National Pinot Noir Day

Pinot Noir is French for pine and black. Pine because the clusters of grapes resemble pine cones. Black due to the dark colored grapes which tend to produce a lighter colored, medium bodied wine.

If you are looking to lower your tannin intake when enjoying your wine, Pinot Noir is a good option. The grapes, Vitis Vinafera, contain lower phenolic compounds.

Pinot Noir originates, but is not limited to, the Burgundy region of France, namely in Cote-d’Or. It grows very successfully all over the world and does well in cooler climates.

Funky Purple Closson Chase

Even in Canada. Locally, visit Prince Edward County and you will most likely find a Pinot Noir grown and bottled right there.

Closson Chase headquarters is an interesting purple barn with a neat backyard area, right beside their vines. Grab a patio table and linger over your selected wine samples.

Huff Estates, which is also a hotel, did not offer something quite so comfortable for tastings. It was extremely busy, being a Saturday, so the servers were very rushed and could not afford too much time for explanations. Nor do they offer organic wines.

They do offer live music on the patio every Sunday afternoon from May to September.

View of vines from our table in the backyard of Closson Chase

The rustic style of The Grange proved to be very inviting. The taste of their wines, a riesling, a rose and a gamay pinot, were surprisingly excellent.

I tend to shy away from Ontario wines at my local shop. Perhaps, they deserve a little more attention because these Pinot’s caught my attention.

At Naggiar Vineyards, the grapes are hand-picked at night because the bugs and the heat make it very uncomfortable. Since their humble beginnings in Grass Valley, CA in 1998, they now produce 5600 cases of wine annually.

The list could go on forever with so much Pinot Noir made all over the world. The organic section of wine stores is growing quite rapidly, too.

Organic is a vague term and used in many different ways with regards to wine-making.

If a vineyard’s grapes go through 3 consecutive years of growing without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, it can be labelled as organic.

Parts Per Million Debate

A wine can be labelled organic even if it is 90% organically grown as long as the sulphite levels are low enough. It might be a good  thing a little sulphite is present for its antioxidant properties. Without it, the wine will spoil sooner than later.

Spanish Tempranillo is a low acid wine

Organically-grown grapes aren’t necessarily labelled as organic if the sulphite level exceeds 200 PPM. Sulphites are naturally present in fruit, especially grape skins, but could also be added during wine processing.

Every country is different. Some do not require labels and others do. The United States requires companies to add sulphites to their labels if the its level is higher than 10 PPM. This regulation came into being since sulphur has become a great health concern.

Generally, a wine without added sulphites, au naturel, will range from 10 – 40 PPM. If they are added during processing, the level can reach as high as 350 PPM. Sorry but you can’t avoid them completely, all wines have some degree of it.

Wine is not the only drink where you will find sulphites. The same amount, approximately 300 PPM, is in soda, and fruit juice contains more than either of these.

If you know you are sensitive to sulphites, and really can’t stand the idea of not having a glass with dinner, consider eliminating processed foods instead. French fries contain almost 2,000 PPM and dried fruit tops the chart with a whopping 3,500 PPM.

That glass of dry red with 50 PPM doesn’t seem so threatening, now, does it?

Are Sulphites Necessary?

To prevent spoiling, then yes. Low acidity wines require more sulphur than wines with higher acidity. Oddly, white wines contain more sulphur than reds.

Wines with higher sugar content, which tend to be whites, have more sulfur to prevent secondary fermentation of the remaining sugar.

Examples of low acid wines:

Gewurztraminer

Chardonnay

Viognier

Cabernet Sauvignon

Merlot

Dolcetto

Grenache

Wines with higher acid levels:

Riesling

Chenin Blanc

Pinot Noir

Zinfandel

Cabernet Franc

Tempranillo

Barbera

Nebbiolo

Sangiovese

Is Organic a Stigma?

Some vineyard owners believe it is. They believe people may see it as poorer quality so they will opt to leave that information out of their label.

For example, according to Good Housekeeping Magazine, Domaine Carneros Pinot Noir is organic but the label lacks this information.

Chilean Cono Sur‘s organic Pinot Noir promises low tannins without sparing rich texture. Located at the foot of the Andes Mountains in Chile, Cono Sur uses stainless steel tanks to hold their wine before transferring to oak barrels. They built an additional cellar to house the 530,000 litres of top pinot noir.

In the 1950’s, French enologist Emile Peynaud suggested using stainless steel barrels when he learned dairy farms avoided transferring bacteria in their stainless tanks. He thought, why not with wine. Wood holds onto bacteria, possibly infecting new batches, and resists any attempts at sterilization. Stainless is easy to clean and sterilize.

However, just because wine is aging in stainless, does not mean it is without oak. Some wineries might use oak chips of planks suspended inside the barrels.

Domaine Jean Bousquet, an Argentinian vineyard, makes a delicious organic wine. As far as organic versions, they make a white blend with lemon and apple, a Malbec and a Cabernet Sauvignon. I’ve bought these reds numerous times and can rely on their smooth, flavourful taste.

On The Wine Trail in Prince Edward County, Ontario

If your local wine shop does not have a separate section for organic beverages, ask for help.

Or throw caution to the wind and choose any wine you desire.

But do find a way to enjoy your glass of Pinot Noir today. Cheers!

 

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on April 18, 2017.

National Mint Julep Day!

