Creating a better cocktail for tomorrow’s party


Or you can always just buy yourself something nice. Drink less, drink better!

I’m having a bit of a shindig tomorrow with the new (temp) roommates. Our Facebook invite (which may or may not be visible to you) quickly found itself divided into the yes’s, maybes and no’s and our expectations of what the party might be adjusted as more and more people confirmed.

While I was originally going to buy almost nothing for the party and had thus designated it a “BYOB event” I got caught up in the excitement of having guests over and since several of them are dear friends and colleagues, I resolved to do a little something to impress.

I headed out to the LCBO having no idea what I was going to pick up beyond a bottle of Centennial 10 Year-Old Rye which has now become standard in my bar. I ended up stepping up to the 15 Year-Old because it was a dollar cheaper! Apparently, no one is buying it which is incomprehensible to me but I’m not your average consumer with a hard-on for CC, Wiser’s and Crown Royale.

People, seriously, get your asses over to the LCBO and pick up one of the smoothest blended Canadian whiskies you will ever see for a mere $23. Don’t be a fool, this will be gone from Ontario shelves in two months.

I also picked up a seriously-discounted bottle of Navan, old favorite Sailor Jerry Rum, Luxardo Amaretto, Iceberg Vodka and Marie Brizard’s Banane liquer. By then, I had some idea of what I was going to do so I stopped over at The Big Carrot, one of Toronto’s best organic stores, for some allspice, cloves and cinamon. I figure I’ll be able they’ll work really well with several of the liquers I’ve got but I’ve got to work on making sure I don’t make ‘em too dusty; powders can be tricky.

Lastly, I got a whack-load of fresh fruit and some mixers (pineapple, guava and ginger beer). With all of this, I’m sure I can come up with at least half-a-dozen amazing cocktails to wow a favored few with.

When I got home, I tested out a few ideas, with my roommates as willing guinea pigs and the results were pronounced delicious. First, I produced a base from which I would then add three different final ingredients.

The Base

3 oz of Sailor Jerry’s Rum
2 oz of Navan Vanilla Liquer
4 oz of pineapple juice

First round, I added a splash of ginger beer and it was very good with a spicy bite that finished smooth.

Next up, we tried the base on it’s own and it was much too strong for shooting although one could comfortably sip it.

For the third round, I added a splash of guava juice and a couple drops of grenadine. This one was my favorite, keeping the spiciness of the first concoction but adding just a touch of sweetness.

We then had a round of modified “Banana Jacks”; substituting the Centennial rye for the bourbon and adding a third of Navan for the vanilla. It was really good as well; the perfect antidote for this miserable weather we’re having.

I’m sure I’ll come up with some more ideas tomorrow but I’m quite pleased with the bar as it stands now and I don’t doubt we’re all gonna have some fun tomorrow.

Marston’s Oyster Stout smooth and elegant


The second beer I’d recently purchased was Marston’s Oyster Stout. English in origin, the name’s a bit of a cheat actually as it contains no oysters (An intriguing departure from the standard brewing process whereby a handful of bivalves are thrown into the mix during the boiling stage. They melt away, leaving an accent of their taste for your drinking pleasure.) but it’s meant to be enjoyed with oysters.

Unfortunately, I had none on hand and was in no mood to pop down to the local gastropub for a Malbec or two to test out this pairing. I can only imagine it would go together rather well.

The beer poured with a little brown head and it smells of malt, chocolate and prune. I had it cold which may have contributed to its thinness because it did seemed to linger a bit longer at the end. I haven’t tried any oyster stouts before so I had no means of coming to some half-remembered conclusion of a better stout being out there but I quite enjoyed working my way through this pint.

There was a lovely, creamy taste to it that allowed for some bitterness from the hops. I generally find stouts refreshing (with the exception of those sweet bastards from the Caribbean) and Marston’s was no exception. I think it would go exceptionally well with any number of meals. I had a bit of mine with an ahi tuna steak and some rice and had no complaints.

I wouldn’t go out of by way to seek it out but I’d say Marston’s is an above-average stout (if not as good as some genuine oyster stouts) and I’d drink it if it was put on tap at my local. You can find it at your local LCBO.

The Dipper won’t offend anyone


On my way to a Leafs game last week, my roommate and I stopped by the Queen’s Quay LCBO to pick up a six-pack to sneak into the game (the beer at all sports events being overpriced and of poor quality) but I couldn’t resist picking up a couple of new beers that caught my eye.

First up is the Georgian Bay Dipper, a beer from the region of the same name. Billed as “A light-hearted beer Brewed fresh for Fun loving People” it was hard to resist. It’s brewed by Hockley for the Midland Beer Works… not really sure what that means but I’m guessing it’s some kind of partnership.

Anyway, on to the beer! It pours nicely with a good head that sticks around and smells sweet with only a slight touch of grain. The sweetness also comes out in the taste with a soft carbonation and little evidence of any hops.

By the end of the can you’re left with little to love or hate about it. It’s just another one of those middle-of-the-road beers that many smaller breweries in Ontario seem to do so well but, unfortunately, can be had at a much cheaper price when put out by the the internationals.

I have higher hopes for the stout in my fridge.

A new direction


Originally the purpose of this blog was to document a shift in my life; moving from Canada to New Zealand (and my impressions thereof) with a special focus, as always, on booze.

That’s not happening anymore. My fiancée, for reasons I’m not going to go into on here, broke up with me and so I find myself cut short, trying to restart a life that I’d been busy mothballing for the past couple of months.

Contrary to the typical response exhibited by most people in circumstances like this, I’ve had little desire to drink, much less write, and so this blog has fallen by the wayside.

However, through the prodding of friends and a desire to rekindle my interest in writing about one of my favorite subjects, I’ve decided to shift this blog ever-so-slightly to the left. So why I won’t be able to compare all the wonderful wines and spirits that New Zealand has to offer with those of my homeland, I’ll still be here to document the latest happenings in all things alcoholic right here in Toronto.

It’s an interesting time in Canada. In the next five years, I’m betting we’ll see a loosening of liquor laws as people realize that some privatization won’t cause the widespread social collapse some naysayers are fond of trumpeting.

Already, the Varsity cinema allows patrons to buy a couple of drinks while they watch a film and I wouldn’t be surprised if more venues are allowed to serve during a wider variety of events. Maybe we’ll even see convenience stores being allowed to compete with the LCBO and Beer Store to bring consumers a wider range of product, especially from the smaller guys.

And while I’m no fan of monopolies, I still think the LCBO does a fantastic job with its tastings and I like how its magazine encourages people to expand their cocktail choices beyond the superstars of a couple years back (mojito, “pomtini”, etc.)

It’s a whole new year and I can’t wait to see what it will bring!

He may be talking about possessions…


But I’m thinking of a different context entirely.

“Before we set our hearts too much upon anything, let us examine how happy those are who already possess it.”

Francois de La Rochefoucauld