Happy G & T Day! In this version, pictured left, it is made with the colorful Jack’s Tonique, made local, in Quebec, by Joel Beaupre and Mathieu Guillemette. It has a crisp, unique bitter taste but rich and delicious. My tastebuds quickly accustomed to the unusual flavour and I, soon, realized I downed it quite easily.
An official Gin Day will arrive later in the year when I will explore Gin’s exact origins.
Today will be dedicated strictly to G & T.
Compare this robust colored version with the clean and clear one that is most commonly made with carbonated tonic water.
With a little help, we can spread the word of more flavourful and healthier Tonics, such as Jack’s, to use instead. You only use an ounce or 2 max per drink so the 500ml bottle will last quite awhile. Mix that with 1 1/2 ounces of gin and top it with club soda and it will be a beautiful rich, golden color, as above.
Quinine – Pro or Con?
One of the ingredients in the final product of tonic water/syrup is cinchona bark. By boiling this bark, quinine is created. There are health benefits to this, however, too much of it can be hard on the system. It has been known to treat leg cramps, lupus (an autoimmune disease) and arthritis.
Quinine can help to relax muscles and ease muscle spasms. Originally, quinine was administered as an anti-malarial drug in the 17th Century.
On the other hand, a large build up of quinine can be serious with side effects ranging from headache to vomiting. People have been hospitalized with symptoms lasting a few weeks. Keep in mind, they didn’t have just a couple of gin an tonics on a Friday night. They overdosed on it.
From what I’ve discovered, it’s easier to overdose on it if you’re trying to make your own at home. In many of the cases, cinchona bark powder, and too much of it, was used. The powder is harder to filter so you end up with more grains in your actual drink. Leave this to the professionals. Today’s tonic water has very little quinine.
The Food and Drug Act banned quinine treatments in 2010 due to it’s serious side effects. Now there are restrictions on the amount of quinine allowed in tonic. If a doctor had prescribed it, the recommended dosage might have been 500-1000 mg.
In the carbonated drinks, do not exceed 2.48 mg of quinine per ounce of liquid. Therefore, if a gin and tonic is 1.5 oz of gin and 4.5 oz of Schweppes tonic water, you’re looking at 11.16 mg of quinine.
Now that I was concerned about the quinine content in homemade tonics, I emailed Jack’s Tonique to inquire.
Joel Beaupre promptly responded to assure me the levels were safe.
“The amount of quinine in our artisan tonic slighty fluctuates from batch to batch as we steep it from a natural bark that contains the quinine. Too many variables are involved to give a definite number. That being said, we use very little bark and have a low level of quinine compared to the big brands!” -Joel Beaupre
I can’t wait to try their new Ginger Beer! The only sweetener they use in their soda is pure Quebec honey. Again…..healthy!
Who Made the First Gin & Tonic?
Now I have THAT out of my system, we can get on to Britain, home of the Gin & Tonic.
Gin originates from London and word spread to the British Army of tonic’s benefits. In the 17th Century, quinine was used to combat malaria. A British officer realized alcohol, gin in particular, would help the bitter tonic to go down easier. Little did they realize it would save hundreds of lives.
However, the tonic had already been discovered. In the 1630’s an Augustinian Monk found a tree with possible remedies, in the forests of the Andes Mountains. He published a notice regarding the treatment, burying it in a work on the Augustinian Order.
“A tree grows which they call the fever tree, in the country of Loxa, whose bark of the color of cinnamon, made into powder amounting to the weight of two small silver coins and given as a beverage, cures the fevers and tertiana; it has produced miraculous results in Lima.
-Antonio de Calancha, Monk of the Augustinian Order
The bark from this tree, known as cinchona, or Jesuit’s Bark, was boiled to gain the medicinal properties of what is now called quinine. Some cinchona tree species grow to about 18 feet and span 1 to 2 feet in diameter.
Juniper Berries, The Super Food
Gin is produced from these berries which combat bacteria and can be treated for rheumatism, arthritis and cystitis. It can help with bloating and water retention and improves digestion since it increases saliva and digestive enzymes.
If crushed, it can be used topically on wounds as an antiseptic.
However, excessive use of the berries could lead to kidney irritation.
Today’s tonic contains artificial sweetener so it is much more pleasant to drink.
Any establishment in Ottawa will serve up a Gin and Tonic but if you’re looking to try the homemade tonic before you purchase the full bottle, visit the following and make sure you ask the server to make it with Jack’s Tonique.
12 restaurants in Ottawa serve it with Jack’s including the following:
When you’re ready to purchase a bottle of the tonic, choose from 14 different establishments including:
North of 7 Distillery – 1733 St. Laurent Blvd.
The Red Apron – 564 Gladstone St.
Viens Avec Moi – 1338 Wellington
Thyme & Again – 1255 Wellington St.
The relatively new company, Jack’s Tonique, has launched their products from its origins in Quebec to as far east as New Brunswick and to western Canada, with much of the concentration in Montreal and Ottawa.
I discovered another tonic and have yet to find an establishment that uses these Split Tree tonic in their drinks. But you can still purchase the bottle at these locations, as well as Thyme & Again.
Hot off the heels of Bock Beer Day, is yet another Beer Day. Much like the Wine Days we get throughout the year, expect to see more on beer as well.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a beer fan but I am developing an appreciation for the production of it.
We have a wealth of local breweries, using organic produce, at our fingertips here in Ottawa so wherever you live, I would be sure you have one near your back door.
The use of local produce such as grains, is growing fast. Lucky for us, restaurants, grocery stores, distilleries and vineyards are increasing their availability of organic products. Many local farmers, where these grains come from, are registered with Canadian Organic Growers so you know you’re drinking, and eating, healthier.
You don’t have to venture far to find them! Most Metro Food Stores carry their products which include pancake batter, purple corn chips and various whole grain flour, to name just a few.
I’ll be using their purple corn chips for all of my nachos now since I’ve discovered their great health benefits.
“Studies indicate the antioxidant, anthocyanins, found in purple corn, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, inhibit abnormal cell growth, promote collagen formation, and improve circulation.” –Source
Be sure to watch the Pancake Testings! The link is under the ‘extras’.
Their pancake mix also contains purple corn meal, the great antioxidant. If you’re at a loss of how to use any of their products, they provide over 30 recipes for entrees, desserts, pastry and bread here.
Specializing in corn products, they offer chemical-free and preservative-free grain of different coarseness. The family-owned farm is located east of Alexandria at the Quebec border.
As I browse each Ontario Organic Farm’s websites, I find something unique with each one. Some farms make furniture or woven sheep blankets, some provide guided tours or education programs, cooking classes or offer volunteer programs.
If you’re interested in learning how to grow organic food, grain, etc, the Canadian Organic Growers is offering courses in Ontario and BC. The Ottawa course has been postponed to 2018.
Our own local breweries are increasingly popular. When visiting some of these establishments, it was hard to have extended conversations with proprietors due to the steady traffic of customers. And this is mid-week!
All I can say is, Way to Go Ottawa, for choosing local!
It was a tad chilly that night so I rushed in to the Lowertown and the first thing I noticed was that delicious aroma of freshly burning wood, real wood, and wondered where it came from. Apparently, I walked right by it on my way in. Did I mention it was cold?
The Awesome Barkeep, Matthew, at Lowertown Brewery helped me figure out which kind of beer is best suited to my taste. Despite how busy it was, he kindly took the time to answer my questions, explain the science of beer and let me sample 6 different flavours. All of this in between serving his customers. What a pro!
Matthew helped me discover that I like non-bitter type beers which turns out to be their Dark Lager. Go figure. Never thought I would be the Guinness type. Like my wine, I like them smooth!
Many pubs offer “Flights” of beer, or wine, to sample various flavours. I highly recommend ordering one of these, share with a few friends, and discover your preference.
Might I add that the Lowertown store is open until 11pm. So, if you’ve missed the shut down of the King Edward LCBO at 10pm, you still have time to grab a couple brewskies on your way home.
At Beyond The Pale, the frontman is very helpful and gracious, despite the steady traffic. They sell their cans in packs of 4 at the Hamilton Street facility but you can find singles at LCBO.
I was able to sample 4 different beers but didn’t care for any in particular. This means nothing because it’s not my drink of choice. For those who prefer beer, you will certainly find a brew you like. It’s quite clear they are popular.
Tooth and Nail offers 3 samples of your choice. I particularly requested non-bitter flavours but did not find anything that compared to the Dark Lager at Lowertown. It’s not just a distillery. The pub is full sized and was busy enough to not be able to have a conversation with any of the staff. Again, mid-week. I couldn’t even ask why they are named Tooth and Nail.
They, as well, stay open beyond the regulatory LCBO hours, except on Sundays.
Keep in mind that most local breweries are closed Sundays, some on Monday as well, as it is their brewing day. For sampling, best to visit them Tuesday to Saturday.
