“Have boozy juice box, will travel.” That’s my motto this week as spring break takes me to sunny Mexico. This inventive drink — a perfect hot-weather, tote-along pool companion — comes to us courtesy of the Hotel Arts Group, where I sampled it during Calgary’s Big Taste event at a cocktail dinner hosted by Raw Bar.
This adults-only take on a refreshing juice box features white wine, roasted pineapple and bitters. Chugalug!
Boozy Juice Box is basically a wine cooler made with roasted pineapple- and bitters-infused white wine. The pineapple complements the Pinot Grigio, adding a smoky sweetness, and the bitters give the drink a spicy complexity. At first sip I thought there was more to it than the recipe revealed. The good news is since it’s so simple, it would be a snap to make a large batch for a summer garden party… figuring out the delivery method (a bunch of juice boxes and straws) would be the hard part!
Boozy Juice Box
- 2 slices grilled pineapple
- 6 oz Noble Ridge Pinot Grigio
- 4 dashes Bittermans Boston Bitters
- Honey to taste
Combine ingredients and marinate overnight in the fridge. Strain into a plastic pouch, add a straw and tote along to the beach or enjoy poolside.
— Recipe courtesy Raw Bar at Hotel Arts
I’ve always loved the cocktails at Raw Bar at Hotel Arts in Calgary. They’re a nice mix between classic and craft; some are tall and creative, others are short and spirit-forward. So I jumped at the chance to visit the newly renovated space and sample both the Raw Bar’s new VietModern menu and cocktails by talented bartender Christina Mah, during a TMAC Alberta mix and mingle event last week.
As a bonus, I got to step up to the bar and shake my very own Ramos Gin Fizz, a New Orleans cocktail that adds orange blossom water and milk to a traditional gin fizz. The milk makes the drink somewhat frothier and smoother than a typical fizz, and the orange blossom water is a lovely — and fragrant — touch. To make the cocktail more in line with Raw Bar’s modern Vietnamese menu, Mah swapped regular simple syrup for honey syrup and passed over chicken eggs in favour of a duck egg white. The result is a very good cocktail that you’ll sip down almost as fast as you’ll gobble down all the VietModern goodies, from sablefish bites to grilled octopus to potato spring rolls. It’s all good. #Omyomyom!
Hotel Arts has switched up this classic New Orleans cocktail by using a duck egg white and honey syrup to be more in line with its new VietModern menu.
Ramos Gin Fizz
- 1 oz gin
- 3/4 oz milk
- 1/2 of a duck egg white (duck eggs are available at Crossroads Market)
- 1/2 oz lime juice
- 1-1/2 oz honey simple syrup (dissolve honey into water using a 1:1 ratio)
- Dash orange blossom water (available at speciality food stores or Kalamata Grocery on 11th Ave. S.W.)
- Top soda water
- Orange wheel garnish
Into a Boston shaker put all ingredients except the soda. Dry shake, add ice and then shake again. Strain mixture into an ice-filled Collins glass and top with soda water.
— Recipe courtesy Christina Mah, Raw Bar at Hotel Arts
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!