Yet another day to celebrate wine. Why not? Everyday is a day to celebrate wine! I will try to encompass all wines here.
Not only is there the common red, white and rose wines but if you look a little deeper, you’ll find ice wine, fortified wine, sake (rice wine), Lille, sparkling and mulled wine (this has already been covered).
Of the common reds and whites, you probably know of a few types within each, probably your favorites.
A Wee Quiz
Can you figure out which is red and which is a white wine? Hint, there are a few pink ones in there, too.
Agiorgitiko (don’t ask me to pronounce this please)
See Quiz Answers – I’ve made note of the wines with low tannins or acidity for those with sensitivities.
White wines tend to be higher in acid levels especially ones from Europe and Canada, cool climate regions.
Warm climates produce low acid wines such as California, Argentina and Australia.
Ways to avoid tannins:
Wines aged in oak barrels will have tannins so find wines that are aged in stainless steel vats or clay pots. One example is Azienda Agricola found at our LCBO. Believe it or not, concrete is now being used as well. On the other hand, tannin can come from the seeds of the grapes as well.
Tannins leach from the grape skins and thick skinned grapes will create an even higher tannin level so look to purchase light bodied wines as they spend less time in contact with the skin during fermentation.
New Oak BarrelsAre ‘Toasted’.
The inside is torched with fire to carmelize the oak and, if burnt long enough, will turn it to charcoal. The longer it sits in the barrels, the bolder and higher level of alcohol in the final product.
Gluten is also created when wine is placed in oak barrels to age. Until this point, it is gluten-free so again, stainless or clay are the way to go when it comes to sensitivities.
A wine with less than 12.5% is considered a light bodied wine.
Medium-bodied wines fall between 12.5% and 13.5%
Wines over 13.5% alcohol are considered full-bodied. Surprisingly, Chardonnay can be a full-bodied wine with a few brands at the 13.5% mark because they are aged in oak. Ususally, whites are not. Many of the California Chardonnays are full bodied at 13.5% but Chilean Bonterra at 13.6% was the highest content I found at LCBO.
When purchasing, check the labels or bookmark this handy chart I found displaying the lightest to the heaviest wine before heading to the store.
You can avoid red wines altogether (ugh) since whites and roses do not have much contact with the grape skins either.
If it is sulphites you want to avoid, stay away from whites.
Rose wines are made from red wine grapes and exposed to the skins for only a short time to acquire it’s pink color.
Sparkling wines are bubbly due to the second fermentation process.
Fortified wines are made from a still wine with alcohol added to it so that the alcohol percentage is raised to 17-20%.
Examples of fortified wines are the all-familiar port and sherry, which were very popular during our parents generation. Marsala and Madeira are also fortified wines.
Mulled wines are brilliant! Mix and match opened, older wines and simmer with your favorite spices for a delicious way to enjoy wine!
So many varieties, so little time in this 24-hour period but do your best and enjoy it the way that is meant for just you!
The Mimosa, that delicious breakfast drink that is so popular on holidays, special family events or any old Sunday brunch, and is so easily prepared with equal parts champagne, or sparkling wine, and orange juice.
Champagne and sparkling wine are really the same. If this wine is made in Champagne, France then it can be labelled as Champagne. If it is produced anywhere else it gets titled sparkling wine.
Many accounts name Frank Meier as the inventor of The Mimosa in 1925 while he worked at the Hotel Ritz in Paris, France. Meier tended bar at the American Bar, preparing cocktails, one being his signature drink, the Bees Knees. Perhaps you know his published book The Artistry of Mixed Drinks.
It has been recently discovered that Frank had become a spy for the French Resistance yet continued working at the bar during WWII while Hitler Occupied France. Many of The Ritz’s staff doubled as spies for the French and British. He fabricated false documents for Jewish individuals, staying at The Ritz, to avoid concentration camps, passed notes for the attempted assasination of Hitler. He later disappeared when he was caught embezzling money.
A surprisingly captivating book I read not too long ago, The Last Time I Saw Paris, is a story about the French Resistance set in and around the Hotel Ritz during the 40’s. If you’re interested in reading this great book, I would be happy to loan it to you. (If you are in the Ottawa area, of course).