Mill St Brew Pub offers guided tours at certain times of the day yet my research team were served the royal treatment by Jeremy. Open for about 5 years, he has
been working there for the last 4, he knows every beer inside and out. There seemed to be no limit to the sampling. They brew 4 different flavours on site, the rest are produced at the Toronto location.
Again, my favorite was a dark beer, the Cobblestone Stout. Could have something to do with the chocolate content. Mill St originally started as an organic brewery back in 2002 and has grown to cover every spectrum of flavour from citrus to chocolate to chamomile.
If you sidle up to your local pub, chances are pretty good you’re going to find the Mill St logo if not one of their beers. I’m noticing more of the smaller micro-breweries popping up on the drink menus, too.
As far as brew pubs go, I highly recommend BDT – Brasseur Du Temps – in Gatineau. Beautifully located by the water on the historic site of the first brewery in the area, their unique style and attractions keep me going back. For your seating, choose the side bar that overlooks the factory and the kitchen. Before you leave, visit the museum below where they house antique artifacts of beer production. It keeps the same hours as the pub and you’re free to browse.
It’s a must see!
Why No Mention Of Standard Beer?
We spend all week trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle when it comes to our food or cleaning products then by Sunday morning we’ve undone all the good we’ve accomplished by having a few drinks Saturday night with friends or family.
Alcohol is metabolized by the body differently than food. It bypasses the digestive system, is absorbed into the body and goes straight to the liver. Your liver is the main fat-burning organ in our bodies so if you’re trying to lose weight, alcohol will deter this. Your liver chooses to metabolize the alcohol first before it tackles any fat cells. Your liver also removes toxins so if it’s overloaded with alcohol, it has a hard time eliminating the toxins which can lead to rapid aging, loss of libido and other conditions.
Do You Know What You’re Drinking?
Beer, being in 2nd place after water and tea as a favorite beverage, is not required by law to label their ingredients on their products. Check your beer bottle or can. Calorie levels and alcohol content are only sometimes on the label. They are under no obligation to disclose their ingredients to anyone.
I couldn’t encourage anyone to ingest anything that is unhealthy which is why I am restricting this to organic.
The government regulates what can and cannot be present in beer. Lucky us, this is the list of “Legal” Ingredients Allowed in Commercial Beer:
MSG – an addictive mixture of sodium and amino acid glutamate which can cause headaches, facial pressure, numbness, tingling, chest pain, nausea and heart palpitations.
Propylene Glycol – also found in anti-freeze.
Calcium Disodium EDTA – made from formaldehyde, sodium cayanide, and Ethylenediamine.
Sulphites and anti-microbial preservatives – have been linked to allergies and asthma.
Natural Flavors – can come from anything natural including a beavers anal gland. (Still convinced you’re drinking the right beer?)
BPA – Bisphenol A is a component in many tin can liners and it may leach into the beer. BPA can mimic the female hormone estrogen and may affect sperm count, and other organ functions.
Animal Based Clarifiers -Findings include isinglass (dried fish bladder), gelatin (from skin, connective tissue, and bones), and casein (found in milk).
FD&C – Made from petroleum, linked to allergies, asthma and hyperactivity.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)
Carcinogens – Newcastle beer apparently heats ammonia and sulphites under high pressure which creates carcinogenic compounds in the caramel coloring they add. These compounds are known to cause cancer and tumours in rats and mice. – See the Full List
So, if you want to maintain the healthy lifestyle you work so hard for, look for non-GMO and additive-free food and alcohol products.
Still not convinced? The few commercial beers available without GMO’s are Heinekin, Sierra Nevada and Amstel Light.
My next beer will definitely be local, organic from the tap. However, I’m not rushing out for one. I’m completely beered out – a big thank you to my beer testers for helping me not to consume too much. You know who you are and you rock!
What Else Can You Do With Your Beer?
Once you’ve found a good organic beer, you can do more than just drink it!
Butterflies and slugs are attracted to it. So if you want more butterflies and less slugs leave some leftover beer out in the garden.
Rinse your hair with it to benefit from the Vitamin B and natural sugars to add body and shine. It will help increase vitality, resilience and hold.
Remove stains by pouring some on coffee stains, blot and it should come out.
Marinate meat and mushrooms but you probably know this one already.
Polish your copper pots.
Beer vs Prostitution.
They say the oldest profession is prostitution well…beer making may be the oldest! Apparently prostitution is estimated at 5,000 years old. Beer is estimated to be 7,000 years old, originating in Iran. Some even say it began 12,000 ago.
What Caused The London Beer Flood?
In 1814 London, 570 tons of beer, equivalent to 1 million pints, exploded from a vat that had too much pressure build up. 8 people lost their lives in that huge mess. “Not only did the brewery escape paying damages to the destitute victims, it received a waiver from the British Parliament for excise taxes it had already paid on the thousands of barrels of beer it lost.” – Source
In the Middle Ages many other mixtures of herbs were added to beer for bitterness and flavour prior to the use of hops. These mixtures are referred to as gruit, beer produced from botanicals. Hops were cultivated in France as early as the 800s. The oldest surviving written record of the use of hops in beer is in 1067 by writer, Abbess Hildegard of Bingen, Germany: “If one intends to make beer from oats, it is prepared with hops.”
What Are The Hops For?
We’ve all heard the term but how does it affect beer. Hops is the flower from the cone-like hop plant. A member of the hemp family, a hops vine grows to about 7 feet tall in just a few months.
Once compressed for beer making, it is a green pellet ready to add bitterness to the sweet tasting malt to create the perfect balance.
Different types of hops will have different levels of bitterness. It also acts as a preservative.
The first documented use of hops is from 7th Century Europe in Germany in the Hallertau region.
Close to one of every two beers worldwide is brewed with one of the more than 20 types of Hallertau hop.
Hallertau is a region in Bavaria, between Nuremberg and Munich, where plenty of breweries can be found.
Or make it easy on yourself and take the tour. Be sure to catch at least one castle!
Hallertau is the world’s largest hop cultivating region. If you’re so inclined, watch this quick 3 minute video on the cultivation, filmed in Bavaria with it’s fields and fields of hop gardens.
Whether you’re here or there, enjoy a brew today! See you next time! Cheers!
Americans will try to claim the fame of inventing The Cocktail but the origins are European. After all, what is being used? Gin – made in Europe, Vodka – made in Europe, Vermouth – made in Europe.
-“Though fermented beverages had dominated for centuries, 17th century London turned from drinking ale and cider practically overnight. When King William of Orange was enthroned in 1688, he was faced with a dilemma. Years of good harvests left the nation with a grain surplus, driving down prices. To take advantage of this bounty — and “for the health of the nation” — he reduced taxes on distillation. British distillers produced around 500,000 gallons of neutral grain spirit the following year.”-
By the 1720s, London distillers alone produced 20 million gallons of spirits, not including an equally staggering amount of illicit alcohol. It was estimated that one out of every four habitable structure in London housed a working gin still.
The earliest use of the word “Cocktail” was discovered in the March 20, 1798, edition of The Morning Post and Gazetteer, a London newspaper no longer in operation.
The paper had reported a story of a landlord who won a lottery and went to his establishment and erased the tabs of the regular patrons. The newspaper then listed who owed what, including a certain William Pitt who owed for “L’huile de Venus”, “perfait [sic] amour”, and a less French drink: “‘cock-tail’ (vulgarly called ginger).”
The most common use of the term “cocktail” at the time was in reference to a horse with its tail cut short to indicate it was of mixed breed.
A colic remedy for horses consisted of water, oats, gin and ginger.
America can stake its claim to the cocktail’s surge in popularity in part through the work of Jerry Thomas, a Connecticut resident who, in 1862, wrote the first book in the United States with a section dedicated for cocktail recipes. Historians have gone so far as to call him the American Father of Modern Bartending but he actually worked in London prior to writing the famous book plus he wasn’t born American.
American tourists were on the rise in London, England. London cashed in on this and opened numerous ‘cocktail joints’. The creative bartenders constantly dreamed up new drinks. Many of which were brought back to America and made an official drink. A few years later that particular drink was introduced in Europe labelled as an “American Drink.”
The Savoy, one of those swanky Cocktail Joints, became notorious for American Bar Nights masking as charity fund raisers in the early 20th Century.
The first female bartenders of London were Ruth Burgess and Ada Coleman, better known as Kitty and Coley. Ada’s first cocktail she prepared was a Manhattan, taught to her by Fisher, the wine butler at the Claridge Hotel. However, “Kitty” had been tending bar a few years before Ada arrived on The Savoy scene where together they flourished.
