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 Mint Julep Day!

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

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

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

Still Can’t Get Over It’s Beauty!

Ways to Enjoy a Mint Julep

As a dessert.

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find out more at the Kentucky Derby Museum.

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

The Fame of Kentucky

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

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

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

Things To Do In Louisville

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seeking The Stainless Barrel?

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

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

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

LCBO carries their brand:

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

Buffalo Trace straight bourbon is $43 per bottle.

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

Out Of Fresh Mint?

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

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

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

Happy Mint  Julep Day!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on May 30, 2017

 

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 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.

 

The Mystery of the Cosmopolitan

The origins of this drink is a hard one to pin point. It’s possible the Cosmopolitan is based from The Daisy which was created in the late 19th Century. The Daisy is a combination of spirit, citrus drink, simple syrup and an orange infused liqueur. Many drinks use this blend as a base, one other being a Margarita.

Up until 1968, Ocean Spray’s largest market targeted children. They decided to expand their market to adults and began printing the recipe on every label for the cocktail named The Harpoon: vodka, cranberry juice and lime. However, this is missing the essential cointreau.

Who morphed it into the Cosmopolitan?

Story #1

A very similar drink is in print in The Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Barspublished in 1934.

Jigger of Gordon’s Gin (1 12 oz Beefeater)
2 dash Cointreau (12 oz Cointreau)
Juice of 1 Lemon (1 oz Lemon Juice)
1 tsp Raspberry Syrup (1 tsp homemade)

Story #2

Cheryl Cook, a bartender in 1970 South Beach, created the new blend for consumers who requested something easier to swallow than a traditional martini, something sweeter.

Story #3

Neal Murray claims to be the first to have made the drink in Minneapolis at the Cork and Cleaver in 1975, He added a splash of cranberry to a drink called the Kamikaze. The Kamikaze is vodka, triple sec and lemon juice.

Story #4 (My personal favorite)

John Caine lived in Provincetown, Massaschusetts, which is near a huge cranberry producing region. It makes sense that, when he moved to San Francisco in the 1970’s, he brought the recipe for the cosmo with him since he claims to have been experimenting with cranberry juice.

He now owns numerous bars in San Francisco and believes the increase in popularity of the cocktail happened during the 70’s when it was being served in Fern Bars. This is a slang name for preppy/yuppy bar (remember these terms from your younger days?) that catered to singles and were decorated with ferns and tiffany lamps.

Read more on John Caine, nominated for Man of the Year by the Leukemia Lymphoma Society.

Story #5

In 1987, Toby Cechini created this drink while working at The Odeon in Manhattan. This establishment was THE place to be in the 80’s and 90’s so the cosmo skyrocketed to success along with the Odeon. Even Saturday Night Live held casting parties here. Oddly, the current menu does not contain the drink however, any server there will how to make it. They’ve created a new variation with the Ginger Martini.

From there, Madonna and the popular tv show, Sex and the City brought the drinks’ notoriety to new levels.

Worth noting, Melissa Huffsmith also worked at The Odeon in 1987-88 and used Absolut Vodka, cointreau, cranberry and lime juices which is today’s standardized version.

Story #6

The Cosmo makes it first actual literary existence in 1993 in New York City according to Sally Ann Berk, author of The New York Bartender’s Guide and Bob Sennett, author of Complete World Bartender Guide.

Generally, a Cosmo is made with vodka and there are so many variations.

Your guess is as good as mine. The popularity of the Cosmopolitan has worn off in recent years but lucky for us, it spawned a generation of talented mixologists.

At Ace Mercado, in Ottawa, I recently encountered Marty (no last name). Hey, when you’re THIS good, you don’t need one!

Marty hard at work-Ace Mercado

You can play with the colors by swapping out the triple sec/cointreau and using blue curacao to make a purple cosmopolitan or white cranberry juice for a white cosmo. A Francilian substitutes sangria for the cranberry juice.