If you’re in Paris, seek out these interesting sights:
Pere Lachaise – an estimated 300,000 to one million people are buried at this cemetery and park. Visit the graves of Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde and Chopin.
Of course, another story exists. Captain Herbert Buckmaster opened a gentleman’s club, Buck’s Club, in 1919, to rival the other “stuffy” bars, and is famous for Buck’s Fizz which debuted in 1921. The bartender at the time, McGarry, created the more potent drink with 2 parts champagne to 1 part orange juice.
A Gentleman’s Club is a members only establishment. By the 19th Century, over 400 of these clubs were in operation in London. They provided an escape for the British elite from their ‘open book’ lives to relax, gamble, socialize with friends, play parlour games, such as charades, or get a good, hot meal.
Interesting to note, Buck’s Club uses a josper grill It is an oven and grill in one unit and is soley powered using charcoal. To experience this, you can find them at 18 Clifford St., London, England. Good luck finding much information on this club. Their ‘website’ offers only an address and contact information as they are by invitation only.
While in London, tour the reconstructed outdoor Shakespeare Globe Theatre. The original was demolished due to a miss fired cannon during a Henry VIII performance.
I made an exciting discovery! The Torchlight Shakespeare Festival will be playing here in Ottawa this summer. I have never experienced an outdoor play and now have the chance to see one. Plays will be featured at various parks throughout the city each night this summer from July 3 August 19 at 7pm. Believe it or not, this company has been setting up their plays in parks for the last 15 years and have never charged a dime, only asked for donations (suggested amount $20). Use the link if you want to receive emails on locations or even if you want to join their ranks as an actor. I actually did.
Perhaps, the Frank Meier concoction was truer to today’s equal parts version, and less intoxicating. Also worth mentioning, Alfred Hitchcockcock claims to have popularized drinking mimosas as a brunch specialty in the 1940’s.
In Ottawa, you can enjoy a Mimosa at The Red Lion, in the Byward Market, or the Wellington Diner at 1385 Wellington Street and at Stoneface Dolly’s on Preston St., just to name a few. You may have to wait for the weekend breakfast to get one, though.
I found these handy single serving bottles at the LCBO for $12.95. Great for those days when you only want one Mimosa instead of feeling pressured to polish off a full champagne bottle because now you’ve opened it!
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.
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!
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:
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:
Brew a cup of black tea, lettting it steep 5-10 minutes longer than usual.
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
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!
Tequila Alquimiaboasts 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.
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 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.
If we are encouraged not to use our car to keep the air cleaner, then we are free
to have a couple of drinks at the corner pub.
Get your own garden growing. You’ll have truly organic parsley, thyme, basil, mint, yes, mint for your Mojitos!
Be a tourist in your own neighborhood. Walk, don’t drive. You’ll notice things that you usually drive past.
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.
ThingsI didn’t know. (That’s what I love about this. I’ve become a human sponge!)
Which facts are you aware of? And what will come as a surprise?
Not Commonly Known
Saint Patrick wore blue, not green. Most paintings depicted him in blue robes. Only after the Irish Independence movement in the late 18th Century did the green color get pushed.
He wasn’t Irish. Patrick’s parents were Roman citizens living in England, where he was born (though a few sources say Scotland).
He was born Maewyn Succat in 385 AD. By that time, many Romans were Christians and Christianity was spreading rapidly across Europe. As a boy, christianity was the least of his worries.
Saint Patrick ended up a slave. At the age of 16 , he was kidnapped by Irish raiders who sold him as a slave. He spent 6 captive years in Dalriada, Ireland, herding sheep where he found comfort in God.
At the age of 22, he managed to escape (a voice told him it was time). He spent 3 days sailing then walked 28 days to the point of near starvation and was reunited with his family.
He gained his priesthood and later returned to Ireland (when, again, the voice told him to go back), changed his name to Patricius and spent the rest of his life converting Irish Pagans to Christianity.
The odds of finding a four-leaf clover are about 1 in 10,000. The myth that St. Patrick used the shamrock as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity: The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit is likely not true. Instead, it is believed monks made this claim.
