National Amaretto Day

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

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

Amaretto Sour at Two Six Ate on Preston St.

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

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

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

Alabama Slammer at Pub Italia

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

1 oz amaretto

1 oz Southern Comfort

1 oz Sloe Gin

2 oz orange juice

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

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

Amaretto’s Romantic History

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

The Last Supper at Pub Italia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where Do Almonds Come From?

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

How Are Almonds Harvested?

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

Compliments of Il Primo Ristorante on Preston

Amaretto & Hot Drinks

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

It’s great in coffee, too!

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

 

Why Stop At Just Drinking Amaretto?

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

Tiramisu as made by Arturo’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where To Find Fresh Pasta in Ottawa

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

Fresh Pasta of the Day at Arturo’s

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

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

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

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

Another Very Popular Amaretto Made in Italy

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

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

 

 

Who Created The Gin & Tonic?

Ei8hteen @ 18 York St.

The Lovely Gin and Tonic….

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.

The Savoy’s Version With Mint

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.

Local

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:

Ei8hteen – 18 York Street

Two Six Ate – 268 Preston St.

The Soca Kitchen – 93 Holland Ave.

Erlings Variety – 22 Strathcona (at Bank St)

When you’re ready to purchase a bottle of the tonic, choose from 14 different establishments including:

Also At Most of These Locations

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.

Everything in Moderation! Cheers!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on April 9, 2017

 

World Cocktail Day

Making of The Last Word

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.

A Mere $10 on Amazon

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.”

Then, in 1869, the first British book, Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinkscontaining cocktail recipes, was published by William Terrington.

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 Bookwritten 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.

Hamburg: Le Lion. Rathausstraße 3, 20095 Hamburg, Germany, +49 40 33475378 ext. 0,

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!

See you on the next round!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on March 24, 2017

 

National Absinthe Day

A distilled highly alcoholic light green colored beverage considered a spirit and not a liqueur. A spirit, or liquor, has been distilled from grains or plants, sometimes flavoured but always unsweetened. Once a spirit, or liquor gets sweetened and flavoured, ie mint, it then becomes a liqueur.

Artemesia Absinthium
Artemesia Absinthium

Absinthe is made up of the flowers and leaves of the perennial Wormwood plant (Artemesia Absinthium) and flavoured with green anise (similar taste to licorice), sweet fennel and other herbs. The plant originates in Europe and grows well in Canada.

The French word, absinthe, translated to English is wormwood, and comes from Latin absinthium and from Greek apsinthion.

Revelation 8:10-11 states: “The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water—the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.” Revelation was written in the year 95AD.

The use of drinking absinthe is mentioned in Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura (I 936–950) book of poems, where Lucretius indicates that a drink containing wormwood is given as medicine to children in a cup with honey on the brim to make it drinkable.

The first known use of the liqueur, laced with wormwood, was in 1612. Back then, the taste was highly potent and men needed a lot of courage to drink it. Today’s Absinthe alcohol content ranges from 45% to a whopping 74%.

Van Gogh painted Still Life with Absinthe during springtime in Paris, France in 1887. Reproductions of the painting range from the $200 figure for smaller sizes and as much as $1,000 for larger ones.

Wilfred Niels Arnold, a Kansas City, Kan., biochemist wrote a study on the artist in the Journal of the American Medical Association. He believes Van Gogh was addicted to chemicals in the terpene class. Terpenes are present in camphor, absinthe and turpentine, which he was known to drink, yes, even the turpentine. A tree planted over Van gogh’s grave, in Auvers-sur-Oise, happens to be a Thuja tree, a classic source of thujone, the toxic element in absinthe. Thujone is a chemical compound found in a number of other plants, one of them being Artemesia Absinthium so it naturally ends up in Absinthe.

Absinthe was so popular in France before it was banned (for its highly intoxicating effect) that bars even had “the hour of absinthe” like today’s cocktail hour, says Arnold. Despite the origins of the drink being in Egypt, France has claimed the fame. Dr Pierre Ordinaire, while living in Couvet, Switzerland, designed Absinthe, as it is known today. It had been rumoured to cure flatulence and anemia.

Five years after his death, in 1797, Henri-Louis Pernod opened a distillery in Switerland. Later, he opened Pontarlier near the Swiss border in France. Production of absinthe stopped in 1915 when it was banned because of its believed psychoactive and hallucinogenic qualities. It switched to the production of pastis, an anise flavoured spirit. When the ban lifted in the 1990’s, they continued with absinthe, too. It is currently a commume but there are many distilleries in Couvet.

The hallucinogenic qualities, some think are false. People would get very drunk on it because they loved the taste so much, they drank too much of it. The high alcohol content contributed, too, I’m sure. Some believe the intoxicating effects also were due to the other herbal qualities found in absinthe. Some of the herbs have heightening qualities and some have lowering (especially since liquor is a depressant) to give something more than an alcoholic buzz.

