The Spirits of Canada Day – Canadian Cocktails

The Spirits of Canada Day – Canadian Cocktails

Happy Canada Day leaves

Happy Canada Day

With Canada Day just around the corner we thought it would be fun to dig up some truly Canadian cocktail recipes. As a fan of Fernet Branca I knew just where to start: with the Toronto Cocktail.

Toronto Cocktail

Toronto Skyline

Toronto Skyline

It behooves me somewhat that the best-known classic Canadian cocktail is named after the city of Toronto. I grew up in Montreal and currently live in Vancouver so I harbor the usual anti-Toronto sentiment common in those who do not hail from ‘the center of the universe.’ But I know a good drink when I taste one, so I won’t hold the name against the concoction.

Interestingly enough the Toronto cocktail may not have originated in Canada. The drink first appears under the Toronto moniker in David Embry’s 1948 book The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. Embry was a Manhattan attorney who aimed to make drinks accessible to the at-home cocktail enthusiast. The recipe calls for Canadian Whisky, a product that Americans became accustomed to drinking during prohibition, which offers the simplest explanation for the name. There is evidence, however, that the cocktail dates back to the 1920s. A recipe for the Fernet Cocktail found in Robert Vermeire’s 1922 book Cocktails – How to Mix Them notes “This cocktail is much appreciated by the Canadians of Toronto.” Vermeire was a European bartender and his Fernet Cocktail did not call for Canadian Whisky, further confounding the historian.

Sean Soole points out that there was a great inflow of Italian immigrants to both Toronto and New York City between 1910 and 1930. These immigrants would have brought their love of Amaro, which in turn would have influenced the drinks of the period. This, of course, offers no definitive proof of the origins of the cocktail. I say regardless of its ancestry the originator was obviously tipping his hat to Canada’s biggest metropolis, and we should too.

Toronto Cocktail

Toronto Cocktail

The Toronto Cocktail

  • 2 ounces Canadian Whisky
  • .25 ounce Fernet Branca
  • .25 ounce gomme syrup or simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Shake over ice. Strain. Garnish with an orange twist.

 

 

 

 

Sources: http://and1morefortheroad.blogspot.ca/2012/02/toronto-cocktail.html http://www.slideshare.net/shawnsoole/classic-canadian-cocktails-seminar

The Vancouver Cocktail

Vancouver Skyline

Vancouver Skyline

I first had this cocktail on a lazy summer Sunday afternoon on the patio of The Sylvia Hotel. At the time I had no idea of the iconic nature of the drink or of the establishment. The Sylvia, originally an apartment complex built in 1912, was converted to a hotel during

The Sylvia Hotel

The Sylvia Hotel

The Depression. In 1954 it was granted the first legally licensed cocktail lounge in Vancouver. That bar still stands today, largely unchanged it is a relic of a bygone era. The cocktail was likely developed sometime between 1954 and 1955. Vancouver rumormongers allege that it was the last drink consumed by Errol Flynn before he leapt to his death from the roof of The Sylvia in 1959. The story is likely false, other reports cite that he died of a heart attack or pulmonary embolism, but who doesn’t like a good piece of folklore with their cocktail?

 

Vancouver Cocktail

Vancouver Cocktail

 

The Vancouver Cocktail

  • 1.5 ounces Victoria Gin
  • .75 ounce Punt e Mes
  • .25 ounce Benedictine
  • 2 dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters
  • Stir over ice until chilled. Strain. Garnish with a lemon.

Note: You can substitute a different gin here but we used Victoria for the CanCon. You may also replace the Punt e Mes with any other sweet vermouth, but do expect it to be sweeter. Regan’s Bitters can be hard to find so any other orange bitters will do in a pinch.

Sources: http://www.upmagazine.com/story/article/summer-cocktail-recipe-vancouver-cocktail http://www.sylviahotel.com/about.htm http://and1morefortheroad.blogspot.ca/2012/06/vancouver-cocktail.html http://www.slideshare.net/shawnsoole/classic-canadian-cocktails-seminar http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Errol_Flynn#Death

The Montreal Cocktail

Montreal Skyline

Montreal Skyline

As I sat down to research this article I had never heard of a Montreal Cocktail, but as it is my hometown I was desperately hoping that the Internet would provide an intriguing recipe. And it did, sort of.