Patrick is also renowned for coming up with the Celtic cross, which combined a native sun-worshiping ideology with the Christian cross.
Sadly, after a harsh life of being constantly beaten by thugs, harassed by the Irish royalty, and admonished by his British superiors he died quietly, in Saul, Ireland in 461 where he had built his first church.
On a positive note, he founded monasteries, built churches, organized Ireland into dioceses, created councils and supported church officials, all during his life’s work.
The celebration of St. Patrick’s Day was basically invented by Irish Americans.
What You May Already Know
Saint Patrick’s Day is the day of the saint’s death, not his birth. Early biographers state that he was buried near the Down Cathedral in the town of Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, or Dun Padraig, meaning Patrick’s Stronghold. A memorial stone stands over the supposed approximate location of his remains….well most of him. Apparently, a jaw and tooth are on display in the Dublin Museum.
Saint Patrick is often portrayed with a Crozier, known as the Baccal Isu, his golden staff. A hermit was instructed, by Jesus, to give it to Patrick. Could this also be the staff of Jesus? Patrick used this crozier to banish the snakes. The Crozier was later denounced as superstitious and publicly destroyed in 1538 by order of the archbishop, George Browne.
The banning of the snakes is considered a myth since snakes never populated Ireland due to icy ocean conditions. It is believed to be another metaphor for cleaning up the streets of Ireland.
Patrick’s copy of the four gospels is held at the The Royal Irish Academy where his writings, referred as His Confession, can be viewed. The original writings are lost except for what is written in the Book of Armagh, at the Trinity College Dublin Library.
Okay, school’s out, now for some fun…..
Parades, Beer, and Green Rivers!
The world’s first recorded Saint Patrick’s Day Parade took place in Boston on March 18, 1737, followed by the New York Parade, comprised of Irish military soldiers marching through the streets of New York, which first took place in 1762.
Today, 150,000 people take part in the New York parade, with 2 million people cheering them on. No motorized vehicles or floats are allowed in the parade, marching for Ireland only!
I have to mention this….the shortest parade occurred annually from 1999 to 2007 in Dripsey, an Irish Village. The parade spanned 26 yards, from the front door of one pub to another!
Rough translation of Erin Go Bragh!….Ireland Forever!
There are more Irish in the USA than Ireland. 34 million Americans have Irish ancestry. There are 4.2 million people living in Ireland.
In 1961, business manager of Chicago’s Journeymen Plumbers Local Union, Stephen Bailey, received permission to turn the Chicago River green for St. Patrick’s Day. They used 100 lbs of vegetable dye! Today, they only use 25 lbs. The dye lasts for about five hours.
“The environmental impact of the dye is minimal compared with sources of pollution such as bacteria from sewage-treatment plants.” – Margaret Frisbie, the executive director of the advocacy group Friends of the Chicago River.
What’s with the Leprechauns?
This Irish fairy of supposed supernatural powers has no real connection to St Patrick. There are a couple of loose theories, one being everything Irish was rolled into this one holiday.
Oddly, there are no female leprechauns. No wonder the breed died out!
No Drinking On St. Patrick’s Day?
Irish law, from 1903 to 1970, declared St. Patrick’s Day a religious observance for the entire country. All pubs were shut down for the day, no beer for that day. The law was overturned in 1970, when St. Patrick’s was reclassified as a national holiday – allowing the taps to re-open. Not to mention cashing in on the tourist and beverage industries!
Speaking of beer:
Murphy’s Irish Stout – Light and sweet in flavor compared to the rest, Murphy’s Irish Stout has become increasingly more popular especially in the US.
O’Hara’s Irish Wheat – flavors of bananas, peaches and plums are blended with traditional hops. It’s perfect for those who prefer a lighter, easy-drinking option.– Something I prefer!
Neither of these can be found here in Canada but these are popular:
Kilkenny – smooth and creamy, the result of hops combined with fruits, malt, coffee and roasted barley.
And of course, there’s Guinness – A pint of Gat – The rich, dark, most popular Irish brew that comes in three varieties.
5.5 million pints of Guinness are sold on any given day, but this figure rises to an astounding 13 million on St. Patrick’s Day!