For fun, watch Marty, of Ace Mercado create his frozen dacquiri, where ALL of his drinks are his specialty and performed with flair!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on May 7, 2017

 

Cheers to National Beer Day!

Lowertown Brewery Shop

Hot off the heels of Bock Beer Day, is yet another Beer Day. Much like the Wine Days we get throughout the year, expect to see more on beer as well.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a beer fan but I am developing an appreciation for the production of it.

We have a wealth of local breweries, using organic produce, at our fingertips here in Ottawa so wherever you live, I would be sure you have one near your back door.

The use of local produce such as grains, is growing fast. Lucky for us, restaurants, grocery stores, distilleries and vineyards are increasing their availability of organic products. Many local farmers, where these grains come from, are registered with Canadian Organic Growers so you know you’re drinking, and eating, healthier.

Local Organic Farms

Against The Grain

You don’t have to venture far to find them! Most Metro Food Stores carry their products which include pancake batter, purple corn chips and various whole grain flour, to name just a few.

I’ll be using their purple corn chips for all of my nachos now since I’ve discovered their great health benefits.

“Studies indicate the antioxidant, anthocyanins, found in purple corn, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, inhibit abnormal cell growth, promote collagen formation, and improve circulation.”           –Source

Be sure to watch the Pancake Testings! The link is under the ‘extras’.

Their pancake mix also contains purple corn meal, the great antioxidant. If you’re at a loss of how to use any of their products, they provide over 30 recipes for entrees, desserts, pastry and bread here.

Moulin St. Georges Mill

Specializing in corn products, they offer chemical-free and preservative-free grain of different coarseness. The family-owned farm is located east of Alexandria at the Quebec border.

As I browse each Ontario Organic Farm’s websites, I find something unique with each one. Some farms make furniture or woven sheep blankets, some provide guided tours or education programs, cooking classes or offer volunteer programs.

If you’re interested in learning how to grow organic food, grain, etc, the Canadian Organic Growers is offering courses in Ontario and BC. The Ottawa course has been postponed to 2018.

Our own local breweries are increasingly popular. When visiting some of these establishments, it was hard to have extended conversations with proprietors due to the steady traffic of customers. And this is mid-week!

All I can say is, Way to Go Ottawa, for choosing local!

It was a tad chilly that night so I rushed in to the Lowertown and the first thing I noticed was that delicious aroma of freshly burning wood, real wood, and wondered where it came from. Apparently, I walked right by it on my way in. Did I mention it was cold?

The Awesome Barkeep, Matthew, at Lowertown Brewery helped me figure out which kind of beer is best suited to my taste. Despite how busy it was, he kindly took the time to answer my questions, explain the science of beer and let me sample 6 different flavours. All of this in between serving his customers. What a pro!

Matthew helped me discover that I like non-bitter type beers which turns out to be their Dark Lager. Go figure. Never thought I would be the Guinness type. Like my wine, I like them smooth!

Many pubs offer “Flights” of beer, or wine, to sample various flavours. I highly recommend ordering one of these, share with a few friends, and discover your preference.

Might I add that the Lowertown store is open until 11pm. So, if you’ve missed the shut down of the King Edward LCBO at 10pm, you still have time to grab a couple brewskies on your way home.

At Beyond The Pale, the frontman is very helpful and gracious, despite the steady traffic. They sell their cans in packs of 4 at the Hamilton Street facility but you can find singles at LCBO.

I was able to sample 4 different beers but didn’t care for any in particular. This means nothing because it’s not my drink of choice. For those who prefer beer, you will certainly find a brew you like. It’s quite clear they are popular.

Tooth and Nail offers 3 samples of your choice. I particularly requested non-bitter flavours but did not find anything that compared to the Dark Lager at Lowertown. It’s not just a distillery. The pub is full sized and was busy enough to not be able to have a conversation with any of the staff. Again, mid-week. I couldn’t even ask why they are named Tooth and Nail.

They, as well, stay open beyond the regulatory LCBO hours, except on Sundays.

