the Design Year Book.)

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