Bagasse is the fibrous matter that’s left over after sugarcane stalks or agave hearts are crushed to extract their juice. The bagasse is then either turned into animal feed, or composted and turned into fertilizer. But don’t let the fate of the agave fibres dissuade you from trying this delicious drink.
The Bagasse appears on Proof’s latest cocktail menu, which features drinks created by its talented bar staff. This one is the brainchild of managing partner Tony Migliarese, who visited the Tequila region of Mexico not long ago, and so loved the taste of roasted agave he wanted to capture its honeyed richness in a cocktail.
This cocktail from Proof combines tequila with apple brandy and cinnamon syrup for a rich and delicious drink.
I’m a big fan of both tequila and agave (roasted, or in syrup form), and I love how the drink plays up those tastes with cinnamon and the round flavour of apple. A small amount of turmeric bestows an air of mystery and a lovely colour. Bonus: the Bagasse is pretty easy to recreate at home with such straightforward ingredients — just add a couple cinnamon sticks to your simmering simple syrup, and voila!
- 1.5 oz Espolon Reposado
- 0.5 oz Calvados
- 0.5 oz cinnamon syrup
- 0.5 oz apple juice
- 0.5 oz lemon juice
- Dash of agave nectar
- 1/16 tsp. turmeric
Method: Combine ingredients and shake with ice. Double strain into a coupette.
— Recipe by Tony Migliarese, managing partner at Proof
I really like Cocchi, a sweet vermouth from Italy. It’s made using a Moscato wine base that’s then infused with herbs and spices, including gentian, cinchona bark and bitter orange peels. The result is a fruity, raisiny and spicy vermouth, with a touch of bitterness. I learned all this during a crash course in “vermouth vs. amaro” several weeks ago, and now I have the difficult job of trying out recipes that showcase each.
Cocchi Vermouth di Torino is a high-quality sweet vermouth from Italy.
First up: the Cocchi vermouth. Why not use it to make a Tequila Manhattan, a twist on the classic cocktail? When you add a bit of jalapeño syrup for smoky sweetness, and a dash of orange bitters to keep its edge, you have the makings of something spirit-forward, but smooth and round. I like-y.
Smooth tequila and sweet vermouth combine in this twist on a traditional Manhattan.
- 1-1/2 oz reposado tequila (I used Rocado)
- 1/2 oz Cocchi Storico Vermouth di Torino
- 1 tsp. jalapeño simple syrup*
- Dash orange bitters
- Orange zest
Method: Combine tequila, vermouth, jalapeño syrup and bitters in a mixing glass with ice. Stir for about 20 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass over a large ice ball (optional). Squeeze in orange zest, rim glass with orange peel and drop in.
*Jalapeño simple syrup
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 jalapeño, cut into chunks
Method: Combine sugar and water and heat until sugar is dissolved. Add jalapeño and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove and let cool. Strain out jalapeño and store syrup in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Pineapple and basil go well together in a tart and savoury flavour combo that cries out for cocktail experimentation. So I made this drink, which is like the love child of a mojito and a gin fizz, with basil instead of mint and tequila rather than gin. A squeeze of lime tones down the pineapple’s sweetness and a touch of agave syrup takes away the spirit’s bite. Lengthen it with soda water and you’ve got a pretty, refreshing summer sip. Enjoy!
What to do with all that fresh basil from the garden? Just add tequila, pineapple juice and a splash of soda.
Tequila Pineapple Fizz
- 1.5 oz Espolon tequila
- 1 oz fresh pineapple juice
- 0.5 oz fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp. agave nectar
- 5 large basil leaves
- Top soda water
- Garnish: Basil sprig
Method: In the base of a cocktail shaker, muddle basil gently with tequila, pineapple juice, lime juice and agave nectar. Add ice and shake. Pour into a Collins glass, add ice then top with soda water (about 1 oz). Stir and garnish with a fresh basil sprig.
Bar C comes out with a fun warm-weather cocktail list every spring, and this year the theme is drinks “inspired by candy.” There’s a Snickers Old Fashioned with caramel and chocolate bitters, a Pink Parts with Luxardo Cherry and Fireball, and the delicious Chimango, which is like a margarita, but with mango juice and a tamarind-flavoured drinking vinegar called Tamarind Pok Pok. There’s even a tamarind fruit skin garnish for dessert!
I once had a tamarind margarita in Mexico, and this drink channels that one, with the added bonus of tasting like tart mango and carrying a lovely smoky essence thanks to the hit of mezcal. Be careful, though — the Chimango is easy to drink and, like its tagline promises, it will “take you right back to the time you can’t remember in Mexico…”
The Chimango, a tequila cocktail from Bar C, promises to “take you right back to the time you can’t remember in Mexico…”
- 1 oz Cazadores Reposado
- 1/2 oz Grand Marnier
- 1/4 oz Los Danzantes Mezcal
- 1 oz lemon mango juice
- 1/2 oz Tamarind Pok Pok (available at Vine Arts)
- 1/3 Chamoy (available at Mexican markets/grocers)
- Garnish: lime wheel and tamarind fruit skin
Method: Combine all ingredients except garnish in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake hard, then double strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a lime wheel and tamarind fruit skin.
