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.


Barefoot from California

Bartenura from Italy

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


Forward from Ontario

Jeunesse – USA

Jacob’s Creek – Australia

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


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.


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


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.


Posted May 2, 2017 by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe



National Amaretto Day

Enjoy Amaretto on the rocks or with select mixes. I discovered a couple delicious ways to enjoy it aside from downing it in a two second shot. Tasty but very anti-climatic. The literal translation of amaretto is a ‘little bitter’ and is from amaro which means ‘bitter’. Not to be confused with another Italian liquor, Amaro.

The only mix I had ever tried it with is orange juice which is very good. However, after asking bartenders what common requests they get for amaretto drinks, the usual response was on the rocks or an Amaretto Sour. The first one I tried, at Two Six Ate on Preston turned out to be scrumptious! I highly recommend it! The food menu is also unique, very worth the trip.

Amaretto Sour at Two Six Ate on Preston St.

Their version is made with amaretto, lemon mix, bitters and an egg white. The egg creates the froth on top. Yes, it sounds disgusting but give it a try. I practically licked the glass clean. Think of the egg’s added health benefit to an already nutrition-less beverage!

They are open until 2am so if you’re on your way home, stop in for a night cap and catch some music. Better yet, spend the whole evening. Flossy Fridays feature DJ’s and dancing.

Back in my bartending days, a customer would ask for something different, not sweet but with a bit of a kick. They received my go-to shot, the Sicilian Kiss. Half amaretto and half Southern Comfort.

Alabama Slammer at Pub Italia

To enjoy this as a cocktail, try an Alabama Slammer:

1 oz amaretto

1 oz Southern Comfort

1 oz Sloe Gin

2 oz orange juice

Summer is coming fast and a full pitcher of this would be a perfect patio treat with friends! 1 cup of each liquor topped with 6 cups of OJ. It will fill a water pitcher perfectly.

Pub Italia is an amazing establishment, boasting a huge drink list. The staff will welcome you whether you’re staying to eat or drink or just browse through to discover every nook and cranny of their beautifully decorated monastery-style restaurant.

Amaretto’s Romantic History

Amaretto’s legend goes back to Saronno, Italy in 1525 when a widowed innkeeper created a concoction of brandy and apricot kernels as a symbol of

The Last Supper at Pub Italia

love, devotion and gratitude for Bernardino Luini, one of Da Vinci’s art students. He chose the beautiful widow as a model for his church frescoes of the Virgin Mary. His paintings can still be viewed in the chapel of Sante Maria delle Grazie in Milan and in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Miracles in Saronna. The church is most famous for their depiction of The Last Supper.

Saronno is well known for its production of amaretto and almond kernel biscuits and is home of the Church of St Francis Assisi, the oldest church in town.

Visit the distillery to learn how the famous liqueur is made. Sort of. You will learn only what THEY want you to learn. And good luck finding a video of how they make it. The writer of the Alcademics article was not allowed to photograph or videotape inside the production section of the factory during his tour. It’s all very hush hush.

The city is approximately a 20 minute drive from Milan. Much more to see and do here but to appeal to your sense of humour, visit the Italian Stock Exchange Centre (Parent Advisory).

Disaronno was originally called ‘Amaretto di Saronno’. In the 1600’s, the Reina family came in contact with the recipe of the liqueur and turned it into what we know as Disaronno. This brand is an infusion of apricot kernel oil, absolute alcohol, burnt sugar and 17 various, unknown, herbs and fruits. What, no almonds?

Almonds are not always necessary in the making of amaretto. The main ingredients are sugar, apricot kernels, spices, alcohol, benzaldehyde (this creates the almond scent) and amygdalin (only in the more expensive amarettos). Interestingly, the cheaper amarettos contain more benzaldehyde, and the more expensive ones contain more amygdalin. It has proven to be difficult to find out what spices are used in the production of amaretto as well. It is a well guarded secret. But I did discover a few spices that are added: rhubarb, ginseng roots and vanilla beans.

The famous square bottle debuted in 1942 and evolved in the 70’s, by a master glass maker from Murano, Italy, to what it is recognized as today.

The company purchases 300 tonnes of bitter almonds (Prunus dulcis var. amara) to make the oil. They actually call these almonds, apricot pits. This oil goes into the production of Disaronno. The trees grow in the Middle East and Asia.