Despite Montreal’s history of bootlegging, jazz, and burlesque there is no iconic Montreal cocktail. However diffordsguide, a trusted and valued source of cocktail information offers a titillating recipe named simply Montreal. While the ingredients seem as synonymous with New Orleans as Montreal the similarity between the two cities, with their French influence and joie de vivre, must be embraced. Give this drink a shot and decide whether it’s worthy of its name. Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Montreal Cocktail

Montreal Cocktail

The Montreal Cocktail

  • 1.5 ounces Rittenhouse Rye
  • .75 ounce Martini Rosso
  • 1 teaspoon Pernod
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
  • Stir over ice until chilled. Strain. Garnish with an orange twist or a cherry.

 

 

 

 

Sources: http://hour.ca/2009/09/17/sin-city/ http://www.diffordsguide.com/cocktails/recipe/3292/montreal?display=ml

The Bloody Caesar

Calgary Skyline

Calgary Skyline

No article on Canadian cocktails would be complete without the inclusion of The Bloody Caesar. My grandmother poured herself a Caesar promptly at 11:30am every day. The drink was common to me, yet I had no idea of its Canadian roots until I tried to order one on an American aircraft sometime in my early twenties. The flight attendant, a burly yet gregarious male, scoffed at my order. Looking at my seatmate he demanded “And what would you like, Ma’am, an Orange Julius?!”

The Bloody Caesar was invented in Calgary in 1969 by Walter Chell, the restaurant manager at Marco’s Italian Restaurant at the Calgary Inn (now the Westin Hotel). Schell used spaghetti al vongole as the inspiration for the drink. Early cocktail guides do contain similar concoctions. The Red Snapper, which dates back to 1921, contained gin and a juice that likely contained clam and tomato. Other clam and tomato recipes appear in the virgin section of several bartender bibles. The release of Mott’s Clamato cocktail in 1966 made the drink accessible to the home enthusiast.

Despite the fact that Clamato is an American product, the Caesar has been slow to spread to our neighbors in the south. D recently had an exceptionally delicious Caesar at Clyde Common in Portland Oregon, which he ordered simply for the novelty of finding the bevvy south of the 49th parallel. In typical American style it was served with a beer chaser.

The Bloody Caesar

The Bloody Caesar

The Bloody Caesar

  • 2 ounces vodka or gin
  • 5 ounces Clamato juice (use the brand name here)
  • Several dashes of Tabasco (to taste)
  • Several dashes of Worcestershire (to taste)
  • Lemon wedge
  • Celery salt

Wet the outside of a beer glass with the lemon wedge then dip the rim into celery salt. Fill the glass ¾ full with ice. Add the spirit, the Tabasco, Worcestershire and horseradish. Top with the Clamato. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon, giving the mixture a good stir. Garnish with celery, pickled asparagus, beans, olives, or whatever the heart desires. Sing Oh Canada.

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesar_(cocktail) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clamato http://www.slideshare.net/shawnsoole/classic-canadian-cocktails-seminar

Image Credits Title: toronto_skyline by vinimanoj is licensed by CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Title: The aquabus making its rounds by David J Laporte is licensed by CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Title: Montréal Skyline by Adam is licensed by CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Title: Calgary_Saddledome by JMacPherson  is licensed by  CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

More Adventures in Barrel Aging

More Adventures in Barrel Aging

barrel aging

The Bijou being barrel aged and soon to be enjoyed.

 

I’m not sure we knew what we were getting ourselves into. It seemed an innocent enough project, but now I wonder if it is getting out of hand. Our first foray into barrel aging was a raging success, our Vieux Carre turned out beautifully and we were hooked. But D, who prefers the cannonball approach to dipping his toe in the water, now has three barrels on the go. I caught him trying to order a fourth last week and quickly nipped that in the bud.

