National Grand Marnier Day

 

Jean-Baptiste Lapostolle began his distillery in 1827 in Neauphle-le-chateau in France where he produced a liqueur using a variety of fruit.

Along came Louis Alexandre Marnier, from a family of wine-makers in the Sancerre region of France. Louis married Monsieur Lapostolle’s granddaughter in 1876. I like to think he stole her heart but maybe he persuaded her with the delicious liqueur her grandfather made.

The Lapostolle and Marnier went into business together and put the name Curacao Marnier to their new orange flavoured liqueur.

Marnier insisted on importing the finest oranges from the Caribbean.

Interestingly, there is an island in the Caribbean, off the northern coast of Venezuela, named Curacao. It makes up the ABC Islands: Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire. Very much under the radar, give it a try.

Curacao actually means a liqueur flavored with the peel from bitter oranges.

Meanwhile, back in 1880, Marnier’s friend, hotel owner, Cesar Ritz, yes THE Ritz, tried the liqueur and declared it should be called Grand due to its grand taste and to disregard the trend of everything being ‘petit’ all over France. Petit Café, Petit Chateau, etc.

Thus, we now know it as Grand Marnier.

Compliments of the home of Christine Hamel

Great in so many drinks: B-52’s, Margaritas or The Batiste which is made with 1 oz gold rum, 1 1/2 oz GM in a chilled glass.

Or try it simply with ginger ale.

To enjoy it in a dessert, try a Grand Marnier Souffle! See the recipe for a Chocolate GM Sauce, too.

To celebrate the famous liqueur, find yourself a cozy French restaurant anywhere in the world, perhaps a ‘Petit Cafe’ to enjoy a Grand Marnier.

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on July 14, 2017

 

 

 

It’s Time For a Pina Colada!

It’s been so long since I found the actual person who invented a specific cocktail! I thought I found the one person who invented it.

Then I read elsewhere that there are a few possibilities. Figures.

Spanish bartender, Ramon Portas Mingot who worked at the Barrachina in Puerto Rico in 1963, tossed pineapple juice, milk and rum together in a blender which soon became known as the Pina Colada.

The Barrachina, the ‘king of Paella”, is located in the beautiful and vibrant Old San Juan.

Personally, I had to look up the location of Puerto Rico. I thought it was near Mexico. High School Geography was a long time ago. For those who don’t know, it is a small island off the eastern tip of Dominican Republic.

That’s one.

Within the Caribe Hilton Hotel in Puerto Rico is The Beachcombers Bar where Ramon “Monchito” Marrero tended bar in 1954. Management asked him to create a signature drink for the bar which offered the flavours of the island.

Apparently, it took him 3 months to find the perfect cocktail made up of rum, cream of coconut and pineapple juice.

That’s two.

Still at the Caribe Hilton in the same year, Ricardo Garcia claims to have invented the drink. According to him, there was a coconut cutters strike going on at that time. He had been making rum and cream of coconut, served with the actual coconut. Due to the strike, he started using hollowed out pineapple.

The juice from the insides of the pineapple added flavour to the drink. It became so popular, he added a little pineapple juice to the actual drink.

And so, we have the Pina Colada which, according to some, translates into “strained pineapple”. Google didn’t fully agree. But we all know what google does with words.

Homemade Pina Colada with coconut rum and coconut water.

The common thread? The Pina Colada is the national drink of Puerto Rico.

Not every city will serve this cocktail in the traditional pineapple but it can be done at home quite easily. In this video, she makes it look so easy. It is IF you have a pineapple corer.

These series of photos are done from home using a corer. Instead of using cream of coconut, I used coconut water. Very light and refreshing! And oh so delicious, some of the pineapple juice pooled inside at the bottom. Added flavour!

With all the bad news coverage, it is no surprise that United Airlines has the lowest last minute fares to Puerto Rico. Round trip is approximately $800. Personally, I would still fly United. I always have and never had any problems. Of course, depending on what time of year you go, the price will change. For example, in September you’re looking at about $600 and later in November, they’re up to about $900.