The Mint Julep was a total mystery to me. The only ingredient I knew for sure….mint. And it’s not my favorite. Not a fan of mojitos either.

In light of my new appreciation for bourbon, I figure, why not give it a try. First, I would have to get my head around the word julep. It’s a negative word for me. I associate juleps with The Orange Julep my family went to in Montreal when I was a child. Everyone, except me, loved orange juice pulp and lots of it! All that pulp? Disgusting. Still is.

Now that I know the main ingredients of a Mint Julep, I can tackle where on earth to find these strange drinks.

Still Can’t Get Over It’s Beauty!

Ways to Enjoy a Mint Julep

As a dessert.

In a pitcher on a patio. If you’re lucky to find a Punch House to make it or make your own at home. See below.

Definitely at The Moonroom on Preston Street in Ottawa. They served it up in the traditional copper cup which kept it frosty beyond finishing it. To my surprise, no pulp, and I loved it’s fresh, crisp taste! So much that I had a second one.

Many places on this strip are closed on a Monday but The Moonroom rocks it until 2 am. A small  establishment with massive atmosphere and superb service. I’ll be going back.

No food menu here, it’s on the wall. Very cool and I didn’t need my glasses to read it!

How about at the Kentucky Derby? The Mint Julep is the state’s national drink. During the 2 day race, 120,000 juleps are sold at Churchill Downs.

The glasses became a souvenir glass in 1939 during the Kentucky Derby which began on May 17, 1875.

You can find out more at the Kentucky Derby Museum.

Pewter and copper mugs are making a comeback. HomeSense carries a nice variety.

The Fame of Kentucky

Not only is Kentucky home of bourbon, you’ll find many famous people related in some way or other to this state.

Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr, grandson of William Clark, leased the 80 acres used to hold The Kentucky Derby and named the track, Churchill Downs, for his uncles, John and Henry Churchill.

Perhaps not interesting to everyone, but it caught my attention since the story of Sacajewea, their Indian Guide, is my all time favorite book.

Things To Do In Louisville

Take a tour of the baseball bat factory at Louisville Slugger Museum.

Shop in the downtown district and if you’re there on the last Friday of the month, you can take advantage of the free trolley known as FAT Friday Trolley Hop. You’re shopping on the famous Frankfort Avenue overtime and you realize, oh no, our reservation for the distillery tour at Angel’s Envy starts in 10 minutes, hop on the trolley, do the tour then hop back on and finish the shopping!

Browse a four storey antique shop at 615 East Market Street. Joe Ley Antiques holds weird and wonderful oddities.

Zipline through the Underground Mines. Yes, zipline, see it to believe it!

After all this, you’ll be famished so head to the rooftop restaurant, 8UP, for dinner and a beautiful view of the city.

There is no shortage of cemeteries, if that’s your thing. Colonel Sanders and Harry Collin, of FritoLay fame are both buried at the Cave Hill Cemetery. And it you want REAL creepy, visit the abandoned Eastern Cemetery where bodies were buried upon bodies.

Not creepy enough, dare to explore Waverly Hills Sanatorium at 440 Paralee Lane, known to be the most haunted place in the world. You be the judge.

The Kentucky Derby has already passed, earlier this month but not all is lost. Plan your visit between September 11-17 this year to catch the Kentucky Bourbon Festival.

Since bourbon originates in Kentucky (more on this on Bourbon Day next month), choose from the many distilleries. If you’re downtown, visit Angel’s Envy. However, you do need a reservation. Keep in mind, they age their spirits in oak barrels, for those with a sensitivity or allergy.

Seeking The Stainless Barrel?

Sad news if you do enjoy bourbon, for it is not bourbon if it has not been aged in an oak barrel. So take a Benadryl to avoid your allergic reaction! Once bourbon is aged, though, it can be transferred to a stainless barrel for freshness.

News footage from 2015, name the ringleader in the theft of a stainless steel barrel full of bourbon. The story is not a 1920’s Prohibition story. It’s current! Wild Turkey Distillery and Buffalo Trace (both an hour from Louisville) suffered the loss (at the hands of it’s own employee!) so if you’re sympathetic, show your compassion and help them rebuild by visiting their distillery.

Or, pick up a bottle at your local liquor store, if you can’t be in Kentucky but would like to support their efforts to recover.

LCBO carries their brand:

Wild Turkey straight bourbon (aged once) is $32 per bottle. The Rare Breed is $60.

Buffalo Trace straight bourbon is $43 per bottle.

Also at LCBO is the new Jim Beam, Kentucky Straight Bourbon. I happened to pop in when they were offering tastings and wasn’t it delicious!

Out Of Fresh Mint?

If you’re like me and you don’t have a mint plant lazing about on your balcony, this makeshift Mint Julep isn’t too bad. An ounce and a half of bourbon, a dash of creme de menthe topped with Fresca and voila, a decent cocktail. The lime makes a difference too, so if you have one, squeeze in a quarter section and stir.

Make pitcher size by adjusting the amounts by, oh let’s say, a bottle of bourbon, 2 L of Fresca, a few limes and half a cup of mint liqueur. Just a guess. As I said, I would hold back on mint because I’m not a fan.

Bourbon is quickly becoming a new favorite. Until next time.