Keep in mind that most local breweries are closed Sundays, some on Monday as well, as it is their brewing day. For sampling, best to visit them Tuesday to Saturday.

Mill St Brew Pub offers guided tours at certain times of the day yet my research team were served the royal treatment by Jeremy. Open for about 5 years, he has

Palomar Diablo at Mill St

been working there for the last 4, he knows every beer inside and out. There seemed to be no limit to the sampling. They brew 4 different flavours on site, the rest are produced at the Toronto location.

Again, my favorite was a dark beer, the Cobblestone Stout. Could have something to do with the chocolate content. Mill St originally started as an organic brewery back in 2002 and has grown to cover every spectrum of flavour from citrus to chocolate to chamomile.

If you sidle up to your local pub, chances are pretty good you’re going to find the Mill St logo if not one of their beers. I’m noticing more of the smaller micro-breweries popping up on the drink menus, too.

As far as brew pubs go, I highly recommend BDT – Brasseur Du Temps – in Gatineau. Beautifully located by the water on the historic site of the first brewery in the area, their unique style and attractions keep me going back. For your seating, choose the side bar that overlooks the factory and the kitchen. Before you leave, visit the museum below where they house antique artifacts of beer production. It keeps the same hours as the pub and you’re free to browse.

It’s a must see!

Why No Mention Of Standard Beer?

We spend all week trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle when it comes to our food or cleaning products then by Sunday morning we’ve undone all the good we’ve accomplished by having a few drinks Saturday night with friends or family.

Alcohol is metabolized by the body differently than food. It bypasses the digestive system, is absorbed into the body and goes straight to the liver. Your liver is the main fat-burning organ in our bodies so if you’re trying to lose weight, alcohol will deter this. Your liver chooses to metabolize the alcohol first before it tackles any fat cells. Your liver also removes toxins so if it’s overloaded with alcohol, it has a hard time eliminating the toxins which can lead to rapid aging, loss of libido and other conditions.

Do You Know What You’re Drinking?

Beer, being in 2nd place after water and tea as a favorite beverage, is not required by law to label their ingredients on their products. Check your beer bottle or can. Calorie levels and alcohol content are only sometimes on the label. They are under no obligation to disclose their ingredients to anyone.

I couldn’t encourage anyone to ingest anything that is unhealthy which is why I am restricting this to organic.

Commercial Beer

The government regulates what can and cannot be present in beer. Lucky us, this is the list of “Legal” Ingredients Allowed in Commercial Beer:

MSG – an addictive mixture of sodium and amino acid glutamate which can cause headaches, facial pressure, numbness, tingling, chest pain, nausea and heart palpitations.

Propylene Glycol – also found in anti-freeze.

Calcium Disodium EDTA – made from formaldehyde, sodium cayanide, and Ethylenediamine.

Sulphites and anti-microbial preservatives – have been linked to allergies and asthma.

Natural Flavors – can come from anything natural including a beavers anal gland. (Still convinced you’re drinking the right beer?)

BPA – Bisphenol A is a component in many tin can liners and it may leach into the beer. BPA can mimic the female hormone estrogen and may affect sperm count, and other organ functions.

Animal Based Clarifiers -Findings include isinglass (dried fish bladder), gelatin (from skin, connective tissue, and bones), and casein (found in milk).

FD&C – Made from petroleum, linked to allergies, asthma and hyperactivity.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)

Carcinogens – Newcastle beer apparently heats ammonia and sulphites under high pressure which creates carcinogenic compounds in the caramel coloring they add. These compounds are known to cause cancer and tumours in rats and mice.                                                                                         – See the Full List

So, if you want to maintain the healthy lifestyle you work so hard for, look for non-GMO and additive-free food and alcohol products.

Still not convinced? The few commercial beers available without GMO’s are Heinekin, Sierra Nevada and Amstel Light.

My next beer will definitely be local, organic from the tap. However, I’m not rushing out for one. I’m completely beered out – a big thank you to my beer testers for helping me not to consume too much. You know who you are and you rock!

What Else Can You Do With Your Beer?

