Tag Archives: cocktails & drinks

Drink of the Week: Whiskey Smash

Sorry to bombard you with two bourbon cocktails in a row, but trends being what they are (bourbon is hot, baby) I can’t help myself. Or, blame it on the lemons and mint — we have a bag of the former and a bunch of the later in the fridge so I went online looking for something that used those ingredients, expecting to find recipes featuring rum or gin. I was excited to discover one with bourbon. Say hello to the Whiskey Smash, a seriously delicious drink.

The Whiskey Smash features bourbon and muddled mint and lemons. It's yummy.

The Whiskey Smash mixes bourbon with muddled mint and lemons. Yum!

What makes my version so good (I think) is the honey syrup. It helps bring out the honey notes in the bourbon and it goes well with both lemons and mint. And for those planning on tuning in to the Kentucky Derby this Sunday, but who don’t really like mint juleps, this cocktail is a lovely alternative. In fact, it’s way better. Enjoy!

Dive in to a tart, sweet and strong Whiskey Smash.

Dive in to a tart, sweet and strong Whiskey Smash.

Whiskey Smash

  • 1-3/4 oz bourbon whiskey (I used Maker’s Mark)
  • 3/4 oz simple syrup (I used honey syrup: equal parts honey and water)
  • 1/2 lemon, cut into four chunks
  • 6 mint leaves, plus one for garnish

Put mint and lemon chunks into a cocktail shaker. Muddle to release lemon juice and mint oils. Add bourbon and simple syrup and ice. Shake vigorously, then strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a mint leaf.

Drink of the Week: Griz Bar Caesar

I’m off to Fernie Alpine Resort for some spring skiing this weekend. I’m looking forward to a huge base of snow, a couple of (hopefully) bluebird days and at least one run off of Polar Peak. Then I’ll head over to the Griz Bar for some apres-ski drinks including a Griz Bar Caesar.

What's better than apres ski? A Griz Bar Caesar on an outdoor patio on a sunny afternoon apres ski.

What’s better than apres ski? A Griz Bar Caesar on an outdoor patio on a sunny afternoon apres ski.

Two years ago I searched the town for the best apres-ski cocktail. What I discovered is that most skiers drink jugs of Kokanee after a day on the slopes, but the lucky few who find themselves seated at a vinyl booth inside the Griz Bar can quench their thirst — and a desire for a cocktail with some kick — by ordering the Caesar. It’s also the best choice during Griz Days, Fernie’s annual festival that’s on this weekend in honour of the mountain man (Griz) responsible for firing a cannon into the clouds and causing the town’s epic snowfalls. Cheers to Griz, Griz Days and the Griz Bar Caesar!

Griz Bar Caesar

  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 dashes Tabasco sauce (or to taste)
  • Clamato juice
  • Celery salt
  • Pepperoncini pepper

Rim a high ball glass with celery salt. Fill with ice then add vodka, Worcestershire and Tabasco. Top with Clamato, stir and garnish with a pepperoncini pepper.

— Recipe courtesy Griz Bar

Drink of the Week: Dan Aykroyd

Dive right in to this margarita with a twist.

Dive right in to this margarita with a twist.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dan Aykroyd at the Oak Room bar inside the Fairmont Palliser hotel a couple of years ago when he was in town promoting Crystal Head vodka, which I wrote about in a column for the Calgary Herald. Interestingly, Aykroyd spent part of the interview telling me all about Patron tequila (which he also promotes) and his return to the made-in-Mexico spirit even though he’d sworn it off as a teenager after a wild night in Tijuana.

So I suppose it’s fitting that the Oak Room has named one of its tequila cocktails after the Canadian actor and comedian. The Dan Aykroyd is like a margarita, but with orange juice in addition to lime juice. This both sweetens the drink and softens the lime’s tartness. It’s very smooth. Add in a sugar-cinnamon rim in place of a salty one and you’ve got a very approachable cocktail. Incidentally, Aykroyd was very pleased when he learned the bar had named a drink after him.

It's like a margarita with orange juice. I like it.

It’s like a margarita with orange juice. I like it.

Dan Aykroyd

  • 1 oz Patron Silver
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz fresh orange juice
  • Sugar/cinnamon mix to rim glass

Rim a martini glass with a sugar/cinnamon mixture, then fill the glass with ice. In a cocktail shaker combine the tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and orange juice and shake. Strain into the martini glass and garnish with an orange slice.

— Recipe courtesy Patrick Appave, bartender, Oak Room at the Fairmont Palliser

Drinks of the Week: red (or bubbly) love potions

Cherry sour

The Cherry Sour from Candela Lounge is bold, slightly sweet and, most importantly for Feb. 14, red.

With Valentine’s Day taking place next week, some couples will be looking to get into the spirit with something strong and celabratory. May I recommend  painting the town red with these valentine-hued cocktails at Calgary lounges:

The Cherry Sour from Candela Lounge is so strong you’ll feel a flush of heat after the first sip. The Maker’s Mark bourbon is offset with a hint of sour morello cherries and a couple dashes of black walnut bitters. Trust me: you’ll want to take things slowly.

Bar C, the city’s latest eat- and drink-ery from Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts, has a fantastic cocktail menu that includes one of the best tequila cocktails I’ve chugged in awhile: the Cherry Blanco. Made with smoked cherry juice, two ounces of tequila and topped with Steam Whistle, this drink will quench your desire for something tall and strong.

Much like a nervous date, here is a drink that will turn you off at first but then grow on you as the evening progresses and the booze enters your bloodstream. A Negroni (equal parts Campari, gin and sweet vermouth) is bitter from the Campari, an Italian liqueur, but as the ice melts and mellows it you’ll be screaming for a-more (sorry). Try one at Teatro.