Europe lifted their ban in the 1990s since it is now believed to not be as harmful. Their law dictates a maximum 35 mg of thujone per kg are allowed in absinthe.

US lifted their ban in 2007 on the condition it contains less than 10ppm of thujone, Apparently, today there are no traces of it in bottles sold in the US.

Made in France $64.95 at 62% Alcohol Content

However, another source states that it is not legal in the US but as a food, not a drug. The US does not allow the distillation or commercial production of absinthe but you can legally own a bottle or make your own as long as it is not distilled.

Our LCBO sells absinthe but is costly. It is best served chilled with a little water and sugar.

There is a restaurant in Ottawa called Absinthe, located at 1208 Wellington St. I have eaten there once a little over year ago. Patrons pay a base amount, for example, at that time, it was $20, to receive a 3-course meal. You choose from their options of appetizers, entrees and a dessert. They offer vegetarian dishes as well. I don’t remember what I ordered, I think a soup to start, but I do remember the taste. Delicious!

After spending 15 minutes calling MANY restaurants offering French cuisine, I finally found the brand new Sur Lie, that sells Absinthe. They serve it in the traditional format with a sugar cube!

Located at 110 Murray St., it is out of the main hub but is a hidden gem. The friendly and knowledgeable staff make it a great place to relax. The Amazing Matthew knows his stuff when it comes to the products they offer at the bar. He was kind enough to let me video tape his preparation of my drink. To my surprise, he lit it on fire! Three weeks ago, they opened their doors and this Tuesday is the grand opening. Please show your support and try to make it.

Their unique menu is a must see. The not-often-seen beef tartare, duck and scallops are on my list when I attend Tuesday’s opening. Organic salmon is on the menu, too. So many great choices!

There are promises of a superb patio this summer. See you out back!

Have A Great Absinthe Day!

Happy Absinthe Day! Who knew there was such a procedure to this drink!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on Sunday, March 5, 2017

 

 

National Kahlua Day….Homemade Style

Posted February 27, 2017 by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe

We are still in Mexico for National Kahlua Day.

Kah-lua is a translation for the native Nahuatl people of Veracruz meaning ‘House of the Alcolhua People’ Some believe it is a slang Arabic word for ‘coffee’.

It is made from 100% Arabica coffee beans with rum, sugar and caramel. The coffee and sugar are grown side by side in the state of Veracruz. The rum used is derived from their sugarcane grown under optimum warm growing conditions.

So if you have a decaf coffee and kahlua to avoid the caffeine as I did, it’s redundant. There are 10 mg of coffee per 100 ml of kahlua. 25% of what is in coffee! That explained the coffee rush.

Origins

From the mountains of Veracruz, Mexico, Kahlua was born. In 1936, four friends joined forces to begin the world renowned drink. The Alvarez brothers were local coffee growers. A chemist, Montalvo Lara, provided the knowledge to transform the ingredients into a cruder version of today’s kahlua. Senior Blanco came up with the idea. Four years later, it made its way to the United States and has grown in great popularity. In 1980, it became the #1 selling coffee liqueur in the world.

In the 1950’s, a Mayan statue collector, Jules Berman (1911 – 1998), worked at Kahlua who put his statues in every advertisement the company posted. It was a hit and continues to today. His collection is now on display in Los Angeles museums and galleries.

It takes 7 years to produce a finished product. The coffee beans, themselves, take 6 years to reach the harvest point. They are grown in the shade so it takes longer. Harvesting of the coffee ‘cherries’ is between October and March.

The traditional method is a dry method when the bean is extracted after the cherry has gone through the drying process. It will have a lower acidity level and an intense, exotic flavour. A newer version uses a wet method which produces a cleaner, brighter, fruitier coffee.

The dried beans are put in burlap bags to rest for 6 months then are roasted, ground and brewed.

The distillation of the sugar turns the liquid into rum then it is aged. Distillation is the process of heating a liquid mixture to form a vapor then cooling the vapor to get a purified form of liquid.

At this point, it is combined with the coffee and rests again for another 8 weeks. The the vanilla and caramel are added. Now it is filtered and bottled.

In the 1960’s, a team of only women led the Kahlua company. They were known as the ‘Kahlua Ladies’.

Taken before the somewhat botched attempt at layering
Taken before the somewhat botched attempt at layering

Variations

Calgary produced the first B-52 in 1977. It is layered in a chilled shot glass starting with Kahlua, then with Bailey’s, and last, Grand Marnier (or another orange flavoured liqueur).

Peter Fich, a head bartender at Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta first invented it. The drink was, of course, named after the music band, The B-52’s. He apparently named many drinks after celebrities, music bands or songs.