Happy Mint  Julep Day!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on May 30, 2017

 

The Long Awaited National Wine Day

Yet another day to celebrate wine. Why not? Everyday is a day to celebrate wine! I will try to encompass all wines here.

Not only is there the common red, white and rose wines but if you look a little deeper, you’ll find ice wine, fortified wine, sake (rice wine), Lille, sparkling and mulled wine (this has already been covered).

Of the common reds and whites, you probably know of a few types within each, probably your favorites.

A Wee Quiz

Can you figure out which is red and which is a white wine? Hint, there are a few pink ones in there, too.

Zinfandel                           Grenache                      Chardonnay

Pinot Grigio                       Madeire                        Gruner Veltliner

Riesling                               Pinot Noir                    Sauvignon blanc

Syrah                                   Burgundy                     Carmenere

Cabernet Sauvignon        Merlot                            Cabernet Franc

Gewürztraminer                Sparkling                      Port

Bordeaux                            Blaufrankisch              Malbec

Gamay                                 Barbera                        Chenin Blanc

Gewurztraminer               Merlot                          Petit Sirah

Moscato                              Nebbiolo                      Rioja

Shiraz                                 Sherry                           Rose

Sake                                    Marsala                        Chianti

Sancerre                            Tempranillo                 Semillon

Viognier                             Schiava (sorry, not found at LCBO)

Too easy?

Muscadelle                        Auxerrois

Romorantin                       Godello

Negrette                              Lagrein

Touriga Nacional

Agiorgitiko (don’t ask me to pronounce this please)

See Quiz Answers – I’ve made note of the wines with low tannins or acidity for those with sensitivities.

Wine Sensitivities

White wines tend to be higher in acid levels especially ones from Europe and Canada, cool climate regions.

Warm climates produce low acid wines such as California, Argentina and Australia.

Tannins

Ways to avoid tannins:

Wines aged in oak barrels will have tannins so find wines that are aged in stainless steel vats or clay pots. One example is Azienda Agricola found at our LCBO. Believe it or not, concrete is now being used as well. On the other hand, tannin can come from the seeds of the grapes as well.

Tannins leach from the grape skins and thick skinned grapes will create an even higher tannin level so look to purchase light bodied wines as they spend less time in contact with the skin during fermentation.

New Oak Barrels Are ‘Toasted’.

The inside is torched with fire to carmelize the oak and, if burnt long enough, will turn it to charcoal. The longer it sits in the barrels, the bolder and higher level of alcohol in the final product.

Gluten is also created when wine is placed in oak barrels to age. Until this point, it is gluten-free so again, stainless or clay are the way to go when it comes to sensitivities.

A wine with less than 12.5% is considered a light bodied wine.

Medium-bodied wines fall between 12.5% and 13.5%

Wines over 13.5% alcohol are considered full-bodied. Surprisingly, Chardonnay can be a full-bodied wine with a few brands at the 13.5% mark because they are aged in oak. Ususally, whites are not. Many of the California Chardonnays are full bodied at 13.5% but Chilean Bonterra at 13.6% was the highest content I found at LCBO.

When purchasing, check the labels or bookmark this handy chart I found displaying the lightest to the heaviest wine before heading to the store.

You can avoid red wines altogether (ugh) since whites and roses do not have much contact with the grape skins either.

If it is sulphites you want to avoid, stay away from whites.

Rose wines are made from red wine grapes and exposed to the skins for only a short time to acquire it’s pink color.

Sparkling wines are bubbly due to the second fermentation process.

Fortified wines are made from a still wine with alcohol added to it so that the alcohol percentage is raised to 17-20%.

Examples of fortified wines are the all-familiar port and sherry, which were very popular during our parents generation. Marsala and Madeira are also fortified wines.

Mulled wines are brilliant! Mix and match opened, older wines and simmer with your favorite spices for a delicious way to enjoy wine!

So many varieties, so little time in this 24-hour period but do your best and enjoy it the way that is meant for just you!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on May 25, 2017

 

 

World Whiskey – May 20

No disputing this fact: Whiskey comes from Scotland. There’s more to it, though. No surprise there.

You may have noticed different spellings for the spirit. Whisky is referencing the spirit that is distilled in Scotland, Canada, Australia, Japan and Europe. Whiskey belongs to Ireland and America.

Irish immigrants brought the extra ‘e’ with them to the United States in the 1700’s and has held that spelling ever since.

There are more differences than just the spelling of their liquor.

Scottish distilleries use malted barley in their production. Ireland uses the same but they will add different grains to theirs so it is not pure malted barley. Why, you ask?

Ireland has been a poorer country than Scotland and malted barley is expensive. To be economical, Irish distilleries will use cheaper grains as well. American whiskey distilleries are also very different because of the variety of their grains grown in such fluctuating climates and different soil conditions.

There is also a difference in the distillation process between the 2 countries. Scottish whisky is distilled twice. Irish whiskey is distilled 3 times. Distilling this third time produces a lighter and smoother tasting whiskey. If you find this liquor on the strong side, see if Irish whiskey is any easier to swallow.

In Ireland and America, short, fat, large stills with a round base are used for distilling and creates a softer drink. Scotland distilleries use many different sized and shaped stills.

The Flavour Wheel at The Highlander

Scottish distilleries will use peat when drying the malted barley which gives their spirit a smokey flavour. Believe me, it’s a very smokey after taste. Campfire buffs will love it! Different peats, and how long it is used to dry, will all have a different effect on the final product. Ireland and America use fuels, such as wood, leaving the spirit lighter.

