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

 

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

 

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

 

It’s Margarita Day!

Posted on February 22, 2017 by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe

We will start this off right.

#1 – Click the Link.

#2 – Press Play (or skip the ad)

#3 – Turn up the Volume. Now you’re ready. You’ll understand why……

Hot on the heels of National Drink Wine Day comes my second favorite drink…The Margarita. Literal translation of margarita is the daisy flower. Early in the 20th century, the Tequila Daisy cocktail contained a spirit, citrus juice, a sweetener or liqueur and a fizzy drink. Did they reverse The Daisy into it’s literal translation?

Finding who invented it is the challenge. A popular story is of Carlos Herrera, the owner of, Rancho La Gloria, a restaurant located between Tijuana and Rosarito, Mexico, who created the drink, in 1938. A customer, former Ziegfeld dancer named Marjorie King, requested a drink but knew she was allergic to many types of spirits but not to tequila. He used the same ingredients previously used for doing tequila shooters. Lime and salt.

However, the Cafe Royal Cocktail Book, published in 1937, contains a drink called the Picador. The list of ingredients is tequila, cointreau and lime juice. Perhaps Carlos Herrera knew of the drink but changed the name on the spot for her.

Don Pedro Sanchez de Tagle, the Marquis of Altamira was the first to mass produce tequila in a region that is now called Jalisco.

Don Jose Maria Guadalupe de Cuervo was the first person to receive a documented license, in 1795, to produce tequila.

Typically, the people of Mexico do not drink Margaritas so is it an American influence?

Another possible inventor might have been Danny Negrete. He is credited with producing the drink for his sister in law, Margarita, as a wedding present at the Garci Crespo Hotel in 1936. He later worked at the Agua Caliente Race Track where a famous actress whose real name is Margarita (read further for her identity) performed in her teen years in the early 1930’s. He may have named it for her.

Some establishments are now adding agave nectar, a sweet and syrupy liquid which does have to be watered down. Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco boasts 400 varieties of tequila and uses the nectar in their Margaritas. Julio Bermejo is the first person to use an organic version of the nectar. The tiny bar in the middle of nowhere has become renowned across the world thanks to him. The nectar has one of the lowest glycemic indexes of any sweetener which is a healthier option for diabetics. They use freshly squeezed lime juice – no sour mix in a bottle in this bar! It’s a great year to go as they celebrate their 50th year.

I couldn’t be happier with the number of Mexican restaurants on the rise in Ottawa. Burrito Gringo type places are popping up all over the city. I thought there weren’t any authentic Mexican restaurants here, however, with a bit of footwork, I discovered a few of these establishments have been here for many years.

The first day of my research took me to Taqueria Kukulkan, at  1730 Montreal Road, which has been open for about 3 years. It’s humble in appearance. You expect a fast food experience at first sight by the size of it. When you see the tables set with wine glasses, napkins with cutlery and a foil-wrapped heart shaped chocolate  on top, you know you’ve misjudged.

The quality of staff, food tableware and cleanliness will blow you away. And they’re licensed! Their liquor cabinet houses mostly tequila of many brands. One of the most amazing aspects, in my opinion, is the fact that the chefs are preparing and cooking your food literally in the same room as the clientele but you wouldn’t even know it. They work quietly, attentively and in sync with each other. You can hear the mariachi music playing in the background.

I fell in love with the place with it’s Mexican colors, flags, paintings, engravings that differ from table to table, and I hadn’t even received my food yet!

Well, I am partial to Spanish style and that love blossomed with every trip I made to Mexico and California where I was very fortunate to vacation over the years since childhood. In restaurants in Mexico, you are served complimentary guacamole with corn chips, while here, in North America, many places offer you bread and butter. Need I say more?

As a kid, the moment the guacamole dish hit the table, I dove in. Kukulkan didn’t disappoint with it’s heaping serving and home made corn chips. I highly recommend giving this place a try for it’s homey feel and deliciously authentic meals. You will find me here today since, by coincidence, it is Margarita Wednesday, a weekly event.