The Hanky Panky
Ada brewed up some Italian vermouth with a few dashes of Fernet Branca (a form of Bitters) for one of her regulars, actor Sir Charles Henry Hawtry who requested ‘something with a punch’. He downed the drink and exclaimed, “Why, Ada, this is the real hanky panky!” The name stuck and is still on The Savoy’s menu today. Ada was promoted to Head Bartender in 1903.
Their heyday would end with the American Prohibition. American bartender, Harry Craddock, returned to London, looking for work since the Prohibition pushed him, and other bartenders, out of the US. Harry was hired at The Savoy and instilled his belief that women should not work in bars. Thirsty Americans swarmed London, listened, and eventually, agreed with him. The phrase bar wench goes back a long way because women were quite dominant, and respected, in taverns.
The owner, Rupert D’Oyly Carte, let Kitty go and transferred Ada to the hotel’s flower shop, using the story that she “retired”. He then promoted Harry Craddock (you might remember the mention of his Savoy Cocktail Book, written in 1930, in an earlier post of mine), to Head Barman.
Harry was thought to be American but he was born near Stroud, Gloucestershire. He moved to America, married an Irish widow then returned to England. He claims to have invented 240 cocktails in his career but were some of these actually Ada’s inventions? Did he use what she was forced to leave behind? She gets credit for only 1 cocktail invention in her 20 year career with The Savoy?
Today, The Savoy boasts 7 in-house restaurants and pubs, of British and a touch of French cuisine. For some Wow factor check out the photo gallery. Aside from The Savoy, some renowned establishments, as suggested by The Telegraph Newsletter, where incredible cocktails are concocted:
Tokyo:Bar High Five, 4th Floor, No.26 Polestar Building, Tokyo, 7-2-14 Ginza, +81 3 3571 5815
Barcelona: Boutique Bar in the Ohla Hotel, Via Laietana, 49, 08003 Barcelona, Spain, +34 933 41 50 50 New York: Pegu Club, 77 West Houston Street,
New York:Pegu Club, 77 West Houston Street, New York, NY 10012, (212) 473-7348
Havana:La Floridita (According to The Telegraph: Ask the doorman if Alejandro is working. If he isn’t, go elsewhere. When he is behind the bar, you can understand why this bar is so widely celebrated). Obispo No.557 esq. a Monserrate, Habana Vieja, Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba, (0)7 8671300.
Meanwhile, here in North America, I’ve done a little digging. In Conneticut, home of Jerry Thomas, visit the unique Gillette Castle. Yes, a medieval castle in America! Built by William Gillette, the stage actor most famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes.
Gillette is the son of former U.S. Senator Francis Gillette and Elizabeth Daggett Hooker Gillette, a descendent of Thomas Hooker, the founder of Hartford. No wonder he could afford to build a castle!
Then there’s the quaint Mystic, Conneticut, a small town, near the castle, with interesting sights. When it’s summer in town, rent bikes, paddle boards, kayaks or take in the many festivals throughout the year. With no lack of things to do, Mystic offers vineyards, beaches, museums, casinos, the popular geo-caching, farmers and art markets with plenty of shops and nightlife. The historical seaport and Olde Mistik Village are a must see!
Ottawa houses its own Savoy Brasserie on Richmond Road, leaning towards French cuisine, with a flair for original cocktails and high class decor. Order the oysters. Please!
ThingsI didn’t know. (That’s what I love about this. I’ve become a human sponge!)
Which facts are you aware of? And what will come as a surprise?
Not Commonly Known
Saint Patrick wore blue, not green. Most paintings depicted him in blue robes. Only after the Irish Independence movement in the late 18th Century did the green color get pushed.
He wasn’t Irish. Patrick’s parents were Roman citizens living in England, where he was born (though a few sources say Scotland).
He was born Maewyn Succat in 385 AD. By that time, many Romans were Christians and Christianity was spreading rapidly across Europe. As a boy, christianity was the least of his worries.
Saint Patrick ended up a slave. At the age of 16 , he was kidnapped by Irish raiders who sold him as a slave. He spent 6 captive years in Dalriada, Ireland, herding sheep where he found comfort in God.
At the age of 22, he managed to escape (a voice told him it was time). He spent 3 days sailing then walked 28 days to the point of near starvation and was reunited with his family.
He gained his priesthood and later returned to Ireland (when, again, the voice told him to go back), changed his name to Patricius and spent the rest of his life converting Irish Pagans to Christianity.
The odds of finding a four-leaf clover are about 1 in 10,000. The myth that St. Patrick used the shamrock as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity: The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit is likely not true. Instead, it is believed monks made this claim.
Patrick is also renowned for coming up with the Celtic cross, which combined a native sun-worshiping ideology with the Christian cross.
Sadly, after a harsh life of being constantly beaten by thugs, harassed by the Irish royalty, and admonished by his British superiors he died quietly, in Saul, Ireland in 461 where he had built his first church.
On a positive note, he founded monasteries, built churches, organized Ireland into dioceses, created councils and supported church officials, all during his life’s work.
The celebration of St. Patrick’s Day was basically invented by Irish Americans.
What You May Already Know
Saint Patrick’s Day is the day of the saint’s death, not his birth. Early biographers state that he was buried near the Down Cathedral in the town of Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, or Dun Padraig, meaning Patrick’s Stronghold. A memorial stone stands over the supposed approximate location of his remains….well most of him. Apparently, a jaw and tooth are on display in the Dublin Museum.
Saint Patrick is often portrayed with a Crozier, known as the Baccal Isu, his golden staff. A hermit was instructed, by Jesus, to give it to Patrick. Could this also be the staff of Jesus? Patrick used this crozier to banish the snakes. The Crozier was later denounced as superstitious and publicly destroyed in 1538 by order of the archbishop, George Browne.
The banning of the snakes is considered a myth since snakes never populated Ireland due to icy ocean conditions. It is believed to be another metaphor for cleaning up the streets of Ireland.
Patrick’s copy of the four gospels is held at the The Royal Irish Academy where his writings, referred as His Confession, can be viewed. The original writings are lost except for what is written in the Book of Armagh, at the Trinity College Dublin Library.
Okay, school’s out, now for some fun…..
Parades, Beer, and Green Rivers!
The world’s first recorded Saint Patrick’s Day Parade took place in Boston on March 18, 1737, followed by the New York Parade, comprised of Irish military soldiers marching through the streets of New York, which first took place in 1762.
Today, 150,000 people take part in the New York parade, with 2 million people cheering them on. No motorized vehicles or floats are allowed in the parade, marching for Ireland only!
I have to mention this….the shortest parade occurred annually from 1999 to 2007 in Dripsey, an Irish Village. The parade spanned 26 yards, from the front door of one pub to another!
Rough translation of Erin Go Bragh!….Ireland Forever!
There are more Irish in the USA than Ireland. 34 million Americans have Irish ancestry. There are 4.2 million people living in Ireland.
In 1961, business manager of Chicago’s Journeymen Plumbers Local Union, Stephen Bailey, received permission to turn the Chicago River green for St. Patrick’s Day. They used 100 lbs of vegetable dye! Today, they only use 25 lbs. The dye lasts for about five hours.
“The environmental impact of the dye is minimal compared with sources of pollution such as bacteria from sewage-treatment plants.” – Margaret Frisbie, the executive director of the advocacy group Friends of the Chicago River.
What’s with the Leprechauns?
This Irish fairy of supposed supernatural powers has no real connection to St Patrick. There are a couple of loose theories, one being everything Irish was rolled into this one holiday.
Oddly, there are no female leprechauns. No wonder the breed died out!
No Drinking On St. Patrick’s Day?
Irish law, from 1903 to 1970, declared St. Patrick’s Day a religious observance for the entire country. All pubs were shut down for the day, no beer for that day. The law was overturned in 1970, when St. Patrick’s was reclassified as a national holiday – allowing the taps to re-open. Not to mention cashing in on the tourist and beverage industries!
Speaking of beer:
Murphy’s Irish Stout – Light and sweet in flavor compared to the rest, Murphy’s Irish Stout has become increasingly more popular especially in the US.
O’Hara’s Irish Wheat – flavors of bananas, peaches and plums are blended with traditional hops. It’s perfect for those who prefer a lighter, easy-drinking option.– Something I prefer!
Neither of these can be found here in Canada but these are popular:
Kilkenny – smooth and creamy, the result of hops combined with fruits, malt, coffee and roasted barley.
And of course, there’s Guinness – A pint of Gat – The rich, dark, most popular Irish brew that comes in three varieties.
5.5 million pints of Guinness are sold on any given day, but this figure rises to an astounding 13 million on St. Patrick’s Day!
In 2012, it is reported an estimated $245 million is spent on beer on this day.
Home to Ottawa since 1875 is St. Patrick’s Basilica, located on Kent St between Gloucester St. and Nepean St. It was the first English speaking Roman Catholic Church in the city. Free parking is available on all 3 of these streets Saturdays and Sundays.
