This is the most popular way to request a Martini. But is it better this way?
Dissolves the vermouth, less oily + lighter, refreshing
Velvety smooth texture – the oils are left behind.
Becomes very cold, very fast – shake for only 10-15 seconds
Becomes chilled slower – stir for 60 seconds for best results.
Aerates – creates small bubbles
Lack of bubbles leaves a different taste
Try swapping methods the next time you put together this or any other drink. If it’s meant to be shaken, stir it and see how different it tastes.
Who is Alessandro Martini?
Born in 1834 in Florence, Italy, Alessandro Martini became one of the founding fathers of the Martini & Rossi company.
The owners of a vermouth making company, Michel Agnel Re and Baudino, hired Alessandro Martini and Teofilo Sola, an accountant, in 1851. When these founding fathers had all passed away, Martini and Sola created Martini, Sola and Cia in 1863.
Luigi Rossi was born in the small village, Val della Torre in Italy, but moved, later in life, to Turin to begin his studies of winemaking and herbology. He soon opened his own in Via Dora Grossa, now Via Garibaldi.
His brilliant work of blending herbs caught the attention of Martini and Sola. In 1863, they invited him to join the team. We can thank Rossi for the actual flavoring of their vermouth. Martini was the marketer.
Only in 1879 did the company become Martini & Rossi. Sola passed away that year. The company flourished along with the fashion houses and Italian car industry and Puccini who was composing the opera, La Boheme.
In 1884, they opened branches in Buenes Aires, Geneva, Barcelona and a steam distillery in Montechiaro d’Asti.
Rossi passed away in 1892. Alessandro Martini passed away in 1905 and by then the company had been distributing to 70 countries. In 192, the company name changed to simply, Martini.
World War II caused some losses. The German plant was destroyed and the Turin, Italy plant was evacuated. The company maintained their workforce during the war but has since re-built it into a huge success.
To note, Juventus Stadium is located in Turin. An Italian football game would be an exciting addition to your Italian trip. Catch their next game on August 13, 2017!
The Varieties Are Endless
A Martini is made up of 2 parts gin and 1 part vermouth.
Dry Martini uses dry, white vermouth.
Splash a little olive juice in it and it’s called a Dirty Martini.
Perfect Martini uses equal amounts of sweet and dry vermouth.
Garnishes are an optional olive or lemon peel twist.
Look online for a martini that strikes your fancy. Here are few refreshing ideas.
Another option is bitters, such as orange bitters. Some versions call for this ingredient. Bitters are made from alcohol, or glycerin, with barks, fruit peels, roots, seeds, spices, herbs, flowers or other botanicals.
Bitters can get expensive. They range from $25 and up for an average sized 750 mL bottle at the LCBO. Not to mention all the additives, so here is a recipe with plenty of ideas if you would like to try making your own.
After scratching around my own kitchen, I started my own botany corner. The mixes I used are listed on the side. My next step is to buy the dropper bottles and begin mixing flavours. I think they’re ready because they smell delicious!
Ace Mercado in Ottawa has a selection of bitters in tiny bottles that they keep handy on their counter. If Marty is on shift, he will fix you something absolutely wonderful with them.
Alot of times, if you’re mixing up a new drink and find the taste lacking something, drop in a few dashes of any bitters. The taste will likely have a beneficial effect. This theory will be tested soon and I will post the results.
There are other stories from San Francisco where patrons believed the drink originated at the Occidental Hotel in the 1860’s. Or the other story that that the people of Martinez believe it originated in their town.
Wherever you are in the world, enjoy your Martini, today, the way YOU like it!
With my new love for bourbon (I can still taste my Mint Julep), I dove in to taste testing. On a Monday night, some bars remain closed, no doubt to recuperate from a crazy weekend.
I managed to find one southern establishment in Ottawa open to satisfy my curiosity for bourbon. Fat Boys Smokehouse. Food so authentic, a gentleman who shall remain nameless, from the south, swears it tasted like home. True story.
Unique to Fat Boy’s is their homemade bourbon, called Bacon Bourbon. It’s made with Jim Beam Black and their own concoction of bacon and other spices. So, if you LOVE bacon, all I have to say is 34 Murray Street. Tonight.
The bartender, Cat, is still learning the extensive ins and outs of bourbon but was able to offer plenty of information.