The Oldest Distillery in Ireland?

Bushmills has been in production since 1608.

There are only 3 distilleries in Ireland. Midleton produces Jameson’s, Powers, Paddy, Tullamore Dew and Midleton, as well as Cooley, Connemara, Kilbeggan, Locke’s and Tyrconnell)

In Scotland?

Glenturret is the oldest distillery currently in operation, since 1775. However, Littlemill opened in 1772 but is now closed down.

If it’s called Scotch Whisky, it will be from Scotland. And there are plenty of them! At our local LCBO, there are approximately 40 different brand names of Scottish Whisky, compared to 15-20 Irish and a little less American brands. Scots rule!

American Distilleries

The first one opened in the late 18th century in Bourbon County, Kentucky.

There are 7 distilleries located in Kentucky but the one in Bourbon County is now closed. These are Bernheim, Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve.

In nearby Tennessee, the 2 distilleries, George Dickel and Jack Daniels, are in major operation.

Single malt whisky, I’ve discovered,  have a distinct taste of their own. A preferable one, actually. After taste testing a few, these have the smoother flavour, no bitterness that makes you shiver as it makes it way down the gullet.

It is differentiated by the fact that the barley is distilled at one distillery and matured and bottled.  Whereas, other whiskys are blended at different distilleries and mixed with other whiskys of different ages.

The popular Forty Creek is Canadian made, with the distillery in Grimsby, Ontario in the Niagara region, and plenty of new distilleries pop up all the time.

Served Up By Matt at Ace Mercado

Now when you are choosing a whiskey/whisky you will know, by name, where they are from.

Now, you just need to choose the type. Single malt, bourbon are a couple, and probably the better ones.

After sampling American, Irish and Scottish, we agreed on the bourbon, with it’s smoother taste. And were disappointed at the loss of the Ottawa Senators to the Pittsburgh Penguins. There’s one more to go!

This special drink has no name yet but it’s made with bourbon, cognac and a wine called Lille and packs a smooth punch. It’s a must try at Ace Mercado.

My opinion.

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on May 20, 2017

 

It’s National Caesar Day!

Let’s have some fun with this!

The long weekend is coming up and that is exactly why National Caesar Day is celebrated on the Thursday right before the May holiday weekend. What else says celebrate, relax in the sun and let’s get summer started quite like a Casear?

This amazing drink is such a personal thing. Everyone likes theirs a little different, right down to the amount of spice added. When you’re drinking rum and coke, for example, the only variation you will get is the choices of rum or whether or not to add a lime.

How Do You Garnish Your Caesar?

Caesar’s can be garnished in so many different ways. Bartenders are getting crazy creative with them. They are opting out the exhausted, boring celery (sorry, celery, you’re great, too) and embellishing with spicy green beans more often.

Some are downright beautiful such as this Kimchi Caesar at Das Lokal. Some border on the ridiculous, from pickles, to lobster tails even sandwiches!

I’ve included a link below to a site of photos that showcase this insanity. No matter how you like them, they are perfect for those Sunday morning hangovers.

The high salt content in a Caesar helps you retain water and battle the dehydration. If Hair of the Dog is not for you, though, try a poutine! Speaking of hangovers, did you know the scientific term for your hangover? Veisalgia. It comes from the Norwegian term “uneasiness following debauchery”

The so-called hangover cure was created in Calgary, Alberta. Walter Chell, the Italian Bartender created the drink for the opening of the Calgary Inn in 1969. It is now the Westin Hotel.

As the story is told, the flavours of the traditional clam pasta, Spaghetti alle Vongole, gave him the inspiration to create a drink to mirror the taste when asked to create a signature cocktail for the opening.

How Did It Bloody Get In There?

Chell named it the Caesar, for an ancestor in Italy. It’s full name is now Bloody Caesar. While Chell worked to perfect the drink, he had patrons sample for him. One referred to it as “A damn good bloody Caesar!” Or were they just keeping in line with the vodka and tomato juice beverage, Bloody Mary?

Great story but it is believed that clam cocktails already existed. Not to take anything away from fellow neighbours in Calgary but a recipe was found in The Artistry of Mixing Drinks. This was published in 1936.

A virtual page-turning copy can be found here under Bartender Guides. The first 19 pages contains very interesting reading but if you want to jump right to this mysterious recipe that was found, enter page #28 in the upper box and hit enter. It’s not exactly the same as today’s version since Mott’s provides an easy mix of tomato and clam juice.

Starting on page 123, there are handy pages of useful information, anecdotes for poisons and emergency clean up methods. Also quite interesting to read, if you’re so inclined.

Over 350 million Caesars are consumed annually. Much of these numbers could very well be Canadian and Mexicans. Some Americans are not overly familiar with the drink.

Odd, because Mott’s is an American name brand but is only now being seen more often in stores across the States.  Maybe the craze of Caesars will soon catch on.

Now, prepare yourself for the Insane Variations!

In 2010, Parliament officially named the Caesar Canada’s National Cocktail. This weekend enjoy the beautiful blooms at the Tulip Festival at Parliament and do your own experimenting of Caesars!

