FRAGRANCE: Vanilla, cream corn, créme brulée. FLAVOUR: Custard, funky earth notes, white pepper, this IS a potato and corn vodka. FEEL: Slightly viscous, but buttery in a very good way. FINISH: A load of spice stays around for a minute. BEST ENJOYED: Will make a buttery Martini that packs a spicy finish, or a Moscow Mule. THE BOTTOM LINE: Surprisingly ballsy finish after a sweet nose, cool product. —Shaun Layton, February 2017
Hops and Honey Vodka
FRAGRANCE:Malty, resiny, touch of buttery corn. FLAVOUR:Faint coriander spice, danky, dry pepper, honeysuckle. FEEL:Creamy on the palate. FINISH:Nice subtle black pepper, piney, slightly bitter. BEST ENJOYED:Would make a great collins style drink, looking forward to this in a Michelada or a Caesar. THE BOTTOM LINE:I wouldn’t put it in the vodka category, theres a lot going on. A very intriguing spirit. —Shaun Layton, July 2017
FRAGRANCE:Cooked corn and orange. FLAVOUR:Corn comes through with playful citrus notes and a touch of smoke. FEEL:Mild creaminess. FINISH:A little baking spice on the front, a touch of smoke on the back. BEST ENJOYED:Could sub into a sour or Old Fashioned with some ease. THE BOTTOM LINE:An interesting take on a young (soon-to-be) corn whisky.—Trevor Kallies, October 2017
FRAGRANCE:A hint of alcohol on the nose with a small touch of cream. FLAVOUR:Slight bit of grain with white pepper. FEEL:The palate is smooth with a tiny element of alcohol warmth. FINISH:Fairly abrupt. BEST ENJOYED:In your favorite mixed vodka drink. THE BOTTOM LINE:As craft vodkas go it is right up there. Packaging is bartender friendly, with a decent neck to grab onto.—Trevor Kallies, February 2017
FRAGRANCE:Caramel, butterscotch even. FLAVOUR:Toffee, candy corn. FEEL:Light. FINISH:Dryer than the nose suggests. BEST ENJOYED:In a shaken cocktail with fruit or citrus. THE BOTTOM LINE:A New World-style vodka for those who like sweeter drinks.—Josh Pape, October 2017
Nightingale head bartender Rhett Williams created this base to take the time-consuming part out of making an Old Fashioned, and to make it versatile enough to use with just bourbon, brandy, rye or rum. It’s perfect for hosting a crowd. Note that this recipe needs at least 24 hours before it’s ready to use.
Every cocktail starts with a base spirit. Every home cocktail bar should do the same. The question is, what spirits do you really need to stock at home? What’s worth spending money on (and what isn’t)? After all, those bright, shiny bottles can be expensive.
Stocking your home bar? Before you invest in spirits, tools and glassware (not to mention that handy bar cart), you should get some expert advice. Luckily, there are plenty of great cocktail books out there to help you make the right choices.
Here are the essential tomes to quench your thirst for both well-made cocktails and the know-how to make them.
Back in 2012, when Rod Moore was about to open his dream bar, the Shameful Tiki Room, he ran into a problem. “It was a nightmare trying to find stuff – even basic tools and bitters,” he says, remembering running all over town to find shakers, jiggers, strainers and glassware. As for specialty tiki mugs? Not a chance.
Maple Leaf Spirits turns fallen fruit into liqueur
Do you want to see the only way to shoot a bird?” asks Jorg Engel, owner of Maple Leaf Spirits, soon after we meet at his Okanagan distillery. I’m there with my daughter, Maya, and Engel is showing us the birds and chickens in the enclosure next to his tasting room.
I stare and my daughter’s eyes bug. Engel has a small green bird sitting on his finger and I’m wondering if I should cover Maya’s eyes. “Watch this,” he says, smiling gently. Without further ado, he cocks his finger like a gun at the little bird and quietly says, “Bam!” The bird swings and hangs upside down from Engel’s finger. A brief second of silence and then we burst into (slightly relieved) laughter. The bird is right side up again and chirping happily, obviously in on the joke.