Collectively, through her and poking around in other places, here is what I’ve learned.
With its close relation to whiskey, bourbon is identified by law for its content. Yes, there are laws for how bourbon is made.
The mash (the grains used to distill) must contain at least 51% corn. The rest can be any combination of barley, rye, rice, oats or wheat.
For it to be called Bourbon, the mash has to be distilled at a maximum of 80% alcohol by volume (ABV) and transferred to a barrel when it has reached no more than 62.5% ABV. When it is bottled, it has to be at least 40% ABV.
The percentages drop due to evaporation. Alcohol evaporates at 172 degrees and water at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. If more water evaporates, you’ll have a higher proof. If more alcohol evaporates, the proof will be less. Think juice concentrate.
The real good news? No additives are allowed in Bourbon. Whatever naturally occurs, such as the tannins, is allowed.
Only a brand new charred oak barrel can be used for aging. Otherwise, it’s not bourbon. These barrels are moved to other distilleries, such as Scotland, for the aging of Scotch, or elsewhere in the US, to age whiskey.
This law originates from tradition. Centuries ago, Kentucky distillers filled oak barrels with the spirit, sent it upriver on the Mississippi to the East Coast. By the time it arrived, it had aged sufficiently.
Since Kentucky had so many oak trees, it was more cost effective to just make new barrels instead of having the original ones returned.
Plus, as the Scots say, It has lost it’s virtue. The compounds, tannins, lactones, vanillin, and hemicellulose, are all released from the wood into the bourbon so the flavoring decreases for the next round.
Check out this fascinating video of how barrels are made in a modern day factory. Not a drop of glue is used! Non-factory versions of making oak barrels, also very interesting, can be seen in this video.
Bourbon can be made anywhere, and be called such, as long as these rules are followed.
It makes a lot of sense that Kentucky is a central region for the production of this liquor since one of its major leading field crops is corn. The Bluegrass State produces 95% of the world’s supply of bourbon! Other leading crops are tobacco, wheat and soybeans.
When a batch of bourbon is specifically chosen to be bottled from one barrel, each batch will have a slightly different taste from the other. Whereas with Small Batch, the contents from many different barrels are blended together so the taste is more unified.
You get a better quality, in my opinion. I taste tested 3: Buffalo Trace, Four Roses Single Barrel and Wild Turkey. Four Roses had the smoother taste.
Drink it straight up and you get that firey tingle in your mouth. A few drops of water changes the taste instantly, smoothes it out. Thank you for the wonderful advice, Cat! (Fat Boys Bartender).
This version is aged at least 2 years in the barrel. If it’s aged 4 years or less, the distillery is required to label the amount of time it spent in the barrel. Over 4 years, this requirement is not necessary. That’s why you won’t always see the age of the bourbon.
Kentucky Straight Bourbon can only be made in Kentucky, for obvious reasons but there are bourbon distilleries all over the world. Most of them are in the States and a select few elsewhere such as Ireland, Scotland, the UK and even one here in Ontario.
According to Jim Beam‘s Fred “Booker” Noe, The Kentucky Hug happens when you get your first sip of bourbon. Your mouth comes alive and your esophagus heats up as it courses down your throat. He came up with this phrase and the Kentucky Chew. Which is basically how to taste test bourbon.
If your prefer off the beaten path places while you’re in Kentucky state, I’ve provided a few sweet ideas here.
Sour or Sweet Mash
If already distilled mash is put back into the fermentation, it is considered sour mash. Only fresh water and grains are used in the fermentation process of sweet mash.
Bourbon County was established in 1785 and was named after the French Royal Family. See the House of Bourbon family tree.
Contrary to popular belief, Elijah Craig was not the first producer of bourbon. The Baptist minister of The Blue Run Church, in 1771, does takes credit for the first to use oak barrels in the aging process.
It is hard to determine one single inventor of the liquor.
As with most liquor, beer and wine, the original producers date back longer than we realize. The method of distilling bourbon was likely brought from Scotland in the late 1700’s and has since morphed into what we know bourbon as today, thanks to Elijah Craig and many others.
So, get out there and get your Kentucky Hug today!
In the 1700’s, the United States struggled from financing the American Revolution so the government placed a federal tax on liquor and spirits.