You see, three barrels does not simply mean aging three cocktails. These barrels are designed to be used at least four or five times each. And while it takes a little longer to reach the desired level of oakiness with each successive aging, it only takes about two weeks for the initial endeavor. Furthermore these barrels cannot sit between batches, so we find ourselves constantly trying to decide what goes in next, tracking down ingredients, and bottling the fruits of our labors.

To date we have successfully aged the aforementioned Vieux Carre as well as a batch of Boulevardiers. barrel aging part 2-2Those casks have been replenished with a batch of Toronto cocktail and Red Hook, respectively. The cask designated for gin got a late start, due to leakage, but is currently in the process of maturing a liter of Bijou cocktail. I think that will be replaced by a personal favorite known as the Jutland Calling. But as the clock ticks down on each cask there is the constant question of what goes in next.

Don’t get me wrong, we are having a blast, but we are also generating far more product than we can reasonably consume. So far D seems unfazed by the volume of product or the cost of investment, but I suspect that we will be tapped out long before the wood on these casks stops infusing liquor with good old oak flavor.

Barrel Aging Cocktails

Booze Bottle and Barrels, a sight for thirsty eye

Vieux Carre

  • 1 ounce rye
  • 1 ounce cognac
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • .5 teaspoon Benedictine
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

Stir over ice until chilled. Strain. Garnish with a lemon twist.

The Boulevardier

  • 1.5 ounces bourbon (we used Bulleit)
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth (Martini Rosso works fine but feel free to experiment)

Stir over ice in a mixing glass. Strain. Garnish with a cherry.

Toronto Cocktail

  • 2 ounces Canadian Whisky
  • .25 ounce Fernet Branca
  • .25 ounce gomme syrup or simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Red Hook

  • 2 ounces rye (Rittenhouse is best)
  • .5 ounce Punt e Mes
  • .5 ounce maraschino

Stir over ice until chilled. Strain. Garnish with a cherry.

Bijou

  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1 ounce Green Chartreuse
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash orange bitters

Stir over ice until chilled. Strain. Garnish with a cherry.

Jutland Calling

  • 1.5 ounces London dry gin
  • .5 ounce Bornholmer Bitter liquer
  • .5 ounce St Germain elderflower liqueur

Stir over ice until chilled. Strain. Garnish with a lemon twist.

 

 

Bottling

Bottling

Bottle capper-4

If you have been following along you know that we have been barrel-aging batches of cocktails for some time now. We have three barrels on the go, each producing about a liter of liquor every two to three weeks. This is obviously more than we can consume. In order to store these libations for future use, or to give away as gifts, we have turned to bottling.

We prefer to bottle in individual-sized portions. It took us some time but we finally tracked down some Italian non-alcoholic apperitivo bottles that are exactly the right size. Bottle capper-1We were under the impression that bottle cappers were universal so D stopped by the local U-brew and picked one up. Meanwhile I emptied the bottles of their pseudo-vermouth and sterilized them. We were so excited. Can you guess what happened next? I bet you can.

Our adorable Italian bottles are not compatible with a universal bottle capper. We were stumped. After much online research D did what us amateurs always do when we need advice, he turned to a professional. He warmed the barstool at West, seeking advice from the incomparable David Walowidnyk, who not incidentally stores his cocktails in a similar fashion. He advised D on the type of capper suited with these bottles and suggested that we search eBay for a smashing deal.

Ten days, twenty dollars, and one trip across the border to collect the capper at Point Roberts later, we were ready to bottle for real.Bottle restoration compositeThe capper D purchased was rather rusty so he took an extra day to sand blast it and paint it all shiny and new.

It may seem trivial but the ability to store product away for future consumption puts my heart at ease. We are hobbyists, not alcoholics, and I was becoming overwhelmed by the quantity of prepared cocktails accumulating in our apartment. Having it in small bottles preserves it for the future but also allows us to distribute it among family and friends. My Dad, for one, was more than pleased to receive a collection of aged cocktails as a father’s day gift!

 

Bottle capper-3

The Boulevardier

 

The Boulevardier

Boulevardier-4

This cocktail is already in D’s top 5. In fact, we already have a batch of barrel-aged Boulevardiers on hand. It is his go-to drink – he once taught a bartender at a hotel in Hawaii to make this libation (3 weeks of syrupy sweet tropical concoctions will leave you screaming for a classic bevvy.)