Old San Juan, founded 1509, is an old fort town which went through its share of attacks from the British, Dutch and even the States. There are plenty of historical forts to visit.

A slushy Pina Colada at Burrito Borracho in downtown Ottawa.

When you do get to San Juan, make sure you indulge in a Pina Colada. If you are elsewhere in the world today for National Pina Colada Day, I hope you will enjoy one anyway.

Cheers!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on July 10, 2017

 

National Anisette Day – July 2

Did you know, the anise plant is within the same family as parsley?

Much like absinthe, the licorice-flavoured Anisette is sweeter due to the higher sugar content but has a lower alcohol level.

If you recall, the licorice flavour comes from the distillation of the seeds of the anise plant, specifically from the oil within the seed. This plant used to grow wild in the Mediterrenean and is one of the oldest spice plants. It dates as far back as 1500 BC Egypt.

It was believed to ward off the Evil Eye, to increase milk flow in nursing mothers; and to cure epilepsy. Ancient people used it as a remedy to snake bites and scorpion stings. It was also considered an aphrodisiac.

In Native American cultures, it is still used as a laxative.

According to WebMD, “Anise is used for upset stomach, intestinal gas, runny nose, and as an expectorant to increase productive cough, as a diuretic to increase urine flow, and as an appetite stimulant. Women use anise to increase milk flow when nursing, start menstruation, treat menstrual discomfort or pain, ease childbirth, and increase sex drive.

Other uses include treatment of seizures, nicotine dependence, trouble sleeping (insomnia), asthma, and constipation.”

Anise Tea

Steep anise for 20 minutes then add cinnamon and honey for extra flavour. But where can you get anise? If you live in Canada, Bulk Barn carries whole anise seed. Ladies, the next time, try one and see if it eases that annoying pain. In the States, Trader Vic’s or Whole Foods are recommended but not guaranteed.

Produced in but not restricted to, the Bordeaux region of France, Anisette is made by grinding numerous types of seeds, anise, of course, and in some cases, fennel and coriander, into a neutral spirit. It is combined with a syrup then distilled together.

Anise Flavoured Liqueur

In Rome, anise was added to sweet cake and given out at the end of banquets to help with digestion. No doubt, the Italian tradition of putting a drop of anisette in your after dinner coffee originated from this idea.

Or, if you want to mix it, drop a shot of anisette into a glass of water, don’t pour it. It will turn milky color on contact.

If you thought Sambuca was the only licorice flavoured liqueur, try these on.

Pastis is made from star anise which originates from Asia. Pastis came along due tot he ban of anise in France.

Like Absinthe, Anisette comes from green anise in Europe.

However, Anisette is considered the oldest anise flavoured liquor.

“The Romans are said to have eaten spiced cake with anise to avoid indigestion after a large meal. Pythagoras said it would absolutely guarantee an absence of seizures. In England, in 1305, anise was so popular that King James I taxed it as a commodity, because he needed money to repair the London Bridge.”

Women, take female entrepreneur, Marie Brizard as an example of a powerful woman. She began her company of creating liqueur in a time when women HAD no power. They weren’t even allowed to sign company documents. To get around this law, Marie married a family friend who sign the documents while she created anisette.

Founded in Bordeaux, France in 1755, her family still owns the company, and have managed to keep the ingredients top secret. They now produce over 60 products. Not only liquor but essential oils as well.

Anise spritzed cocktail

Marie would be proud to know her company has won over 50 medals in the last 6 years for liqueur competitions.

Anisette can be a little harder to find in your local bars but there’s a trend of spritzing drinks with flavoured liqueurs. This one has anise flavour spritzed over a gin, cointreau and lemon mix at Ace Mercado in Ottawa.

Submitted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on July 2, 2017

 

 

National Orange Blossom Day!

So simple to create, even easier to drink, but don’t let the Orange Blossom fool you. Delicious but deadly….