Since we are on the topic of Parliament which is in Ottawa, Canada’s Captial City, one other place to find a fantastic Caesar is at Ottawa’s Oldest Tavern, The Lafayette on York Street in the Market. Again, it is a personal preference unique to you or me, just offering a favorite of my helpful taste tester.

Cool Things To Do In Calgary

Prehistoric Park and Zoo – Daily programs are free with admission.

Paint a Masterpiece or Have Breakfast with Penguins –

Improv Comedy Show or Dance Workshop

Go crazy with those garnishes!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on May 18, 2017

 

 

 

http://www.calgarysun.com/2015/05/14/national-caesar-day-can-calgary-really-lay-claim-to-canadas-cocktail

http://nationalcaesarday.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesar_(cocktail)

http://www.calgaryjournal.ca/index.php/calgaryeclectic/1168-are-americans-taking-over-a-canadian-cocktail-phenomenon

for some strange borderline ridiculous garnishes for cesars:

http://www.baconismagic.ca

It’s National Mimosa Day!

The Mimosa, that delicious breakfast drink that is so popular on holidays, special family events or any old Sunday brunch, and is so easily prepared with equal parts champagne, or sparkling wine, and orange juice.

Champagne and sparkling wine are really  the same. If this wine is made in Champagne, France then it can be labelled as Champagne. If it is produced anywhere else it gets titled sparkling wine.

Many accounts name Frank Meier as the inventor of The Mimosa in 1925 while he worked at the Hotel Ritz in Paris, France. Meier tended bar at the American Bar, preparing cocktails, one being his signature drink, the Bees Knees. Perhaps you know his published book The Artistry of Mixed Drinks.

It has been recently discovered that Frank had become a spy for the French Resistance yet continued working at the bar during WWII while Hitler Occupied France. Many of The Ritz’s staff doubled as spies for the French and British. He fabricated false documents for Jewish individuals, staying at The Ritz, to avoid concentration camps, passed notes for the attempted assasination of Hitler. He later disappeared when he was caught embezzling money.

A surprisingly captivating book I read not too long ago, The Last Time I Saw Paris, is a story about the French Resistance set in and around the Hotel Ritz during the 40’s. If you’re interested in reading this great book, I would be happy to loan it to you. (If you are in the Ottawa area, of course).

If you’re in Paris, seek out these interesting sights:

Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Pere Lachaise – an estimated 300,000 to one million people are buried at this cemetery and park. Visit the graves of Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde and Chopin.

Of course, another story exists. Captain Herbert Buckmaster opened a gentleman’s club, Buck’s Club, in 1919, to rival the other “stuffy” bars, and is famous for Buck’s Fizz which debuted in 1921. The bartender at the time, McGarry, created the more potent drink with 2 parts champagne to 1 part orange juice.

A Gentleman’s Club is a members only establishment. By the 19th Century, over 400 of these clubs were in operation in London. They provided an escape for the British elite from their ‘open book’ lives to relax, gamble, socialize with friends, play parlour games, such as charades, or get a good, hot meal.

Interesting to note, Buck’s Club usesjosper grill  It is an oven and grill in one unit and is soley powered using charcoal. To experience this, you can find them at 18 Clifford St., London, England. Good luck finding much information on this club. Their ‘website’ offers only an address and contact information as they are by invitation only.

While in London, tour the reconstructed outdoor Shakespeare Globe Theatre. The original was demolished due to a miss fired cannon during a Henry VIII performance.

I made an exciting discovery! The Torchlight Shakespeare Festival will be playing here in Ottawa this summer. I have never experienced an outdoor play and now have the chance to see one. Plays will be featured at various parks throughout the city each night this summer from July 3 August 19 at 7pm. Believe it or not, this company has been setting up their plays in parks for the last 15 years and have never charged a dime, only asked for donations (suggested amount $20). Use the link if you want to receive emails on locations or even if you want to join their ranks as an actor. I actually did.

Got a little off topic.

Meanwhile back in London, the obvious places to see are, of course, Westminster Abbey, the Thames River and Kensington Palace. However, here are a few unusual things to see and do in the London area.

Perhaps, the Frank Meier concoction was truer to today’s equal parts version, and less intoxicating. Also worth mentioning, Alfred Hitchcockcock claims to have popularized drinking mimosas as a brunch specialty in the 1940’s.

In Ottawa, you can enjoy a Mimosa at The Red Lion, in the Byward Market, or the Wellington Diner at 1385 Wellington Street and at Stoneface Dolly’s on Preston St., just to name a few. You may have to wait for the weekend breakfast to get one, though.

Made in Germany

I found these handy single serving bottles at the LCBO for $12.95. Great for those days when you only want one Mimosa instead of feeling pressured to polish off a full champagne bottle because now you’ve opened it!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on May 16, 2017.

 

Who Started The Cocktail?

Bourbon Sour @ Prohibition

Pirate Tails

The first cocktail was made by pirates?!

Well, sort of. In 1586, English privateer, Sir Francis Drake, lead his men to Havana where things took a bad turn.

The good news? They managed to steal a pile of gold.

The bad news? Many men suffered from malnutrition and scurvy, leaving the entire crew stranded in Havana.

Karma, perhaps?

Knowing citrus aided in the prevention, Sir Francis Drake sent a small party of men to shore to find some natives who could direct them to medicinals to administer to the sick men. They arrived at Matecumbe, Florida which is roughly in the centre of today’s Florida Keys.