In 2012, it is reported an estimated $245 million is spent on beer on this day.
Home to Ottawa since 1875 is St. Patrick’s Basilica, located on Kent St between Gloucester St. and Nepean St. It was the first English speaking Roman Catholic Church in the city. Free parking is available on all 3 of these streets Saturdays and Sundays.
Another St. Patrick church is in the Nepean district, at 15 Steeple Cres. It’s history began in 1833 and was rebuilt and blessed in 1866.
Game of Thrones
Plan your next trip to tour Northern Ireland, many of the filming locations of Game of Thrones. Lose yourself in the set, dressed in traditional robes and learn archery from the actors’ trainer.
If you are looking for a place to stay in Northern Ireland, Airbnb is very popular and can be inexpensive for travellers. Prices can be as low as $50 per night. Keep in mind, Europe tends to charge a minimal traveller’s fee, so inquire.
Here are a few beautiful options in and near the tour:
#2 – Press Play (or skip the ad, if pops up first)
#3 – Turn up the Volume. Now you’re ready. You’ll understand why……
Hot on the heels of National Drink Wine Day comes my second favorite drink…The Margarita. Literal translation of margarita is the daisy flower. Early in the 20th century, the Tequila Daisy cocktail contained a spirit, citrus juice, a sweetener or liqueur and a fizzy drink. Did they reverse The Daisy into it’s literal translation?
Finding who invented it is the challenge. A popular story is of Carlos Herrera, the owner of, Rancho La Gloria, a restaurant located between Tijuana and Rosarito, Mexico, who created the drink, in 1938. A customer, former Ziegfeld dancer named Marjorie King, requested a drink but knew she was allergic to many types of spirits but not to tequila. He used the same ingredients previously used for doing tequila shooters. Lime and salt.
However, the Cafe Royal Cocktail Book, published in 1937, contains a drink called the Picador. The list of ingredients is tequila, cointreau and lime juice. Perhaps Carlos Herrera knew of the drink but changed the name on the spot for her.
Don Pedro Sanchez de Tagle, the Marquis of Altamira was the first to mass produce tequila in a region that is now called Jalisco.
Don Jose Maria Guadalupe de Cuervo was the first person to receive a documented license, in 1795, to produce tequila.
Typically, the people of Mexico do not drink Margaritas so is it an American influence?
Another possible inventor might have been Danny Negrete. He is credited with producing the drink for his sister in law, Margarita, as a wedding present at the Garci Crespo Hotel in 1936. He later worked at the Agua Caliente Race Track where a famous actress whose real name is Margarita (read further for her identity) performed in her teen years in the early 1930’s. He may have named it for her.
Some establishments are now adding agave nectar, a sweet and syrupy liquid which does have to be watered down. Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco boasts 400 varieties of tequila and uses the nectar in their Margaritas. Julio Bermejo is the first person to use an organic version of the nectar. The tiny bar in the middle of nowhere has become renowned across the world thanks to him. The nectar has one of the lowest glycemic indexes of any sweetener which is a healthier option for diabetics. They use freshly squeezed lime juice – no sour mix in a bottle in this bar! It’s a great year to go as they celebrate their 50th year.
I couldn’t be happier with the number of Mexican restaurants on the rise in Ottawa. Burrito Gringo type places are popping up all over the city. I thought there weren’t any authentic Mexican restaurants here, however, with a bit of footwork, I discovered a few of these establishments have been here for many years.
The first day of my research took me to Taqueria Kukulkan, at 1730 Montreal Road, which has been open for about 3 years. It’s humble in appearance. You expect a fast food experience at first sight by the size of it. When you see the tables set with wine glasses, napkins with cutlery and a foil-wrapped heart shaped chocolate on top, you know you’ve misjudged.
The quality of staff, food tableware and cleanliness will blow you away. And they’re licensed! Their liquor cabinet houses mostly tequila of many brands. One of the most amazing aspects, in my opinion, is the fact that the chefs are preparing and cooking your food literally in the same room as the clientele but you wouldn’t even know it. They work quietly, attentively and in sync with each other. You can hear the mariachi music playing in the background.
