Monthly Archives: June 2012

Drink of the Week: Port cocktails

Since you can make cocktails with beer, wine and even sake, I suppose it’s not much of a stretch to create mixed drinks using port. Not that heavy, after-dinner winter port, mind you. I’m talking about cocktails made with pink port.

The Paloma Rosa is like a grapefruit margarita with rose port in place of Cointreau.

Pacific Wine & Spirits sent me over a bottle of Croft Pink, a rose style of port made by extracting fresh fruity flavours and a lovely pink colour from limited contact with the skins of classic port grapes. The result is a refreshing, light port; one that’s sweet like a rose but also heavy like a port. It’s great to sip chilled on its own but it also makes a unique ingredient in summer patio cocktails.

The bottle came with a little booklet filled with Croft Pink cocktail recipes, and I sampled a couple on the first day of summer.

The Paloma Rosa (pictured above) was my favourite because I am a tequila girl. It’s not unlike a grapefruit margarita, with Croft Pink taking the place of Cointreau.

Paloma Rosa

  • 1 oz Croft Pink Porto
  • 1-1/2 oz white tequila
  • 2 oz grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 1 oz soda water
  • Dash of simple syrup as needed (I used 1/2 oz as our grapefruit juice was unsweetened)
  • Lime wedge garnish

Pour all ingredients into an ice-filled mixing glass, stir, and strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.

I didn’t love the Sunset at first, but it grew on me as the ice melted and diluted the mix of port, gin and ginger beer. The gin’s botanicals highlight the port’s fruitiness and the ginger beer adds a nice kick of spice. It’s kind of like a hybrid Pimm’s No. 1 Cup, and makes another great patio drink.

It’s fruity, refreshing and grows on you as it goes down.


  • 2 oz Croft Pink Porto
  • 1 oz gin (I used Bombay Sapphire)
  • 2 dashes orange bitters (I used Twisted & Bitter)
  • 3 oz ginger beer
  • 1 mint sprig, for garnish
  • Seasonal fruit, as garnish

Pour all ingredients into an ice-filled highball glass, stir, and add the garnishes.

— Recipes courtesy Croft Pink

Dinosaur discoveries: the Alberta badlands with kids

It’s funny how many times Curious George has served as the impetus for my son to try new things. If Curious George goes camping, Bennett wants to go. Ditto the little monkey riding a train, learning the alphabet or buying ice cream from an ice cream truck. So imagine Bennett’s delight when he found out we were going to a dinosaur museum this past weekend, just like Curious George!

Since life doesn’t always imitate art, we did not join a dino dig nor did Bennett get to climb to the top of a dinosaur skeleton. While in the Drumheller area, however, we hiked among hoodoos, ogled skeletons at the Royal Tyrrell Museum and made some exciting discoveries including a blooming prickly pear cactus and dinosaur bones (but not a complete specimen). Here are our top picks for passing the time in dino-land with kids.

Since our daughter will no longer pose for inane pictures like this, it’s up to me to be dorky.

1. Hike in Horseshoe Canyon. Located just off Hwy. 9 on the way to Drumheller from Calgary, this canyon will be your first glimpse into Alberta’s badlands, a stunning geography of domed sandstone formations created by water erosion over millions of years. It’s easy to hike down into the canyon along one of the paths and then explore the formations. Just don’t get lost.

Hiking through the badlands.

2. Visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Otherwise known as the “Dinosaur Museum” this amazing facility boasts one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaur remains in Dinosaur Hall, plus an Ice Age exhibit (hello woolly mammoth) and a display featuring weird-looking and now extinct huge mammals that used to roam the plains of Europe and North America.

Avery restrains Bennett from climbing onto a skeleton inside Dinosaur Hall.

3. Take a stroll outside of the museum. If your kids have any energy left after the first two activities, I highly recommend striking out for the interpretive trail just outside the museum’s doors. The 1.5-km gravel trail winds past more iconic badlands formations and it’s here we found a blooming prickly pear cactus and what we think might have been a couple of fossilized dinosaur bones (it had rained recently, which exposes new fossils). The kids loved it!

Avery’s first discovery — a blooming prickly pear cactus.

It’s a dinosaur fossil! We think, anyway. I like to think it’s part of an Albertosaurus’s arm.

In all, the day was a hit, even though we didn’t have time to visit Reptile World or climb to the top of the World’s Largest Dinosaur. Next time. Bennett’s one disappointment? Since we didn’t discover a new species of dinosaur, the Tyrrell Museum will not be naming a dinosaur after him (Bennettosaurus has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?).

Drink of the Week: Cuba Libre

My husband spent a week in Cuba with his dad and brother last November on a trip I like to call “Father’s Week.” What happened was this: they bonded over rum. Sipping rum, shooting rum, rum in mojitos and rum in that most manly of Caribbean cocktails, the Cuba Libre. A distant cousin to a Rum & Coke, just add lime juice and you’ve got yourself a more cultured quaff.

I serve the drink, which translates as “Free Cuba,” in a Collins glass from Vietnam (hence the Communist star and gun-toting peasant).

I like to think that the three men — all fathers — toasted fatherhood with rum while relishing their freedom from it on the sandy beaches of Cuba. They were libre, man! Libre to drink a lot of rum, shop for guayaberra shirts and ogle the 1950s-era cars crusing the streets of Havana.

So, in honour of Father’s Day, pour Dad a Cuba Libre and may he drink enough of them to wax nostalgic about the highs of fatherhood, while simultaneously forgetting all about the lows. As they say in Cuba, “Salud!”

Cuba Libre

  • 1-1/2 to 2 oz dark rum (Appleton Estate Reserve is nice)
  • 1/2 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • Top with Coke
  • Lime wedges garnish

Add ingredients into an ice-filled Collins glass, stir. Squeeze in a couple lime wedges for a nonchalant Cuban garnish. Enjoy in adult company on Father’s Day.