Would you believe you can find Disaronno memorabilia and vintage bottles on Ebay. Empty! Full, I could understand. Who would buy this?!

CEO of Disaronno, August Reina, has released a new blend of their product. Amaretto and Scotch whisky. You’ll have to fork out $450 for it, though! ‘The Godfather’ cocktail is made up of these 2 ingredients. Don’t be surprised if this new bottle becomes known as the Godfather.

Where Do Almonds Come From?

The almond that we are accustomed to eating is the sweet version and is a dried seed from the Prunus dulcis tree. You can grow almonds in your home quite easily. Whether it bears fruit remains to be seen. Soak a 3-5 almonds in water for 48 hours, replacing with fresh water every 12 hours. Break the tiny tip to expose the inner almond. On a small plate, layer tissue paper and place the almonds on top, adding another layer of tissue paper. Fold up the sides and spritz with water to moisten. For 7-9 days, keep it moist but not soaking wet. This germinates the almond into its seed form and can be planted. Watch the video to see how to plant them.

How Are Almonds Harvested?

This has got to be the one of the coolest ways to harvest produce. The first minute of the Bella Viva Orchards video made my jaw drop so at least watch that much of it. You’ll be glad you did!

Compliments of Il Primo Ristorante on Preston

Amaretto & Hot Drinks

Blueberry Tea is all the rage lately. It’s showing up on more and more menus. I expected it to be prepared with Blueberry flavoured tea. Wrong. An ounce each of Amaretto, Grand Marnier topped with a hot cup of orange pekoe tea.

It’s great in coffee, too!

A Toasted Almond is made using amaretto and kahlua, a good choice of winter holidays or just plain winter time!


Why Stop At Just Drinking Amaretto?

If an Amaretto Sour is mixed with lemon sour mix, it must be delicious in a Lemon Bread/Cake. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Tiramisu as made by Arturo’s

Tiramisu can be made to look very different from one version to another. Any variation of liqueur can be used, this one is made with amaretto.

Pancakes – for the adults, not necessarily to feed to the children Sunday morning. Add 1/4 cup of amaretto to your favorite pancake recipe. Be sure to cut back on the amount of milk you use by a 1/4 cup.

Add a splash to flavour to the frosting of your cupcakes, whipped cream or ice cream!

Almondine Sauce is most commonly used on Sole or other white fish such as Halibut, Perch, Walleye and is also good on chicken.

If you prefer not to use up your delicious bottle, amaretto flavor can be purchased online for baking purposes. If I can find store locations in Ottawa that sell this, I will update.

I found recipes for homemade amaretto but many call for 2 cups of vodka and 1 cup of brandy. Seems like alot of work and using alot of liquor, may as well just buy a bottle, crack it open and enjoy. The LCBO’s least expensive amaretto is a Canadian version at $20 for a 750ml bottle. Whereas, Disaronno is $30 and Luxardo is $25. Luxardo is becoming increasingly popular in local pubs. Nonetheless, a simple recipe using only 2 cups of vodka, if you’re interested in concocting your own.

Where To Find Fresh Pasta in Ottawa

For years, I thought the only place to get fresh pasta was a little place on Somerset. Ottawa has many great choices to get delicious pasta.

Fresh Pasta of the Day at Arturo’s

Arturo’s on Beechwood. They are also a licensed establishment with a full restaurant. All entrees and desserts, right down the salad dressing, are homemade and au naturel.

Parma Ravioli on Wellington is a large shop to find interesting ingredients for your next pasta night.

Farmer’s Pick, on Prince of Wales, is another store with a wide range of staples.

There are 2 Nicastro’s located in Ottawa, one on Preston and the other in the market at 64 George St.

Another Very Popular Amaretto Made in Italy

With so many wonderful ways to use amaretto, I will be sure to have a constant stockpile of it on hand!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on Wednesday, April 19, 2017



It’s International Earth Day!

How on EARTH can this be connected to travel and drinks?

Earth, being part soil, is the blood and nutrients for our plants. The fruit of some plants are distilled into liquor and voila! we have organic beverages.

So Today, This is the “Organically Grown Travel By The Glass” Way

With the increasing desire for organically grown and non-GMO produts, distilleries and vineyards are contributing to the cause by reducing or eliminating additives for a healthier product.

The basic guidelines that are followed when producers claim Organic:

No fertilizers

No hormones

No antibiotics

No pesticides

No herbicides

No GMO’s

We are avoiding these chemicals because they don’t make us feel good. If you get headaches from red wine, despite staying hydrated, it could be an allergy to something in the wine.