Another St. Patrick church is in the Nepean district, at 15 Steeple Cres. It’s history began in 1833 and was rebuilt and blessed in 1866.
Game of Thrones
Plan your next trip to tour Northern Ireland, many of the filming locations of Game of Thrones. Lose yourself in the set, dressed in traditional robes and learn archery from the actors’ trainer.
If you are looking for a place to stay in Northern Ireland, Airbnb is very popular and can be inexpensive for travellers. Prices can be as low as $50 per night. Keep in mind, Europe tends to charge a minimal traveller’s fee, so inquire.
Here are a few beautiful options in and near the tour:
A distilled highly alcoholic light green colored beverage considered a spirit and not a liqueur. A spirit, or liquor, has been distilled from grains or plants, sometimes flavoured but always unsweetened. Once a spirit, or liquor gets sweetened and flavoured, ie mint, it then becomes a liqueur.
Absinthe is made up of the flowers and leaves of the perennial Wormwood plant (Artemesia Absinthium) and flavoured with green anise (similar taste to licorice), sweet fennel and other herbs. The plant originates in Europe and grows well in Canada.
The French word, absinthe, translated to English is wormwood, and comes from Latin absinthium and from Greek apsinthion.
Revelation 8:10-11 states: “The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water—the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.” Revelation was written in the year 95AD.
The use of drinking absinthe is mentioned in Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura (I 936–950) book of poems, where Lucretius indicates that a drink containing wormwood is given as medicine to children in a cup with honey on the brim to make it drinkable.
The first known use of the liqueur, laced with wormwood, was in 1612. Back then, the taste was highly potent and men needed a lot of courage to drink it. Today’s Absinthe alcohol content ranges from 45% to a whopping 74%.
Van Gogh painted Still Life with Absinthe during springtime in Paris, France in 1887. Reproductions of the painting range from the $200 figure for smaller sizes and as much as $1,000 for larger ones.
Wilfred Niels Arnold, a Kansas City, Kan., biochemist wrote a study on the artist in the Journal of the American Medical Association. He believes Van Gogh was addicted to chemicals in the terpene class. Terpenes are present in camphor, absinthe and turpentine, which he was known to drink, yes, even the turpentine. A tree planted over Van gogh’s grave, in Auvers-sur-Oise, happens to be a Thuja tree, a classic source of thujone, the toxic element in absinthe. Thujone is a chemical compound found in a number of other plants, one of them being Artemesia Absinthium so it naturally ends up in Absinthe.
Absinthe was so popular in France before it was banned (for its highly intoxicating effect) that bars even had “the hour of absinthe” like today’s cocktail hour, says Arnold. Despite the origins of the drink being in Egypt, France has claimed the fame. Dr Pierre Ordinaire, while living in Couvet, Switzerland, designed Absinthe, as it is known today. It had been rumoured to cure flatulence and anemia.
Five years after his death, in 1797, Henri-Louis Pernod opened a distillery in Switerland. Later, he opened Pontarlier near the Swiss border in France. Production of absinthe stopped in 1915 when it was banned because of its believed psychoactive and hallucinogenic qualities. It switched to the production of pastis, an anise flavoured spirit. When the ban lifted in the 1990’s, they continued with absinthe, too. It is currently a commume but there are many distilleries in Couvet.
The hallucinogenic qualities, some think are false. People would get very drunk on it because they loved the taste so much, they drank too much of it. The high alcohol content contributed, too, I’m sure. Some believe the intoxicating effects also were due to the other herbal qualities found in absinthe. Some of the herbs have heightening qualities and some have lowering (especially since liquor is a depressant) to give something more than an alcoholic buzz.
Europe lifted their ban in the 1990s since it is now believed to not be as harmful. Their law dictates a maximum 35 mg of thujone per kg are allowed in absinthe.
US lifted their ban in 2007 on the condition it contains less than 10ppm of thujone, Apparently, today there are no traces of it in bottles sold in the US.
However, another source states that it is not legal in the US but as a food, not a drug. The US does not allow the distillation or commercial production of absinthe but you can legally own a bottle or make your own as long as it is not distilled.
Our LCBO sells absinthe but is costly. It is best served chilled with a little water and sugar.
There is a restaurant in Ottawa called Absinthe, located at 1208 Wellington St. I have eaten there once a little over year ago. Patrons pay a base amount, for example, at that time, it was $20, to receive a 3-course meal. You choose from their options of appetizers, entrees and a dessert. They offer vegetarian dishes as well. I don’t remember what I ordered, I think a soup to start, but I do remember the taste. Delicious!
After spending 15 minutes calling MANY restaurants offering French cuisine, I finally found the brand new Sur Lie, that sells Absinthe. They serve it in the traditional format with a sugar cube!
Located at 110 Murray St., it is out of the main hub but is a hidden gem. The friendly and knowledgeable staff make it a great place to relax. The Amazing Matthew knows his stuff when it comes to the products they offer at the bar. He was kind enough to let me video tape his preparation of my drink. To my surprise, he lit it on fire! Three weeks ago, they opened their doors and this Tuesday is the grand opening. Please show your support and try to make it.
Their unique menu is a must see. The not-often-seen beef tartare, duck and scallops are on my list when I attend Tuesday’s opening. Organic salmon is on the menu, too. So many great choices!
There are promises of a superb patio this summer. See you out back!
Have A Great Absinthe Day!
Happy Absinthe Day! Who knew there was such a procedure to this drink!
You’ve probably heard of Mulled Wine not knowing what it really is.
This may end up being a rare short version. I hope you don’t mind when I go back to the longer version for future ones.
Mulled wine is a European version using spices and a sweetener, sugar or honey, and is served hot, Traditionally, it is served during Christmas or Halloween.
Our sub-zero temperatures yesterday and today are another good reason to have this delicious hot drink by the fireplace.
Spicing wine is first recorded in Rome in the 2nd Century. The Romans heated wine to defend themselves against the cold. As they conquered across Europe, the popularity of heated wine grew.
The English added spices to promote health and avoid sickness. Herbs and flowers were the sweetener.
Using spice to mask the taste of any unpleasant smell from food or drink became habit.
The Forme of Cury is a Medieval English cooking book from 1390. It states that wine is spiced by grinding together cinnamon, ginger, galangal, cloves, long pepper, nutmeg, marjoram, cardamom and grains of paradise, and mixed with sugar. The Forme of Cury’s authors are listed as the chief Master Cooks of King Richard II. The original is printed on scroll. Would you believe you can purchase this cookbook for $14.00 on Amazon?
Any of these spices will do but cinnamon, cloves, a sweetener and the zest of a citrus fruit are a good base.
Glühwein,roughly translated as “glow-wine”, from the hot irons once used for mulling, is popular in Germany and in Alsace, France. In German markets, it is common to see people with piping hot mugs of Glühwein as they browse.
Across Europe, it became known as glogg. Do I dare make the obvious pun that this is my Glogg Blog. Sorry, I couldn’t help it.
In Quebec, some will mix red wine with maple syrup and hard liquor then heat it. They call it the Caribou and is popular during Quebec Winter Carnival.
Whatever variations you use, simmer about an hour. It won’t be as potent, unless you add a spirit. After cooking, the alcohol content drops to about 12-15%. Be careful not to let it boil, otherwise the alcohol will evaporate. We certainly don’t want that!
Since I have German heritage, I used the following recipe for traditional Glühwein as a guideline. It’s a great way to use previously opened wine since the quality of the wine makes no difference to the end result.
However, I used a red wine and a rose coloured Zinfandel, mixed them with water, lemon, honey, cloves and cinnamon. I didn’t have the anise or cardamom. The taste was divine! Other options are bay leaves, long pepper (they look similar to an unripened pine cone), nutmeg, ginger and grains of paradise (from the ginger family). Even black currant can be added. The jar of Mulling Spice shown in the picture above contains the anise, grains of paradise. Experiment with what you have in your cupboard!
• 750ml dry red wine, nothing fancy
• 100ml water
• 3-4 tbsp sugar, depending on taste
• Half a lemon, sliced
• 3 cloves
• 3 cardamom pods
• 1 star anise
• 1 cinnamon stick
Throw it all into a saucepan on high heat for a minute, then reduce before it boils. Simmer 1-2 hours. Allow to cool a few minutes before straining into mugs or bottles.
Makes 800 ml
It’s not a common drink in Ottawa which is why I am not including too many related hotspots. I think I’ll try one of these tonight after work:
Das Lokal – 190 Dalhousie St. Every last Sunday of the month, they feature live music.
Bier Markt – 156 Sparks St. The link will take you to their events page with a huge list of what goes on weekly. Live music begins about 10-10:30pm.
Central Bierhaus – Kanata Centrum Shopping Centre. They have big screen tv’s, a giant cuckoo clock and tons of different beers.
Check your local spice sections for Mulling Spice if you want to try it at home.