I fell in love with the place with it’s Mexican colors, flags, paintings, engravings that differ from table to table, and I hadn’t even received my food yet!
Well, I am partial to Spanish style and that love blossomed with every trip I made to Mexico and California where I was very fortunate to vacation over the years since childhood. In restaurants in Mexico, you are served complimentary guacamole with corn chips, while here, in North America, many places offer you bread and butter. Need I say more?
As a kid, the moment the guacamole dish hit the table, I dove in. Kukulkan didn’t disappoint with it’s heaping serving and home made corn chips. I highly recommend giving this place a try for it’s homey feel and deliciously authentic meals. You will find me here today since, by coincidence, it is Margarita Wednesday, a weekly event.
Ottawa needs more authentic Mexican restaurants, not necessarily those Tex-Mex places, which are great, too, but I’ll take getting swept away to Mexico any day.
My love for mariachi music has spanned most of my life so I had hoped to find a Mexican restaurant that showcased a live Mariachi Band once in awhile. Enjoying dinner with trumpets, acoustic guitars and a whistler, you can’t go wrong! In Mexico, a band of 3 or 4 musicians weave their way among the patrons and play for your table. It’s festive and lifts your spirits. If you’ve had the YouTube music link, I supplied, playing, maybe you agree? After visiting 5 Mexican establishments, I had yet to find a live mariachi band. My 6th option finally brought me positive results.
The most famous Margarita I know of is Rita Hayworth (1918-1987) whose real name is Margarita Carmen Cansino.
Had enough of the mariachi music? Switch to the song, Margarita, or the classic Jimmy Buffet but please, do continue.
Oddly enough, Rita Hayworth leads us to the movie, the Shawshank Redemption so I had to find out why. The film is based on Stephen King’s novella, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, which is in print in the short story collection of 1982’s Different Seasons. The novella is far from being about Miss Hayworth. In the movie’s production stages, they dropped the Rita Hayworth since so many actresses submitted their resumes, thinking it was a biography of the actress/dancer. An agent, representing an unnamed supermodel, even called to say it was the best script he’d read and that the part (which was non-existent) would be perfect for the supermodel. Someone didn’t do their homework.
The first great great grandchild of Queen Victoria is Princess Margarita of Greece and Denmark.
And, there is the pizza, Margherita, with the simplest of ingredients: your favorite pizza/tomato sauce, basil and cheese. A couple of years ago, I had this type of pizza for the first time in the Niagara-On-The-Lake region. An absolutely delicious but simple pizza with bocconcini cheese balls sliced and scattered over the pizza.
Feleena’s Cantina, at 742 Bank St., is in the heart of the Glebe, which is close enough to catch a football game or while shopping. They receive many patrons daily. Not just for it’s convenience but for it’s truly authentic dishes, decor and tasty Margarita’s. Their trusted recipe has been the same for the last 25 years, using Triple Sec and have been operating in this location for the last 38 years. They have many types of tequila and you can choose any of these to add to your Margarita. The cost is $10.95 and is a generous serving. Please ask the server. The experienced staff is very accommodating especially when requesting off menu items. I was in the mood for chips and dipping but did not find a similar variety plate, except for chips and guacamole. She offered to bring that order with 4 additional dips. The chips are made fresh daily on site.
The colors are true to tradition and the owner paints the chairs, walls and doors. It’s easy to spend 20 minutes browsing the restaurant to see all of the original artwork. In the menu, there’s a full welcome page with the owner’s origins.
Pancho Villa, in the hub of the Elgin Street pubs, houses so many varieties of tequila, there’s a separate menu of 65 types, most are 100% agave. Enjoy their smoothness straight up on ice for optimum flavour. Their Margarita is $12.95 for the 3 ounce option and $8.50 for the 1 1/4 ounces. It has been operating on Elgin since 1984.
I had the opportunity to speak with the owner’s wife and learned a great deal. The statues on display throughout the restaurant originate from the markets in Mexico but the creator is unknown . There are over 200 types of tequila. More on this when it is National Tequila Day. To keep the dishes true to the heritage, they have an 80 year old gentleman, from Peru, work with the kitchen staff on a regular basis.
If you are planning to learn Spanish, they also offer language courses on site.