It could be the chemicals. Try organic wine and test the results.

It could be a product that ends up in the liquor naturally.  For example, sulphites, in wine, are chemicals used as preservatives to prevent browning and discoloration in foods and drinks.

Are you the type to have a headache after one glass of wine? Sulphites are not the culprit. More sulfites are generally added to white wines than red wines and most headache sufferers complain after drinking red wines. Sulphites can cause asthma symptoms.

The 3 main evil reasons you might experience a headache when drinking wine

Evil Factor#1: Tannins – naturally found in grape skins, stems, seeds and oak barrels. These antioxidants are also found in dark chocolate!

Try this test to see if you’re sensitive, or allergic to Tannins:

  1. Brew a cup of black tea, lettting it steep 5-10 minutes longer than usual.
  2. Drink. If you get a headache, you know you’re sensitive to tannins since black tea has alot of tannin.

If you are sensitive to tannin, also avoid walnuts, almonds, dark chocolate, cinnamon, clove, pomengranates, grapes, acai berries, red beans and quince (a pear shaped fruit usually found between October and January in ethnic markets, if you’re lucky)

Sadly, these would be your wine options:

Choose a red with low tannin such as Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Grenache, Merlot, Barbera and Primitivo. Or cut out red altogether – I shudder with the thought.

Choose white wines instead especially the ones that have not been aged in oak barrels  since the wood will create tannin.

I’m very thankful I don’t get headaches from reds in general.

Evil #2: Sugar

When alcohol and sugar are combined, a headache can happen if you’re not properly hydrated. The extra water is needed to help process both substances. If you’re lacking hydration (#1 reason for headaches), you body pulls the necessary water it needs from other parts of your body-head included. When the liquid in your head starts to deplete, a headache starts. A way to prevent this? Avoid sweet dessert wines, ie ice wines semi-dry and cheap wines. They have much higher sugar content. Cheap wine producers add sugar during fermentation to boost alcohol. Choose dry.

Evil #3: Histamines

Sources of Histamines and Tyramine

Recent research has found that food and drinks that have been aged, such as dry aged meats and red wines, can cause our body to release histamines. Histamines are chemicals that are released when we have an allergic reaction and can cause that runny nose, dry eyes and headache.

If you know this is the reason for your headaches (you’ve ruled out Evil 1 and 2) and you’re serious about getting into that bottle of wine, take a histamine blocker, ie: Claritin, to prevent one.


Evil #4 Tyramines

Tyramine constricts then dilates blood vessels and Sauvignon Blanc and Charddonay are lowest in this chemical. Tyramines are found in aged foods ie: cheeses and meats.

To sum all of this up, when choosing an organic wine, choose one with low or no sulphites. Avoid the oak barrel flavouring if you find you’re sensitive to the tannins. And drink lots of water! Hopefully this helps you kick your headache issue.

Who Is Making Organic Alcohol?

There are approximately 2000 producers of organic wine and organic liquor and the numbers are on the rise.

I discovered many organic producing distilleries but Tru Organic Vodka’s “going green” conscientiousness goes beyond their liquor. They use less glass products and what glass they do use is all recycled. They’re not done yet….They use synthetic corks, soy-based ink and packaging that turns into a shelf!

Juniper Green Organic Gin produced the first organic gin in Clapham, London, right down to using organic juniper and coriander.

Tequila Alquimia boasts 39 gold medals at spirit competitions. They produce organic tequila with no added chemicals or flavorings. Their distillery is located in Camarillo, the town next to my father’s. If anyone is interested in purchasing a bottle, I could bring some back on my next trip there.

Organic Section at LCBO

The closest we can get to these actual brands is the United States so let’s see what our LCBO carries:


Toronto based distillery, Toronto Distillery Company, produces organic spirits made from wheat, rye and corn. Their soil is rich in nutrients-if you’ve ever noticed how red the soil is near Toronto. LCBO carries their Wheat and Gin versions. Organic alcohol tends to be a bit pricier, for example, a 750ml bottle of Smirnoff costs $27.25 when TDC’s shelf price is $39.50 for a 375ml bottle.

It is a healthier choice in most cases. For those who indulge in more than 1-2 drinks per month, it might be worth considering organic. However, you’re defeating the purpose plus you’ll still have a bleeding hangover if you’ve had 10 glasses of organic wine.

