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.

 

The Classy Martini

Shaken, Not Stirred

This is the most popular way to request a Martini. But is it better this way?

Shaken Stirred
Cloudier  Appears clearer
Dissolves the vermouth, less oily + lighter, refreshing Velvety smooth texture – the oils are left behind.
Becomes very cold, very fast – shake for only 10-15 seconds Becomes chilled slower – stir for 60 seconds for best results.
Aerates – creates small bubbles Lack of bubbles leaves a different taste

Try swapping methods the next time you put together this or any other drink. If it’s meant to be shaken, stir it and see how different it tastes.

A Traveller’s View Of Florence

Who is Alessandro Martini?

Born in 1834 in Florence, Italy, Alessandro Martini became one of the founding fathers of the Martini & Rossi company.

The owners of a vermouth making company, Michel Agnel Re and Baudino, hired Alessandro Martini and Teofilo Sola, an accountant, in 1851. When these founding fathers had all passed away, Martini and Sola created Martini, Sola and Cia in 1863.

Enter Rossi     

Luigi Rossi was born in the small village, Val della Torre in Italy, but moved, later in life, to Turin to begin his studies of winemaking and herbology. He soon opened his own in Via Dora Grossa, now Via Garibaldi.

His brilliant work of blending herbs caught the attention of Martini and Sola. In 1863, they invited him to join the team. We can thank Rossi for the actual flavoring of their vermouth. Martini was the marketer.

Only in 1879 did the company become Martini & Rossi. Sola passed away that year. The company flourished along with the fashion houses and Italian car industry and Puccini who was composing the opera, La Boheme.

In 1884, they opened branches in Buenes Aires, Geneva, Barcelona and a steam distillery in Montechiaro d’Asti.

Rossi passed away in 1892. Alessandro Martini passed away in 1905 and by then the company had been distributing to 70 countries. In 192, the company name changed to simply, Martini.

World War II caused some losses. The German plant was destroyed and the Turin, Italy plant was evacuated. The company maintained their workforce during the war but has since re-built it into a huge success.

To note, Juventus Stadium is located in Turin. An Italian football game would be an exciting addition to your Italian trip. Catch their next game on August 13, 2017!

The Varieties Are Endless

A Martini is made up of 2 parts gin and 1 part vermouth.

Marty Will Have a Wonderful Martini For You At Ace Mercado!

Dry Martini uses dry, white vermouth.

Splash a little olive juice in it and it’s called a Dirty Martini.

Perfect Martini uses equal amounts of sweet and dry vermouth.

Garnishes are an optional olive or lemon peel twist.

Look online for a martini that strikes your fancy. Here are few refreshing ideas.

Another option is bitters, such as orange bitters. Some versions call for this ingredient. Bitters are made from alcohol, or glycerin, with barks, fruit peels, roots, seeds, spices, herbs, flowers or other botanicals.

Bitters can get expensive. They range from $25 and up for an average sized 750 mL bottle at the LCBO. Not to mention all the additives, so here is a recipe with plenty of ideas if you would like to try making your own.

The Big Experiment of 2017

After scratching around my own kitchen, I started my own botany corner. The mixes I used are listed on the side. My next step is to buy the dropper bottles and begin mixing flavours. I think they’re ready because they smell delicious!

Ace Mercado in Ottawa has a selection of bitters in tiny bottles that they keep handy on their counter. If Marty is on shift, he will fix you something absolutely wonderful with them.

Alot of times, if you’re mixing up a new drink and find the taste lacking something, drop in a few dashes of any bitters. The taste will likely have a beneficial effect. This theory will be tested soon and I will post the results.

There are other stories from San Francisco where patrons believed the drink originated at the Occidental Hotel in the 1860’s. Or the other story that that the people of Martinez believe it originated in their town.

Wherever you are in the world, enjoy your Martini, today, the way YOU like it!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on June 19, 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

 

The Long Awaited National Wine Day

Yet another day to celebrate wine. Why not? Everyday is a day to celebrate wine! I will try to encompass all wines here.