Still looking for that Mariachi band…..
The subdued but classy decor at Agave Grill, in Westboro, is not a reflection of less quality. The favorite here is the Margarita, with it’s special blend, similar to the one made at Tommy’s in San Francisco. The popular fajitas are half price on Mondays. They have been on the map for 14 years and know, by opening their doors on a holiday Monday, they will bring in many customers looking for good food and rich ambiance. Oh, and try the Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Soup!
The Ahora Mexicaine Cuisine, in the Ottawa Market, had a unique approach. They didn’t lack on colors and hand painted murals but the method of service differed. You are taken to your table where you decide on your order then approach the cash to place your order and pay. There is a free, self serve salsa bar and water decanter with lime wedges to pour your own water. The waitresses aren’t lazy. They are hustling everywhere, greeting customers, serving Margaritas (which are $7.95), removing plates, cleaning tables and answering customer questions. Their workload would be too great if they took orders as well. It’s a clever method and it works very well.
Now, for the best of all. Without looking at reviews, I can tell you Taqueria La Bonita, on Ogilvie Road between the Aviation Parkway and the Gloucester Centre, will be a hotspot in Ottawa this summer. They bring in Mariachi Bands! I asked the waitress about their Margarita’s and she said they are cool. So I ordered a glass of cool and the most amazing, most beautifully decorated drink was placed before me. Pineapple and watermelon and strawberry, oh my! You have to go! They are open 2 years now and for a Tuesday, they were full! I would recommend making a reservation for groups larger than 4. The Enchiladas Verdes proved to be scrumptious! The owners are a wife and husband team. She is from Mexico and her portraits (see below) decorate the walls. The many other pieces throughout the restaurant are all from Mexico. Enjoy the Spanish music as you take your time to browse the unique wooden menu with rustic hinges, also made in Mexico. It describes each dish and where is originates.
If I visit there once a month, it will take me about a year and a half to conquer each dish. Did I mention, you must go there?
With 2 of the newest Mexican restaurants, that you can definitely rave about, located in the east end, I think it should be renamed “Little Mexico!” Think it will catch on?
In July, I will bring you all the dirt on tequila. I hope you can join me!
#4 Now get out there and have yourself a Margarita! Salud!
“Please Drink Responsibly.”
As the man on the left says, “Por Favor Beber Responsablemente.”
If curiosity got the better of you, you’ve landed on Travel By The Glass. It’s fun, informative and will take you to quaint, off-the-beaten-path places. On your next vacation, add a little spice to your trip with interesting detours to your travel itinerary. Mingle with the locals. Discover a whole new world while you’re globetrotting.
In the months to come, this website will showcase unique, maybe even unheard of, places. The country of choice will depend on what is the national “drink” of the day. I’ll even attempt to make the drink, too! (Scroll further or use the Facebook link in sidebar.)
Who Concocted the First Irish Coffee?
To celebrate National Irish Coffee Day, we discover the origins of this scrumptious drink all the way to, of course, Ireland.
Foynes to be exact, a small village near Limerick. It’s considered a fairly new town, being less than two centuries old. The Foyne’s Air Base, in affiliation with Shannon Airport, handled many passengers, including political VIP’s and celebrities, on their Flying Boats to and from Canada and the United States.
In 1942, a flight bound for North America had to return to Foynes due to extreme winter weather which was not an uncommon occurrence. The restaurant, located at the Foynes terminal, had just acquired a new manager, Joe Sheridan. Faced with these chilled, travel-weary passengers, Joe created a special drink. As the story goes, a hush fell as they tasted it for the first time. It became the main staple included on Joe’s menu for travelers in Foynes.
Travel writer, Stanton Delaplane brought the recipe back to America to Jack Koeppler, a bartender at the Buena Vista Hotel in San Francisco. Their early attempts to recreate the brew saw the cream sinking to the bottom of the glass. Jack traveled to Foynes to catch up with Joe to learn the proper method. He eventually found him at Shannon International Airport.
In 1952, Buena Vista Hotel offered Joe a position. Joe’s popular story is commemorated in the Foynes Flying Boat Museum.
