Watermelon Negroni

Josh Pape’s Watermelon Negroni. Contributed photo

This refreshing summertime recipe from Josh Pape at Wildebeest balances the bitterness of Campari with a splash of simple syrup, which keeps the texture consistent. It’s designed for one portion; if you’re serving more, just multiply the ingredients by the number of servings. But remember, you’ll also need about 1 cup (250 mL) ice per serving, so make sure everything fits into your blender.

• 0.75 oz (20 mL) Beefeater gin
• 0.75 oz (20 mL) Campari
• 0.75 oz (20 mL) Cinzano Rosso
• 0.5 oz (15 mL) simple syrup (see note)
• 3 x 1.5-inch (3 cm) cubes of watermelon

Place ½ cup (125 mL) cracked ice into the blender with the watermelon and simple syrup. Blend until smooth.

Add the other ingredients and another ½ cup (125 mL) of ice. Blend for 45 seconds and pour into a fancy glass (or a plastic cup).

Garnish with a slice of watermelon. Serves 1.

—By Josh Pape

Slush fun with frozen cocktails

The Wildebeest Slurpee. Contributed photo

Who hasn’t wasted a hot summer afternoon knocking back frozen margaritas on a sunny patio somewhere? It’s almost a rite of passage. But it isn’t, generally speaking, a quality drinking experience.

Or at least it didn’t used to be.

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All hail the Empress’ new reign

Victoria’s grande dame gets a makeover with a sexy new bar and a truly royal namesake gin

The new Q Bar at the Fairmont Hotel Empress in Victoria, BC. Fairmont Hotel Empress photo

The gin is sky blue – that’s right, blue – and it has a delicate floral aroma. Add a little tonic water, though, and it magically turns a beautiful royal purple.

“It’s spectacular, isn’t it? It goes from that nice blue, then you pour the tonic in there, it swirls around, and you get that nice pink colour,” says Peter Hunt, president of Victoria Distillers. “It’s certainly something fun for bartenders and mixologists to play with.”

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Empress 1908

The Empress 1908 cocktail. Victoria Distillers photo

The original 1908 cocktail, featuring tea-infused vodka, was introduced to celebrate the Fairmont Hotel Empress’ 100th anniversary. This royal update gets its purple hue from the butterfly pea flower in the Empress Gin by Victoria Spirits.

• 2 oz (60 mL) Empress Gin
• 0.75 oz (22 mL) lemon juice
• 0.75 oz (22 mL) simple syrup (see note)
• 1 egg white

Place all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker, without ice, and shake vigorously. Once you have created voluminous foam, add ice, and shake again. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. If you like, garnish with dried butterfly pea flower blossoms. Serves 1.

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Lady O’Keefe

The Lady O’Keefe cocktail. Contributed photo

Lily Duong, assistant bar manager at UVA Wine & Cocktail Bar in the Moda Hotel, captures the floral fragrance of elderflower in this refreshing spring cocktail.

• 1 oz (30 mL) vodka
• 0.5 oz (15 mL) St. Germain elderflower liqueur
• 0.75 oz (22 mL) lemon juice
• 0.75 oz (22 mL) Monin jasmine flower syrup
• 2 dashes Bittered Sling Grapefruit & Hops bitters
• 1 egg white

Place all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Once you have created voluminous foam, add ice, and shake again. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Serves 1.

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