Not only is there the common red, white and rose wines but if you look a little deeper, you’ll find ice wine, fortified wine, sake (rice wine), Lille, sparkling and mulled wine (this has already been covered).

Of the common reds and whites, you probably know of a few types within each, probably your favorites.

A Wee Quiz

Can you figure out which is red and which is a white wine? Hint, there are a few pink ones in there, too.

Zinfandel                           Grenache                      Chardonnay

Pinot Grigio                       Madeire                        Gruner Veltliner

Riesling                               Pinot Noir                    Sauvignon blanc

Syrah                                   Burgundy                     Carmenere

Cabernet Sauvignon        Merlot                            Cabernet Franc

Gewürztraminer                Sparkling                      Port

Bordeaux                            Blaufrankisch              Malbec

Gamay                                 Barbera                        Chenin Blanc

Gewurztraminer               Merlot                          Petit Sirah

Moscato                              Nebbiolo                      Rioja

Shiraz                                 Sherry                           Rose

Sake                                    Marsala                        Chianti

Sancerre                            Tempranillo                 Semillon

Viognier                             Schiava (sorry, not found at LCBO)

Too easy?

Muscadelle                        Auxerrois

Romorantin                       Godello

Negrette                              Lagrein

Touriga Nacional

Agiorgitiko (don’t ask me to pronounce this please)

See Quiz Answers – I’ve made note of the wines with low tannins or acidity for those with sensitivities.

Wine Sensitivities

White wines tend to be higher in acid levels especially ones from Europe and Canada, cool climate regions.

Warm climates produce low acid wines such as California, Argentina and Australia.

Tannins

Ways to avoid tannins:

Wines aged in oak barrels will have tannins so find wines that are aged in stainless steel vats or clay pots. One example is Azienda Agricola found at our LCBO. Believe it or not, concrete is now being used as well. On the other hand, tannin can come from the seeds of the grapes as well.

Tannins leach from the grape skins and thick skinned grapes will create an even higher tannin level so look to purchase light bodied wines as they spend less time in contact with the skin during fermentation.

New Oak Barrels Are ‘Toasted’.

The inside is torched with fire to carmelize the oak and, if burnt long enough, will turn it to charcoal. The longer it sits in the barrels, the bolder and higher level of alcohol in the final product.

Gluten is also created when wine is placed in oak barrels to age. Until this point, it is gluten-free so again, stainless or clay are the way to go when it comes to sensitivities.

A wine with less than 12.5% is considered a light bodied wine.

Medium-bodied wines fall between 12.5% and 13.5%

Wines over 13.5% alcohol are considered full-bodied. Surprisingly, Chardonnay can be a full-bodied wine with a few brands at the 13.5% mark because they are aged in oak. Ususally, whites are not. Many of the California Chardonnays are full bodied at 13.5% but Chilean Bonterra at 13.6% was the highest content I found at LCBO.

When purchasing, check the labels or bookmark this handy chart I found displaying the lightest to the heaviest wine before heading to the store.

You can avoid red wines altogether (ugh) since whites and roses do not have much contact with the grape skins either.

If it is sulphites you want to avoid, stay away from whites.

Rose wines are made from red wine grapes and exposed to the skins for only a short time to acquire it’s pink color.

Sparkling wines are bubbly due to the second fermentation process.

Fortified wines are made from a still wine with alcohol added to it so that the alcohol percentage is raised to 17-20%.

Examples of fortified wines are the all-familiar port and sherry, which were very popular during our parents generation. Marsala and Madeira are also fortified wines.

Mulled wines are brilliant! Mix and match opened, older wines and simmer with your favorite spices for a delicious way to enjoy wine!

So many varieties, so little time in this 24-hour period but do your best and enjoy it the way that is meant for just you!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on May 25, 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.

 

Who Started The Cocktail?

Bourbon Sour @ Prohibition

Pirate Tails

The first cocktail was made by pirates?!

Well, sort of. In 1586, English privateer, Sir Francis Drake, lead his men to Havana where things took a bad turn.

The good news? They managed to steal a pile of gold.