Once you’ve found a good organic beer, you can do more than just drink it!

Butterflies and slugs are attracted to it. So if you want more butterflies and less slugs leave some leftover beer out in the garden.

Rinse your hair with it to benefit from the Vitamin B and natural sugars to add body and shine. It will help increase vitality, resilience and hold.

Remove stains by pouring some on coffee stains, blot and it should come out.

Marinate meat and mushrooms but you probably know this one already.

Polish your copper pots.

Beer vs Prostitution.

They say the oldest profession is prostitution well…beer making may be the oldest! Apparently prostitution is estimated at 5,000 years old. Beer is estimated to be 7,000 years old, originating in Iran. Some even say it began 12,000 ago.

What Caused The London Beer Flood?

In 1814 London, 570 tons of beer, equivalent to 1 million pints, exploded from a vat that had too much pressure build up. 8 people lost their lives in that huge mess. “Not only did the brewery escape paying damages to the destitute victims, it received a waiver from the British Parliament for excise taxes it had already paid on the thousands of barrels of beer it lost.”       – Source

In the Middle Ages many other mixtures of herbs were added to beer for  bitterness and flavour prior to the use of hops. These mixtures are referred to as gruit, beer produced from botanicals. Hops were cultivated in France as early as the 800s. The oldest surviving written record of the use of hops in beer is in 1067 by writer, Abbess Hildegard of Bingen, Germany: “If one intends to make beer from oats, it is prepared with hops.”

What Are The Hops For?

We’ve all heard the term but how does it affect beer. Hops is the flower from the cone-like hop plant. A member of the hemp family, a hops vine grows to about 7 feet tall in just a few months.

Once compressed for beer making, it is a green pellet ready to add bitterness to the sweet tasting malt to create the perfect balance.

Different types of hops will have different levels of bitterness. It also acts as a preservative.

Hops on the Rhine! Prost!

The first documented use of hops is from 7th Century Europe in Germany in the Hallertau region.

Close to one of every two beers worldwide is brewed with one of the more than 20 types of Hallertau hop.

Hallertau is a region in Bavaria, between Nuremberg and Munich, where plenty of breweries can be found.

Or make it easy on yourself and take the tour. Be sure to catch at least one castle!

Hallertau is the world’s largest hop cultivating region. If you’re so inclined, watch this quick 3 minute video on the cultivation, filmed in Bavaria with it’s fields and fields of hop gardens.

Whether you’re here or there, enjoy a brew today! See you next time! Cheers!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on April 7, 2017

Stained Glass-Patty Boland's

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

It’s International Earth Day!

How on EARTH can this be connected to travel and drinks?

Earth, being part soil, is the blood and nutrients for our plants. The fruit of some plants are distilled into liquor and voila! we have organic beverages.

So Today, This is the “Organically Grown Travel By The Glass” Way

With the increasing desire for organically grown and non-GMO produts, distilleries and vineyards are contributing to the cause by reducing or eliminating additives for a healthier product.

The basic guidelines that are followed when producers claim Organic:

No fertilizers

No hormones

No antibiotics

No pesticides

No herbicides

No GMO’s

We are avoiding these chemicals because they don’t make us feel good. If you get headaches from red wine, despite staying hydrated, it could be an allergy to something in the wine.

It could be the chemicals. Try organic wine and test the results.

It could be a product that ends up in the liquor naturally.  For example, sulphites, in wine, are chemicals used as preservatives to prevent browning and discoloration in foods and drinks.

Are you the type to have a headache after one glass of wine? Sulphites are not the culprit. More sulfites are generally added to white wines than red wines and most headache sufferers complain after drinking red wines. Sulphites can cause asthma symptoms.

The 3 main evil reasons you might experience a headache when drinking wine

Evil Factor#1: Tannins – naturally found in grape skins, stems, seeds and oak barrels. These antioxidants are also found in dark chocolate!