Kah-lua is a translation for the native Nahuatl people of Veracruz meaning ‘House of the Alcolhua People’ Some believe it is a slang Arabic word for ‘coffee’.
It is made from 100% Arabica coffee beans with rum, sugar and caramel. The coffee and sugar are grown side by side in the state of Veracruz. The rum used is derived from their sugarcane grown under optimum warm growing conditions.
So if you have a decaf coffee and kahlua to avoid the caffeine as I did, it’s redundant. There are 10 mg of coffee per 100 ml of kahlua. 25% of what is in coffee! That explained the coffee rush.
From the mountains of Veracruz, Mexico, Kahlua was born. In 1936, four friends joined forces to begin the world renowned drink. The Alvarez brothers were local coffee growers. A chemist, Montalvo Lara, provided the knowledge to transform the ingredients into a cruder version of today’s kahlua. Senior Blanco came up with the idea. Four years later, it made its way to the United States and has grown in great popularity. In 1980, it became the #1 selling coffee liqueur in the world.
In the 1950’s, a Mayan statue collector, Jules Berman (1911 – 1998), worked at Kahlua who put his statues in every advertisement the company posted. It was a hit and continues to today. His collection is now on display in Los Angeles museums and galleries.
It takes 7 years to produce a finished product. The coffee beans, themselves, take 6 years to reach the harvest point. They are grown in the shade so it takes longer. Harvesting of the coffee ‘cherries’ is between October and March.
The traditional method is a dry method when the bean is extracted after the cherry has gone through the drying process. It will have a lower acidity level and an intense, exotic flavour. A newer version uses a wet method which produces a cleaner, brighter, fruitier coffee.
The dried beans are put in burlap bags to rest for 6 months then are roasted, ground and brewed.
The distillation of the sugar turns the liquid into rum then it is aged. Distillation is the process of heating a liquid mixture to form a vapor then cooling the vapor to get a purified form of liquid.
At this point, it is combined with the coffee and rests again for another 8 weeks. The the vanilla and caramel are added. Now it is filtered and bottled.
In the 1960’s, a team of only women led the Kahlua company. They were known as the ‘Kahlua Ladies’.
Calgary produced the first B-52 in 1977. It is layered in a chilled shot glass starting with Kahlua, then with Bailey’s, and last, Grand Marnier (or another orange flavoured liqueur).
Peter Fich, a head bartender at Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta first invented it. The drink was, of course, named after the music band, The B-52’s. He apparently named many drinks after celebrities, music bands or songs.
One of the first customers for this shooter owned restaurants in various cities in Alberta and liked the drink so much that he put it on the menu. Which is why it is believed to originate at the Keg Steakhouse in Calgary. We can just be proud it’s Canadian!
Layering these shooters is not easy. Have a few taste testers on hand so you don’t have to down them all!
How I love thee, kahlua, let me count the ways…..cocktails, shots, coffees, desserts, such as cakes, pies, cookies and a banana bread. See below for instructions.
Black Russians, invented in 1949, are made with kahlua and vodka. White Russians are the same but with milk. The Black Russian is labelled as the most popular cocktail using kahlua.
What’s your favorite?
Mudslides are equal parts Kahlua, Baileys and Vodka, 1/2 oz. each, with 1 oz. of milk.
Espresso Martini’s are mixed with 1 part Kahlua, 2 parts Vodka and 1 part espresso. Shake with ice and strain into a martini glass
Mexican Coffee is made up of 1/2 oz. kahlua, 1/2 oz. tequila and 1 cup of strong, hot coffee, topped with a scoop of melted vanilla ice cream.
Even add it to your Hot Chocolate. MMMMocha!
Add kahlua to desserts, cookies, pies, almost anything with chocolate. An example is the Banana Bread with chocolate and kahlua (below).
The distillation process can be witnessed at Kinsip House in Bloomfield, Ontario which is in the beautiful Prince Edward County. They have tours year round and it is best to pre-book, especially in the winter months.
Call them at 613-393-1890 if you’re interested in learning this process. It’s best to have a group of 6 people but will do them for less. The cost is $5.00 per person. Personally, I would take the special tours with tastings. For $10.00, you get the tour plus tastings of 3 different types of spirits of your choice or, for $15.00, you get the tour and all 11 types of spirits.
Not So Local
At this time, tours are not possible at the Kahlua Company. However, tours of coffee plantations in Coatepec, Veracruz are available. Non-direct flights to Veracruz start about $600.00 round trip and last approximately 10 hours, longer if there are more stops. Fly to Mexico City and it will likely be cheaper and in about 8 hours. If you want to rent a car, it will take about 4 hours to reach Coatepec and 5 to reach the coast of Veracruz. Price to rent a car is $45.00 and up or a week. Here are a few ideas of what to do there.
My own attempt at making kahlua turned out decent despite the lighter color.
Boil 1/2 cup water and 3/4 sugar (I used brown sugar). Add 1/2 cup corn syrup. Remove from heat. Add 1 tablespoon coffee.
Instant grains will remove the step of straining it later. I used ground coffee which will leave sediment at the bottom. Notice the grit.
Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla then 1 cup of rum. Odd but some recipes I found used vodka. I doubled the ingredients and it yielded a full 24 oz bottle with a couple of ounces left over.
Since I knew I would have to filter this, I popped in a couple cinnamon sticks. In a week, I’ll let you know it turns out.
I would recommend using homemade kahlua for baking the desserts. The recipe for the banana bread used almost 2 cups which gets expensive. A 750 ml bottle from LCBO costs $28.95. To refill this bottle with the homemade (doubled) batch, it cost me a total of $17.00.
To make the banana bread, I followed this link. I made a few changes because of my food limitations. Such as using brown rice flour instead of cake flour.
#2 – Press Play (or skip the ad, if pops up first)
#3 – Turn up the Volume. Now you’re ready. You’ll understand why……
Hot on the heels of National Drink Wine Day comes my second favorite drink…The Margarita. Literal translation of margarita is the daisy flower. Early in the 20th century, the Tequila Daisy cocktail contained a spirit, citrus juice, a sweetener or liqueur and a fizzy drink. Did they reverse The Daisy into it’s literal translation?
Finding who invented it is the challenge. A popular story is of Carlos Herrera, the owner of, Rancho La Gloria, a restaurant located between Tijuana and Rosarito, Mexico, who created the drink, in 1938. A customer, former Ziegfeld dancer named Marjorie King, requested a drink but knew she was allergic to many types of spirits but not to tequila. He used the same ingredients previously used for doing tequila shooters. Lime and salt.
However, the Cafe Royal Cocktail Book, published in 1937, contains a drink called the Picador. The list of ingredients is tequila, cointreau and lime juice. Perhaps Carlos Herrera knew of the drink but changed the name on the spot for her.
Don Pedro Sanchez de Tagle, the Marquis of Altamira was the first to mass produce tequila in a region that is now called Jalisco.
Don Jose Maria Guadalupe de Cuervo was the first person to receive a documented license, in 1795, to produce tequila.
Typically, the people of Mexico do not drink Margaritas so is it an American influence?
Another possible inventor might have been Danny Negrete. He is credited with producing the drink for his sister in law, Margarita, as a wedding present at the Garci Crespo Hotel in 1936. He later worked at the Agua Caliente Race Track where a famous actress whose real name is Margarita (read further for her identity) performed in her teen years in the early 1930’s. He may have named it for her.
Some establishments are now adding agave nectar, a sweet and syrupy liquid which does have to be watered down. Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco boasts 400 varieties of tequila and uses the nectar in their Margaritas. Julio Bermejo is the first person to use an organic version of the nectar. The tiny bar in the middle of nowhere has become renowned across the world thanks to him. The nectar has one of the lowest glycemic indexes of any sweetener which is a healthier option for diabetics. They use freshly squeezed lime juice – no sour mix in a bottle in this bar! It’s a great year to go as they celebrate their 50th year.
I couldn’t be happier with the number of Mexican restaurants on the rise in Ottawa. Burrito Gringo type places are popping up all over the city. I thought there weren’t any authentic Mexican restaurants here, however, with a bit of footwork, I discovered a few of these establishments have been here for many years.
The first day of my research took me to Taqueria Kukulkan, at 1730 Montreal Road, which has been open for about 3 years. It’s humble in appearance. You expect a fast food experience at first sight by the size of it. When you see the tables set with wine glasses, napkins with cutlery and a foil-wrapped heart shaped chocolate on top, you know you’ve misjudged.
The quality of staff, food tableware and cleanliness will blow you away. And they’re licensed! Their liquor cabinet houses mostly tequila of many brands. One of the most amazing aspects, in my opinion, is the fact that the chefs are preparing and cooking your food literally in the same room as the clientele but you wouldn’t even know it. They work quietly, attentively and in sync with each other. You can hear the mariachi music playing in the background.