Ottawa needs more authentic Mexican restaurants, not necessarily those Tex-Mex places, which are great, too, but I’ll take getting swept away to Mexico any day.

My love for mariachi music has spanned most of my life so I had hoped to find a Mexican restaurant  that showcased a live Mariachi Band once in awhile. Enjoying dinner with trumpets, acoustic guitars and a whistler, you can’t go wrong! In Mexico, a band of 3 or 4 musicians weave their way among the patrons and play for your table. It’s festive and lifts your spirits. If you’ve had the YouTube music link, I supplied, playing, maybe you agree? After visiting 5 Mexican establishments, I had yet to find a live mariachi band. My 6th option finally brought me positive results.

Variations

The most famous Margarita I know of is Rita Hayworth (1918-1987) whose real name is Margarita Carmen Cansino.

Had enough of the mariachi music? Switch to the song, Margarita, or the classic Jimmy Buffet but please, do continue.

Oddly enough, Rita Hayworth leads us to the movie, the Shawshank Redemption so I had to find out why. The film is based on Stephen King’s novella, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, which is in print in the short story collection of 1982’s Different Seasons. The novella is far from being about Miss Hayworth. In the movie’s production stages, they dropped the Rita Hayworth since so many actresses submitted their resumes, thinking it was a biography of the actress/dancer. An agent, representing an unnamed supermodel, even called to say it was the best script he’d read and that the part (which was non-existent) would be perfect for the supermodel. Someone didn’t do their homework.

The first great great grandchild of Queen Victoria is Princess Margarita of Greece and Denmark.

And, there is the pizza, Margherita, with the simplest of ingredients:  your favorite pizza/tomato sauce, basil and cheese. A couple of years ago, I had this type of pizza for the first time in the Niagara-On-The-Lake region. An absolutely delicious but simple pizza with bocconcini cheese balls sliced and scattered over the pizza.

Feleena's on Bank St.
Feleena’s on Bank St.

Feleena’s Cantina, at 742 Bank St., is in the heart of the Glebe, which is close enough to catch a football game or while shopping. They receive many patrons daily. Not just for it’s convenience but for it’s truly authentic dishes, decor and tasty Margarita’s. Their trusted recipe has been the same for the last 25 years, using Triple Sec and have been operating in this location for the last 38 years. They have many types of tequila and you can choose any of these to add to your Margarita. The cost is $10.95 and is a generous serving. Please ask the server. The experienced staff is very accommodating especially when requesting off menu items. I was in the mood for chips and dipping but did not find a similar variety plate, except for chips and guacamole. She offered to bring that order with 4 additional dips. The chips are made fresh daily on site.

The colors are true to tradition and the owner paints the chairs, walls and doors. It’s easy to spend 20 minutes browsing the restaurant to see all of the original artwork. In the menu, there’s a full welcome page with the owner’s origins.

Pancho Villa, in the hub of the Elgin Street pubs, houses so many varieties of tequila, there’s a separate menu of 65 types, most are 100% agave. Enjoy their smoothness straight up on ice for optimum flavour. Their Margarita is $12.95 for the 3 ounce option and $8.50 for the 1 1/4 ounces. It has been operating on Elgin since 1984.

I had the opportunity to speak with the owner’s wife and learned a great deal. The statues on display throughout the restaurant originate from the markets in Mexico but the creator is unknown . There are over 200 types of tequila. More on this when it is National Tequila Day. To keep the dishes true to the heritage, they have an 80 year old gentleman, from Peru, work with the kitchen staff on a regular basis.

If you are planning to learn Spanish, they also offer language courses on site.

Still looking for that Mariachi band…..

The subdued but classy decor at Agave Grill, in Westboro, is not a reflection of less quality. The favorite here is the Margarita, with it’s special blend, similar to the one made at Tommy’s in San Francisco. The popular fajitas are half price on Mondays. They have been on the map for 14 years and know, by opening their doors on a holiday Monday, they will bring in many customers looking for good food and rich ambiance. Oh, and try the Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Soup!