Try this test to see if you’re sensitive, or allergic to Tannins:

  1. Brew a cup of black tea, lettting it steep 5-10 minutes longer than usual.
  2. Drink. If you get a headache, you know you’re sensitive to tannins since black tea has alot of tannin.

If you are sensitive to tannin, also avoid walnuts, almonds, dark chocolate, cinnamon, clove, pomengranates, grapes, acai berries, red beans and quince (a pear shaped fruit usually found between October and January in ethnic markets, if you’re lucky)

Sadly, these would be your wine options:

Choose a red with low tannin such as Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Grenache, Merlot, Barbera and Primitivo. Or cut out red altogether – I shudder with the thought.

Choose white wines instead especially the ones that have not been aged in oak barrels  since the wood will create tannin.

I’m very thankful I don’t get headaches from reds in general.

Evil #2: Sugar

When alcohol and sugar are combined, a headache can happen if you’re not properly hydrated. The extra water is needed to help process both substances. If you’re lacking hydration (#1 reason for headaches), you body pulls the necessary water it needs from other parts of your body-head included. When the liquid in your head starts to deplete, a headache starts. A way to prevent this? Avoid sweet dessert wines, ie ice wines semi-dry and cheap wines. They have much higher sugar content. Cheap wine producers add sugar during fermentation to boost alcohol. Choose dry.

Evil #3: Histamines

Sources of Histamines and Tyramine

Recent research has found that food and drinks that have been aged, such as dry aged meats and red wines, can cause our body to release histamines. Histamines are chemicals that are released when we have an allergic reaction and can cause that runny nose, dry eyes and headache.

If you know this is the reason for your headaches (you’ve ruled out Evil 1 and 2) and you’re serious about getting into that bottle of wine, take a histamine blocker, ie: Claritin, to prevent one.

 

Evil #4 Tyramines

Tyramine constricts then dilates blood vessels and Sauvignon Blanc and Charddonay are lowest in this chemical. Tyramines are found in aged foods ie: cheeses and meats.

To sum all of this up, when choosing an organic wine, choose one with low or no sulphites. Avoid the oak barrel flavouring if you find you’re sensitive to the tannins. And drink lots of water! Hopefully this helps you kick your headache issue.

Who Is Making Organic Alcohol?

There are approximately 2000 producers of organic wine and organic liquor and the numbers are on the rise.

I discovered many organic producing distilleries but Tru Organic Vodka’s “going green” conscientiousness goes beyond their liquor. They use less glass products and what glass they do use is all recycled. They’re not done yet….They use synthetic corks, soy-based ink and packaging that turns into a shelf!

Juniper Green Organic Gin produced the first organic gin in Clapham, London, right down to using organic juniper and coriander.

Tequila Alquimia boasts 39 gold medals at spirit competitions. They produce organic tequila with no added chemicals or flavorings. Their distillery is located in Camarillo, the town next to my father’s. If anyone is interested in purchasing a bottle, I could bring some back on my next trip there.

Organic Section at LCBO

The closest we can get to these actual brands is the United States so let’s see what our LCBO carries:

Spirits

Toronto based distillery, Toronto Distillery Company, produces organic spirits made from wheat, rye and corn. Their soil is rich in nutrients-if you’ve ever noticed how red the soil is near Toronto. LCBO carries their Wheat and Gin versions. Organic alcohol tends to be a bit pricier, for example, a 750ml bottle of Smirnoff costs $27.25 when TDC’s shelf price is $39.50 for a 375ml bottle.

It is a healthier choice in most cases. For those who indulge in more than 1-2 drinks per month, it might be worth considering organic. However, you’re defeating the purpose plus you’ll still have a bleeding hangover if you’ve had 10 glasses of organic wine.