— Recipe courtesy Bar C
I had my first taste of Green Chartreuse last summer in San Francisco, in a Chartreuse Swizzle cocktail served at the Clock Bar in The Westin by Union Square. Since then, I keep seeing Chartreuse on menus all over Calgary.
My husband was equally smitten with the herbaceous spirit, which is infused with 130 botanicals and made by Carthusian monks in France. He surprised me with a bottle but we had a problem — how to incorporate the distinct and savoury spirit into a cocktail. Enter The Google, which led me to a fantastic drink called Keeping up with the Carthusians.
This savoury drink with tequila and Green Chartreuse doesn’t mess around.
It combines Green Chartreuse with blanco tequila, lime and agave syrup. You end up with something kind of like a margarita, only one that’s more interesting thanks to the spicy and savoury flavours coming through from the Chartreuse. The green spirit also adds more booze (it’s 55 percent ABV) so slow down and sip — this is not a drink for guzzling. If you do, you won’t keep up.
Finally, a cocktail for my new bottle of Green Chartreuse!
Keeping up with the Carthusians
- 1-1/2 oz blanco tequila
- Just under 1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
- 3 drops white spice fennel bitters (I skipped this ingredient)
- 1 oz cocktail-ready agave syrup (I used 1/2 oz)
- 1/2 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
- Garnish: lime wheel and orange peel
Method: Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake, then strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with a lime wheel and an orange peel (I used a mint sprig).
— Recipe by Adam Stemmler, Blind Tiger Cocktail Company
It’s Negroni Week once again, with local bars offering up their twists on this classic cocktail through June 7, and a portion of the proceeds from each cocktail sale donated to a local charity.
Switch out the gin and stir in tequila for a fun twist on a classic Negroni.
Participating Calgary restaurants include Anju (donating to Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation), Black Betty Burger & Winebar (Oneball), Milk Tiger Lounge (Canadian Mental Health Association), Ox and Angela (AARCs), Proof Cocktail Bar (Calgary Drop in Center), Raw Bar by Duncan Ly (Meal Share), The Living Room (The Nathan O’Brian Foundation) and Township 24 bar & Grill (Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation). What’s more, Campari will donate $10,000 to the charity chosen by the establishment that raises the most money.
The cool thing about a Negroni, beyond the ruby colour, is the fact you can switch out the gin and end up with a delicious twist. Make it with whisky and it’s a Boulevardier. Stir in tequila and it’s a Tequila Negroni, also called a Tegroni or Agavoni. Since I wrote up the original last year, I decided to try my luck with blanco tequila this year and see how I liked it.
(Bitter Campari face) Yum! (Pucker) I still think this drink is an acquired taste, no matter what spirit you use. But here are some tips: Squeeze in a bit of fresh, sweet orange juice to soften it, and pack your glass with ice so the bitterness will gradually lessen as you sip the drink. In fact, I think I like it with tequila more than gin, as the Campari needs something stronger to stand up to it. Cheers!
- 1 oz blanco tequila (I used Casamigos)
- 1 oz sweet vermouth such as Carpano Antica
- 1 oz Campari
- 2 dashes orange bitters
- Squeeze fresh orange juice (optional)
- Garnish: Orange wheel
Method: Into a rocks glass packed with ice add all ingredients. Stir about 30 times to chill, and garnish with an orange wheel.
What to do with an over-ripe pineapple? Muddle it in to a margarita. In theory, anyway. In reality, it’s very hard to strain the drink with all that pineapple pulp plugging up the shaker holes. But no matter — it’s worth the effort.
The pineapple adds a touch of tropical sweetness, while the red pepper gives this twist on a margarita a savoury kick. It’s a nice mash-up of one of my favourite cocktails. Cheers!
It’s sweet and spicy with a kick. You’ll love this twist on a margarita.
Pineapple-Red Pepper Margarita
- 4 pineapple chunks
- 4 pieces red pepper
- 2 oz tequila
- .5 oz Cointreau
- 1 barspoon agave syrup
- 1 oz lime juice
- Salted rim
- Garnish: pineapple chunk and red pepper crescent
Method: Rim a margarita glass with salt, then fill with crushed ice. Muddle pineapple and red pepper in the base of a cocktail shaker. Add tequila, Cointreau, agave syrup and lime juice plus ice and shake. Strain into the margarita glass and garnish with a pineapple wedge and red pepper crescent.