The bad news? Many men suffered from malnutrition and scurvy, leaving the entire crew stranded in Havana.

Karma, perhaps?

Knowing citrus aided in the prevention, Sir Francis Drake sent a small party of men to shore to find some natives who could direct them to medicinals to administer to the sick men. They arrived at Matecumbe, Florida which is roughly in the centre of today’s Florida Keys.

The concoction they brought back to ship was made up of chuchuhuasi bark soaked in distilled sugar cane juice (rum), then mixed with lime and mint. Voila, El Draque.

The good news? They became well again.

The bad news? They continued to plunder and pillage.

Psst: Mojito

To England, he is a hero, to the Spanish, he is a pirate.

Moral of the story?

We can be grateful to those who paved the way for the vast array of cool drinks we have access to today. By the way, which drink does Drake’s 1586 brew most resemble?

And why the name cocktail?

Apparently, the crew drank the mix from a long spoon with a cocktail handle. An image of  this type of spoon brings up a bartenders mixing spoon which only holds about a teaspoon. I would doubt a teaspoon of El Draque would amount to much healing. My guess, they used something that resembled a ladle. The real question is why is the handle of this spoon called a cocktail?

Whether this story is the true origins of the cocktail drink, no one can really know for sure. As with many drinks, there are conflicting stories of who made the first one. This is no exception. Let me continue…

In 1731, James Ashley ran a Punch House in London, England and claims to have made the first cocktail, or rather, punch.

A recently opened Punch House in Chicago features pre-made punch served by the glass, by the carafe or, if you’re a larger group, by the punch bowl. Hmm, gives me an idea for Rum Punch Day.

Sadly, there are no Punch Houses in Canada. Pity.

Pimms Cup @ Heart & Crown

Another story features Antoine Peychaud, of New Orleans, as the originator of the cocktail. Peychaud served mixed drinks in a coquetel, French for an egg cup. It was difficult for the English to pronounce and instead referred to it as cocktail.

Peychaud Bitters is produced in the States but not in Canada. Perhaps they are promoting their product with this story which may or may not be true. If anyone has any proof, please share.

In the end, google translates coequetel to cocktail. No matter where it came from or who started it, the result is a tasty and refreshing drink, just in time for summer.

A number of hands went into the making of the cocktail as we know it today so cheers to you while you enjoy your cocktail on National Cocktail Day.

What will be your cocktail of choice this season? Need some ideas for something new? See The Cafe Royal Cocktail Book  or have some fun with the 1930 version of The Savoy Cocktail Book located on the sidebar.

If you’re looking for a new taste, visit your LCBO and pick up the new Bacardi Raspberry and mix it with any fizzy drink. Let your imagination run with it.

Also new on the scene is Luxardo’s Bitter Bianco which is made up of cardamom, rhubarb, quinine, bitter orange, and three secret herbs to give it it’s aromatic scented and slightly bitter, citrus-y flavour. Luxardo developed this liqueur to rival red bitters. Similar flavour but clear in colour. It is most popular mixed with vermouth but there are plenty of recipes available.

Happy Mixing! Cheers!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on May 13, 2017

 

National Moscato Day aka Heidi’s Day

No wonder Heidi loves Moscato..she’s part Swiss!

Everyone probably knows someone like my dear friend, Heidi, who LOVES Moscato. I’m proud to say she is spreading her wings and enjoys white wine and even a red now and then. That would be my influence, good or bad, you be the judge.

A couple days ago, I brought up The Cosmopolitan and it’s popularity in the 90’s. Past tense. Replacing it in popularity is Moscato which can be found in 3 different colors.

White, Pink and Reds are usually made from Muscat grapes. They are grown in Piedmont, France which borders Italy and Switzerland. It is the only wine grape that is also produced as a table grape and some are made into raisins.

In some cases, a splash of red wine is added to white moscato to create the pretty pink shade.

A slightly different version is Moscato d’Asti, a sparkling white wine and is commonly made using Muscat Blanc grapes in the province of Asti, in the northwest hills of France in Montferrat.