I fell in love with the place with it’s Mexican colors, flags, paintings, engravings that differ from table to table, and I hadn’t even received my food yet!
Well, I am partial to Spanish style and that love blossomed with every trip I made to Mexico and California where I was very fortunate to vacation over the years since childhood. In restaurants in Mexico, you are served complimentary guacamole with corn chips, while here, in North America, many places offer you bread and butter. Need I say more?
As a kid, the moment the guacamole dish hit the table, I dove in. Kukulkan didn’t disappoint with it’s heaping serving and home made corn chips. I highly recommend giving this place a try for it’s homey feel and deliciously authentic meals. You will find me here today since, by coincidence, it is Margarita Wednesday, a weekly event.
Ottawa needs more authentic Mexican restaurants, not necessarily those Tex-Mex places, which are great, too, but I’ll take getting swept away to Mexico any day.
My love for mariachi music has spanned most of my life so I had hoped to find a Mexican restaurant that showcased a live Mariachi Band once in awhile. Enjoying dinner with trumpets, acoustic guitars and a whistler, you can’t go wrong! In Mexico, a band of 3 or 4 musicians weave their way among the patrons and play for your table. It’s festive and lifts your spirits. If you’ve had the YouTube music link, I supplied, playing, maybe you agree? After visiting 5 Mexican establishments, I had yet to find a live mariachi band. My 6th option finally brought me positive results.
The most famous Margarita I know of is Rita Hayworth (1918-1987) whose real name is Margarita Carmen Cansino.
Had enough of the mariachi music? Switch to the song, Margarita, or the classic Jimmy Buffet but please, do continue.
Oddly enough, Rita Hayworth leads us to the movie, the Shawshank Redemption so I had to find out why. The film is based on Stephen King’s novella, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, which is in print in the short story collection of 1982’s Different Seasons. The novella is far from being about Miss Hayworth. In the movie’s production stages, they dropped the Rita Hayworth since so many actresses submitted their resumes, thinking it was a biography of the actress/dancer. An agent, representing an unnamed supermodel, even called to say it was the best script he’d read and that the part (which was non-existent) would be perfect for the supermodel. Someone didn’t do their homework.
The first great great grandchild of Queen Victoria is Princess Margarita of Greece and Denmark.
And, there is the pizza, Margherita, with the simplest of ingredients: your favorite pizza/tomato sauce, basil and cheese. A couple of years ago, I had this type of pizza for the first time in the Niagara-On-The-Lake region. An absolutely delicious but simple pizza with bocconcini cheese balls sliced and scattered over the pizza.
Feleena’s Cantina, at 742 Bank St., is in the heart of the Glebe, which is close enough to catch a football game or while shopping. They receive many patrons daily. Not just for it’s convenience but for it’s truly authentic dishes, decor and tasty Margarita’s. Their trusted recipe has been the same for the last 25 years, using Triple Sec and have been operating in this location for the last 38 years. They have many types of tequila and you can choose any of these to add to your Margarita. The cost is $10.95 and is a generous serving. Please ask the server. The experienced staff is very accommodating especially when requesting off menu items. I was in the mood for chips and dipping but did not find a similar variety plate, except for chips and guacamole. She offered to bring that order with 4 additional dips. The chips are made fresh daily on site.
The colors are true to tradition and the owner paints the chairs, walls and doors. It’s easy to spend 20 minutes browsing the restaurant to see all of the original artwork. In the menu, there’s a full welcome page with the owner’s origins.
Pancho Villa, in the hub of the Elgin Street pubs, houses so many varieties of tequila, there’s a separate menu of 65 types, most are 100% agave. Enjoy their smoothness straight up on ice for optimum flavour. Their Margarita is $12.95 for the 3 ounce option and $8.50 for the 1 1/4 ounces. It has been operating on Elgin since 1984.
I had the opportunity to speak with the owner’s wife and learned a great deal. The statues on display throughout the restaurant originate from the markets in Mexico but the creator is unknown . There are over 200 types of tequila. More on this when it is National Tequila Day. To keep the dishes true to the heritage, they have an 80 year old gentleman, from Peru, work with the kitchen staff on a regular basis.
If you are planning to learn Spanish, they also offer language courses on site.
Still looking for that Mariachi band…..
The subdued but classy decor at Agave Grill, in Westboro, is not a reflection of less quality. The favorite here is the Margarita, with it’s special blend, similar to the one made at Tommy’s in San Francisco. The popular fajitas are half price on Mondays. They have been on the map for 14 years and know, by opening their doors on a holiday Monday, they will bring in many customers looking for good food and rich ambiance. Oh, and try the Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Soup!
The Ahora Mexicaine Cuisine, in the Ottawa Market, had a unique approach. They didn’t lack on colors and hand painted murals but the method of service differed. You are taken to your table where you decide on your order then approach the cash to place your order and pay. There is a free, self serve salsa bar and water decanter with lime wedges to pour your own water. The waitresses aren’t lazy. They are hustling everywhere, greeting customers, serving Margaritas (which are $7.95), removing plates, cleaning tables and answering customer questions. Their workload would be too great if they took orders as well. It’s a clever method and it works very well.
Now, for the best of all. Without looking at reviews, I can tell you Taqueria La Bonita, on Ogilvie Road between the Aviation Parkway and the Gloucester Centre, will be a hotspot in Ottawa this summer. They bring in Mariachi Bands! I asked the waitress about their Margarita’s and she said they are cool. So I ordered a glass of cool and the most amazing, most beautifully decorated drink was placed before me. Pineapple and watermelon and strawberry, oh my! You have to go! They are open 2 years now and for a Tuesday, they were full! I would recommend making a reservation for groups larger than 4. The Enchiladas Verdes proved to be scrumptious! The owners are a wife and husband team. She is from Mexico and her portraits (see below) decorate the walls. The many other pieces throughout the restaurant are all from Mexico. Enjoy the Spanish music as you take your time to browse the unique wooden menu with rustic hinges, also made in Mexico. It describes each dish and where is originates.
If I visit there once a month, it will take me about a year and a half to conquer each dish. Did I mention, you must go there?
With 2 of the newest Mexican restaurants, that you can definitely rave about, located in the east end, I think it should be renamed “Little Mexico!” Think it will catch on?
In July, I will bring you all the dirt on tequila. I hope you can join me!
#4 Now get out there and have yourself a Margarita! Salud!
“Please Drink Responsibly.”
As the man on the left says, “Por Favor Beber Responsablemente.”
I thought it would never get here! Thankfully, there are over 14 national days of the year associated with wine so it shouldn’t be too long before the next one.
First of all, thank you for taking the time to come back. Now, let’s get to it, I’m too excited to hold back and there’s so much ground to cover.
There won’t be too much about this flavour of grape or white vs red vs rose. Anyone who knows me, knows I gravitate to the unusual and unconventional so that’s where I’ll go with this.
Working from the outside in, take the wine bottle itself. Why are some of them green?
To protect the contents from light which can damage the wine. If it wasn’t stored in a cellar, it could be exposed to harmful lighting. Previous to the invention of the dark wine bottles in the 1600’s, goat skin bags were used. Darker green bottles are used for red wines and lighter green bottles are used for whites.
Now for the indentation at the bottom of your bottle, called the Punt. Glassblowers form the glass this way so it will stand up straight. Not like us once we drink the contents of one! The depth of the punt does not indicate a good quality wine or cheap wine. It varies on the desires of the producer.
Ah the Cork. I have a box full of these little babies. Sadly, we take them for granted. We tend to smell the cork, after opening, but why? And why should we?
Check it for cracks, dryness, breaks or mold. If it smells musty, like wet cardboard, toss it. Yes, the wine, too.
On the other hand, it can be used as a fabric dye or as a fruit fly trap. Removing a red wine stain with white wine seems a tad wasteful to wine lovers but if you’re going to toss it, use it as a cleaner, too.
Below are 2 different videos, one short and one a little more in depth. In a rush? Click the first video which is 2 1/2 minutes. It shows how cork is harvested from trees in Portugal in huge pieces.
Both are very interesting and well worth the few minutes. It depends on how much time you have on your hands right now.
Where did it all begin?
The origins date further back than what is currently documented. However, this might give you an idea as to how ancient wine is:
Georgia, in The Caucasus region, mountains that span from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea with Russia to the north – as far back as 6000 BC!
Armenia – just south of Georgia – 4100 BC – where the oldest winery to date was discovered.
Myth or Truth? This story is from 7000 BC in Persia: A young princess, despaired over her rejection by the King, decided to commit suicide by drinking the spoiled residue left by rotting grapes. After experiencing the effects of intoxication, she passed out. The next day, she realized life was worth living and reported her discovery to the King who rewarded her find.