The concoction they brought back to ship was made up of chuchuhuasi bark soaked in distilled sugar cane juice (rum), then mixed with lime and mint. Voila, El Draque.

The good news? They became well again.

The bad news? They continued to plunder and pillage.

Psst: Mojito

To England, he is a hero, to the Spanish, he is a pirate.

Moral of the story?

We can be grateful to those who paved the way for the vast array of cool drinks we have access to today. By the way, which drink does Drake’s 1586 brew most resemble?

And why the name cocktail?

Apparently, the crew drank the mix from a long spoon with a cocktail handle. An image of  this type of spoon brings up a bartenders mixing spoon which only holds about a teaspoon. I would doubt a teaspoon of El Draque would amount to much healing. My guess, they used something that resembled a ladle. The real question is why is the handle of this spoon called a cocktail?

Whether this story is the true origins of the cocktail drink, no one can really know for sure. As with many drinks, there are conflicting stories of who made the first one. This is no exception. Let me continue…

In 1731, James Ashley ran a Punch House in London, England and claims to have made the first cocktail, or rather, punch.

A recently opened Punch House in Chicago features pre-made punch served by the glass, by the carafe or, if you’re a larger group, by the punch bowl. Hmm, gives me an idea for Rum Punch Day.

Sadly, there are no Punch Houses in Canada. Pity.

Pimms Cup @ Heart & Crown

Another story features Antoine Peychaud, of New Orleans, as the originator of the cocktail. Peychaud served mixed drinks in a coquetel, French for an egg cup. It was difficult for the English to pronounce and instead referred to it as cocktail.

Peychaud Bitters is produced in the States but not in Canada. Perhaps they are promoting their product with this story which may or may not be true. If anyone has any proof, please share.

In the end, google translates coequetel to cocktail. No matter where it came from or who started it, the result is a tasty and refreshing drink, just in time for summer.

A number of hands went into the making of the cocktail as we know it today so cheers to you while you enjoy your cocktail on National Cocktail Day.

What will be your cocktail of choice this season? Need some ideas for something new? See The Cafe Royal Cocktail Book  or have some fun with the 1930 version of The Savoy Cocktail Book located on the sidebar.

If you’re looking for a new taste, visit your LCBO and pick up the new Bacardi Raspberry and mix it with any fizzy drink. Let your imagination run with it.

Also new on the scene is Luxardo’s Bitter Bianco which is made up of cardamom, rhubarb, quinine, bitter orange, and three secret herbs to give it it’s aromatic scented and slightly bitter, citrus-y flavour. Luxardo developed this liqueur to rival red bitters. Similar flavour but clear in colour. It is most popular mixed with vermouth but there are plenty of recipes available.

Happy Mixing! Cheers!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on May 13, 2017

 

National Moscato Day aka Heidi’s Day

No wonder Heidi loves Moscato..she’s part Swiss!

Everyone probably knows someone like my dear friend, Heidi, who LOVES Moscato. I’m proud to say she is spreading her wings and enjoys white wine and even a red now and then. That would be my influence, good or bad, you be the judge.

A couple days ago, I brought up The Cosmopolitan and it’s popularity in the 90’s. Past tense. Replacing it in popularity is Moscato which can be found in 3 different colors.

White, Pink and Reds are usually made from Muscat grapes. They are grown in Piedmont, France which borders Italy and Switzerland. It is the only wine grape that is also produced as a table grape and some are made into raisins.

In some cases, a splash of red wine is added to white moscato to create the pretty pink shade.

A slightly different version is Moscato d’Asti, a sparkling white wine and is commonly made using Muscat Blanc grapes in the province of Asti, in the northwest hills of France in Montferrat.

If you browse your nearby LCBO, you will notice variations of the name but they are referring to the same beverage. There’s Muscatel (Spanish), Muscat Blanc, Muscadel, Muscandeni.

30% of Moscato consumers are Millenials. It is a sweet, lightly bubbly drink low in alcohol and high on flavour, making it very drinkable. Twitter averages 250 tweets per hour of people drinking it.

Popularity for Moscato boomed, in 2009, when Drake quoted it in on of his songs. Was it for the sake of a rhyme or does he actually drink it?

“It’s a celebration – clap clap bravo. Lobster and shrimp and a glass of moscato.”                                                                                                                                         – Drake

But he’s not the only one.

“Still over in Brazil sipping Moscato, ya must have forgot though, so I’mma take you back to the block yo.”                                                                                – L’il Kim

Origins of the Muscat name could be Persian: muchk or Greek: moskos or Latin: muscus or Italian: mosca which means fly since these grapes’s sweet scent attracts many fruit flies.

Ancient Romans referred to it as apiana and early documents date back to the 14th Century.

As with regular wine, it is possible Moscato came from ancient Egyptians but there is no documented proof.

Would you believe a search in LCBO brings up 386 different bottles of Moscato?

Here are a couple ideas for each color type to get you started.

White

Barefoot from California

Bartenura from Italy

Madria Sangria – California – Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery – yummy recipes using Moscato

Pink

Forward from Ontario

Jeunesse – USA

Jacob’s Creek – Australia

Ascheri Grappa from Greece – a vintage at $42.75 per bottle

Red

Barefoot – California

Yellow Tail – Australia

Due to it’s sweetness, any type should pair well with spicy food. Summer is coming and it’s a perfect time to sip on a refreshing glass of chilled Moscato.