Not taking too kindly to this tax, Americans continued to make their own whiskey without paying the tax. The war that just ended was supposed to free them of the British taxes. Why would they be happy about a new one?
For those making their own whiskey, it was their livelihood, not a hobby or a way to cushion meager incomes. This was their income. If farmers had a bad year for crops, they used the corn to make whiskey. The sales from their moonshine made it possible to survive and feed their family. If they paid the required tax, they couldn’t eat.
They even fought off the federal agents who came knocking, going so far as to tar and feather some of them.
The American People established a Whiskey Rebellion in 1794 and stormed Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. George Washington’s army dispersed the mob and captured the leaders, putting an end to the rebellion.
They were not deterred. The production of moonshine continued across the United States, especially in Kentucky, Virginia and the Carolinas.
Nor was the government deterred from upholding the taxes on alcohol which led to legendary gun fights.
The government needed more money to fund the Civil War when it broke out. Their battles with the delinquent taxpayers increased. Moonshiners and Ku Klux Klansmen joined forces and stepped up their methods of intimidation. They attacked IRS officials and their families and anyone who might reveal the location of the hidden whiskey stills.
The early 1900’s saw the beginning of the laws that banned alcohol sales and consumption. Once 1920 hit, Prohibition swept the nation. You couldn’t get your hands on any legal alcohol.
The demand for moonshine went through the roof. Production went into high gear. To keep up with demand, distillers did whatever they could to increase profits. They added sugar and watered down their moonshine.
Speakeasies and organized crime touched every city, every state in back rooms and basements. Some were built on a pier for easy access of shipments through the floor. They crafted secret rooms, rotating shelves, trap doors, fake walls, secret passages, camouflaged doors, and emergency disposal shafts.
Club 21 in New York, fashioned collapsing walls and revolving bars so the doorman could alert them of an oncoming raid. All of the liquor would be hidden from sight. Their secret passages led to the basement of No. 19. Authorities never found alcohol on their premises! Club 21 is still in operation at 21 West 52nd Street, New York.
Why was it called a Speakeasy? From the phrase, Speak Easy, Man which means lower your voice. Or it could have been from the ‘speakeasy’ in the door, to announce yourself.
In 1933, Prohibition was repealed and the demand for moonshine dwindled. The production of moonshine continued but on a much smaller scale even into the 60’s and 70’s. Today, you don’t hear too many stories of it.
If you ever come across a lil brown jug with 3 X’s on it, it was likely used for moonshine. One X for each time the liquid was distilled.
American Prohibition Not The First?
Long before the American Prohibition, England had its own run-in with government bans on alcohol in the 16th Century. The term Moonshine is said to have come about from the late night excursions to avoid the law. The product: Moonshine. The Movers (bootleggers): Moonrakers.
Speaking of terms, it’s also called hooch, mountain dew, white lightning. Other unusual names are corn in a jar, blue john, bush whiskey, donkey punch and popskull.
Where Did The Term Bootlegger Start?
During prohibition, people could walk across the border from Maine into Canada with a couple of bottles hidden inside their boot.
Where Is Prohibition Still In Effect?
According to wikipedia, there are a number of countries enforcing prohibition. Afghanistan, Bangledesh, Brunei, Iran, Iraq, some states in India, Libya, Kuwait, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Somolia, to name a few.
United States 1920-1933
Canada 1918-1920. But not Quebec. Apparently, Canadians liked their liquor too much, it only lasted 2 years!
Faroe Islands 1907-1992
Russian Empire and the Soviet Union 1914-1923
And the award for the shortest prohibition period goes to……..
Hungarian Soviet Republic March 21 to August 1, 1919
Visit any local spirit distillery and chances are they will have an unoaked whiskey/whisky aka moonshine sitting on their shelf.
Where To Get It, Legally!
North of 7, in Ottawa, produces White Dog and packs a good punch. You want to be careful with that stuff! Yet, strangely, kind of tasty. At least now it’s off my bucket list.
Dillon’s, in the Niagara region, produces a white rye among other flavoured liquors.
Distilleries are not hard to find near your city or town, they are everywhere nowadays.