The Ahora Mexicaine Cuisine, in the Ottawa Market, had a unique approach. They didn’t lack on colors and hand painted murals but the method of service differed. You are taken to your table where you decide on your order then approach the cash to place your order and pay. There is a free, self serve salsa bar and water decanter with lime wedges to pour your own water. The waitresses aren’t lazy. They are hustling everywhere, greeting customers, serving Margaritas (which are $7.95), removing plates, cleaning tables and answering customer questions. Their workload would be too great if they took orders as well. It’s a clever method and it works very well.

Now, for the best of all. Without looking at reviews, I can tell you Taqueria La Bonita, on Ogilvie Road between the Aviation Parkway and the Gloucester Centre, will be a hotspot in Ottawa this summer. They bring in Mariachi Bands!  I asked the waitress about their Margarita’s and she said they are cool. So I ordered a glass of cool and the most amazing, most beautifully decorated drink was placed before me. Pineapple and watermelon and strawberry, oh my!  You have to go! They are open 2 years now and for a Tuesday, they were full! I would recommend making a reservation for groups larger than 4. The Enchiladas Verdes proved to be scrumptious! The owners are a wife and husband team. She is from Mexico and her portraits (see below) decorate the walls. The many other pieces throughout the restaurant are all from Mexico. Enjoy the Spanish music as you take your time to browse the unique wooden menu with rustic hinges, also made in Mexico. It describes each dish and where is originates.

If I visit there once a month, it will take me about a year and a half to conquer each dish. Did I mention, you must go there?

With 2 of the newest Mexican restaurants, that you can definitely rave about, located in the east end, I think it should be renamed “Little Mexico!” Think it will catch on?

In July, I will bring you all the dirt on tequila. I hope you can join me!

#4 Now get out there and have yourself a Margarita! Salud!

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

“Please Drink Responsibly.”

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


	

Happy Irish Coffee Day!

Welcome to the Debut of Travel By The Glass!

Posted January 25, 2017 by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe

Nuts & Bolts

If curiosity got the better of you, you’ve landed on Travel By The Glass. It’s fun, informative and will take you to quaint, off-the-beaten-path places. On your next vacation, add a little spice to your trip with interesting detours to your travel itinerary. Mingle with the locals. Discover a whole new world while you’re globetrotting.

In the months to come, this website will showcase unique, maybe even unheard of, places. The country of choice will depend on what is the national “drink” of the day. I’ll even attempt to make the drink, too! (Scroll further or use the Facebook link in sidebar.)

Happy Irish Coffee Day!Who Concocted the First Irish Coffee?

To celebrate National Irish Coffee Day, we discover the origins of this scrumptious drink all the way to, of course, Ireland.

Foynes to be exact, a small village near Limerick. It’s considered a fairly new town, being less than two centuries old. The Foyne’s Air Base, in affiliation with Shannon Airport, handled many passengers, including political VIP’s and celebrities, on their Flying Boats to and from Canada and the United States.

In 1942, a flight bound for North America had to return to Foynes due to extreme winter weather which was not an uncommon occurrence. The restaurant, located at the Foynes terminal, had just acquired a new manager, Joe Sheridan. Faced with these chilled, travel-weary passengers, Joe created a special drink. As the story goes, a hush fell as they tasted it for the first time. It became the main staple included on Joe’s menu for travelers in Foynes.

Travel writer, Stanton Delaplane  brought the recipe back to America to Jack Koeppler, a bartender at the Buena Vista Hotel in San Francisco. Their early attempts to recreate the brew saw the cream sinking to the bottom of the glass. Jack traveled to Foynes to catch up with Joe to learn the proper method. He eventually found him at Shannon International Airport.

In 1952, Buena Vista Hotel offered Joe a position. Joe’s popular story is commemorated in the Foynes Flying Boat Museum.

Today, the Buena Vista proudly makes 2,000 Irish Coffees daily.

Watch To See If My First Attempt Was Successful.

I would love to see your picture posted having an Irish Coffee! A follow up post will feature your photos.

