Sometimes you just want the taste of breakfast in your cocktail: cinnamon, vanilla, OJ, a squeeze of lemon, and the smoky essence of the griddle. I got to thinking about the amazing oatmeal I ate for breakfast on Islay — giant bowls of creamy cinnamon goodness that the innkeeper offered to fortify with a tot of whisky — and decided to deconstruct it into a cocktail. I took the island’s smoky whisky (Laphroaig) and combined it with spicy rye, citrus, cinnamon and vanilla. (If you wanted it a bit frothy, you could shake in an egg white.) It’s pretty delicious, but I wouldn’t necessarily drink it before noon!
Penicillin (the cocktail) had a rendezvous with orange liqueur and the spice rack and created Cinnamon Smoke.
- 1.25 oz Sonoma County Rye
- 0.25 oz Laphroaig 15
- 0.5 oz Grand Marnier
- 1 oz fresh lemon juice
- 0.5 oz cinnamon-vanilla simple syrup*
- Garnish: cinnamon stick
Method: Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with ice. Strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass and garnish with a cinnamon stick.
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 vanilla bean
Method: Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and heat until sugar is dissolved. Add cinnamon and vanilla bean and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Let cool. Remove cinnamon stick and vanilla bean and store the syrup in the fridge.
This modern classic was created by New York-based bartender Sam Ross. These days, it’s rare to come up with a brand new cocktail that becomes so popular everyone starts putting it on their list, but that’s what’s happened with the Paper Plane.
Simple, balanced and delicious. The easy-to-execute Paper Plane is a must-duplicate at home. Photo courtesy Earls.67.
I discovered it at the new Earls.67 on Stephen Avenue. It’s a perfect transition drink for fall — the lime and Aperol are bright and sunny, while the bourbon and Amaro hint at cooler days.
I also like its simplicity. Like The Last Word and the Negroni, it’s a drink where you mix the ingredients in equal parts; so, it’s almost impossible to mess up — an important consideration if you’re shaking up more than two!
- 1 oz fresh lime juice
- 1 oz Aperol
- 1 oz Nonino Amaro
- 1 oz Buffalo Trace bourbon
Method: Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Fine strain into a coupe glass.
— Recipe courtesy Earls.67
I finally made it to Ten Foot Henry on the now-bustling two-block strip of 1 St. S.W. between 12 and 14 avenues, that’s also home to Raw Bar, Taste, Proof and Vine Arts. So many great cocktail options there and I was excited to see what Ten Foot Henry, named after a 1930s comic strip, could contribute to the scene.
The small list, split almost evenly between classic and original cocktails, has something for everyone. I especially liked The Henrietta (read all about it in an upcoming Spirited Calgary column in the Herald) and the Gingered Apple. This yellow drink is like a spicy, candied-apple lemon drop, with an understated acidity thanks to the apple cider vinegar. It goes pow on the palate and makes you think about what you’re drinking. Sip slowly and enjoy.
The Gingered Apple cocktail at Ten Foot Henry goes pow on the palate.
- 1-1/2 oz Zubrowka vodka
- 1/2 oz Iron Works apple brandy
- 1/4 oz apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 oz simple syrup (1:1 sugar-to-water)
- 2-3 dashes Bar Keep apple bitters
- Garnish: lemon twist
Method: Shake ingredients with ice and then double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
— Recipe courtesy Dylan Can, Ten Foot Henry
The leaves are just past their peak, hinting at cold weather to come, but this sweet stretch of Indian summer calls for a gin and tonic! I propose this lovely berry twist on the classic, with a handful of mint from your outdoor planter before a killing frost claims it.
The G&T taste of summer transitions to fall with the addition of Creme de Cassis.
Blackberry & Mint G&T
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 5 mint leaves
- 1/2 oz Creme de Cassis
- 2 oz gin
- Top tonic
- Garnish: Two blackberries and a mint sprig
Method: In a tall glass, muddle mint leaves with lime and Creme de Cassis. Add gin, fill the glass with ice, then top with tonic. Stir. Garnish with two blackberries and a mint sprig.
