Monthly Archives: March 2013

Drink of the Week: Kentucky Snowbird

Let’s drink some bourbon and toast the southern U.S., which has been my gracious host this week. We’ve been to Arkansas and all over Tennessee and I am loving the southern food and hospitality — and spirits.

We haven’t been up to Kentucky but before the trip I attended a bourbon cocktail class in Calgary hosted by Wade Sirois of Crowbar, the pop-up cocktail lounge. I spent an evening with some fellow cocktail enthusiasts sampling different brands of bourbon, stirring a Manhattan and learning how to make a Kentucky Snowbird. I’ll be writing about the class in an upcoming Calgary Herald column (April 13).

Sorry this photo is lopsided. The photographer had been drinking bourbon.

Sorry this photo is lopsided. The photographer had been drinking bourbon.

My favourite drink from the evening was the Kentucky Snowbird, a bitter-sweet yet strong drink that combines three unlikely ingredients: bourbon, Aperol and Cointreau. The bourbon is sweet enough to soften the bitter Italian aperitif, and the Cointreau adds a lovely hint of orange (as do the bitters). It’s definitely a sipper, best enjoyed while sitting in a rocking chair on a porch somewhere in Kentucky.

Kentucky Snowbird

  • 1-1/2 oz bourbon
  • 1/2 oz Aperol
  • 1/2 Cointreau
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • orange for flaming orange twist

Put ice in a rocks glass for chilling. Put liquors and bitters in a mixing glass. Add ice and stir for 10-15 seconds. Dump the ice from the chilled rocks glass, and then strain the cocktail from the mixing glass into the rocks glass. Flame an orange twist over the cocktail, squeeze it over the drink, run it around the glass rim and then drop it into the cocktail.

— Recipe courtesy Wade Sirois, Crowbar

“The plane is overweight”

They say the glory days of airline travel are long gone, and after our trying transit through the Houston International Airport yesterday I have to agree.

Overweight flights - a new American epidemic?

Overweight flights – a new American epidemic?

After a 90 minute delay (reason unspecified) we boarded our 50-passenger United Airlines flight to Little Rock, Ark. They promised we’d be underway as soon as possible, and apologized again for the delay, but the airplane remained motionless on the tarmac and the minutes dragged on. Bennett — exhausted from our 4 a.m. wake-up, the four-hour flight to Houston from Calgary, and the three-hour layover — fell asleep with his head on my lap. We waited. I fantasized that if the plane took off right then he would sleep the whole way. Ha!

After about 20 minutes, an announcement:

“We’re real sorry folks, but it looks like this airplane is overweight. By law we cannot take off until three passengers volunteer to get off the flight. We can offer a $500 travel voucher for each volunteer.”

Initially I thought our fellow passengers would come to fisticuffs over this appealing incentive, but when they found out there wasn’t any availability on later flights to Little Rock that day or the following day, only one lady came forward. In fact, United’s offer — in addition to the $500 — was to fly the people to Memphis, Tenn. and then bus them two hours to Little Rock. Graceland aside, who’s going to volunteer for that?

At this point there was much under-the-breath grumbling about an airline that flies planes that aren’t able to carry the same number of people as seats. I mean, isn’t that kind of an obvious design flaw (or has the American obesity epidemic gotten that bad)? What was more frightening was wondering what would happen if an overweight plane took off. Would we fall out of the sky over Texarkana like a doomed Aeroflot jet?

Five minutes later, another announcement:

“I am sorry, but we really can’t fly an overweight plane. If we don’t get two more volunteers we’re going to have to choose people at random to get off the plane. I know, it’s pathetic. It’s shameful. But that’s the reality.”

Well, here’s a reality check, United: Get your shit together. If there’s a good chance your plane will be too fat to fly, don’t sell as many seats. It’s shocking the flying public puts up with being treated with such disrespect. We already deal with unfriendly flight attendants and nickle-and-diming for everything from in-flight snacks and entertainment to checked baggage, and now this. We all just showed up with our paid-for plane tickets expecting to receive decent service and a flight to our destination. No one thought the day would turn into a waiting-game nightmare, with an airline threatening to pick two innocents at random and then doom them to a day from hell flying to Tennessee to get to Arkansas. Pathetic and shameful, yes — at least the announcer-guy had the balls to speak the truth.

When still, after another 15 minutes, there were no takers, another announcement.

“We’ve just received word from United that we can offer $700 for the volunteers. Plus we’ll pay for your overnight and meals in Houston. Please, folks. By law we cannot fly an overweight plane.”

Well, it must’ve been the extra two hundie because United got it’s saccrificial lambs. And we finally got the hell outta Houston. Of course, poetically, Bennett woke up right as the plane started taxiing to take off. The combination of being over-tired and slightly disoriented threw him into tantrum mode for a good 15 minutes. Normally, I would have been mortified but this time I didn’t care — after all, everyone had been given the chance to get off the flight for $700.

What about you? Any United or other airline horror stories?

Drink of the Week: Coconut-chili margarita

I am always on the hunt for a good margarita, which is why I love Anejo. Calgary’s new-ish Mexican restaurant (#2, 2116 – 4 St. S.W.) is a stylish taqueria that claims to have the best margaritas in YYC. Take it from me: they are good. Now, imagine your favourite classic marg with a kick — and a whisper of coconut — and you’ve got yourself a coconut-chili margarita.

This amazing creation has been margarita-of-the-month at Anejo all March so if you want to try one there — tick-tock — you’d better hurry. I was able to sample this zesty and tropical twist on my go-to summer sip last week during a lovely media dinner hosted by Tourism Victoria. Doesn’t my cocktail look fetching in front of the beautiful flower arrangement shipped in from Victoria?

This drink is awesome and I love that it's rimmed with coconut flakes!

This drink is awesome and I love that it’s rimmed with coconut flakes!

The only drawback is the tiny rocks glass it’s served in — you will be wishing for one of those fishbowl-sized Mexican margarita glasses!

Coconut-chili margarita

  • 1 oz Cazadores blanco tequila
  • 1/2 oz triple sec
  • 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz habanero coconut syrup
  • Coconut sugar rim

Rim a rocks glass with a mix of sugar and coconut flakes, then fill it with ice. In a shaker combine tequila, triple sec, lime and lemon juice, and coconut syrup, and then shake with ice. Strain into the rocks glass.

— Recipe courtesy Jeff Hines, Anjeo