This drink is a perfect example of how tastes can change through trial and education. The Boulevardier is the cousin of the Negroni, a drink neither D nor I enjoyed on first sip. BoulevardierYet every six months or so I’d persist in ordering the Campari-heavy drink in the hopes that either it would be mixed with greater aplomb or that it would grow on me – and it did. D didn’t really come around to Campari until he fell in love with the Boulevardier. We are now sluts for bitter liqueurs.

 

While D regularly imbibes this brew, it had been ages since I had sipped on a Boulevardier. Somehow the cocktails of this world have been divided into two categories: D & K. Today I discovered that this is a crying shame – this is not a he versus me hobby! The Boulevardier is a smoky, warm, woody, leathery drink with a golden mahogany glow. It is bitter yet sweet and not bourbon dominant.

Our barrel-aged version, aged in a new 1-liter oak cask for two weeks, was smoother with less burn and a smokier, more woody finish. It was also less sweet that it’s un-aged counterpart. In appearance there was no difference between the two drinks, but the flavors of the aged version had married and were inextricable.

Both version are exceptional and should be consumed as often as possible.

The Boulevardier

  • 1.5 ounces bourbon (we used Bulleit)
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth (Martini Rosso works fine but feel free to experiment)
  • Stir over ice in a mixing glass. Strain. Garnish with a cherry.
  • D sometimes drinks his Boulevardier in a rocks glass with a one-inch ice cube.
The Boulevardier Ingredients

The Boulevardier Ingredients

Blue Paradise

Blue Paradise

(Or the true story of how the dog interjected himself into this project.)

Blue Paradise

We have been trying harder to test one drink per week – a challenging feat, as our days off don’t always line up. On the Sunday the Blue Paradise rolled around our friend H was due for a visit. She is not a cocktail girl but we decided to roll forward with our plan nevertheless.

First we sampled the Parfait Amour, the fourth in our collection of blue-tinged spirits, and were rather surprised to find it very floral in nature.

Parfait d'Amour

Parfait d’Amour

I expected it to boast a tropical essence, closer to a blue curacao, but it was reminiscent of a violette liqueur, only subtler.

Once mixed, our version of the Blue Paradise was much darker in color that the photo in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. This is not the first time our drink has differed from the image in the book. We posit two theories: either the ingredients in use vary (our Parfait Amour is blue, though there may be clear versions on the market); or the cocktails in the images are mock-ups meant to represent the final product. D, who does all the photography for this project, has often lamented the difficulty of photographing shaken cocktails. Usually we are not overly bothered by these aesthetic questions, but when our version is dramatically different from the illustration it does leave us questioning the recipe.

On the palate the Blue Paradise is intense. It is boozy yet fruity and subtly sweet. The name is a mystery and a conundrum. While “blue paradise” conjures images of the tropics, the experience is evocative of calvados and warming winter potables.Blue Paradise It is a good drink for lovers of hard spirit, close enough to the base liquor to be recognizable but different enough to warrant the status of cocktail. It was not a great drink for cocktail novice H, who found it daunting and overly strong. But she loved the cherry garnish and was a great sport, playing into our game. When D questioned, “Is this the taste of the French Tropics?!” H replied, “Gambling table in Monaco. Suit at bar at beach.” I think D might have some competition for one-liners.

As with every cocktail we take detailed minutes with the intention of writing a post at a later date. On this particular evening we left the house after the tasting to visit some friends and came home to discover that the dog had eaten our notes. BoulevardierHe is a jealous mutt, at least 50% fiend. Good thing he is 100% adorable.

Our tasting notes, therefore, are all from memory. If we were at all vague blame it on the dog, he ate my homework…

 

Blue Paradise

  • 2 ounces cognac (we cheated and used brandy here)
  • 1 ounce Dubonnet Rouge
  • 4 dashes Parfait Amour
  • Shake with ice. Strain. Garnish with a lemon twist.

 

Blue Paradise Ingredients