In Iran – 5000 BC – Pottery vessels found at excavation sites in the Zagros Mountains in Iran, dates back to 3100-2900 BC. Studies determined them to contain tartaric acid which would indicate the presence of wine. How ironic that there is a city, in Iran, called Shiraz! It is formerly the capital of Iran.
The World’s Oldest Wine Bottle dates to AD 325 which was found inside one of two sarcophaguses near Speyer, Germany. It is now displayed at Historiches Museum der Pfalz.
In Greece – 4500 BC
Of course, as a wine lover, I have to mention Dionysus, the Greek God of Wine, Fertility of the land, and Ecstasy, pictured above, in the gardens of Versailles, France. Ah, to have wandered the earth, spreading the love of wine and sharing the art of viticulture as he did…..
Henry Carter discovered his tomb in 1922 in the Valley of Kings. Various pitchers located in King Tut’s tomb are now known to be wine decanters. They had been labelled with Year 5 and the name of the vintner, Khaa. Tutankhamun, born in 1341 B.C, had reigned from 1332 B.C. to 1323 B.C., and died at the age of 19. Some say he died of gangrine.
Also in King Tut’s tomb, residue found in other jars previously indicated a drink, called Shedeh, made from pomegranates. Recent methods discovered by scientists suggest this residue is from red wine made from grapes, not pomegranates.
All contents of his tomb are on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. It is currently under construction so maybe wait awhile if you plan to go.
Oldest wineries, still producing wine:
Chateau de Goulaine, The Loire, France, since the year 1000 – Believed to be the oldest known wine business still in existence, today it produces a Muscadet, Sancerre and Vouvray.
Schloss Johanisberg, Germany, circa 1100 – bombed in 1942 but now restored by Princess Tatiana and her husband, Paul Alfons Fürst von Metternich.
Schloss Vollrads, Rheingau, Germany, established in 1211. Best known for Riesling. The winery and castle are open to the public.
Barone Ricasoli, Tuscany, the oldest winery in Italy, 1411. Best known for Chianti. Not in Italy? Get the flavour of Tuscany at your local LCBO.
Boschendal Winery, Franschhoek, South Africa began in 1688.
Rustenberg, Stellenbosch, South Africa, established in 1682.
With this new knowledge, I know I’ll be taking tours of at least one of these wineries the next time I get to Europe.
Also, worth mentioning are the castles, among all these vineyards, transformed into hotels along the Rhine River in Germany. The website pictures of Shoenburg are breathtaking…..just for fun, have a look! To get a feel for the surroundings, go into the rooms section. My favorites are Turmzimmer (Tower Room) No.22 and No.23. There are other castle hotels, at a lesser cost, here and all over Europe, but Schoenburg has amazing appeal and charm.
If you’re vacationing in northern Mexico this winter, visit Casa Madera, the oldest winery in the Americas. It is situated in Parras de la Fuente which was established in 1568 in the state of Coahuila, in northern Mexico.
Or, in August, plan a trip to Parras for it’s annual Grape Fair. Casa Madera is not the only winery in this area. Hint, hint: Wine Tours.
Codorniu, Spain, 1551 – “the Codorníu cellars at Sant Sadurní d’Anoia were declared “a National Monument of Historical and Artistic Interest” by King Juan Carlos I”.
If you’re suffering a good old Canadian winter like me, our options:
Make your own, there’s a wealth of wine-making shops across the city. I’ve been privileged to be offered a few different ones over the years and J & J Wines, on Walkley Road, in Ottawa, has great tasting red wine, in my opinion, and a good reputation.
Book your own wine tour in Ontario. Choose from Lake Erie, Prince Edward County, and Niagara On The Lake. Use the route planner to choose the wineries you wish to visit plus your accommodation destination and they map it out for you.
The Largest Wine Vat, of its time, sits in the Heidelberg Castle in Germany. Built in 1751, it holds 221,726 litres but is rarely used for wine. It stands approximately 6 metres high and 8 1/2 metres wide. Green people, please skip this next sentence. It is said 130 oak trees were used for it’s construction. A dance floor was built over top of it. When Napoleon’s army invaded, the soldiers thought it was full of wine. Their hatchet marks are still visible on the bottom section. If the angle of my shot had been from the front, you would see them better. If I spoke or read German, I would also have known what to photograph when I was there. Such as this little guy. It seemed picture worthy but I really didn’t realize his importance. Perkeo, the Eternal Keeper of the Tun, was once a court jester and master of the castle’s spirit production. The only liquid he poured down his throat was apparently wine until the age of 80 when his doctor advised him to stop. When he did and tried water, he died. Google the Heidelberg Tun to see more. Being the most famous castle in Germany, the massive ruins attract millions of tourists per year. The only way to access the castle is through a guided tour, done in German and in English and run all year. Specialized tours and events run regularly. Today, if you’re in Heidelberg, take part in Life At Court. The whole family can dress up in costume.
Note: The Tun was the largest in the world until 1934 when a larger barrel was built in Bad Durkheim, Germany which sits at 13.5 metres in diameter. It is located on the edge of the German Wine Route. Go figure.
There is another barrel, recently built in Languedoc, France, that outsizes both of these but, in my opinion, lacks the Old World charm. The owner claims it will never be filled but may be used for special events and perhaps a shop.
Onto Other Parts of the World
The custom of bumping glasses is an Ancient Roman greeting. The wine would spill from one glass into the other. It seems this method assured no one is trying to poison the other. In my opinion, if your wine glass is clean and it’s “bumped” by a medieval knight, I’m not drinking it anymore.
The first recorded toast in England took place in 450 CE, at a feast given in honor of British King Vortigern by Hengist, the leader of his Saxon allies.
Offer your glass up and, literally, a piece of spiced, charred or stale toast would be dropped into your wine. Apparently, it soaks up some of the acidity and it made the wine taste better. It could be an h’or d’oeuvre since they were not in the habit of wasting food.
In Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, he mentions putting toast into spiced wine.
A Toast, To Your Health!
In those times, The Host would have to drink first to prove the wine he served was not poisoned. Thus, drinking to your health!
Wine as Income
Churches and Monasteries earned income from wine but did you know hospitals and universities did as well?
The most famous Hotel-Dieu in Beaune, in France, is a hospital, museum and a vineyard. Built by Nicholas Rolin, in 1443, it was intended for the poor and disadvantaged after living through the 100 Years War. Also on the estate grounds is a 60 hectare vineyard. It’s world famous wine auction takes place every third November of each year. There’s lots of time to book your tickets for the festival this year! The proceeds from sales are used to improve hospital equipment and maintaining the Hotel.
Regarding Monasteries, there’s a cool story about Champagne coming up later in the year.
During Prohibition years, concentrate manufacturers put warning stickers on their product:
After you mix the concentrate with water, please do not keep the mix in a barrel longer than 20 days-it will turn into wine.
If wine has a low sugar content, it will be a dry, or very dry wine. Labels at the LCBO display the sugar content so you can determine it’s dryness. For example 4g will be dry and 14 will be much sweeter.
An individual who is afraid of wine has oenophobia.
Oenology is the study and science of wine and wine-making. Algonquin College and Brock University offer this course.
Sulphites do not cause headaches. They can, however, cause asthma symptoms. You may want to consider natural/organic wines as they have a lower sulphite content. To avoid a vino headache, stay away from the sweeter wines. The sugar depletes the liquid in your head which causes your headache.
Only the men of Ancient Rome were allowed to drink wine. If they caught their wife partaking, he was allowed to kill her.
For those vampiric types, order a Cobra Wine in Vietnam. They will serve you rice wine topped with the blood from a freshly killed cobra.
Germans invented Eiswein (sound familiar?), wine made from frozen grapes.
Doc Hendley founded the company Wine to Water, an organization that uses wine tastings to improve the quality of water in under developed countries. What an inspirational story, check it out sometime.
Wine instead of gas? Prince Charles converted his vintage Aston Martin to run on surplus English wine. He cut carbon emissions by 25%!
How Healthy Is Wine?
One ounce of red wine contains:
2% potassium – for heart health ; smooth muscle contractions, digestion.
2% iron – helps to carry oxygen to your lungs
5% vitamin B-6 – brain, cardiovascular, digestive and muscular health
2% magnesium – nerve transmission, muscle contraction, blood coagulation, energy production, nutrient metabolism, and bone and cell formation.
Hmm, not bad, there’s more….
Some doctors believe one glass of red wine per day can lower the risk of alzheimer’s disease, cancer and diabetes, and you’ll look better.
Wine drinkers (1-2 4oz glasses per day) have a 34 percent lower mortality rate than beer or spirits drinkers. Taken from a Finnish study of 2,468 men over a 29-year period, published in the Journals of Gerontology, 2007.
Red-wine tannins contain procyanidins, which protect against heart disease. Taken from a study at Queen Mary University in London, published in Nature, 2006.
WebMD states the reservatrol in wine is great for anti-aging!