Or drop in to the Wine Rack in the Byward Market and ask to sample a couple blends. They are usually pretty accommodating.

For a twist, let’s find out some things NOT to do in France. Normally, I throw some ideas of things TO DO in the city/country of origin or places to see locally. Not this time.

You know those annoying slide shows that take 12+ pages of refreshing just to find out the next tip or fact? They can take 10-15 minutes!

Skip the slideshow. Here is a condensed list from destinationtips.com:

Keep your hands on the table. If you think you’re being demure and lady-like by keeping them in your lap…forget it. Your companion will be wondering what you are doing down there.

Don’t assume the shops will be open like they are here in North America where the consumer is catered to. In France, shop owners take long 2 hour lunch breaks, 2 or 3 week summer holidays in July or August, and then there’s the strikes. Don’t expect them to be open Sundays either.

Don’t expect the dog owners of France to pick up after their pets. They are not on the same page of ‘poop and scoop’ as the rest of us. Please don’t suggest they do either. Just leave your good shoes at the hotel, or watch where you walk.

Please don’t squeeze the produce! Fruit and vegetables in France markets sure look appealing but it’s a big No-No to poke, prod, touch, squeeze or to pick it up to smell it. Ask the vendor to bag it for you. Just point to it!

Don’t order the salad as an appetizer. In France, it is meant as a digestive and palate cleanser to be eaten after your main meal, before the cheese or dessert.

Save the hugs for your lover. When greeting your friends and acquaintances, please air kiss both cheeks. You might think a great big bear is a good sign of friendship but you’ll startle them, especially if it’s your boss. They will misunderstand your intentions! Yikes.

It’s not BYOB! If you’ve been invited to a dinner party, do NOT bring a bottle of wine as a friendly gesture. The host will be offended. He/She knows how to select the proper wine for their own fete. And let the host do the pouring, too.

Recently, I tried a mix of gin, moscato, lemon and cranberry juice which wasn’t too bad. Add a couple splashes to your favorite summer cocktail to liven it up. Any cocktail will do!

Try a Honey Bee (from Stella Rosa Wines) using 3 oz white moscato, 1 oz rum, lemon slices and little honey, shaken and poured over ice. I used rye since I had no rum on hand to attempt this.

Vive la France!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on May 9, 2017

 

The Mystery of the Cosmopolitan

The origins of this drink is a hard one to pin point. It’s possible the Cosmopolitan is based from The Daisy which was created in the late 19th Century. The Daisy is a combination of spirit, citrus drink, simple syrup and an orange infused liqueur. Many drinks use this blend as a base, one other being a Margarita.

Up until 1968, Ocean Spray’s largest market targeted children. They decided to expand their market to adults and began printing the recipe on every label for the cocktail named The Harpoon: vodka, cranberry juice and lime. However, this is missing the essential cointreau.

Who morphed it into the Cosmopolitan?

Story #1

A very similar drink is in print in The Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Barspublished in 1934.

Jigger of Gordon’s Gin (1 12 oz Beefeater)
2 dash Cointreau (12 oz Cointreau)
Juice of 1 Lemon (1 oz Lemon Juice)
1 tsp Raspberry Syrup (1 tsp homemade)

Story #2

Cheryl Cook, a bartender in 1970 South Beach, created the new blend for consumers who requested something easier to swallow than a traditional martini, something sweeter.

Story #3

Neal Murray claims to be the first to have made the drink in Minneapolis at the Cork and Cleaver in 1975, He added a splash of cranberry to a drink called the Kamikaze. The Kamikaze is vodka, triple sec and lemon juice.

Story #4 (My personal favorite)

John Caine lived in Provincetown, Massaschusetts, which is near a huge cranberry producing region. It makes sense that, when he moved to San Francisco in the 1970’s, he brought the recipe for the cosmo with him since he claims to have been experimenting with cranberry juice.

He now owns numerous bars in San Francisco and believes the increase in popularity of the cocktail happened during the 70’s when it was being served in Fern Bars. This is a slang name for preppy/yuppy bar (remember these terms from your younger days?) that catered to singles and were decorated with ferns and tiffany lamps.

Read more on John Caine, nominated for Man of the Year by the Leukemia Lymphoma Society.

Story #5

In 1987, Toby Cechini created this drink while working at The Odeon in Manhattan. This establishment was THE place to be in the 80’s and 90’s so the cosmo skyrocketed to success along with the Odeon. Even Saturday Night Live held casting parties here. Oddly, the current menu does not contain the drink however, any server there will how to make it. They’ve created a new variation with the Ginger Martini.

From there, Madonna and the popular tv show, Sex and the City brought the drinks’ notoriety to new levels.

Worth noting, Melissa Huffsmith also worked at The Odeon in 1987-88 and used Absolut Vodka, cointreau, cranberry and lime juices which is today’s standardized version.

Story #6

The Cosmo makes it first actual literary existence in 1993 in New York City according to Sally Ann Berk, author of The New York Bartender’s Guide and Bob Sennett, author of Complete World Bartender Guide.

Generally, a Cosmo is made with vodka and there are so many variations.

Your guess is as good as mine. The popularity of the Cosmopolitan has worn off in recent years but lucky for us, it spawned a generation of talented mixologists.

