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St. Paddy’s Cocktail – The Emerald

All the liquid ingredients needed to make the Emerald cocktail recipe

I don’t post many cocktail recipes here. The last couple of years I’ve been drinking (and therefore writing about) mainly beer and wine. But, we served these at a dinner party we hosted a couple weekends back, they were a big hit, and I think are excellent alternative to the very worst holiday drink of all: green beer.

Roughly speaking, the Emerald should be a sort of Irish take on the Manhattan. As in Irish whiskey stands in for rye. Trying to concoct an Emerald that looks like it’s name by mixing in blue Curacao, green creme de menthe, or even worse–much worse–melon liqueur is an abomination. (more…)

The Bitter Beginning

What are cocktail or aromatic bitters? They used to be medicine but now as the site Post Prohibition aptly put it are best thought of as “cock­tail sea­son­ing, like salt for a soup.”

Why make bitters? Simply put: I like adding them to cocktails (Manhattans or Martinis, mostly), drinking them straight up or with soda water and ice, and they are difficult to find.

Our nonsensical liquor laws allow grocery stores to sell them (even though they are 40% alcohol) but not liquor stores. If they stock them at all grocery stores usually only have standard-issue Angostura bitters. There are some good online sources for a broader selection of bitters but the shipping costs can be prohibitive.

With orange bitters in mind I turned to Google. Searching for recipes can a fool’s errand because of how effectively Rachel Ray, Sandra Lee and their ilk are at stuffing the top of the results pages with recipes that are easy rather than delicious. Thankfully, bitters are niche enough that they haven’t yet attracted the multi-headed beast’s attention. (more…)

Thorah Island Punch

My respect for Alton Brown does sometimes border on idolatry.  Along with Harold McGee, Jeffrey Steingarten, Julia Child, and John Thorne his work is part of what I consider the essential canon for those wanting to know more about the science of cooking from a North American-European perspective.  Good Eats is one of the last respectable Food Network shows and I can’t count the number of techniques I have learned from it that I realise I probably would have had more difficulty learning from a book.  Everything from crepes to brining.

Sometimes Alton puts out episodes that are obviously more about satisfying one of his side interests than a clamouring demand for information on a critical food topic.  All his cocktail episodes (ones with “raising the bar” in the title) fall into this category.  I have used and enjoyed his eggnog recipe and was particularly intrigued by the recipe for Cape Fear punch on the most recent installation in the Raising the Bar series.  To go with the appetisers (smoked salmon on homemade bread) that I made for my Terry Fox meal on Labour Day weekend I decided to slightly adapt this recipe in a fashion appropriate for the cottage’s island. (more…)

Petersburg Pickles

Back in December at the Foodiemeet bake-off I was lucky enough to win a gift certificate from the Samovar Room for bottle service vodka.  I went back with friends a month later and enjoyed a bottle of Russian Standard.  This isn’t really the usual bottle service experience because the waitress brings a tray full of glasses, traditional Russian mixers, a dish of olives, and a small pitcher of pickle brine that she claimed we were meant to chase the vodka shots with.

On one hand I figured this was an insider trick to fool the uninitiated into making asses of themselves but on the other I really like pickles and will shoot just about anything (see my Chalet sauce near-addiction; thankfully I’ve been clean for going on eighteen months).  Taste-wise (and who care about anything else?) this is a great idea.  The vodka smooths the sharp saltiness of the brine which in return highlights vodka’s (few) good qualities. (more…)

Hot July Day in an Orchard

A couple weeks ago the lure of futuristic sex robots on the promotional invitation pulled me to Parkdale’s Parts & Labour for the Canadian launch of Svedka vodka. This most filtered and pure spirit is not my favourite spirit but I always try to keep an open mind where free alcohol is involved.

After we exhausted the list of Svedka-designed cocktails the bearded bartender at PNL was good enough to mix a vodka version of the modern classic Bramble for me and the two ladies beside me–who were much better at twisting his arm.  Ice, vodka (the original has gin), lemon juice, simple syrup, and sparkling water are stirred together before a blackberry liqueur is carefully poured over the top and berries are added as garnish. (more…)