Ever since the bar at Earls switched over to fresh herbs, juices and house made syrups back in 2011, I have been a big fan of their cocktails. Beverage director Cameron Bogue refreshes the list every four months or so, and I had the opportunity to sample a selection of their summer sips at Earls Tin Palace in Mission last week.
The menu includes a great mix of classics such as a margarita, amaretto sour and even a re-imagined pina colada (with fresh watermelon). But it was the light, lemony taste of the Bees Knees, sweetened with honey and Cointreau, that seemed the most apropos for spring. And that glass! Too cute, and its contents are tasty to boot. You might say it’s the bee’s knees (sorry).
I love this spring cocktail. Gin, lemon juice and honey suits the season, plus the Cointreau is a nice touch. And how cute is that glass?
Earls Bees Knees
- 3/4 oz honey syrup
- 1 oz fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 oz Hendricks gin
- 3/4 oz Cointreau
- 3 dashes Angostura bitters
- Garnish: Lemon zest and a wooden honey dipper
Method: Measure all ingredients (except garnish) into a mixing glass and fill with ice. Top the mixing glass with a stainless steel shaking tin. Shake ingredients vigorously 12 times to mix. Strain the cocktail into a honey bear jar over fresh ice. Garnish with a lemon zest and a wooden honey dipper.
— Recipe courtesy Earls
We finally made it to Anju. Not only does this Korean small plates restaurant on 17th Ave. S.W. have tasty bites to eat (the Crispy Tofu is amazing!), the cocktails are good, too. Many have an Asian bent, thanks to the use of ingredients such as black sesame syrup, yujacha (a Korean citrus tea) and ginseng bitters.
I loved The Hall of Fame, a bourbon-based cocktail with lemon juice, dry curaçao and Yellow Chartreuse. The game changer is the Korean Plum Syrup; it adds a unique sweet flavour that rounds out the drink. It’s a bit complicated to make at home (recipe below), but now you know where to order it!
Another great winter cocktail, with bourbon and Korean plum syrup.
The Hall of Fame
- 1.5 oz bourbon
- .5 oz dry curaçao
- .25 oz Yellow Chartreuse
- .5 oz fresh lemon juice
- .75 oz Korean Plum Syrup*
- Lemon twist garnish
Method: Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker, shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
*Korean Plum Syrup
- Korean plum tea (available at Korean markets)
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 cup marmalade-like jam (available at Korean markets)
Method: Steep tea in hot water. Add jam and combine until a syrup-like consistency is achieved (you may have to add a bit more hot water).
— Recipe courtesy Anju
Back in the late 1980s I used to throw a “Dacqueri” party at my house every summer when my parents were out of town. I don’t know what’s worse: the fact that I misspelled the word daiquiri on party invitations, or that my daiquiris — being too-sweet and neon-coloured and slushy — were, in fact, poor shadows of Cuba’s classic cocktail.
And don’t get me started on the misplaced apostrophe! (But I love this invite and the fact that I drew my dad serving beer from a keg.)
Of course, my high school pals drank my “dacqueri’s” anyway and didn’t seem to care that they were abominations. I blame it on the 80s. And my poncho from Mexico. And also those frozen Bacardi mixer canisters you could buy at Safeway (just add rum!).
Contents of the yellow cup? Neon-pink strawberry “dacqueri”. (Please excuse the photo resolution — it’s what happens when you take a photo of an old Kodak print with your iPhone.)
The good news is I finally have a chance to redeem myself a quarter century later through the written word. I’m writing about real daiquiris for an upcoming issue of up! magazine, and it’s given me a grand excuse to learn about the tropical tipple and try my hand at making this simple sip.
And simple, it is. Lime juice, granulated sugar (or simple syrup) and aged white rum. Since I love sours I took the liberty of adding egg white to help bind the ingredients and smooth out the flavours. Not only is the resulting daiquiri sour perfectly balanced between strong, sweet and sour, it looks much better served in a martini glass.
In my opinion, adding egg white to the classic daiquiri smooths out its edges and helps the flavours co-mingle.
Classic Daiquiri Sour
- 2 oz Havana Club 3-Year-old white rum
- 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
- 1/2 oz simple syrup
- 1/2 oz egg white
Method: Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with two ice cubes and shake until ice has dissolved and shaker feels heavy. Pout contents into a coupe glass or martini glass.