Brand new on the scene is Last Straw Distillery in Concord, Ont. Restrictions and regulations are the biggest challenges a start up distillery in Ontario faces. Last November, Finance Minister, Charles Sousa, introduced Bill 70. This includes a 61.5% sales tax for retail stores owned and operated by Ontario’s distilleries. Ontario wine is taxed at 6.1%! British Columbia taxes by the litre which doesn’t hurt the smaller-producing distilleries. As their production increases so will the province’s revenue. No surprise there are many popping up in BC lately. I’m going to get all political on you, maybe even a bit Trump-ish, by saying, “Hello, Ontario Government, new distilleries will create jobs and revenue for our province, as it is doing in BC!” A small distillery, in it’s first critical year, is not taxed in BC for its first 50,000 litres produced. We all know Ontario would gauge, gauge, gauge until they were forced out of business.

Ontario distillers are now allowed to market their products at LCBO, however, the distillers fork out the costs of distribution. LCBO still applies its full 140% markup to the products. “The LCBO makes more margin on small micro-distillers’ offerings than on anything else they sell – so much for supporting local!” says Greg Lipin, co-founder of North of 7 Distillery in Ottawa.

Read the full report from Last Straw. They’re not looking for handouts only fairness between their industry of spirits and the beer and wine industry. Book your free tour during regular business hours.

North of 7 In-Store Products

North of 7 is a new Ottawa distillery with a conscience. They keep it local, additive free and they are involved in charity work. Almost all of the grains used are from Alexandria, Winchester and some from Wakefield. The Winchester farm, Against the Grain, supplies only organic produce and the juniper they find in Alexandria which grows wild and naturally. They’ve been hard at work producing their first whisky which will be ready this May, after 3 long years! There is a White Dog version at 62.5% alcohol! Ahem, moonshine to some, gut rot to others but, aside from the powerful punch to the system, I thought it had an interesting taste. Only available at their store since it is the rye straight from their still.

Please offer your support and drop in for a tasting! You’ll be pleasantly surprised and you’ll help to keep them operating!

Store hours: Noon-5pm Monday to Wednesday and a bit later for the rest of the week, closed Sundays. Located at 1733 St. Laurent Blvd

“For each bottle of Leatherback Rum sold, a portion is donated to the Canadian Sea Turtle Network – a charitable organization based in Halifax that is working to conserve endangered sea turtles in Canadian waters and abroad.” – North of 7

The owners, Greg Lipin and Jody Miall, genuine entrepreneurs, are avid rock-climbers and bourbon lovers. They are living their dream…they own a distillery and Coyote Rock Gym right here in Ottawa. Greg was the first one to open a rock climbing gym in Ottawa in 1992. Jody joined later on.

My sons and I, personally, have gone rock climbing and can say it is a very cool experience!

After speaking with Jody last week, I was surprised to learn their products on-site are no cheaper than what’s charged at LCBO. License to sell obviously means it must be sold through the liquor board so they get their cut, too. He says there is slight improvement in red tape but the taxes charged by the Ontario Government is still heavily unbalanced.

3 other ways to celebrate Earth Day the Travel By The Glass way:

Hmm, this took some thought.

  1. If we are encouraged not to use our car to keep the air cleaner, then we are free
    Caleshea’s Garden Centre

    to have a couple of drinks at the corner pub.

  2. Get your own garden growing. You’ll have truly organic parsley, thyme, basil, mint, yes, mint for your Mojitos!
  3. Be a tourist in your own neighborhood. Walk, don’t drive. You’ll notice things that you usually drive past.

I encourage you to submit your ideas!

Here is a list of links for events:

Toronto

Ottawa

Canada-wide

Earth-Friendly Events Across Canada

We get another Earth Day on April 22 so if you miss this one, use this link to see what’s going on next month.

Today is the first Earth Day which is celebrated every year at the Spring Equinox on or around March 21st when night and day are exactly the same length of time. This one is organized by the Earth Society Foundation. The foundation was founded by John McConnell, a conservationist who worked at a plastics factory and saw the environmental damage it caused.

The 2nd Earth Day, on April 22, is organized by the Earth Day Network. Both were launched in the spring of 1970. 20 million people participated in activities on that day 47 years ago.

Compliments of Caleshea Marfurt & Family

Keep It Green and Please Drink Responsibly

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on March 20, 2017