Just make sure you get your Hooch from a reputable source. Impurities, such as methanol alcohol, gather at the top of the batch so the first cup should be tossed by the distillers. You may want to stay away from the backwoods distilleries just in case they don’t perform this task.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jigger of Gordon’s Gin (11⁄2 oz Beefeater)
2 dash Cointreau (1⁄2 oz Cointreau)
Juice of 1 Lemon (1 oz Lemon Juice)
1 tsp Raspberry Syrup (1 tsp homemade)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Happy G & T Day! In this version, pictured left, it is made with the colorful Jack’s Tonique, made local, in Quebec, by Joel Beaupre and Mathieu Guillemette. It has a crisp, unique bitter taste but rich and delicious. My tastebuds quickly accustomed to the unusual flavour and I, soon, realized I downed it quite easily.
An official Gin Day will arrive later in the year when I will explore Gin’s exact origins.
Today will be dedicated strictly to G & T.
Compare this robust colored version with the clean and clear one that is most commonly made with carbonated tonic water.
With a little help, we can spread the word of more flavourful and healthier Tonics, such as Jack’s, to use instead. You only use an ounce or 2 max per drink so the 500ml bottle will last quite awhile. Mix that with 1 1/2 ounces of gin and top it with club soda and it will be a beautiful rich, golden color, as above.
Quinine – Pro or Con?
One of the ingredients in the final product of tonic water/syrup is cinchona bark. By boiling this bark, quinine is created. There are health benefits to this, however, too much of it can be hard on the system. It has been known to treat leg cramps, lupus (an autoimmune disease) and arthritis.
Quinine can help to relax muscles and ease muscle spasms. Originally, quinine was administered as an anti-malarial drug in the 17th Century.
On the other hand, a large build up of quinine can be serious with side effects ranging from headache to vomiting. People have been hospitalized with symptoms lasting a few weeks. Keep in mind, they didn’t have just a couple of gin an tonics on a Friday night. They overdosed on it.
From what I’ve discovered, it’s easier to overdose on it if you’re trying to make your own at home. In many of the cases, cinchona bark powder, and too much of it, was used. The powder is harder to filter so you end up with more grains in your actual drink. Leave this to the professionals. Today’s tonic water has very little quinine.
The Food and Drug Act banned quinine treatments in 2010 due to it’s serious side effects. Now there are restrictions on the amount of quinine allowed in tonic. If a doctor had prescribed it, the recommended dosage might have been 500-1000 mg.
In the carbonated drinks, do not exceed 2.48 mg of quinine per ounce of liquid. Therefore, if a gin and tonic is 1.5 oz of gin and 4.5 oz of Schweppes tonic water, you’re looking at 11.16 mg of quinine.
Now that I was concerned about the quinine content in homemade tonics, I emailed Jack’s Tonique to inquire.
Joel Beaupre promptly responded to assure me the levels were safe.
“The amount of quinine in our artisan tonic slighty fluctuates from batch to batch as we steep it from a natural bark that contains the quinine. Too many variables are involved to give a definite number. That being said, we use very little bark and have a low level of quinine compared to the big brands!” -Joel Beaupre
I can’t wait to try their new Ginger Beer! The only sweetener they use in their soda is pure Quebec honey. Again…..healthy!
Who Made the First Gin & Tonic?
Now I have THAT out of my system, we can get on to Britain, home of the Gin & Tonic.
Gin originates from London and word spread to the British Army of tonic’s benefits. In the 17th Century, quinine was used to combat malaria. A British officer realized alcohol, gin in particular, would help the bitter tonic to go down easier. Little did they realize it would save hundreds of lives.
However, the tonic had already been discovered. In the 1630’s an Augustinian Monk found a tree with possible remedies, in the forests of the Andes Mountains. He published a notice regarding the treatment, burying it in a work on the Augustinian Order.
“A tree grows which they call the fever tree, in the country of Loxa, whose bark of the color of cinnamon, made into powder amounting to the weight of two small silver coins and given as a beverage, cures the fevers and tertiana; it has produced miraculous results in Lima.
-Antonio de Calancha, Monk of the Augustinian Order
The bark from this tree, known as cinchona, or Jesuit’s Bark, was boiled to gain the medicinal properties of what is now called quinine. Some cinchona tree species grow to about 18 feet and span 1 to 2 feet in diameter.
Juniper Berries, The Super Food
Gin is produced from these berries which combat bacteria and can be treated for rheumatism, arthritis and cystitis. It can help with bloating and water retention and improves digestion since it increases saliva and digestive enzymes.