Today, the Buena Vista proudly makes 2,000 Irish Coffees daily.
I would love to see your picture posted having an Irish Coffee! A follow up post will feature your photos.
Flying through San Francisco on February 25? Stop in for a brew at the newest location of the Sheridan at the San Francisco airport. The original is at the Buena Vista in the fisherman’s wharf area in San Francisco where it’s made to classic perfection. This is on my agenda next trip to Cali!
View the events from 2016 Foyne’s Flying Boat and Museum and to plan your visit for 2017. Be sure to watch the 10 minute video for a taste of what’s in store – the music finishes about the 3 minute mark then gets into the commentary.
For a more adult geared excursion, download the free app for Ireland’s Whiskey Trail available at Google Play Store. The tour guides you to Ireland’s distilleries, the best whiskey pubs and shops.
The Irish Based Flight Company, Ryanair has some exciting offers for it’s passengers:
If you’re in Ireland this time of year, re-live the past at the Sheridan Food Pub, named after you-know-who.
A wealth of Irish pubs are in the Ottawa Market and downtown area. All priced the specialty coffees around $6.95. I visited a few, including the following:
The Aulde Dubliner makes 2 versions of Irish Coffee. Barman Luc made the Bushmill’s Irish Coffee with flair and so generously gave his attention to all of my questions. Ask about the new drink menu geared for Winterlude. If the Carrot Parsnip soup is on tap, I strongly urge you to have one, it’s out of this world! Kudos to Chef Dave Rosa.
The Irish Village consists of 4 pubs meandering from the front of the Heart and crown to Mother McGinty’s at the back. The specialty coffee selection is the same as the Aulde Dubliner so I if you’re in the market tonight, you’ll find one, no problem.
Patty Boland’s, in the market, hosts great music almost every night of the week so check out the dj tonight for some mid-week dancing. I consider myself somewhat of a poutine connoisseur and theirs is definitely a 10!
The newly opened Starbucks on York Street sadly is not yet equipped to make today’s national drink; they do serve beer and wine. If we all request a specialty coffee, they may come around!
Lunergan’s Pub in Ottawa East, made a lovely Irish Coffee with Kahlua. Yum. Ask for the Irish stew either today or on St Paddy’s Day, they make it fresh on site.
Connor’s Gaelic Pub, on Bank Street, provided me refuge on a freezing rain evening. They offered a good variety of coffees but I opted for a soup for some reason. Was I missing that carrot parsnip soup? For a pea soup non-lover, it was quite good! Served in a giant bowl, it seemed quite thin which I discovered is the correct way.
Quinn’s Ale House, in the Glebe, has a lively, intimate atmosphere. The lovely Alli informed me they don’t make Irish Coffees but I could slip across the street, purchase a fresh brew and bring it back for a shot of rye. Voila, makeshift Irish Coffee!
Celtic Cross, two blocks away, is back on Elgin Street! The week kicks off Wednesdays for Open Mike so drop in for your specialty coffee tonight and catch the entertainment. Into Trivia? Every week, they host a trivia night and music Fridays and Saturdays. Each Sunday, they present a different movie, unless there’s a big game on. Planning your own event? Inquire within. The cool picture of the cross and Irish flag I give credit to Dave, the bartender with the most awesome hairstyle! Without his help, I wouldn’t have achieved that angle.
Woody’s on Elgin has a beautiful fireplace tucked away at the back surrounded with 4 comfy chairs. A great place to enjoy an Irish Brew.
Wherever you are, find your local Irish pub, preferably one with a fireplace to cozy up to, for a tasty, hot drink on this cold winter day. Distracted by delicious soups (Hey, if it fits in a glass, I’ll include it!), I still managed to visit 10 Irish pubs and feel I accomplished my goal.
If you enjoyed this bit of information, at least found it interesting and know someone who has a passion for airplanes or coffee, Irish style, share this piece with them.
I invite your feedback to help grow this site. Feel free to make requests. I’ll dig and research the hell out of anything (I live for this!) to bring to future posts. All suggestions welcome.
Most of all, please return for the next National Drink Day! Stay Tuned!
Respect Your Brothers and Sisters… Please Drink Responsibly