Flying through San Francisco on February 25? Stop in for a brew at the newest location of the Sheridan at the San Francisco airport.  The original is at the Buena Vista in the fisherman’s wharf area in San Francisco where it’s made to classic perfection. This is on my agenda next trip to Cali!

View the events from 2016 Foyne’s Flying Boat and Museum and to plan your visit for 2017. Be sure to watch the 10 minute video for a taste of what’s in store – the music finishes about the 3 minute mark then gets into the commentary. 

For a more adult geared excursion, download the free app for Ireland’s Whiskey Trail available at Google Play Store. The tour guides you to Ireland’s distilleries, the best whiskey pubs and shops.

The Irish Based Flight Company, Ryanair has some exciting offers for it’s passengers:

Ryanair Flights for Free In Europe?

An Example of a Recent Ryanair Special

If you’re in Ireland this time of year, re-live the past at the Sheridan Food Pub, named after you-know-who.

A wealth of Irish pubs are in the Ottawa Market and downtown area. All priced the specialty coffees around $6.95. I visited a few, including the following:

The Aulde Dubliner makes 2 versions of Irish Coffee. Barman Luc made the Bushmill’s Irish Coffee with flair and so generously gave his attention to all of my questions. Ask about the new drink menu geared for Winterlude. If the Carrot Parsnip soup is on tap, I strongly urge you to have one, it’s out of this world! Kudos to Chef Dave Rosa.  

The Irish Village consists of 4 pubs meandering from the front of the Heart and crown to Mother McGinty’s at the back. The specialty coffee selection is the same as the Aulde Dubliner so I if you’re in the market tonight, you’ll find one, no problem.

Patty Boland's

Patty Boland’s, in the market, hosts great music almost every night of the week so check out the dj tonight for some mid-week dancing. I consider myself somewhat of a poutine connoisseur and theirs is definitely a 10!

The newly opened Starbucks on York Street sadly is not yet equipped to make today’s national drink; they do serve beer and wine. If we all request a specialty coffee, they may come around!

Lunergan’s Pub in Ottawa East, made a lovely Irish Coffee with Kahlua. Yum. Ask for the Irish stew either today or on St Paddy’s Day, they make it fresh on site.

Connor’s Gaelic Pub, on Bank Street, provided me refuge on a freezing rain evening. They offered a good variety of coffees but I opted for a soup for some reason. Was I missing that carrot parsnip soup? For a pea soup non-lover, it was quite good! Served in a giant bowl, it seemed quite thin which I discovered is the correct way.

Quinn’s Ale House, in the Glebe, has a lively, intimate atmosphere. The lovely Alli informed me they don’t make Irish Coffees but I could slip across the street, purchase a fresh brew and bring it back for a shot of rye. Voila, makeshift Irish Coffee!

Celtic Cross, two blocks away, is back on Elgin Street! The week kicks off Wednesdays for Open Mike so drop in for your specialty coffee tonight and catch the entertainment. Into Trivia? Every week, they host a trivia night and music Fridays and Saturdays. Each Sunday, they present a different movie, unless there’s a big game on. Planning your own event? Inquire within. The cool picture of the cross and Irish flag I give credit to Dave, the bartender with the most awesome hairstyle! Without his help, I wouldn’t have achieved that angle.

Woody’s on Elgin has a beautiful fireplace tucked away at the back surrounded with 4 comfy chairs. A great place to enjoy an Irish Brew.

Fireplace

Wherever you are, find your local Irish pub, preferably one with a fireplace to cozy up to, for a tasty, hot drink on this cold winter day. Distracted by delicious soups (Hey, if it fits in a glass, I’ll include it!), I still managed to visit 10 Irish pubs and feel I accomplished my goal.

If you enjoyed this bit of information, at least found it interesting and know someone who has a passion for airplanes or coffee, Irish style, share this piece with them.

I invite your feedback to help grow this site. Feel free to make requests. I’ll dig and research the hell out of anything (I live for this!) to bring to future posts. All suggestions welcome.

Most of all, please return for the next National Drink Day! Stay Tuned!

Respect Your Brothers and Sisters…     Please Drink Responsibly