If crushed, it can be used topically on wounds as an antiseptic.
However, excessive use of the berries could lead to kidney irritation.
Today’s tonic contains artificial sweetener so it is much more pleasant to drink.
Any establishment in Ottawa will serve up a Gin and Tonic but if you’re looking to try the homemade tonic before you purchase the full bottle, visit the following and make sure you ask the server to make it with Jack’s Tonique.
12 restaurants in Ottawa serve it with Jack’s including the following:
When you’re ready to purchase a bottle of the tonic, choose from 14 different establishments including:
North of 7 Distillery – 1733 St. Laurent Blvd.
The Red Apron – 564 Gladstone St.
Viens Avec Moi – 1338 Wellington
Thyme & Again – 1255 Wellington St.
The relatively new company, Jack’s Tonique, has launched their products from its origins in Quebec to as far east as New Brunswick and to western Canada, with much of the concentration in Montreal and Ottawa.
I discovered another tonic and have yet to find an establishment that uses these Split Tree tonic in their drinks. But you can still purchase the bottle at these locations, as well as Thyme & Again.
Hot off the heels of Bock Beer Day, is yet another Beer Day. Much like the Wine Days we get throughout the year, expect to see more on beer as well.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a beer fan but I am developing an appreciation for the production of it.
We have a wealth of local breweries, using organic produce, at our fingertips here in Ottawa so wherever you live, I would be sure you have one near your back door.
The use of local produce such as grains, is growing fast. Lucky for us, restaurants, grocery stores, distilleries and vineyards are increasing their availability of organic products. Many local farmers, where these grains come from, are registered with Canadian Organic Growers so you know you’re drinking, and eating, healthier.
You don’t have to venture far to find them! Most Metro Food Stores carry their products which include pancake batter, purple corn chips and various whole grain flour, to name just a few.
I’ll be using their purple corn chips for all of my nachos now since I’ve discovered their great health benefits.
“Studies indicate the antioxidant, anthocyanins, found in purple corn, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, inhibit abnormal cell growth, promote collagen formation, and improve circulation.” –Source
Be sure to watch the Pancake Testings! The link is under the ‘extras’.
Their pancake mix also contains purple corn meal, the great antioxidant. If you’re at a loss of how to use any of their products, they provide over 30 recipes for entrees, desserts, pastry and bread here.
Specializing in corn products, they offer chemical-free and preservative-free grain of different coarseness. The family-owned farm is located east of Alexandria at the Quebec border.
As I browse each Ontario Organic Farm’s websites, I find something unique with each one. Some farms make furniture or woven sheep blankets, some provide guided tours or education programs, cooking classes or offer volunteer programs.
If you’re interested in learning how to grow organic food, grain, etc, the Canadian Organic Growers is offering courses in Ontario and BC. The Ottawa course has been postponed to 2018.
Our own local breweries are increasingly popular. When visiting some of these establishments, it was hard to have extended conversations with proprietors due to the steady traffic of customers. And this is mid-week!
All I can say is, Way to Go Ottawa, for choosing local!
It was a tad chilly that night so I rushed in to the Lowertown and the first thing I noticed was that delicious aroma of freshly burning wood, real wood, and wondered where it came from. Apparently, I walked right by it on my way in. Did I mention it was cold?
The Awesome Barkeep, Matthew, at Lowertown Brewery helped me figure out which kind of beer is best suited to my taste. Despite how busy it was, he kindly took the time to answer my questions, explain the science of beer and let me sample 6 different flavours. All of this in between serving his customers. What a pro!
Matthew helped me discover that I like non-bitter type beers which turns out to be their Dark Lager. Go figure. Never thought I would be the Guinness type. Like my wine, I like them smooth!
Many pubs offer “Flights” of beer, or wine, to sample various flavours. I highly recommend ordering one of these, share with a few friends, and discover your preference.
Might I add that the Lowertown store is open until 11pm. So, if you’ve missed the shut down of the King Edward LCBO at 10pm, you still have time to grab a couple brewskies on your way home.
At Beyond The Pale, the frontman is very helpful and gracious, despite the steady traffic. They sell their cans in packs of 4 at the Hamilton Street facility but you can find singles at LCBO.