1 tablespoon red wine (reservatrol, see below)
1 tablespoon honey (reduces blemishes and redness)
1 tablespoon greek yoghurt (for the probiotics)
Pour a glass of wine. Mix the 4 ingredients in a bowl. Spread on face and neck using a cotton ball. Enjoy your glass of wine for 15 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water. Apply your usual face cream.
I would love to hear if anyone tried this and what your results were! As an eczema sufferer, I was very excited to try it. It seemed a little watery but actually stuck to my face, no problem, only a couple of drips. Keep a towel handy (preferably a wine colored one!). It tingled my skin and smelled delicious. Yes, I licked the spoon. You probably will. too. Soon I could feel it tightening. After rinsing and applying moisturizer, my skin was so soft! There may not be a noticeable difference after one application but after a month, who knows?Pictures are below because I don’t want to scare anyone off by having them right here. Beware, glamour pictures they are not!
European wines are named for their region, such as Bordeaux, France or Sancerre, which is also in France. Even though they use the same grapes as Americans might use. They don’t put the name of their grape on the bottle either.
Whereas, non-European wines are named for their grape variety, such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon.
Red vs White
Ok, I lied. Let me make one comparison.
Darker shades of reds and yellowish white wines come from warm climates and have a lush body to it. Lighter colors are from cooler climates and will taste lighter.
Why is red wine known to be heart healthier than white? The grape skins are rich in antioxidants. Red wine is fermented with the skin. White is fermented without the skin. A few studies I looked at are actually showing an increased risk of contracting cancer, especially of the digestive tract. This is if you are indulging in more than 2 glasses per day.
All the more reason to come to the dark side………
Since I’m on the topic of antioxidants, I learned something new. You’re probably way ahead of me on this. Polyphenal and Reservatrol, the antioxidants found in the grape seeds, prevent oxidization. Oxidization (the loss of electrons) occurs when an element, that loses electrons more easily (an apple, for example), is exposed to another element, that is reluctant to lose electrons (oxygen is one of these).When the insides of the apple are exposed to the air, it turns brown almost instantly. An antioxidant will slow this process. Oxidization can cause cell damage, even death.
Therefore, to help your wine last longer, transfer it into a smaller bottle and re-cork it. You’ve now eliminated that damaging oxygen in your bottle. For those who don’t polish off a bottle in one sitting.
Women get drunk faster than men because of their water to fat ratio, even if they are of the same weight and size. Sorry, ladies, it seems we have a higher fat content; men have more blood and water volume. Fat does not absorb alcohol so it spreads, in it’s highly concentrated form, throughout our body resulting in a higher blood alcohol concentration. It’s not all about the fat! Apparently, we have lower amounts of dehydrogenase, an enzyme in the lining of our stomach, men have more of this to help break down alcohol.
Just For Fun….
What do you call someone who talks about the wine he or she will open but never does?
The answer is hidden in the “tags” section. Unless you’d rather cheat and google it.
If you made it this far, I’m flattered. Thank you for taking part! See you soon…..
If curiosity got the better of you, you’ve landed on Travel By The Glass. It’s fun, informative and will take you to quaint, off-the-beaten-path places. On your next vacation, add a little spice to your trip with interesting detours to your travel itinerary. Mingle with the locals. Discover a whole new world while you’re globetrotting.
In the months to come, this website will showcase unique, maybe even unheard of, places. The country of choice will depend on what is the national “drink” of the day. I’ll even attempt to make the drink, too! (Scroll further or use the Facebook link in sidebar.)
Who Concocted the First Irish Coffee?
To celebrate National Irish Coffee Day, we discover the origins of this scrumptious drink all the way to, of course, Ireland.
Foynes to be exact, a small village near Limerick. It’s considered a fairly new town, being less than two centuries old. The Foyne’s Air Base, in affiliation with Shannon Airport, handled many passengers, including political VIP’s and celebrities, on their Flying Boats to and from Canada and the United States.
In 1942, a flight bound for North America had to return to Foynes due to extreme winter weather which was not an uncommon occurrence. The restaurant, located at the Foynes terminal, had just acquired a new manager, Joe Sheridan. Faced with these chilled, travel-weary passengers, Joe created a special drink. As the story goes, a hush fell as they tasted it for the first time. It became the main staple included on Joe’s menu for travelers in Foynes.
Travel writer, Stanton Delaplane brought the recipe back to America to Jack Koeppler, a bartender at the Buena Vista Hotel in San Francisco. Their early attempts to recreate the brew saw the cream sinking to the bottom of the glass. Jack traveled to Foynes to catch up with Joe to learn the proper method. He eventually found him at Shannon International Airport.
In 1952, Buena Vista Hotel offered Joe a position. Joe’s popular story is commemorated in the Foynes Flying Boat Museum.
Today, the Buena Vista proudly makes 2,000 Irish Coffees daily.
I would love to see your picture posted having an Irish Coffee! A follow up post will feature your photos.
Flying through San Francisco on February 25? Stop in for a brew at the newest location of the Sheridan at the San Francisco airport. The original is at the Buena Vista in the fisherman’s wharf area in San Francisco where it’s made to classic perfection. This is on my agenda next trip to Cali!
View the events from 2016 Foyne’s Flying Boat and Museum and to plan your visit for 2017. Be sure to watch the 10 minute video for a taste of what’s in store – the music finishes about the 3 minute mark then gets into the commentary.
For a more adult geared excursion, download the free app for Ireland’s Whiskey Trail available at Google Play Store. The tour guides you to Ireland’s distilleries, the best whiskey pubs and shops.
The Irish Based Flight Company, Ryanair has some exciting offers for it’s passengers:
If you’re in Ireland this time of year, re-live the past at the Sheridan Food Pub, named after you-know-who.
A wealth of Irish pubs are in the Ottawa Market and downtown area. All priced the specialty coffees around $6.95. I visited a few, including the following:
The Aulde Dubliner makes 2 versions of Irish Coffee. Barman Luc made the Bushmill’s Irish Coffee with flair and so generously gave his attention to all of my questions. Ask about the new drink menu geared for Winterlude. If the Carrot Parsnip soup is on tap, I strongly urge you to have one, it’s out of this world! Kudos to Chef Dave Rosa.
The Irish Village consists of 4 pubs meandering from the front of the Heart and crown to Mother McGinty’s at the back. The specialty coffee selection is the same as the Aulde Dubliner so I if you’re in the market tonight, you’ll find one, no problem.
Patty Boland’s, in the market, hosts great music almost every night of the week so check out the dj tonight for some mid-week dancing. I consider myself somewhat of a poutine connoisseur and theirs is definitely a 10!
The newly opened Starbucks on York Street sadly is not yet equipped to make today’s national drink; they do serve beer and wine. If we all request a specialty coffee, they may come around!
Lunergan’s Pub in Ottawa East, made a lovely Irish Coffee with Kahlua. Yum. Ask for the Irish stew either today or on St Paddy’s Day, they make it fresh on site.
Connor’s Gaelic Pub, on Bank Street, provided me refuge on a freezing rain evening. They offered a good variety of coffees but I opted for a soup for some reason. Was I missing that carrot parsnip soup? For a pea soup non-lover, it was quite good! Served in a giant bowl, it seemed quite thin which I discovered is the correct way.
Quinn’s Ale House, in the Glebe, has a lively, intimate atmosphere. The lovely Alli informed me they don’t make Irish Coffees but I could slip across the street, purchase a fresh brew and bring it back for a shot of rye. Voila, makeshift Irish Coffee!
Celtic Cross, two blocks away, is back on Elgin Street! The week kicks off Wednesdays for Open Mike so drop in for your specialty coffee tonight and catch the entertainment. Into Trivia? Every week, they host a trivia night and music Fridays and Saturdays. Each Sunday, they present a different movie, unless there’s a big game on. Planning your own event? Inquire within. The cool picture of the cross and Irish flag I give credit to Dave, the bartender with the most awesome hairstyle! Without his help, I wouldn’t have achieved that angle.
Woody’s on Elgin has a beautiful fireplace tucked away at the back surrounded with 4 comfy chairs. A great place to enjoy an Irish Brew.
Wherever you are, find your local Irish pub, preferably one with a fireplace to cozy up to, for a tasty, hot drink on this cold winter day. Distracted by delicious soups (Hey, if it fits in a glass, I’ll include it!), I still managed to visit 10 Irish pubs and feel I accomplished my goal.
If you enjoyed this bit of information, at least found it interesting and know someone who has a passion for airplanes or coffee, Irish style, share this piece with them.
I invite your feedback to help grow this site. Feel free to make requests. I’ll dig and research the hell out of anything (I live for this!) to bring to future posts. All suggestions welcome.
Most of all, please return for the next National Drink Day! Stay Tuned!
Respect Your Brothers and Sisters… Please Drink Responsibly