Important cocktails of the past decade + eighteen other links


Robert Simonson of the New York Times looks back at a decade of innovation (and reinvention) when it comes to cocktails. St. Germain is indeed one of the most interesting liqueurs to hit the market lately and I really dig the idea of “bartender’s choice” as an option on a drink menu.

Dana Rourke of  the Live Organic Food Bar (located at Spadina and Dupont) shares her recipe for The London, a drink that you can feel good about imbibing, with The Toronto Star. To no one’s surprise, moderation is still the key.

Matthew Biancaniello’s an inspiration for anyone who’s gotten sick of the grind and taken up bartending because they’re an enthusiast (I can’t be the only one). His concoctions sound pretty interesting too…

For those of you who want to take a harder edge to your drinking, CAMH has released an online test that may help you get a handle on your drinking. Apparently, I drink more than 96% of males, aged 25-34, in Canada. I also spent over 1,700 hours under the influence of alcohol in 2009. Moving on!

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Indiana University have found a molecule that may repair the enzyme mutation that causes people of Asian descent to get flushed faces when they drink. It does other stuff too (like cause cancer and neurodegenerative diseases) so this seems pretty important.

Jason Wilson of The Washington Post looks at rare cognacs. If it’s all about the bottle, how is this different from collecting any other kind of antique? I’m not sure what the deal is with spirits this expensive but an “indescribable” taste sure sounds interesting.

If you’re tired of creamy chocolate liqueurs, this Austrian spirit looks like just the thing to reverse that trend.

In need of some wintery cocktails? Cocktail Virgin Slut offers up some Boston Grog, Drink Snob has Writer’s Block while White On Rice Couple is all about the Sidecar Fizz.

Over at SLOSHED! they have a list of the ten most popular posts on their site for 2009. There are some really good recipes to be found so have a look.

For those of us who drink beer, here’s a handy flow-chart for determining which brand to go for (and yes, no one should ever be caught drinking lime-flavored beer). Once you figure that out, you can play Beer Battleship.

According to The Guardian, bigger whisky makers are feeling the pinch and have been shutting down plants in Scotland. With all the great new whiskies around, I can’t say I really care. If anything, this is a warning against getting too big and being bought out by a company like Diageo.

Beer companies aren’t really paying attention. Heineken now owns the Tecate, Dos Equis and Sol brands which it must hope will give it a leg up on Grupo Modelo (Parent company of Corona. Interesting sidenote: Anheuser-Busch owns half of GM.).

This follows an incredibly-sad statement in The Globe And Mail by Richard Musson, the vice-president of marketing for Labatt, who said that “in the end, what pays the bills is Budweiser.” Truer words were never spoken. Fuck innovation, let’s acquire someone else’s credibility.

Gothic Epicures VinCuisine has put together a handy list of all the best-value red and white wines for under $20 in the 2010 LCBO Vintages release.

While this cellar is presented as an “awesome” idea for storing beer, it would work so much better for wine. Still, it looks good.

Playing with St. Germain


As I mentioned before, my roommate Andrea brought me a bottle of St. Germain Elderflower liqueur from NYC as a birthday present and, of course, I had to play.

With my neighbor Jacqueline as a willing participant, we started off with a refreshing apertif of Hungaria Grande Cuvée Brut mixed with the St. Germain. It was good but eventually, we were ready for something more and so we went tiki for the next drink.


1 oz Sailor Jerry Rum
1/2 oz St. Germain Elderflower
1/2 oz Marie Brizard Banane
2 oz pear juice
2 oz passionfruit juice
1 tablespoon mango sorbet
splash of L’abbé Francois Cassis

Pour the splash of Cassis into a cocktail glass.
Shake and strain all of the other ingredients and layer on top of the Cassis.

It was good, if a bit sweet, but I wouldn’t have more than one. What was missing was a bit of spice, maybe some carbonation and I had some ideas of where to go from here.


3/4 oz Sailor Jerry Rum
1/2 oz St. Germain Elderflower
1/4 oz oz Marie Brizard Banane
1/4 oz McGuinness Apricot Brandy
1/4 oz Grand Marnier
splash of orange juice
1 oz lime juice
6-8 slices of ginger, diced
ginger beer
slice of ginger

Shake and strain the first eight ingredients into a cocktail glass.
Top up with ginger beer.
Rub slice of ginger along the rim and use as garnish.