I was able to sample 4 different beers but didn’t care for any in particular. This means nothing because it’s not my drink of choice. For those who prefer beer, you will certainly find a brew you like. It’s quite clear they are popular.
Tooth and Nail offers 3 samples of your choice. I particularly requested non-bitter flavours but did not find anything that compared to the Dark Lager at Lowertown. It’s not just a distillery. The pub is full sized and was busy enough to not be able to have a conversation with any of the staff. Again, mid-week. I couldn’t even ask why they are named Tooth and Nail.
They, as well, stay open beyond the regulatory LCBO hours, except on Sundays.
Keep in mind that most local breweries are closed Sundays, some on Monday as well, as it is their brewing day. For sampling, best to visit them Tuesday to Saturday.
Mill St Brew Pub offers guided tours at certain times of the day yet my research team were served the royal treatment by Jeremy. Open for about 5 years, he has
been working there for the last 4, he knows every beer inside and out. There seemed to be no limit to the sampling. They brew 4 different flavours on site, the rest are produced at the Toronto location.
Again, my favorite was a dark beer, the Cobblestone Stout. Could have something to do with the chocolate content. Mill St originally started as an organic brewery back in 2002 and has grown to cover every spectrum of flavour from citrus to chocolate to chamomile.
If you sidle up to your local pub, chances are pretty good you’re going to find the Mill St logo if not one of their beers. I’m noticing more of the smaller micro-breweries popping up on the drink menus, too.
As far as brew pubs go, I highly recommend BDT – Brasseur Du Temps – in Gatineau. Beautifully located by the water on the historic site of the first brewery in the area, their unique style and attractions keep me going back. For your seating, choose the side bar that overlooks the factory and the kitchen. Before you leave, visit the museum below where they house antique artifacts of beer production. It keeps the same hours as the pub and you’re free to browse.
It’s a must see!
Why No Mention Of Standard Beer?
We spend all week trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle when it comes to our food or cleaning products then by Sunday morning we’ve undone all the good we’ve accomplished by having a few drinks Saturday night with friends or family.
Alcohol is metabolized by the body differently than food. It bypasses the digestive system, is absorbed into the body and goes straight to the liver. Your liver is the main fat-burning organ in our bodies so if you’re trying to lose weight, alcohol will deter this. Your liver chooses to metabolize the alcohol first before it tackles any fat cells. Your liver also removes toxins so if it’s overloaded with alcohol, it has a hard time eliminating the toxins which can lead to rapid aging, loss of libido and other conditions.
Do You Know What You’re Drinking?
Beer, being in 2nd place after water and tea as a favorite beverage, is not required by law to label their ingredients on their products. Check your beer bottle or can. Calorie levels and alcohol content are only sometimes on the label. They are under no obligation to disclose their ingredients to anyone.
I couldn’t encourage anyone to ingest anything that is unhealthy which is why I am restricting this to organic.
The government regulates what can and cannot be present in beer. Lucky us, this is the list of “Legal” Ingredients Allowed in Commercial Beer:
MSG – an addictive mixture of sodium and amino acid glutamate which can cause headaches, facial pressure, numbness, tingling, chest pain, nausea and heart palpitations.
Propylene Glycol – also found in anti-freeze.
Calcium Disodium EDTA – made from formaldehyde, sodium cayanide, and Ethylenediamine.
Sulphites and anti-microbial preservatives – have been linked to allergies and asthma.
Natural Flavors – can come from anything natural including a beavers anal gland. (Still convinced you’re drinking the right beer?)
BPA – Bisphenol A is a component in many tin can liners and it may leach into the beer. BPA can mimic the female hormone estrogen and may affect sperm count, and other organ functions.
Animal Based Clarifiers -Findings include isinglass (dried fish bladder), gelatin (from skin, connective tissue, and bones), and casein (found in milk).
FD&C – Made from petroleum, linked to allergies, asthma and hyperactivity.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)
Carcinogens – Newcastle beer apparently heats ammonia and sulphites under high pressure which creates carcinogenic compounds in the caramel coloring they add. These compounds are known to cause cancer and tumours in rats and mice. – See the Full List
So, if you want to maintain the healthy lifestyle you work so hard for, look for non-GMO and additive-free food and alcohol products.