Couples looking for something bubbly should head to the Raw Bar at Hotel Arts and order a Courtly Love. This featured Feb. 14 cocktail combines champagne with gin and is topped with lemon-raspberry foam.

If you’d rather DIY your drinks on heart day, check out my Spirited Calgary cocktail column in the Calgary Herald on Feb. 9. Happy cupid cocktailing!

Drink of the Week: Dark and Stormy

Who knew Bermuda had its own national cocktail? Its name, Dark and Stormy, implies the weather due east of Georgia can leave a lot to be desired, which is probably why the locals are hunkering down and tipping back a drink light on the ginger beer but heavy on the rum.

Please excuse the Gurgle Pot -- I promise it doesn't make me drink like a fish.

Please excuse the Gurgle Pot. I promise it doesn’t make me drink like a fish.

To even things up in the beer’s favour I poured in some more beer, mostly because I just really love tasting the ginger in this drink and Crabbie’s Ginger Beer, an alcoholic version out of the U.K., is so good I could almost do without the rum. I could also almost do without the lime (as could most “Bermudians,” according to Esquire), so I cut down its amount. The result: a spicy, rummy drink that tastes great no matter the weather.

I promise you can weather this storm!

I promise you can weather this storm!

Dark and Stormy

  • 2 oz dark rum (I used Appleton Estate Reserve)
  • 3 oz ginger beer (I upped the amount to 4 oz so its taste wouldn’t be overpowered by the rum)
  • 1/2 oz lime juice, or to taste (I used 1/4 oz)

Build the drink in a Collins glass filled with ice cubes. Stir and serve.

Drink of the Week: Gibson’s Maple Lemonade

The 100th annual Grey Cup takes place this Sunday (go Stampeders!) and if you’re looking to drink something more refined than a pint of beer, I’ve got just the cocktail for you. I was fortunate to receive a bottle of Gibson’s Finest 100th Grey Cup Limited Edition Canadian whiskey in the mail along with some recipes.

It’s sweet, tastes of maple and has been made special for the Grey Cup. Yum.

So for the past couple months I have been trying it in various drinks including a whiskey sour and a fizzy number called the Gibson’s Blueberry Pancake — the whiskey’s hint of maple lends itself to cocktails with citrus and other fuit. But ultimately I think the drink to mix up on Grey Cup Sunday — just the right combo of patriotism and whiskey — is the Gibson’s Maple Lemonade.

It’s pretty, patriotic and will help you cheer for your team. Go Stampeders!

True, lemonade and raspberries aren’t exactly seasonal come November, but they’ll lighten the mood should your team (the Argos) be losing. And the maple syrup and whiskey add just the right amount of sweetness and warmth on a cold fall night.

Gibson’s Maple Lemonade

  • 1 oz Gibson’s Finest 100th Grey Cup Limited Edition Canadian whiskey
  • 2-3 oz lemonade, to taste (I made my own using 1 part lemon juice, 1 part simple syrup and 1 part water. Yum.)
  • 1 tbsp fresh raspberries (I used strawberries)
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (as in 100 percent pure maple; not Aunt Jemima)

Muddle the berries and maple syrup at the bottom of a shaker, then add the whiskey and lemonade and shake. Pour contents into an ice filled rocks glass and garnish with a lemon wedge.

— Recipe courtesy Ginson’s Finest Canadian Whiskey

The taste of victory and, well, boozy maple lemonade in a glass.

Drink of the Week: Hashtag Boom (#Boom)

Bourbon is super trendy right now and I had the chance to sample several bourbon cocktails at a small competition held at Vine Arts wine and spirits shop this past Sunday evening.

The event was sponsored by Beam Global. Competitors from six Calgary restaurants and lounges were asked to create an original cocktail using a product under the Beam umbrella, ranging from bourbons to a rum (Curzan Black Strap Rum),  cognac (Courvousier VS) and even a single malt scotch (Laphroaig).

Franz Swinton creates an original cocktail at Vine Arts.

You’d expect competition to be stiff with talent from Anejo, Cilantro, Milk Tiger Lounge, Ox and Angela, Raw Bar and Taste all wooing our taste buds — and it was. I was impressed with Franz Swinton (representing Anejo), who managed to create a delicious and smoky number by combining scotch and tequila with sweet milk, cinnamon and star anise.

Everyone loved this tart yet peachy-sweet creation from Matt LaRocque at Taste.

On our way out we were asked to vote on our favourite cocktail. I quite fancied the Pulque Sazerac from Cilantro, but I also liked the winning cocktail from Taste. Hashtag Boom (#Boom) mixes Knob Creek bourbon with a homemade red pepper simple syrup, lemon juice and ginger beer. The result is a tart-meets-spicy-meets-peachy-sweet liquid taste explosion. #Boom will be available at Taste for the next month. Or, you can make the cocktail at home:

Hashtag Boom (#Boom)

  • 1-1/2 oz Knob Creek bourbon
  • 1 oz Red Pepper Gastrique (see recipe, below)
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • Fentiman’s Ginger Beer
  • 3 dashes Fee Brother’s Peach Bitters

In lieu of a kimchi praline garnish you could always just use a lemon wedge.

Shake bourbon, gastrique and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker full of ice. Strain ingredients into a rocks glass, and proceed to fill glass to the top with ice. Top drink with ginger beer, and add three dashes of peach bitters. Garnish with a kimchi praline (or even just a lemon wedge).

Red Pepper Gastrique

  • 3 oz red peppers
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 oz red wine vinegar
  • 2 oz white vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Boil sugar, water and vinegars together. Reduce heat and add peppers. Puree and strain (consistency should be able to coat the back of a spoon). If too thick, thin with a little hot water.

— Recipe courtesy Matt LaRocque, Taste