Monthly Archives: January 2016

Blue Lagoon: the cocktail

Never heard of a Blue Lagoon cocktail? You’re not alone. For those readers who were tweens or teens in 1980, those two words together will most likely conjure images of Blue Lagoon, the movie, in which a ship-wrecked Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins get hot and heavy beside a very blue lagoon.

Remember this movie? Evidently it inspired a tropical cocktail of the same name.

Remember this movie? Evidently it inspired a cocktail of the same name.

Evidently, this cheesy 80s island love story inspired a tropical 80s cocktail of the same name, the Blue Lagoon. It’s a member of the cocktail genre I call “blue cocktails,” that includes the Blue Hawaiian, the Blue Margarita and the Blue Monday. All of these drinks are coloured blue by Blue Curacao, which is actually an orange-flavoured liqueur that’s been dyed blue. (When cocktails veered toward sweet and fruity in the 70s and 80s, blue curaçao showed up for the party.)

I’ve been hearing for a while that 80s cocktails are making a comeback. Bartenders are taking Amaretto sours and pina coladas and margaritas and making them better (usually that means less sweet, and with fresh juices or housemade syrups instead of sour mix). This is a good thing. But I kind of thought blue drinks would be overlooked because of their neon colour. So, when I saw that the Bourbon Room was featuring not only an 80s selection but a blue cocktail on said menu, I couldn’t resist.

So. Very. Pretty.

Blue Lagoon cocktail at the Bourbon Room. So. Very. Pretty.

Bartender Fern Zevnik has taken some liberties with the Blue Lagoon (using bourbon instead of vodka, for one), but the result is something that’s balanced, delicious and beautifully blue. Go ahead and dive in!

Blue Lagoon

  • 2 oz Buffalo Trace bourbon
  • 1 oz Giffard Blue Curacao
  • 3/4 oz housemade mead syrup (or use honey simple syrup)
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice

Method: Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake, then strain into a chilled coupe glass.

— Recipe courtesy Fern Zevnik

Goodbye GoodNites!

Sleep has always been a challenge for Bennett, so much so that we make sure nothing disrupts it. We’ve done the same bedtime routine for years, complete with having him wear a bedtime diaper, reading him two stories and giving him two big sips of water right before lights out. We keep the bathroom light on, the room temperature cool, and hope that he sleeps through the airplane noise.

Bennett asleep holding Peppy, his lovey.

Bennett asleep holding Peppy, his lovey.

Before he started sleeping through the night at age seven, nighttime potty training wasn’t even on our radar. It seemed cruel to take away the GoodNites and give him yet another reason to wake up — soaked through and smelling like pee, no less — in the middle of the night. Not to mention I didn’t fancy stripping sheets in the dead of night, either.

And yet, despite his new sleep awesomeness, for the past year we’ve continued buying Bennett nighttime pull-ups because he woke up every morning with a wet diaper. I just assumed he wasn’t ready to ditch the GoodNites. He certainly wasn’t showing any of the “signs of readiness” I had written about for a recent assignment. And because Bennett’s expressive language is delayed (a function of his autism and a genetic condition called 18q-), he never said, “So Mommy, you realize that I’m holding my pee all night, only to wake up in the morning and take a giant whiz in my diaper, right?”

We suspected that was his M.O., but we had no proof. And anyway, the routine was comfortable and it worked. I feared that taking away the diaper and the bedtime water — two crucial parts of the nighttime routine for Bennett’s autistic brain — would be cataclysmic for all involved. Picturing the bedtime meltdown, I was okay with buying GoodNites for eternity.

But one night last week, Bennett botched his plan to continue wearing nighttime pull-ups into adulthood. He was having a hard time settling and he ended up using the bathroom (No. 2) at about 9:30. At that point I checked his diaper and saw he had already peed in it (while awake!), so I put him in a new one. When he woke up at 6:30 the next morning his diaper was dry. There it was, proof that his bladder is mature enough to hold urine all night long. And also proof that when given a diaper (and water at bedtime), Bennett will pee in it rather than the toilet. It’s like we’d been enabling him.

Not wanting to squander our window of opportunity, we acted quickly. At afternoon snack I announced the new rules: “Bennett, now that you’re eight and such a big boy, you don’t need to wear a bedtime diaper anymore. And since you won’t be wearing a diaper, the new rule is no water after dinner.” (I didn’t bother getting Bennett’s buy in for this daring diaper experiment — as my Today’s Parent story suggested — because I knew if I asked him, “Do you want to wear underpants to bed instead of a diaper?” he would just say, “No!” We’ve learned many times that we have to the architects of Bennett’s developmental milestones — he’d probably still be wearing daytime diapers if we hadn’t taken them away four years ago.)