At Ace Mercado, in Ottawa, I recently encountered Marty (no last name). Hey, when you’re THIS good, you don’t need one!

Marty hard at work-Ace Mercado

You can play with the colors by swapping out the triple sec/cointreau and using blue curacao to make a purple cosmopolitan or white cranberry juice for a white cosmo. A Francilian substitutes sangria for the cranberry juice.

For fun, watch Marty, of Ace Mercado create his frozen dacquiri, where ALL of his drinks are his specialty and performed with flair!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on May 7, 2017

 

Cinco de Mayo is 155 Years Old

Do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Do you know what it represents? Are you already IN Mexico (I’m jealous if you are!) If you plan to celebrate this year, I have outlined a few ideas for you to consider for this Friday. I know it’s not in the style of my usual posts, since its not a National Drink Day but May 5th is a National Drinking Day celebrated by many, mostly Americans.

It’s NOT Mexico’s Independence Day. That is in September. Nor is it Day of the Dead.

On May 5, 1862, the Mexican army, outnumbered by thousands, defeated France at the Battle of Puebla under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza.

Money: The Root Of All Evil

Just coming out of 2 consecutive wars, the Mexican-American War of 1846-48 and the Reform War (1858-61), Mexican President Benito Juarez found his country in deep debt. On July 17, 1861, he suspended all foreign debt payments for two years.

France, Britain, and Spain, outraged, since Mexico owed them all money, sent naval forces to Veracruz to demand reimbursement. Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew, but France, ruled by Napoleon III, used the opportunity to establish a Latin empire in Mexico.

Later that year, a well-armed French military stormed VeracruzJuarez and his government were forced to retreat. The French army, considered #1 in the world, swept into Mexico City. They met with heavy resistance from the Mexican army, near Puebla, at the forts of Guadelupe and LoretoMexico was outnumbered by four thousand men yet somehow managed to defeat the French army on May 5, 1862.

However, a year later, the French tried again and won. They captured Mexico City and installed French President, Maximillian, which lasted 3 years.

In the 1860’s in California, where Colombia State Park now sits, Mexican miner workers eventually got word, on May 27 via stagecoach delivery of a San Francisco newspaper, of the incredible victory and fired off their rifles, lit fireworks, sang patriotic songs and, of course, drank.”

Californians have been celebrating Cinco de Mayo continuously since 1863.

In the US, the celebrations have become geared towards American-Mexican traditions. It gradually spread from California to the rest of the States in the 50’s and 60’s.

“The Journal of American Culture states that there are at least 150 official Cinco de Mayo celebrations that take place every year.”

– José Alamillo, Professor, Washington State University

However, in Mexico, the celebration is mostly ceremonial with military parades to honour the fallen heroes and soldiers, and re-enactments of the Battle of Puebla.

Mariachi Band 1976 Mexico

The largest celebration is held at Fiesta Broadway in Los Angeles. At its peak, in the 1990’s, 500,000 people attended but numbers have recently been decreasing.

In 2005, a proclamation was issued by United Congress to the people of the United States to recognize Cinco de Mayo with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

At the Plaza del Pueblo de Los Ángeles, festivities include mariachi band demonstrations and Baile Folklórico, traditional Mexican folk dances. With the many styles of dance in Mexico, to determine if it is folklorico, watch the arms and legs. If the dancer raises her hands above her head, exposing her legs, it is folklorico.

These dances are the ones I love. As a child, I wanted to be a dancer with the brightly colored costume, the extravagantly swooping dress. That part of me still wants to become a Spanish dancer when she finally grows up.

Aside from the bigger Cinco de Mayo festivities in the western part of the United States, I have put together a list of humbler festivities, by city, in Canada and the US for you to consider.

Canada

Ottawa – With May 5th on a Friday this year, most establishments will see an increase in patrons. and you’re sure to have a good time. For some real Mexican music, a margarita or two and delicious food, celebrate at Feleena’s at 742 Bank St., or Ahora on Dalhousie. Any of them will be glad to have you.

Or, in Westboro, enjoy some great eating at The Piggy Market at 400 Winston Ave. You never know what party could ignite!

To become more involved in the Spanish community in general, visit Ottawa Hispanic Business Centre. Here, you can learn and practice the Spanish language, Spanish guitar and even the salsa. If you don’t live in Ottawa and would like to participate, google will lead you to the Hispanic Community in your city.

More Ottawa festivities this weekend:

Latin American Film Festival at Carleton U.

Giant Zumba Party

Ola Cocina – 1079 Wellington St – help build the giant pinata!

Happy Goat Coffee at 35 Laurel St for more festivities. It won’t be mariachi music but it will be live!

Learn Latin Dance at La Discoteka – 349 Dalhousie St., Ottawa

Vancouver, BC and a few extra options in BC

Alberta 

Calgary, AB

Toronto, ON – Early Mercy at 540 King St. West will have a mariachi band, dj and sombreros for everyone!

Montreal, Quebec

Cornwall, ON

United States

Phoenix, Arizona

San Diego, CA

Festivals in San Francisco, CA  and live music at an Alley Party.

Chicago, IL

This gives you a few days advance notice to plan where you would like to be this Friday, May 5, 2017. Some festivities run for the whole weekend!

If you discover a festival or celebration in your town or city that is not included here, feel free to leave a link in the comments section and I will add your link to my post.

Enjoy!

Posted May 2, 2017 by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe