It’s National Harvey Wallbanger Day!

Harvey What?! The Harvey Wallbanger is a glorified Screwdriver. Not to say it isn’t delicious because it is.

It’s origins are speculated by many but really unknown.

Three-time world champ mixologist, Donato Duke Antone claims to have invented this drink in 1952. He named the drink after a surfer, Tom Harvey, who frequented his bar, the now-defunct Black Watch Bar in Los Angeles.

Or perhaps it was George Bednar, an employee of McKesson’s Imports Company, who promoted Galliano. Bednar hired an artist, possibly one, Bill Young, to design a surfer caricature with the slogan, Harvey Wallbanger is the name. And I can be made!”. They also promoted another slogan“Fond of things Italiano? Try a sip of Galliano.”

Lucky for whoever invented it, the drink caught on for beach goers.

An interesting tidbit of information, not necessarily related to the Harvey Wallbanger, finds John McKesson and Charles Olcott as the founders of McKesson’s in 1833 New York City. It began in the production of therapeutic drugs and chemicals then merged in the 1960’s, introducing alcoholic beverages, drugs and chemicals.

In 1988, an article announced that  McKesson’s would cease the production of alcohol and would maintain their pharmaceutical-only status.

In my opinion, the Harvey Wallbanger is the perfect example of the naming of wild cocktails during the psychelic era.

What Makes The Wallbanger So Different?

The one ingredient that makes this drink different from a Screwdriver is Galliano, a vanilla-anise flavoured Italian liqueur now owned by Lucas Bols.

If there’s anise in it, wouldn’t it taste like licorice? Well, the vanilla prevents the strong taste of anise to take over the liqueur. Like most popular liquors and liqueurs, the company protects its secret ingredients. Galliano is no different. The only spicing they divulge is Mediterranean Anise, Juniper, Musk Yarrow, Star Anise, Lavender, Peppermint, Cinnamon and Vanilla.

With the distillery situated in the Netherlands, Bols International is still run by the Bols family. Their first liqueur, in 1575, a blend of cumin, cardamom and orange was produced in the small Amsterdam distillery called tlootsje.

Lucas Bols, the grandson of the founder, played a key role in growing the company by shipping their product all over the world.

The design of their bottle is distinctively unique and ergonomic for bartenders to pour from.

In 2007, Bols opened their doors to those who wished to learn the craft and for tours. They offer courses, seminars and contests to bartenders and consumers. Visit their website for some cool how-to videos too!

The Official Harvey Wallbanger

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 4 ounces orange juice, freshly squeezed is best
  • 3/4 ounce Galliano
  • cherries

Over ice, pour the vodka and juice. Float the Galliano over the back of a spoon.

Other drinks made with Galliano:

Galliano + root beer

Galliano + bourbon + bitters (orange or angostura)

Golden Russian: Galliano + vodka + lime juice

Titanic: Galliano + vodka + blue curacao + dry vermouth

A layered shot called Tummy Boom: Galliano + Campari (campari on the bottom)

I’m quite partial to The Kim: Galliano + triple sec + brandy + sugar

I know what my next liquor purchase will be so I can make some of these great looking cocktails!

Enjoy your Harvey Wallbanger! Cheers!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on November 8, 2017

 

Shots on a Wednesday?

What’s your go-to shooter when you’re out with friends? Tequila? Something sweet? Or something to knock you over? See how it has evolved over the years….

Even though the first one mentioned in print came from the NY Times in the 1940’s, shots have been around long before that.

According to wikipedia, the shot, or a drink of alcohol, has been around since the 17th Century.

Jumping ahead a bit, the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s saw a surge of strange and wildly named drinks and shots to compete with the psychedelic drugs. Which explains some of those oddly named shooters!

Why Is It Called a Shot?

…It can be compared to a shot of medicine. Makes me think of Mary Poppins…rrrum punch.

…In early America, a tiny glass sat upon the dinner table. What was this little glass for?  Well, the meat you were served could very well still have a buckshot or lead shot still lodged in it. If you found one whilst eating, remove it and put it in the glass. Shot glass!

…Friedrich Otto Schott, the co-founder of the glassworks factory Jenaer Glaswerk Schott & Genossen invented this type of glass. It came to America and of course became Americanized. Schott Glas to Shot Glass!

…Over 100 years ago, when writing quills were being used, lead shot pooled in the bottom of a tiny glass. When not in use, you would rest your quill in the liquid lead. Hmm shot glass!

Specialty Shots

Now, what about those jell-o shots? Those are relatively new, right? Check Jerry Thomas’ How To Mix Drinks. Enter 22 in the page box and you will be quite surprised! The recipe book was printed in 1862.

In the same book, a drink that was lit on fire,  the Blue Blazer , is first mentioned and the rest is history. Bartenders push the limits lighting all sorts of drinks on fire.

A Few Favorites

Kamikaze…1976…..Vodka, triple sec and lime juice.

If you like layered drinks, a B-52…1977…considered to originate in Calgary, AB…coffee liqueur, Irish cream and orange flavoured liqueur.

Buttery Nipple…1980’s…mentioned in the song, Shots, by Pitbull…butterscotch ripple and Irish cream. Sounds delightful!

My all time favorite is actually the very first shot I tried… a China White. Equal parts Creme de Cacao and Baileys, layered in that order. Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top. If you like lush, please do indulge in one.

Another lush shot is the Polar Bear. White Creme de Cacao and white Creme de Menthe. Shake with ice and pour. And pour some more.

The varieties are endless!

Happy National Shot Day! If you’re so inclined to celebrate it today!

Posted by Kim Ratclife-Doe on November 8, 2017.

 

How Many Merlot Facts Are You Aware Of?

The home of Merlot, the territory of Bordeaux, France, is considered the wine capital of the world.

Merle is French for blackbird. It seems blackbird love these grapes.

The aroma and flavours of Merlot are generally composed of black cherry, berries, plum, chocolate, and herbs. They are an easy wine to drink due its medium body, smooth acidity and low tannins.

Merlot grapes, vitis vinifera, prefer a clay soil.

Merlot can be found in a white version which is produced in the same fashion as rose wines or Zinfandel. The grape skins are in contact with the grape juice for a very short time, just long enough to give it a blush colour.

It pairs well with salmon, shellfish, mushrooms, camembert and gouda cheese. Personally, I think red wines in general pair well with chocolate.

HISTORY

The first mention of Merlot is from 1784 in the Bordeaux region of France.

A severe freeze practically wiped out the Merlot and Malbec grapes in France.  Viticulturalists attempted to produce a new crop every year after this, without success.

In 1970, the French Government placed a ban on the growth of new Merlot grapes since there had been so much financial ruin.

Then other countries were becoming successful with the grapes so, to get back into the game, they lifted the ban.

Predominant regions to produce Merlot are Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Chile, Australia and, of course, Bordeaux, France, the home of this grape.

BEST YEARS

Some say 2013…but it depends on who you talk to and the origins of the Merlot you are drinking. For an extensive list by region, this might help.

One thing I have learned is Bordeaux’ best year is 2015. I’ve tried it and it is devine!

HARVEST WORLDWIDE

Harvest occurs in California in July or August.

Ontario as late as October.

Western Canada might start in September and continue as far as November.

France’s Grape Harvest can start as early as August and continue into October.

Harvesting in Spain ranges between August and October.

Australia harvests from January to March.

In Chile, harvesting begins in the spring, March to May.

It all depends on the orchard and what flavour they are trying to produce. Ice wines are typically harvested in January.

Contact an orchard near you. Many of them welcome volunteers to help harvest. You’ll be glad you did!

Happy National Merlot Day!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on November 7, 2017.

 

 

 

National Brandied Fruit Day

What is brandied fruit? My mind goes back to my childhood when those boxes of Pot of Gold sat open on the coffee table at Christmas time. Rum chocolates and that sort of thing.

Brandied fruit is not so tame, I’ve discovered.

Bourbonized Apricots

When I think about it, I have actually eaten this. On a vacation to the Dominican Republic a few years back, I returned, quite happily, with some delicious tequila, called Bear Hug, that I had sampled at the duty free shop.

No lemon, nor salt is required to toss one of these shots back. It is the sweetest, smoothest tasting tequila I have ever tried. Better yet, don’t toss it back. Savour it’s delightfulness with a small ice cube. Move over, Jose Cuervo!

A nice little gift waited for me at the bottom of this bottle of Bear Hug. Not a worm but strips of papaya! Those little babies pack a punch! Be careful eating too much in one sitting, otherwise you’ll end up with alcohol poisoning.

Granted the title implies using brandy, but, based on the above combination, why not use any favorite liquor? Incidentally, brandy is produced from the distillation of wine. Whereas, wine is the product of fermentation and, in many cases, aging.

Again, I will mention the Bitters Experiment. The fruit I have used so far are apricots and cranberries. Use your imagination! Mangoes are my next target. The most popular are: Apples, Apricots, Cherries, Pears, Peaches and Plums. A variety of berries work great, too!

As far as the alcohol aspect, you can use Armagnac, American Brandies or Cognac. Catch my post coming up in February for National Brandy Day.

Jack Daniels & Cranberries

For the best results, infuse your chosen fruit in your best tasting alcohol for at least one month.

The down side is you have to add alot of sugar, such as the case of this recipe. I did not add sugar to my fruit infusions but could add honey if I so chose. Or I could mix my bitters with a fruit juice or a sweet liqueur, the options are endless.

I did find one that requires much less if you’re interested in attempting your own concoction for National Brandied Fruit Day.

Make Your Own Brandied Fruit

1 pound of fruit

3-4 tablespoons of sugar (more if the fruit used isn’t overly sweet)

1/3 cup water

2 inches of a vanilla bean

Additional spices, such as cinnamon, allspice, peppercorns, etc, even citrus peels, can be experimented with.

Simmer water and sugar and cook until clear. Let cool.

Sprinkle the cut/sliced/chopped fruit with lemon juice. Fill sterilized jars, leaving half an inch of space at the top. Pour the brandy/liquor mix to fill the rest of the jar.

Add small bits of vanilla to each jar and any spices you wish. Seal and store in a dark place for a month or longer.

Once it’s ready in a month from now and you want to nibble on a couple of pieces, top up the jar with more of the same alcohol/brandy to keep the fruit safe for consumption.

A jar should last up to 10 months in the refrigerator after opening.

For the full recipe, since I made modifications to my own preference.

Ways to Enjoy Brandied Fruit

  1. On top of ice cream.
  2. All by itself.
  3. When the girls come over for a pajama party. (No one’s driving after a few of these, right?!)
  4. Toss some in your Sangria.
  5. As an accompaniment to your cheese plate.
  6. Bake it into a cake.

I would love to hear of any of your variations of fruit and liquor/liqueur. Drop me a line!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on her birthday, October 20, 2017.

 

National Liqueur Day

First, let’s identify liqueur. As it is different from liquor.

Liqueur is an alcoholic beverage made from a distilled spirit such as vodka, rum or gin flavored with the likes of fruit, cream, herbs, spices, flowers, Nuts and additional sugar.

Liqueur vs Liquor

Something to note: a final liqueur is made up of 25% sugar. Avoiding carbs? Avoid liqueur.

Essentially, it is alcohol and plants.

The name comes from the French word, liquifacere, meaning to liquify.

As this meaning implies, liqueur is blended long enough for the flavors to marry. There is no aging involved.

Originally,  it was used as an herbal medicine in Italy in the 1300s. As a digestive, for example.

Monks were generally known to prepare them. Imagine dropping in to your local monastery for some feel good beverages!

Liqueur is also known as a Cordial  or Schnapps. However, the Commonwealth of Nations considers it a concentrated non-alcoholic fruit syrup, such as the bar-essential grenadine or a Cherry Cordial.

Germany and the Scandinavian regions refer to brandy or aquavit as Schnapps.

No wonder it gets confusing!

To add to the confusion, distilleries are adding flavors to their products which can adjust the ABV or the amount of sugar.

The Difference (excluding flavored liquors)

Liqueur Liquor
Distilled alcohol is the base to which spices, herbs, fruit, nuts, anything plant-based really, and sugar (usually lots of it!) are added. Is first fermented from a grain or a plant then distilled.
Very sweet since a form of sugar is added (honey, molasses, glucose, etc). Not sweet tasting because any natural sugar is turns into ethanol and carbon dioxide during fermentation.
Lower alcohol content, due to the addition of sugar – most are minimum 20% ABV. Higher alcohol content – usually about 40% ABV or higher.
Syrupy consistency. Watery substance.

In a nutshell, the succession is as follows:

Liquor (Base Grain) → Bitters (+Herb/Spice) → Liqueur (+Sugar)

Bourbonized Apricots

This brings me to my Big Experiment of the year. The Bitters.  A few months ago, I began the infusion of various liquors with plant based products, for example, apricots and bourbon.

The result is a softened tasting bourbon and some very potent apricots! Based on the above principles, I added an ounce of vodka and a spoonful of honey. Voila, a homemade liqueur! Notice the change in transparency (see below). Pure Apple Cider is also added to make it into a delicious fall beverage.

Anise is a very fascinating liqueur. In its plain form, it is clear. Add water and watch the change. It becomes cloudy. The licorice oil

Anise Flavoured Liqueur

remains within at the high concentration level when it is sold. As soon as the alcohol concentration changes, it reacts, crystallize get.  This is referred to as the ouzo effect. Not to be confused with actual Ouzo.

 

Fun With Liqueur

1. Shoot it straight up

2. Sip it with ice after dinner.

3. Layer it into a work of art.

4. Try Advocaat for a different edge. They use non-plant additions: egg yolks. Think egg nog (ish)

ABV = alcohol by volume

Apricot-Infused Bourbon with Vodka added
Apricot-Infused Bourbon with the honey then cider added

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on October 16, 2017

It’s National Vodka Day

Vodka, an Eastern European spirit stems from the Russian word voda which means little water.

Polish Vodka is traced back to the 11th Century and was referred to as gorzalka. This translates to “to burn”. Hmm, how proper.

Today, it is more commonly called  Woda in Poland.

I’m not so sure I like Wikipedia’s description of vodka where it states that it is made up of water and ethanol. Think I’ll steer clear of drinking vodka and maybe put some in my gas tank instead.

But really, it is fermented cereal grains, and sometimes, potatoes. Some brands use fruit or sugar.

In 1405, the first written mention of the word vodka comes from court documents  from the Palatinate of Sandomierz in Poland. It refers to medicine while gorzalka was still meant as the distilled drink.

The Age of Vodka

The oldest distillery, Sobieski, dating back to 1864 in Starogard Gdańsk,  Poland.

Made from 100% Dankowski Rye.

In the fields of nearby towns, Freda, Lubichowo, and Osowo Leśne, the grain, specifically for their vodka, is grown. Rye is their specialty and has received a Gold medal for their product.

Despite all this greatness, the cost is very comparable to the ever popular Smirnoff.

A point of interest, if you’re in Poland, visit the largest castle in the world, the 14th Century Malbork Castle, near the Baltic Sea coast.

Also in Poland is the Wierzynek, a restaurant in Kraków, which showcases its long running heritage. The building originates back to the 1300’s!

On opening night in 1364, 5 kings and 5 princes attended the affair. It has maintained upper status ever since.

Smirnoff History in Short

Made from Fermented Corn.

Pyotr Smirnov began his distillery in Moscow in 1864 and labelled it as PA Smirnoff. He pioneered the charcoal method of distillation. His third son, Vladmir Smirnoff took over when Pyotr passed away in 1898 and made it a huge success. For awhile.

In 1904, Vladmir was forced to sell. He re-established the distillery in Constantinople in 1920 after having to flee Russia, escaping, luckily with his recipe, from an anti-alcohol campaign . He moved again to Poland and renamed the vodka, Smirnoff, the French spelling. A second factory opened in Paris in 1925 with marginal success. He joined with Rudolph Kunett but ran into financial trouble. Enter John Martin, of A1 Sauce fame who bought the rights to Smirnoff in 1939. Martin marketed the corn-based spirit as the “white whisky” with no taste and no smell.

A Soviet-based Vodka made from wheat and rye.

They, too, use the charcoal method which they believe mellows the spirit and removes impurities.

Something to make note of: Regular Smirnoff is gluten-free whereas, the flavoured Smirnoff, all 31 of them, are not.

Żubrówka is a pale yellow vodka distilled from rye. Translated, it is Bison Grass Vodka. The Bison Grass is grown in Białowieża Forest, Poland.

Gotta love wikipedia. They have compiled a list of vodka, the country they’re  from, and from what they are fermented.

I dare say, Canada has one of the coolest looking bottles in the list! You’ve probably seen it in your liquor store?

Not on the list, however, is Beattie’s which is made from potatoes. They are situated in Alliston, Ontario but the family-owned business has Scottish heritage.

Wherever you are, there is likely a distillery nearby to  try out for National Vodka Day.

Some may drink this spirit straight but personally, I prefer to mix it, especially in a Caesar.

Mix it up with almost anything! Cranberry juice, 7-UP, I hear Mountain Dew is quite good, too, lemonade, even throw some in your Sangria for an extra kick. Add a mix of pineapple and orange juice or each on their own. Not that I’m promoting it but Red Bull is a staple mix for it now. It does taste good but so not good for you for so many reasons. But that’s another blog….

The dangerous thing about mixing with vodka is how it sneaks up on you. It is virtually tasteless so you think you’re drinking juice, or whatever your mix is, then drink a ton of them. End of story. We know where THAT leads….to a day after hangover!

So please drink responsibly.

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on October 4, 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Are YOU Doing For Oktoberfest?

On October 12, 1810, King Ludwig married  Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The entire town was invited to the celebration on the fields at the front of the city gates. These fields were named Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s Meadow”), to honour the Princess.

Horse races were held on October 18, 1810 to honour the newly wed couple.

The celebrations were repeated the following year and have continued ever since. Well, mostly. They skipped the year 1813, considering Bavaria’s involvement in the Napoleonic War. Over the years, occasional years have been missed, as well, due to cholera outbreaks, depression and World Wars I and II.

In 1819, it was declared an annual event and in later years, officials pushed the date back. The temperatures in late September were much more tolerable and the days were longer.

Since 1850, there has been a parade to honour the wedding of King Ludwig and his bride, to mimic the one that occurred in 1810.

The parade starts in downtown Munich and ends at the fairgrounds, today known as Weisn, where the town Mayor officially opens the taps at exactly 12:00 pm.

12 gunshots are sounded off to alert the town’s restaurant owners that they can officially open their beer taps.

Oktoberfest is a huge fair with amusement rides, beer tents, music, games and and all of the traditional foods famous of Germany.

Munich, Germany

In Munich this year, celebrations are held under the Schottenhamel tent in Thereisienwiese. It might be a good idea to reserve a spot in the beer tent as it will fill up quickly. Once it does, they close off entrances. There are many options of getting there.

More than 6 million people visit this particular Oktoberfest every year. Can you imagine how much beer is served to accommodate all these visitors?!