At bedtime, Bennett was not down with the new rules. He refused to put on underpants or his sleeper (I had to mostly dress him for bed that night) and even ran to the bathroom to try and fetch a GoodNite (I had hidden them). When it came time for the bedtime water, I reiterated the new rule and was met with resistance: “Water, Mommy. Please. Please? I want water! Please, Mommy!” I mean, it was rather sad, like he was approaching dehydration in the desert, but mean Mommy wouldn’t let him slake his thirst. It wasn’t the tantrum I had envisioned, but it did take him a good two hours to fall asleep, and then he was up about three times in the night and he peed in the toilet at about 1 a.m. I imagine the GoodNites had become a sort of security blanket and he was scared to sleep without one. He awoke nice and dry in the morning. Success!

It’s been a week now and Bennett has only had two accidents, both early last week — one because we weren’t strict enough with the water rule in the evening, and another because he had swimming one night and I think he swallows a lot of pool water. The crazy thing is, he now wakes up dry and goes about his morning of watching Super Why and eating breakfast without using the bathroom first. Mr. Iron Bladder can evidently hold it for 10 or 11 hours. To think of the money we could have saved if only we’d said goodbye to the GoodNites earlier!

I jest, of course. Who knows if Bennett would have been ready even six months ago? As the week has gone on he’s accepted the fact the diapers are gone and that water ends at dinner, forming a new routine in his head. He’s settling better at bedtime and sleeping through the night again. Really, it hasn’t been as painful as I thought, and I can breathe easier knowing I won’t have to source astronaut-sized diapers for Bennett in a few years’ time.



New year, new booze

It’s a new year, which means it’s time to mix it up when it comes to the spirits in your glass. Boutique and established distillers are busy creating new brands and new blends, and there’s no better time to resolve to drink better than January.

Here are four new-to-me spirits that are will help you elevate your cocktail game in 2016.

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

Yes, Canada can make great whisky! Crown Royal out of Gimli, Man. has a winner in this rye, named the 2016 Whisky of the Year.

Yes, Canada can make great whisky! Crown Royal out of Gimli, Man. has a winner in this rye, named the 2016 Whisky of the Year.

By now you’ve probably heard about the Canadian rye blend that’s been named 2016 Whisky of the Year by Jim Murray, whisky aficionado and author of the Whisky Bible. Crown Royal has a winner in its Northern Harvest Rye, a smooth, approachable rye whose spiciness is softened by the warmth of cinnamon and cloves. It’s lovely to sip on its own, or mix into a cocktail such as the Penicillin. But the best part may be the price: it retails for about $33. I’ve written about it in more detail for my Spirited Calgary column, running in the Calgary Herald this Saturday.

Rocado Tequila Reposado

An elegant bottle of tequila whose contents are smooth and delicious.

An elegant bottle of tequila whose contents are smooth and delicious.

Tequila is exploding right now, with tons of new entrants into the market. Along comes Rocado — a reposado in a beautiful but rather non-functional bottle — the result of a collaboration between the Mexican tequila family of Rodolfo Gonzalez and the wine and brandy family of Miguel Torres. Rocado smells of honeyed agave, and travels easily across the palate with a hint of citrus. I wouldn’t necessarily sip it on its own, but it’s fantastic in a margarita. It goes for $125 for a 700 mL bottle.

Gilpin’s Westmorland Extra Dry Gin

Gilpin's is a handcrafted, small-batch gin that tastes great in a rage of gin cocktails.

Gilpin’s is a small-batch gin that tastes great in a rage of gin cocktails.

The fragrances of citrus and juniper waft gently from a bottle of Gilpin’s Extra Dry Gin, voted the World’s Best Gin at the World Gin Awards. This small-batch gin incorporates juniper, lime peel, lemon peel, sage, bitter orange, coriander seed and angelica root botanicals, to create a balanced, super-dry gin that tastes great in a G&T or Live Basil Gimlet. It retails for about $60.

Sonoma Rye Whiskey

Don't let Sonoma Rye Whiskey's 98 proof label dissuade you. This 100 per cent rye whiskey is sweet, spicy and scrumptious.

Don’t let Sonoma Rye Whiskey’s 98 proof label dissuade you. This 100 per cent rye whiskey is sweet, spicy and scrumptious.

Sonoma County Distilling, a grain-to-glass distiller in California, has created a lovely 100 per cent rye whiskey. It’s made from 80 per cent Canadian unmalted rye grain, and 20 per cent malted rye from the UK, and then aged in new charred American oak barrels. It smells like an oak barrel warehouse, in fact (that is to say somewhat earthen and musty, in a good way), which belies a high alcohol content that floats between 48 and 49 per cent. This means Sonoma Rye Whiskey is hot on the palate, but that heat is in the background as the predominant taste is sweet like caramel with hints of vanilla and cinnamon, and lots of rye spiciness. It’s fantastic in a Manhattan and costs $91.