Still not convinced? The few commercial beers available without GMO’s are Heinekin, Sierra Nevada and Amstel Light.
My next beer will definitely be local, organic from the tap. However, I’m not rushing out for one. I’m completely beered out – a big thank you to my beer testers for helping me not to consume too much. You know who you are and you rock!
What Else Can You Do With Your Beer?
Once you’ve found a good organic beer, you can do more than just drink it!
Butterflies and slugs are attracted to it. So if you want more butterflies and less slugs leave some leftover beer out in the garden.
Rinse your hair with it to benefit from the Vitamin B and natural sugars to add body and shine. It will help increase vitality, resilience and hold.
Remove stains by pouring some on coffee stains, blot and it should come out.
Marinate meat and mushrooms but you probably know this one already.
Polish your copper pots.
Beer vs Prostitution.
They say the oldest profession is prostitution well…beer making may be the oldest! Apparently prostitution is estimated at 5,000 years old. Beer is estimated to be 7,000 years old, originating in Iran. Some even say it began 12,000 ago.
What Caused The London Beer Flood?
In 1814 London, 570 tons of beer, equivalent to 1 million pints, exploded from a vat that had too much pressure build up. 8 people lost their lives in that huge mess. “Not only did the brewery escape paying damages to the destitute victims, it received a waiver from the British Parliament for excise taxes it had already paid on the thousands of barrels of beer it lost.” – Source
In the Middle Ages many other mixtures of herbs were added to beer for bitterness and flavour prior to the use of hops. These mixtures are referred to as gruit, beer produced from botanicals. Hops were cultivated in France as early as the 800s. The oldest surviving written record of the use of hops in beer is in 1067 by writer, Abbess Hildegard of Bingen, Germany: “If one intends to make beer from oats, it is prepared with hops.”
What Are The Hops For?
We’ve all heard the term but how does it affect beer. Hops is the flower from the cone-like hop plant. A member of the hemp family, a hops vine grows to about 7 feet tall in just a few months.
Once compressed for beer making, it is a green pellet ready to add bitterness to the sweet tasting malt to create the perfect balance.
Different types of hops will have different levels of bitterness. It also acts as a preservative.
The first documented use of hops is from 7th Century Europe in Germany in the Hallertau region.
Close to one of every two beers worldwide is brewed with one of the more than 20 types of Hallertau hop.
Hallertau is a region in Bavaria, between Nuremberg and Munich, where plenty of breweries can be found.
Or make it easy on yourself and take the tour. Be sure to catch at least one castle!
Hallertau is the world’s largest hop cultivating region. If you’re so inclined, watch this quick 3 minute video on the cultivation, filmed in Bavaria with it’s fields and fields of hop gardens.
Whether you’re here or there, enjoy a brew today! See you next time! Cheers!
Americans will try to claim the fame of inventing The Cocktail but the origins are European. After all, what is being used? Gin – made in Europe, Vodka – made in Europe, Vermouth – made in Europe.
-“Though fermented beverages had dominated for centuries, 17th century London turned from drinking ale and cider practically overnight. When King William of Orange was enthroned in 1688, he was faced with a dilemma. Years of good harvests left the nation with a grain surplus, driving down prices. To take advantage of this bounty — and “for the health of the nation” — he reduced taxes on distillation. British distillers produced around 500,000 gallons of neutral grain spirit the following year.”-
By the 1720s, London distillers alone produced 20 million gallons of spirits, not including an equally staggering amount of illicit alcohol. It was estimated that one out of every four habitable structure in London housed a working gin still.
The earliest use of the word “Cocktail” was discovered in the March 20, 1798, edition of The Morning Post and Gazetteer, a London newspaper no longer in operation.
The paper had reported a story of a landlord who won a lottery and went to his establishment and erased the tabs of the regular patrons. The newspaper then listed who owed what, including a certain William Pitt who owed for “L’huile de Venus”, “perfait [sic] amour”, and a less French drink: “‘cock-tail’ (vulgarly called ginger).”
The most common use of the term “cocktail” at the time was in reference to a horse with its tail cut short to indicate it was of mixed breed.
A colic remedy for horses consisted of water, oats, gin and ginger.