In 2013, 7.7 million litres of it! Get your litre on September 16 until October 3rd.

While you’re in Munich, skate at the Olympic rink or swim in the Olympic sized pool. 1972 was the year of Olga Korbut so take a trip down memory lane.

Where Is The Second Largest Oktoberfest Celebration Held?

Next to the massive Munich celebrations, Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, nailed this one. They are rivaled to be the second largest fair in the world with somewhere between 750,000 and 1 million visitors. It is the largest in North America and runs from October 10-18 this year.

Oktoberfest leads up to the Canadian Thanksgiving Parade which is televised annually from Kitchener-Waterloo, the very German region of Ontario. Despite the mass numbers in attendees, it still does not reach the caliber of Munich with the exciting roller coasters.

Across The World

Next in line, as far as size is concerned, is Blumenau, Brazil where 700,000 people attend the 33 year old festival. It runs from October 8-26.

Otto Blumenau, a German philosopher, founded the town along with 17 countrymen and established it as a farming community in 1850. Of the 320,000 residents, 30% are of German descent. Remember, this is Brazil!

Downtown Cincinnati, Ohio, with it’s large German region, puts on a fairly large Oktoberfest. Aside from the usual fare of beer, food, more food, music, they at least feature one out of the ordinary event. Weiner dog races!

They claim to be the second largest with anywhere between 500,000 and 650,000 annual attendees. This slightly pales to the Ontario version with 750,000 people. Their week long festival runs from September 19-26.

The Marco Polo Hotel, in Hong Kong, hosts a 23 day festival where an attendee might drink a modest 1 and a half litres of Lowenbrau-equivalent beer, or about 4 cups per person. Get there early, though, because they only serve 200 steins per night. The festival starts October 17 and ends November 8.

Brisbane, Australia, Frankenmuth, Michigan and Fredricksburg, Texas are just a few cities that have been celebrating Oktoberfest for years with the usual set-up.

It would be great to find a city that created a little more edge and excitement to compare to Munich, Germany. So, I’ll keep going….

South Africa brings a travelling Oktoberfest show, Bierfest, to various cities from September to November. These add a little sparkle with a costume contest. From Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg, a 4,000 seat tent is set up for the festivities.

Another in South Africa is Oktoberfest SA with a big list of musical entertainment.

The National Beer Festival in Argentina, started by German immigrants in 1963, is held at Villa General Belgrano, Córdoba. The 6,000 German residents of Belgrano welcome 30,000 people for their festival that has run for 52 years. Catch this one from October 6-16.

Now we’re talking…. Portland, Oregon treats their partygoers right! They offer roller skating, mini golf, performances and rollercoasters.

Colorado has it going on, too, with an outdoor DJ in the ballpark region in Denver.

Tampa, Florida even celebrates and holds a “Carry The Wench”. Men carry their wives through an obstacle course.

Miami hosts a ferris wheel and a zipline. Now it’s getting fun!

Here is a list of what has been organized across Florida but double check as the site may not be updated due to the storms.

Festivities are literally everywhere. Where is the one closest to you? All it takes is a Google search.

Update: In lieu of the hurricanes, flooding and fires happening all over the world recently, some festivals  may be cancelled. Godspeed to those who have lost and suffered through this devastation.

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe for Oktoberfest 2017

 

Want The Bottom Line on Red Wine? Here’s 10!

Hot on the heels of Pinot Noir Day, we have, yet again, reason to celebrate with a glass of wine.

Red wine, that is.

Uno. The ideal temperature for wine storage is from 45-65 F or 4-18 C. And the same temperature must remain constant, no fluctuations. The colder it is, the longer it will last.

I mean, really, have you ever left a bottle of wine the trunk of your car in the summer heat? It’s done, vinegar. Don’t drink it.