It was sampled and proclaimed to be quite good; good enough that I experienced a moment of  insanity where I envisioned it featuring prominently on the list at my friend’s bar but that was temporary and the pleasure gained from watching folk’s eyes light up as they imbibe it far outweighs any proprietary concerns I might entertain. I’ve never been one to hoard a good recipe anyway…

Also, I’d be a dishonest bastard if I didn’t admit that this contest totally influenced my decision to publish this recipe tonight.

I’m in love with St. Germain


st-germain-bottle-standardMy roommate brought me a bottle of St. Germain’s Elderflower liqueur from NYC so, of course, we had to make some drinks. (You can’t get it in Canada so it’s kind of a big deal.)

Results to follow.

My top ten booze list (of 2004)


I used to have a blog on El-Jay. With the advent of Facebook and RSS feeds, it kind of fell by the wayside but I do have fond memories.

One in particular was a collection of alcoholics that called themselves “theboozeyoucrew”. Basically, you’d apply to get in by listing your ten favorite cocktails, liquor, beer, wine or what-have-you but that wasn’t all. You’d also have to justify said choices by either being witty or knowledgeable or reach some kind of magic median between the two. It also helped if you were a dick.

The community’s been dead since last summer but I was curious to see my application because I had no idea what I was drinking four or five years ago. It took a couple minute of searching but I found my top ten which I’d posted back in the summer of 2004. (I added the links for information’s sake.)

Rereading the list, I can see that I was very much in love with Hunter S. Thompson, dive bars and other assorted oddities; I went to bed with the profane and rose with the wretched, etc.

Despite being full of lies and hyperbole, there are some grand truths to be found here. Zwack is still good (and still for sale at the LCBO) but I wouldn’t necessarily drink it like I did before; especially now that I know how useful a good bitters can be. Canton’s Ginger Liqueur has been retooled and is currently hitting it big in the US; here’s hoping it gets brought back up here (and while we’re at it, bring me some of that St. Germain’s Elderflower Liqueur). I also still indulge in the occasional Apricot Ale.

On the flip side, I merely threw Sheep Dip and Stone I.P.A. on there to impress although I’d actually tried the former if not the latter. The addition of Dr. Peppers (although using rum instead of cola is amusingly hardcore), Liquid Cocaine and Strongbow Cider is nothing more than pure college drinking and can be dismissed as such but it’s still a fun list and stands up, especially since I’d not done any bartending by this point.

So, without further ado… it was a very good year.

Zwack Unicum. I bought this on a whim and since I had nothing to mix it with, I drank it straight. It knocked me back the first few times but within a week, I was carrying some in a flask with me wherever I went. Still do although I alternate with cheap whisky when I’m feeling punchy. Bonus: NO ONE will touch your drink when it’s bitters. Come to think of it, I was conditioned for this. When I wasn’t legal, I’d drop a bottle of Angostura Bitters in my limeade. Zwack was the next logical step.

Canton Ginger Liqueur for when I have a cold. Hell, whenever.

1995 Salon Blanc de Blancs Champagne. My friends bought a bottle of this for my last party. Head and shoulders above any champagne they sell at the LCBO although I still drink THOSE which is kinda like jerking off ’cause you’re trying to recapture the feeling of that beautiful fuck you had last month.

Dr. Pepper and I’m talking shooters. I like to use Keiths, Appletons and Disaranno. It feels like the bubbles are going straight to my brain and lining ‘em up is a must ’cause I won’t do it alone.

Sheep Dip Pure Malt Scotch Whisky. I like the smell of fuel and this whisky lets me drink it.

Strongbow Cider. I will NOT drink it in a can and a bottle is only good at a picnic but what a fucking picnic! I like to drink a pint in the afternoon between classes. Like champagne and Dr. Pepper, there’s something about cider that knocks me loopy.

Chilled Jägermeister is the distilled essence of fucking. Liquid cocaine is fucking until you bleed.

Charodei. I like my vodka straight but if I’m mixing, I’ll do it with Plymouth Gin and some grapefruit juice because it deserves better than that one time my friend and I decided it would be fun to mix it half-and-half with bottles of blue Gatorade before dropping in at the bar for some real drinking. I can’t remember if we actually got to the bar or not.

Stone I.P.A. ’cause who can drink shit like Keiths when you can get the real stuff just as easily?

McAuslan Apricot Wheat Ale. The first fruit beer I ever had and still my favorite. I thought I’d only liked it when I had tried it first ’cause I was plastered in the early morning and my throbbing heart had somehow jumped down through my rib cage and planted itself firmly at the base of my spine but no, it’s still good.”

How have your tastes changed?