1921

During Prohibition era, Virginia Rappe, famed for being on the cover of the sheet music for You Can Call Me Sweetheart, met her demise on the night she downed way too many Orange Blossom Gin Cocktails. Bootleg gin was used in making the cocktail at Hotel St. Francis in San Francisco at that time. But that’s not what killed the poor girl. The wild and infamous Labour Day party of 1921 ended on a sour note. Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, perhaps having had too many drinks himself, allegedly crushed Virginia beneath him.

What was she doing underneath him, you ask? Must I explain?

According to another party-goer, Maude Delmont, “They were in the room a quarter of an hour when we heard a terrific scream.” Miss Delmont found her on the bed. She claims Virginia cried out, “I’m dying. He did it, Maude.”

Five days later, she passed away due to an infection in her ruptured bladder.

However, the story doesn’t end there. After Fatty Arbuckle’s trial, a letter, written by Miss Delmont, came into being. It read, “We have Roscoe Arbuckle in a hole here. Chance to make some money out of him.”

In the end, he was acquitted but ruined as an actor.

1922

Wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Fitzgerald and fellow drinker, Helen Buck, wandered, lost and singing, through a golf course in New York. They had polished off a full pitcher of Orange Blossom at lunchtime then proceeded to the golf course with a full thermos of more before being found by Ring Lardner who drove them home.

1922

Right around the time of Fatty Arbuckle’s trials, Silent Film Director, William Desmond Taylor and his friend, Mabel Normand, enjoyed an evening of Orange Blossoms together. Hours later, he was found dead. His murder remains unsolved.

The Leftovers of Some Orange Blossoms
The Leftovers of Some Orange Blossoms

One loose theory puts Mabel, herself, in the spotlight. Miss Normand, allegedly went to his home to retrieve love letters that she had written to him. Ones, she thought, might be misinterpreted. A little on the wild side, Mabel would spend about $2,000 per month (in the 1920’s!) on drugs. Mr. Taylor had arranged for her to stay at a rehab facility. Would she have arranged to eliminate him so she wouldn’t have to go? Her chauffeur is witness to her getting into her car after the party, leaving Taylor behind. But hitmen existed then too.

Another possibility could be from a drug ring directly. Mr. Taylor fought against drug use at the studios and was Chairman of the Board of an organization to eliminate them. Could the drug dealers off the man that threatened their lucrative business?

The crime scene at Mr. Taylor’s home itself was heavily compromised. The studio executives had stepped in before the police and cleaned up the scene. With botched evidence, the only answer might be in those letters from Mabel Normand.

Mary Miles Minter, another writer of love letters to Mr. Taylor, was in the spotlight for a short time. Mary’s letters were the only ones made public since they were the only ones found. Passed off as schoolgirl crush jargon, they were proven invalid. She was, after all, only 20 years old, 29 years his junior.

Fresh OJ, vermouth and gin
Freshly squeezed OJ makes a wonderful difference!

Read the full, fascinating story here.

1925

Charlie Chaplin and Louise Brooks, plastered on Orange Blossoms, spent a wild night in their hotel suite, chasing each other, and no doubt disturbing the peace and damaging property. Thankfully, though, on this occasion, no one died.

1934

Esquire magazine names the Orange Blossom one of the worst drinks of the decade. Personally, I enjoyed it. The juice does a good job of masking the harsh taste of gin which is what it was intended to do.

1955

“The reason there were so many hasty marriages during Prohibition.”                                                                             – Authentic and Hilarious Bar Guide by Ted Shane

The Original:

1 oz gin

4 oz of freshly squeezed orange juice

1/4 oz grenadine. But any flavour of simple syrup will do.

“This was invented at the old Waldorf to honor a visiting Irish poet. He never got to his dinner.”                                      – An excerpt from Irvin S. Cobb’s Own Recipe Book.

See The Bartender Guides on the side menu for his full vintage book for page turning fun.

An Orange Blossom with Vermouth
Delightfully refreshing! The Gin and Vermouth cut down the sweetness.