One of the first customers for this shooter owned restaurants in various cities in Alberta and liked the drink so much that he put it on the menu. Which is why it is believed to originate at the Keg Steakhouse in Calgary. We can just be proud it’s Canadian!

Not exactly how it should look
Not exactly how it should look

Layering these shooters is not easy. Have a few taste testers on hand so you don’t have to down them all!

How I love thee, kahlua, let me count the ways…..cocktails, shots, coffees, desserts, such as cakes, pies, cookies and a banana bread. See below for instructions.

Black Russians, invented in 1949, are made with kahlua and vodka. White Russians are the same but with milk. The Black Russian is labelled as the most popular cocktail using kahlua.

What’s your favorite?

Mudslides are equal parts Kahlua, Baileys and Vodka, 1/2 oz. each, with 1 oz. of milk.

Espresso Martini’s are mixed with 1 part Kahlua, 2 parts Vodka and 1 part espresso. Shake with ice and strain into a martini glass

Mexican Coffee is made up of 1/2 oz. kahlua, 1/2 oz. tequila and 1 cup of strong, hot coffee, topped with a scoop of melted vanilla ice cream.

Even add it to your Hot Chocolate. MMMMocha!

Add kahlua to desserts, cookies, pies, almost anything with chocolate. An example is the Banana Bread with chocolate and kahlua (below).

Local

The distillation process can be witnessed at Kinsip House in Bloomfield, Ontario which is in the beautiful Prince Edward County. They have tours year round and it is best to pre-book, especially in the winter months.

Call them at 613-393-1890 if you’re interested in learning this process. It’s best to have a group of 6 people but will do them for less. The cost is $5.00 per person. Personally, I would take the special tours with tastings. For $10.00, you get the tour plus tastings of 3 different types of spirits of your choice or, for $15.00, you get the tour and all 11 types of spirits.

Not So Local

At this time, tours are not possible at the Kahlua Company. However, tours of coffee plantations in Coatepec, Veracruz are available. Non-direct flights to Veracruz start about $600.00 round  trip and last approximately 10 hours, longer if there are more stops. Fly to Mexico City and it will likely be cheaper and in about 8 hours. If you want to rent a car, it will take about 4 hours to reach Coatepec and 5 to reach the coast of Veracruz. Price to rent a car is $45.00 and up or a week. Here are a few ideas of what to do there.

Homemade

My own attempt at making kahlua turned out decent despite the lighter color.

Boil 1/2 cup water and 3/4 sugar (I used brown sugar). Add 1/2 cup corn syrup. Remove from heat. Add 1 tablespoon coffee.

Instant grains will remove the step of straining it later. I used ground coffee which will leave sediment at the bottom. Notice the grit.

Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla then 1 cup of rum. Odd but some recipes I found used vodka. I doubled the ingredients and it yielded a full 24 oz bottle with a couple of ounces left over.

Since I knew I would have to filter this, I popped in a couple cinnamon sticks. In a week, I’ll let you know it turns out.

I would recommend using homemade kahlua for baking the desserts. The recipe for the banana bread used almost 2 cups which gets expensive. A 750 ml bottle from LCBO costs $28.95. To refill this bottle with the homemade (doubled) batch, it cost me a total of $17.00.

To make the banana bread, I followed this link. I made a few changes because of my food limitations. Such as using brown rice flour instead of cake flour.

Tossed bananas slices with brown sugar and cinnamon
Tossed bananas slices with brown sugar and cinnamon
After kahlua and vanilla are added
After kahlua and vanilla are added
At this point, I forgot to add the yogurt so it's too thick
At this point, I forgot to add the yogurt so it’s too thick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I mixed the kahlua and chocolate properly! Bitter! Don't lick the spoon!
I mixed the kahlua and chocolate properly! Bitter! Don’t lick the spoon!
One third of batter separated and mixed with kahlua mix
One third of batter separated and mixed with kahlua mix
Before swirling with knife
Before swirling with knife

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After baking
After baking
The finished product! Delicious...even though I forgot the yogurt
The finished product! Delicious…even though I forgot the yogurt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please Drink Responsibly

It’s Margarita Day!

Posted on February 22, 2017 by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe

We will start this off right.

#1 – Click the Link.

#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.

Variations

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 on Bank St.
Feleena’s on Bank St.

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!

"Door" Man at Ahora
“Door” Man at Ahora

“Please Drink Responsibly.”

As the man on the left says, “Por Favor Beber Responsablemente.”


	

Happy Irish Coffee Day!

Welcome to the Debut of Travel By The Glass!

Posted January 25, 2017 by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe

Nuts & Bolts

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.)

Happy Irish Coffee Day!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.

Watch To See If My First Attempt Was Successful.

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:

Ryanair Flights for Free In Europe?

An Example of a Recent Ryanair Special

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

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.

Fireplace

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