Dos. Shorter fermentation period = low histamines

Tres. Low sugar content = drier wine, sugar depletes the liquid in your head which will cause a headache so if there’s less sugar, there’s less chance of a headache. And please, avoid eating something sugary when drinking wine. Double Trouble.

Cuatro. Humidity should be between 60-80% to slow down the aging process.

Cinco. Keep it out of direct sunlight. For the same reason. Dim lighting is ok.

Sample Organic Section

Seis. Organic = low sulphites

A couple of examples: Domaine Jean Bousquet, 35 South and this Bordeaux

Siete. Tannins = a preservative, there could be some truth to the wine drinker being well-preserved.

Tannins are present due to the grape skins, seeds, stems and the good old oak barrel.

Beaujolais or a Tempranillo tend to have lower levels of tannins. If you don’t live in Canada, search your local liquor store for a good brand.

Nueve. For those who stay away from wine because they give you a headache? It’s dehydrating you…drink water.

Diez. Oxygen = killing your wine.

So yes, if you transfer unused wine to a smaller bottle, it will maintain it’s freshness. I picked up a mini bottle and re-use it all the time now. Grab one near the liquor store check-out. If  there isn’t any room for the oxygen to sit within your bottle, it won’t break down.

Better yet, grab your friend and enjoy the whole bottle today for Red Wine Day!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on August 28, 2017

 

Prefer Bourbon or Whisky For Your Sour?

Simple…. Delicious…. Whisky Sour.

1 oz bourbon…. Why bourbon? Because it tastes better!

3 oz lemon/lime

Made the best way…with Bourbon

Garnish with whatever you like but traditionally it is with a lemon wedge and a maraschino cherry.

For National Whisky Sour Day, try these variations:

Boston Sour – same as above but shake with an egg white and ice.

Ward 8 – same as above but add orange juice and grenadine.

I’m not knocking the whisky. I’ve had a few sours in my day and loved them! Then, one kind bartender made one for me with Bourbon. I’ll never go back to whisky now!

As a quick reminder, whisky could be made from various grains such as wheat, rye, maize or barley and is aged in charred white oak barrels.

Elliot Stubb claims to have invented the Whisky sour in 1872.

Prince Edward County’s Finest Whisky

But let’s back up 2 years. In the weekly Waukesha, Wisconsin newspaper, Waukesha Plaindealer,  on Tuesday, January 4, 1870, there is an article written by Terence McGrant (Irish cousin to former President Ulysses S. Grant) who makes a reference to this cocktail: “Amen,” says the Methodist, as he ordered another whisky sour. (In the link above, 4th column from left, near the bottom).

Back it up even further, to 1862, when Jerry Thomas published The Bartender’s Guide. His Whisky Cocktail is strangely close to what we know as a whisky sour today. Enter “50” in the page number box to find it.

In the same fashion as the rum rations of the 17th Century, whisky would have substituted rum since it was more readily available. Otherwise, you had to wait for the rum to arrive. Surely, that wasn’t happening! To the rye, the juice from a lemon or lime would be added.

Since the real origins could be anywhere in the world, and since I couldn’t find any older concrete evidence other than Terence McGrant’s article, let’s go with Wisconsin!

Not too far from Waukesha is the city of festivals, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There’s always something going on. Today on Whisky Sour Day, there is a Mexican Fiesta running for the next 2 days. Don’t miss the tequila tasting. Ahem, a little off topic but worthwhile just the same.

Take your pick of distilleries scattered throughout Wisconsin, with 3 of them in Milwaukee, to include on your next visit. They’re on my list!

Find someone to concoct your whisky sour today or whip one up at home. It’s so easy. Check your freezer section for frozen concentrated limeade, even lemonade, and make a pitcher of it to share with friends. It’s Friday after all!

Experiment with the lemons and limes to find out how you like it best.

What’s your preference, whisky or bourbon?

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on August 25, 2017.

What your cocktail will look like shaken with an egg white.

 

 

 

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

10 mg of sugar

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.