If you browse your nearby LCBO, you will notice variations of the name but they are referring to the same beverage. There’s Muscatel (Spanish), Muscat Blanc, Muscadel, Muscandeni.

30% of Moscato consumers are Millenials. It is a sweet, lightly bubbly drink low in alcohol and high on flavour, making it very drinkable. Twitter averages 250 tweets per hour of people drinking it.

Popularity for Moscato boomed, in 2009, when Drake quoted it in on of his songs. Was it for the sake of a rhyme or does he actually drink it?

“It’s a celebration – clap clap bravo. Lobster and shrimp and a glass of moscato.”                                                                                                                                         – Drake

But he’s not the only one.

“Still over in Brazil sipping Moscato, ya must have forgot though, so I’mma take you back to the block yo.”                                                                                – L’il Kim

Origins of the Muscat name could be Persian: muchk or Greek: moskos or Latin: muscus or Italian: mosca which means fly since these grapes’s sweet scent attracts many fruit flies.

Ancient Romans referred to it as apiana and early documents date back to the 14th Century.

As with regular wine, it is possible Moscato came from ancient Egyptians but there is no documented proof.

Would you believe a search in LCBO brings up 386 different bottles of Moscato?

Here are a couple ideas for each color type to get you started.

White

Barefoot from California

Bartenura from Italy

Madria Sangria – California – Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery – yummy recipes using Moscato

Pink

Forward from Ontario

Jeunesse – USA

Jacob’s Creek – Australia

Ascheri Grappa from Greece – a vintage at $42.75 per bottle

Red

Barefoot – California

Yellow Tail – Australia

Due to it’s sweetness, any type should pair well with spicy food. Summer is coming and it’s a perfect time to sip on a refreshing glass of chilled Moscato.

Or drop in to the Wine Rack in the Byward Market and ask to sample a couple blends. They are usually pretty accommodating.

For a twist, let’s find out some things NOT to do in France. Normally, I throw some ideas of things TO DO in the city/country of origin or places to see locally. Not this time.

You know those annoying slide shows that take 12+ pages of refreshing just to find out the next tip or fact? They can take 10-15 minutes!

Skip the slideshow. Here is a condensed list from destinationtips.com:

Keep your hands on the table. If you think you’re being demure and lady-like by keeping them in your lap…forget it. Your companion will be wondering what you are doing down there.

Don’t assume the shops will be open like they are here in North America where the consumer is catered to. In France, shop owners take long 2 hour lunch breaks, 2 or 3 week summer holidays in July or August, and then there’s the strikes. Don’t expect them to be open Sundays either.

Don’t expect the dog owners of France to pick up after their pets. They are not on the same page of ‘poop and scoop’ as the rest of us. Please don’t suggest they do either. Just leave your good shoes at the hotel, or watch where you walk.

Please don’t squeeze the produce! Fruit and vegetables in France markets sure look appealing but it’s a big No-No to poke, prod, touch, squeeze or to pick it up to smell it. Ask the vendor to bag it for you. Just point to it!

Don’t order the salad as an appetizer. In France, it is meant as a digestive and palate cleanser to be eaten after your main meal, before the cheese or dessert.

Save the hugs for your lover. When greeting your friends and acquaintances, please air kiss both cheeks. You might think a great big bear is a good sign of friendship but you’ll startle them, especially if it’s your boss. They will misunderstand your intentions! Yikes.

It’s not BYOB! If you’ve been invited to a dinner party, do NOT bring a bottle of wine as a friendly gesture. The host will be offended. He/She knows how to select the proper wine for their own fete. And let the host do the pouring, too.

Recently, I tried a mix of gin, moscato, lemon and cranberry juice which wasn’t too bad. Add a couple splashes to your favorite summer cocktail to liven it up. Any cocktail will do!

Try a Honey Bee (from Stella Rosa Wines) using 3 oz white moscato, 1 oz rum, lemon slices and little honey, shaken and poured over ice. I used rye since I had no rum on hand to attempt this.

Vive la France!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on May 9, 2017