America can stake its claim to the cocktail’s surge in popularity in part through the work of Jerry Thomas, a Connecticut resident who, in 1862, wrote the first book in the United States with a section dedicated for cocktail recipes. Historians have gone so far as to call him the American Father of Modern Bartending but he actually worked in London prior to writing the famous book plus he wasn’t born American.
American tourists were on the rise in London, England. London cashed in on this and opened numerous ‘cocktail joints’. The creative bartenders constantly dreamed up new drinks. Many of which were brought back to America and made an official drink. A few years later that particular drink was introduced in Europe labelled as an “American Drink.”
The Savoy, one of those swanky Cocktail Joints, became notorious for American Bar Nights masking as charity fund raisers in the early 20th Century.
The first female bartenders of London were Ruth Burgess and Ada Coleman, better known as Kitty and Coley. Ada’s first cocktail she prepared was a Manhattan, taught to her by Fisher, the wine butler at the Claridge Hotel. However, “Kitty” had been tending bar a few years before Ada arrived on The Savoy scene where together they flourished.
The Hanky Panky
Ada brewed up some Italian vermouth with a few dashes of Fernet Branca (a form of Bitters) for one of her regulars, actor Sir Charles Henry Hawtry who requested ‘something with a punch’. He downed the drink and exclaimed, “Why, Ada, this is the real hanky panky!” The name stuck and is still on The Savoy’s menu today. Ada was promoted to Head Bartender in 1903.
Their heyday would end with the American Prohibition. American bartender, Harry Craddock, returned to London, looking for work since the Prohibition pushed him, and other bartenders, out of the US. Harry was hired at The Savoy and instilled his belief that women should not work in bars. Thirsty Americans swarmed London, listened, and eventually, agreed with him. The phrase bar wench goes back a long way because women were quite dominant, and respected, in taverns.
The owner, Rupert D’Oyly Carte, let Kitty go and transferred Ada to the hotel’s flower shop, using the story that she “retired”. He then promoted Harry Craddock (you might remember the mention of his Savoy Cocktail Book, written in 1930, in an earlier post of mine), to Head Barman.
Harry was thought to be American but he was born near Stroud, Gloucestershire. He moved to America, married an Irish widow then returned to England. He claims to have invented 240 cocktails in his career but were some of these actually Ada’s inventions? Did he use what she was forced to leave behind? She gets credit for only 1 cocktail invention in her 20 year career with The Savoy?
Today, The Savoy boasts 7 in-house restaurants and pubs, of British and a touch of French cuisine. For some Wow factor check out the photo gallery. Aside from The Savoy, some renowned establishments, as suggested by The Telegraph Newsletter, where incredible cocktails are concocted:
Tokyo:Bar High Five, 4th Floor, No.26 Polestar Building, Tokyo, 7-2-14 Ginza, +81 3 3571 5815
Barcelona: Boutique Bar in the Ohla Hotel, Via Laietana, 49, 08003 Barcelona, Spain, +34 933 41 50 50 New York: Pegu Club, 77 West Houston Street,
New York:Pegu Club, 77 West Houston Street, New York, NY 10012, (212) 473-7348
Havana:La Floridita (According to The Telegraph: Ask the doorman if Alejandro is working. If he isn’t, go elsewhere. When he is behind the bar, you can understand why this bar is so widely celebrated). Obispo No.557 esq. a Monserrate, Habana Vieja, Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba, (0)7 8671300.
Meanwhile, here in North America, I’ve done a little digging. In Conneticut, home of Jerry Thomas, visit the unique Gillette Castle. Yes, a medieval castle in America! Built by William Gillette, the stage actor most famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes.
Gillette is the son of former U.S. Senator Francis Gillette and Elizabeth Daggett Hooker Gillette, a descendent of Thomas Hooker, the founder of Hartford. No wonder he could afford to build a castle!
Then there’s the quaint Mystic, Conneticut, a small town, near the castle, with interesting sights. When it’s summer in town, rent bikes, paddle boards, kayaks or take in the many festivals throughout the year. With no lack of things to do, Mystic offers vineyards, beaches, museums, casinos, the popular geo-caching, farmers and art markets with plenty of shops and nightlife. The historical seaport and Olde Mistik Village are a must see!
Ottawa houses its own Savoy Brasserie on Richmond Road, leaning towards French cuisine, with a flair for original cocktails and high class decor. Order the oysters. Please!