The Waldorf-Astoria’s version:

3/4 oz gin

3/4 oz vermouth

3/4 oz fresh orange juice

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

I much prefer this version. The vermouth cuts the bitterness of the gin and the sweetness of the orange juice.

If you’re planning a visit to New York in the near future, scratch The Waldorf off your list. It is currently closed due to major renovations. They are restoring historical parts and creating condos and luxurious guest rooms. It is set to re-open in a couple of years.

Walk three blocks down 50th Ave., you will pass the St Patrick’s Cathedral, Rockefeller Centre and the infamous Radio City Music Hall.

I remember going to Radio City Music Hall as a child with my parents. Back in those days, there were more live shows and they presented movies on a huge screen. The biggest I’d ever seen! It was Cybil Shepherd and Burt Reynolds. Now I have to google the darn thing. Ah, that’s it, At Long Last Love.  Burt Reynolds fans, if you like the idea of him singing, check out the musical number, Well, Did You Evah.

During Prohibition, the Orange Blossom became popular due to the lower quality of bootleg gin being produced. Orange juice was a good choice to mix with gin to cover up the poor taste.

For now, let’s stick with New York as the locale for this cocktail since Prohibition was such a big deal here.

Who invented the drink remains to be determined. If you have any knowledge of where or who originally made this cocktail, please leave me a comment.

But make sure to have an Orange Blossom or share a pitcher of it today in honour of those who suffered at the hands of this cocktail.

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on June 27, 2017.

 

National Bourbon Day

Bourbon Flight: Wild Turkey, Four Roses and Buffalo Trace

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.

Unique Brand to Fat Boys Smokehouse

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.

Rule #1

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.

Rule #2

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.

Rule #3

The real good news? No additives are allowed in Bourbon. Whatever naturally occurs, such as the tannins, is allowed.

Rule #4

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.

Guarding the Aulde Dubliner

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.

Single Barrel

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).

Straight Bourbon

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.

Distillery Founded 1795

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.

Origins

Bourbon County was established in 1785 and was named after the French Royal Family. See the House of Bourbon family tree.

Distillery Founded in 1789

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!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on June 14, 2017

 

National Moonshine Day

 

Where Did It All Start?

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

Iceland 1915-1935

Norway 1916-1927

Finland 1919-1932

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.

North of 7 In-Store Products

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.

Happy Moonshine Day!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on June 1, 2017

 

National Mint Julep Day!

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

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

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

Still Can’t Get Over It’s Beauty!

Ways to Enjoy a Mint Julep

As a dessert.

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find out more at the Kentucky Derby Museum.

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

The Fame of Kentucky

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

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

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

Things To Do In Louisville

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seeking The Stainless Barrel?

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

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

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

LCBO carries their brand:

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

Buffalo Trace straight bourbon is $43 per bottle.

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

Out Of Fresh Mint?

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

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

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

Happy Mint  Julep Day!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on May 30, 2017

 

World Whiskey – May 20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Flavour Wheel at The Highlander

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

The Oldest Distillery in Ireland?

Bushmills has been in production since 1608.

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

In Scotland?

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

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

American Distilleries

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

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

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

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

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

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

Served Up By Matt at Ace Mercado

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

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

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

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

My opinion.

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on May 20, 2017

 

It’s National Caesar Day!

Let’s have some fun with this!

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

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

How Do You Garnish Your Caesar?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Did It Bloody Get In There?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, prepare yourself for the Insane Variations!

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

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

Cool Things To Do In Calgary

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

Paint a Masterpiece or Have Breakfast with Penguins –

Improv Comedy Show or Dance Workshop

Go crazy with those garnishes!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on May 18, 2017

 

 

 

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

http://nationalcaesarday.com/

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

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

for some strange borderline ridiculous garnishes for cesars:

http://www.baconismagic.ca

It’s National Mimosa Day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pere Lachaise Cemetery

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

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

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

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

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

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

Got a little off topic.

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

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

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

Made in Germany

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

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