Monthly Archives: June 2014

Drink of the Week: Bees Knees (with Brugal rum)

I haven’t written about rum cocktails for awhile, so it was fortuitous that I received samples of a trio of Brugal rums from the Dominican Republic: the Brugal 1888, a sipper; Brugal Anejo, a dark rum; and Brugal Extra Dry, a light rum perfect for summer cocktails like the mojito or daiquiri. Brugal’s angle with the light rum is that it’s “extra dry.” How does this translates with taste? It’s light and crisp and not too sweet. And it mixes well with lemon juice and honey syrup to create the rummy Bees Knees.

This twist on a Bees Knees cocktail features smooth Brugal rum and bitters for extra spice.

This twist on a Bees Knees cocktail features smooth rum and bitters for extra spice.

Yes, it’s true that Bees Knees is a wedding season cocktail traditionally made with gin, but I think it works really well with rum. The honey syrup is naturally sweet, the perfect foil to the dry rum and tart lemon juice. I also love the addition of Angostura bitters — they add a spicy kick reminiscent of a rum punch but in a much lighter, more summery cocktail.

Bees Knees

  • 2 oz Brugal Extra Dry Rum
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz honey syrup (1:1 ratio honey to water)
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters

Method: Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled coupe (I used a martini glass).

— Recipe courtesy Brugal Rum

Training hike No. 1: Grassi Lakes

Blake and I are tackling Fernie’s famed Mountain Lakes Trail (known locally as Heiko’s Trail, after Heiko Socher, the long-time Fernie resident who built it) in late July. It’s a challenging 20-kilometre day hike that will take us up 1,400 metres of elevation, over two passes and around the flank of Mount Fernie on a long alpine traverse before dropping us back down 640 metres and depositing us on the Island Lake Lodge patio for a cold beer eight to 10 hours later.

The view from up where they blast avalanches all winter = sublime. And it was a beautiful 30C day too -- with no wind!

The last time we tackled a difficult hike in Fernie was when we were training for Kilimanjaro in 2012. Here we are on the Polar Peak loop.

Since our urban bodies would suffer greatly if we stumbled into this epic hike unprepared, we have embarked on a series of training hikes. Over the next five weeks we plan to knock off three or four day hikes that will become progressively harder and hopefully make Heiko’s feel like a cake-walk when the day comes (I can dream, right?).

Embarrassingly, our first “hike” hardly qualifies as a hike, since most Canmore residents consider the Grassi Lakes Trail a morning warm-up (the more fit among them have been known to run the four-kilometre loop daily). Also, I’m pretty sure I huffed past a couple of toddlers on Saturday — whom I might add were walking under their own power — so that should give you an idea of the walk’s ease. There are two ways up to Grassi Lakes: we took the more “technical” trail that switchbacks up along the waterfall and stream; the other, easier route is more like a gradual logging road that’s popular among Moms and Dads pushing Chariots (we chose this path for the descent).

The lakes get their colour

The lakes get their colour from minerals in the water.

Regardless, the hike provides a decent enough ascent (165 metres) for a first-hike-of-the-season and at the top you’re rewarded with nice views of Canmore and the Bow Valley as well as photo ops by the two stunning tourmaline-coloured lakes (the lakes and trail are named for Lawrence Grassi, a coal miner-turned-mountain guide who built the trail). At the top it’s fun to stop and watch rock climbers attempting various routes up the surrounding dolomite limestone walls, which have natural holds from erosion.

Climbers love the cliff wall that tower above the lakes as they're riddled with natural holds.

Climbers (on the left) love the cliff walls that tower above Grassi Lakes because they’re riddled with natural holds.

To make the hike more challenging we brought along Piper, our Brittany yearling. She still walks like a bit of a yo-yo on leash, zigzagging hither and yon, so we had to constantly watch where we were stepping to avoid her paws. At the lakes we continued hiking up to Spray Lakes Road, where Piper had a swim in the reservoir, then we turned around and headed back down.

Piper poses by one of two turquoise lakes after her first hike in Canmore.

Piper poses by one of the two Grassi Lakes after her first Canmore hike.

Drinking cold beers and eating delicious paninis on the Mountain Mercato patio on Canmore’s main street while Piper sunbathed on the adjacent sidewalk proved a perfect reward for a day well spent in the mountains.

Drink of the Week: In Memoir

My memories of visiting Angers in France revolve around sipping Cointreau over ice inside Chateau des Briottieres, an 18th-century chateau-turned-B&B, before sampling more Cointreau cocktails after touring the nearby Cointreau distillery the following day. Both the chateau and Cointreau are family-run enterprises, so it’s fitting that the winning cocktail from last week’s Mademoiselle Cointreau competition was a tasty drink named to commemorate family and the memories and ties that bind us together: In Memoir.

This twist on a Cointreau fizz is like a Cointreau-Ramos gin fizz hybrid. Do try this at home.

This twist on a Cointreau fizz is like a Cointreau-Ramos gin fizz hybrid.

Eight female bartenders representing various Calgary restaurants and lounges gathered at Belgo last Thursday to compete for the title of Mademoiselle Cointreau-Calgary by creating an original drink that’s a twist on a classic Cointreau fizz (1-1/2 Cointreau/1/2 lime/top soda water). Every cocktail had to include Cointreau and half a lime, as well as a fizz element such as the traditional soda water.

There were some inventive and delicious drinks mixed up, including a gorgeous ginger creation and a Raspberry Pie Sky made with raspberry sorbet, but the stand-out drink was In MemoirModel Milk bartender Madeleine MacDonald looked to the classic Ramos Gin Fizz and then took out the cream and added in Cointreau when creating her drink. Cointreau really is a natural addition to this drink given the ingredients. It works well with gin and lime, and I have yet to meet a drink that an egg white did not enhance — it somehow just smooths out any rough edges and blends the flavours together. I doubt I’ll ever actually make gewürtz syrup, but I imagine a honey syrup would be a tasty substitution. Enjoy!

In Memoir

  • 1 oz The Botanist gin
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 oz gewürztraminer syrup*
  • Dash orange flower water
  • Top soda water
  • Nasturtium garnish

Method: Dry shake all ingredients, except soda water, to emulsify egg white. Add ice and shake again. Double strain into an old fashioned glass and top with soda water. Garnish with a nasturtium.

*Gewürztraminer syrup: Heat one bottle of gewürztraminer white wine with two cups sugar until sugar has dissolved. Cool, portion and refrigerate.

— Recipe by Madeleine MacDonald, Model Milk