Canada’s artisan distillers are bringing their own spiced heat to the party
Don’t look now, but Canada’s distillers have been gently plotting to spice things up for all you unsuspecting folks out there.
For instance, did you know that Fireball Cinnamon Whisky—which has taken off in a big way in the U.S.—has replaced Jägermeister as the masochistic shot of choice? It just doesn’t seem to be what you’d expect from a laid-back kind of land like Canada. But it turns out we Canucks were dabbling in pyrotechnic tippling well before its propulsion into pop-shot culture.
Oversize cubes, spheres, sticks, flakes and pebbles: It’s not just frozen water anymore—artisanal ice is a full-fledged cocktail ingredient
The artisanal iceman cometh, and he’s not at all cold. With a short reddish beard, bright blue eyes and a friendly face, Dex James is downright warm, as he performs what looks like a magic trick. In the Dang Good Ice storefront in the Fraserhood, he pours water on a mammoth, crystal-clear, square-sided stick of ice in a highball glass and…it disappears.
Artisan ice can be the nearly invisible ingredient that helps deliver cocktail perfection—including king cubes so beautifully clear, one of the tenders behind the Fairmont Pacific Rim lobby bar tells me that imbibers of its white Lucky Negroni frequently ask, “Where’s the ice?” Juleps with flakes or pebbles from a Scotsman ice machine, rocks drinks over chunky Kold Draft cubes or cocktails crowned with a flawless diamond or sphere are just a few of the signs of the new ice age in B.C. bars.
This tiki-style cocktail is Earls restaurants’ version of the classic originally created by Pusser’s Rum. It uses two different styles of ice—regular cubes and crushed.
• 0.75 oz coconut milk
• 0.75 oz passion fruit syrup
• 1 oz Bacardi Superior white rum
• 1 oz Mount Gay Eclipse Rum
• 1 oz pineapple juice
• 1 oz orange juice
• 0.25 oz lime juice
• Dash Bittered Sling Kensington bitters
There are numerous recipes for a white or blonde Negroni, but this is the variation preferred by Andrew Kong, bartender at H Tasting Lounge. What makes it stand out is the perfectly clear king ice cube.
• 1.25 oz Long Table Distillery Dry Gin
• 1 oz Luxardo Bianco Bitters
• 1 oz Lillet Blanc or Cocchi Americano
“The drink is intended to be a Canadian highball, that is, a drink that is spirit forward, but is also balanced and refreshing,” says Jeff Savage, Botanist’s head bartender, who created the cocktail. The large, crystal-clear ice cubes are precisely measured to fit the glassware and are cut with a band saw. They are also adorned with the Botanist logo: The custom metal stamp is placed on top of the cube and gravity does the rest.
• 1.5 oz Canadian Club Rye Whisky
• 0.5 oz gin, preferably St. George Terroir Gin
• 1.5 oz birch water
• 1 oz Smoked Tea Syrup (recipe follows)
Tiki is back in Vancouver. Why did it ever go away?
Tiki culture is a liquid ticket to an imaginary tropical island where the breeze is always warm, the music sways like the branches of a palm tree, and the rum flows as easily as the waves that wash up on a sandy beach.
Tiki originated in California in 1933, but exploded in popularity after the Second World War. It was inspired by the romance of the South Pacific, the culture of Polynesia, the flavours of Asia and the rum punches of the Caribbean, making it the ultimate fusion cocktail experience, served in a kitschy-cool Hollywood-ready vessel to a market that was weary of war and ready to party.
Originally a blender drink from Beachbum Berry, and traditionally served as a bowl for six with a gardenia garnish at Trader Vic’s, the Scorpion makes a terrific single-serving shaken drink, too. Just beware of its lethal sting.
• 2 oz light rum
• 1 oz brandy
• 1.5 oz orange juice
• 0.5 oz lemon juice
• 0.75 oz orgeat
The garnish says it all. The three cherries are the dots, the pineapple wedge the dash, representing the letter “V” in Morse code, which was the symbol for “victory” during the Second World War.
• 1.5 oz rhum agricole or demerara rum
• 0.5 oz aged blended rum
• 0.5 oz orange juice
• 0.5 oz lime juice
• 0.5 oz honey syrup (see note)
• 0.25 oz falernum
• 0.25 oz pimento dram (see recipe)
• 1 dash angostura bitters
• Garnish: 3 cherries and 1 wedge of fresh pineapple