Brand new on the scene is Last Straw Distillery in Concord, Ont. Restrictions and regulations are the biggest challenges a start up distillery in Ontario faces. Last November, Finance Minister, Charles Sousa, introduced Bill 70. This includes a 61.5% sales tax for retail stores owned and operated by Ontario’s distilleries. Ontario wine is taxed at 6.1%! British Columbia taxes by the litre which doesn’t hurt the smaller-producing distilleries. As their production increases so will the province’s revenue. No surprise there are many popping up in BC lately. I’m going to get all political on you, maybe even a bit Trump-ish, by saying, “Hello, Ontario Government, new distilleries will create jobs and revenue for our province, as it is doing in BC!” A small distillery, in it’s first critical year, is not taxed in BC for its first 50,000 litres produced. We all know Ontario would gauge, gauge, gauge until they were forced out of business.

Ontario distillers are now allowed to market their products at LCBO, however, the distillers fork out the costs of distribution. LCBO still applies its full 140% markup to the products. “The LCBO makes more margin on small micro-distillers’ offerings than on anything else they sell – so much for supporting local!” says Greg Lipin, co-founder of North of 7 Distillery in Ottawa.

Read the full report from Last Straw. They’re not looking for handouts only fairness between their industry of spirits and the beer and wine industry. Book your free tour during regular business hours.

North of 7 In-Store Products

North of 7 is a new Ottawa distillery with a conscience. They keep it local, additive free and they are involved in charity work. Almost all of the grains used are from Alexandria, Winchester and some from Wakefield. The Winchester farm, Against the Grain, supplies only organic produce and the juniper they find in Alexandria which grows wild and naturally. They’ve been hard at work producing their first whisky which will be ready this May, after 3 long years! There is a White Dog version at 62.5% alcohol! Ahem, moonshine to some, gut rot to others but, aside from the powerful punch to the system, I thought it had an interesting taste. Only available at their store since it is the rye straight from their still.

Please offer your support and drop in for a tasting! You’ll be pleasantly surprised and you’ll help to keep them operating!

Store hours: Noon-5pm Monday to Wednesday and a bit later for the rest of the week, closed Sundays. Located at 1733 St. Laurent Blvd

“For each bottle of Leatherback Rum sold, a portion is donated to the Canadian Sea Turtle Network – a charitable organization based in Halifax that is working to conserve endangered sea turtles in Canadian waters and abroad.” – North of 7

The owners, Greg Lipin and Jody Miall, genuine entrepreneurs, are avid rock-climbers and bourbon lovers. They are living their dream…they own a distillery and Coyote Rock Gym right here in Ottawa. Greg was the first one to open a rock climbing gym in Ottawa in 1992. Jody joined later on.

My sons and I, personally, have gone rock climbing and can say it is a very cool experience!

After speaking with Jody last week, I was surprised to learn their products on-site are no cheaper than what’s charged at LCBO. License to sell obviously means it must be sold through the liquor board so they get their cut, too. He says there is slight improvement in red tape but the taxes charged by the Ontario Government is still heavily unbalanced.

3 other ways to celebrate Earth Day the Travel By The Glass way:

Hmm, this took some thought.

  1. If we are encouraged not to use our car to keep the air cleaner, then we are free
    Caleshea’s Garden Centre

    to have a couple of drinks at the corner pub.

  2. Get your own garden growing. You’ll have truly organic parsley, thyme, basil, mint, yes, mint for your Mojitos!
  3. Be a tourist in your own neighborhood. Walk, don’t drive. You’ll notice things that you usually drive past.

I encourage you to submit your ideas!

Here is a list of links for events:




Earth-Friendly Events Across Canada

We get another Earth Day on April 22 so if you miss this one, use this link to see what’s going on next month.

Today is the first Earth Day which is celebrated every year at the Spring Equinox on or around March 21st when night and day are exactly the same length of time. This one is organized by the Earth Society Foundation. The foundation was founded by John McConnell, a conservationist who worked at a plastics factory and saw the environmental damage it caused.

The 2nd Earth Day, on April 22, is organized by the Earth Day Network. Both were launched in the spring of 1970. 20 million people participated in activities on that day 47 years ago.

Compliments of Caleshea Marfurt & Family

Keep It Green and Please Drink Responsibly

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on March 20, 2017