Monthly Archives: August 2013

Drink of the Week: Cucumber Cointreau Sour

It’s fair to say I’m on a bit of a Cointreau kick. I brought back a big bottle of the clear spirit — made from orange peels — from France, and I’ve been mixing margaritas, fizzes, white ladies and now, sours. I made this Cucumber Cointreau Sour using only muddled cucumber, lime juice, Cointreau, an egg white and a splash of water. It’s smooth, refreshing and tart, with that lovely, slightly sweet taste of oranges. Delicious.

This sour, made using Cointreau, makes a refreshing drink on a hot, end-of-summer. long weekend evening.

This sour, made using Cointreau, makes a refreshing drink on a hot, end-of-summer, long weekend evening, whether in France or in Fernie.

I have to say I’ve been impressed by Cointreau’s ability to stand up in a drink as the base spirit. Prior to visiting the Cointreau distillery and museum in Angers, I had only used it in cocktails such as the margarita and sidecar where other spirits (e.g. tequila and cognac) do the heavy lifting. After drinking many a fizz in France (Cointreau, lime juice, soda water), I figured it would be lovely anchoring a sour, too. I was right.

Cucumber Cointreau Sour

  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 6 cucumber rounds
  • 2 oz Cointreau
  • Egg white
  • Splash water

In the base of a cocktail shaker, muddle the lime juice and 3 cucumber rounds. Add the Cointreau and egg white, then dry shake to emulsify egg. Taste, then add a splash of water if desired. Add ice and shake again, then strain into a rocks glass and add the 3 remaining cucumber rounds for garnish.

P.S. You’re not supposed to serve a sour on the rocks (as pictured) but it was so hot I couldn’t help myself. Gotta love our short summers.

P.P.S. I’m going to be writing more about Cointreau and Cointreau cocktails in an upcoming Spirited Calgary column in the Calgary Herald.

Just call me Miss France-y Pants

I had the good fortune of spending last week in Paris, Reims and Angers, France,  with a group of Canadian travel, cocktail and fashion journalists, courtesy of Cointreau liqueurPiper-Heidseick champagne and their Canadian distributor, Select Wines & Spirits. It was a first-class — and amazing! — experience that I’ll be writing about in some upcoming stories for the Calgary Herald, but I wanted to share some of the highlights here.

1. The sights

The Eiffel Tower is lit up at night and even sparkles for five minutes every hour.

The Eiffel Tower is lit up at night and even sparkles for five minutes every hour.

Wow, Paris! It had been years since I’d visited the City of Lights and I’d forgotten that not only is every boulevard wide and tree-lined, there’s usually a famous monument in any direction you turn your head. We spent a morning touring the city in a vintage convertible Citroen with 4 Roues Sous 1 Parapluie and drove past the Louvre, L’Arc de Triomphe, Notre-Dame and countless Second Empire-style buildings that line the streets. We even had dinner one night at Monsieur Bleu, right across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower. Awesome!

2. The sleeps

I don’t usually get excited about spending time in my accommodations when travelling — I’d rather be out exploring a new city. But, hello. A chateau? I can totally picture myself as a chatelaine.

It's decided then. I'm becoming a chatelaine.

It’s decided then. I’m becoming a chatelaine.

We stayed at Chateau des Briottieres, an 18th-century chateau in Anjou, nears Angers. I also luxuriated in Paris at Le Royal Monceau, a Raffles hotel, and Hotel Costes, my first hotel with a complimentary condom as part of the in-room amenities. Really.

3. The booze

I have forgotten the name of this yummy number but I remember it as my first gooseberry garnish.

I have forgotten the name of this yummy number but I remember it as my first gooseberry garnish.

Well, it was a cocktail-themed press trip, after all so when in Paris… drink Cointreau. At 11 a.m.? With a gooseberry garnish? Mais oui!

4. The bubbly

Tasting Piper Heidseick at 10 a.m. Vive La France!

Tasting Piper-Heidseick at 10 a.m. Vive La France!

Before France I pooh-poohed champagne as too dry, hangover-inducing and pricey. Clearly, I had never tried really good champagne (or maybe it just tastes good because — pinch me! — you’re in Paris?). I loved the tiny bubbles, creme-brulee taste and length of both Piper-Heidseick and Charles Heidseick champagnes. And I never had a hangover! But, sadly, it’s still pricey.

And to sum in all up, here’s a photo that captures the trip:

The newly-minted chatelaine sips champagne at a vineyard in Champagne.

The newly-minted chatelaine sips champagne in Champagne. Mais oui!

Drink of the Week: Picante Pisco Sour

Cocktail culture in Paris is, surprisingly, a couple years behind Calgary (I know!), but during my week here I have still managed to find some amazing drinks. To wit, this twist on a pisco sour, enjoyed at the Park Hyatt Paris.

Like its name implies, this twist on a pisco sour, from the Park Hyatt Paris, is spicy!

One of the themes of my trip to Paris has been Cointreau. We’ve visited the Cointreau distillery in Angers, as well as many cocktails bars in Paris that mix up this elegant orange liqueur in cocktails. When I told the Park Hyatt bartender I like sours he suggested a pisco with Cointreau and chai green tea syrup. The game changer though are the mole bitters — they add a subtle heat at first sip that elevates the drink from passive to picante.

Picante Pisco Sour

Picante Pisco Sour

  • 1 oz chai green tea syrup
  • 5 grapes
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 2 oz pisco
  • 1 egg white
  • Loose chai green tea garnish
  • 3 drops Bitter End Mexican Mole Bitters garnish

Muddle the syrup with the grapes in the base of a cocktail shaker. Add the Cointreau, pisco and egg white and dry shake to emulsify egg. Add ice then shake again. Strain into a sherry glass and garnish with the loose tea in the middle, surrounded by three dots of mole bitters.

–Recipe courtesy Pierre Massin, Park Hyatt Paris