La Joya

La Joya. Matthew Benevoli photo

Matthew Benevoli’s La Joya uses his homemade ginger bug.

• 1.25 oz blanco tequila

• 0.5 oz elderflower liqueur

• 0.75 oz ginger bug

• 1 oz orange juice (preferably fresh-pressed)

• 0.25 oz lemon juice

• Garnish: lemon twist, orange slice or vibrant flower

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Ginger Bug Penicillin

Ginger Bug Penicillin. Matthew Benevoli photo

Matthew Benevoli’s Ginger Bug Penicillin uses his homemade ginger bug.

• 1.5 oz blended scotch whisky

• 0.75 oz fresh lemon juice

• 0.75 oz ginger bug

• 0.5 oz honey syrup (see note)

• 0.25 oz peated Islay scotch

• Garnish: piece of candied ginger or a lemon twist

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Ginger Bug

Fizzy and spicy, it’s the best base for summer’s most refreshing patio cocktails

To make the ginger bug, you will need ginger root, sugar and filtered water, as well as Mason jars, paper coffee filters or cheesecloth, and measuring tools. Matthew Benevoli photos

With the longer days and hotter weather just around the corner, let’s get a helping hand from nature. We’ll be creating something with some heat, a little bit sweet and bright as the summer: a ginger bug!

A ginger bug isn’t really a bug at all, but a naturally fermented ginger mixture with some sugar, water and a little time and care. For generations, naturally fermented soft drinks have been used as health tonics and as refreshments for everyone from laymen to royalty. Traditional ginger beer and ale used to be produced with the help of a ginger bug, and contained natural medicinal properties to ease cold symptoms and nausea (I’m sure we’ve all heard someone swear by sipping ginger ale for an upset stomach.)

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5 drinks every home bartender should know how to make

Our editor’s essential cocktails

An Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail every home bartender should know how to make. Getty images photo

Now that we’re all spending so much more time at home, this is a good opportunity to brush up on our home-bartending skills. That means learning at least a few recipes to serve to the people in your bubble and, eventually, all the many friends you’re making on Zoom.

The most important drink you should know how to make is the one you like best. That’s also the best advice for stocking your liquor cabinet, though for your sake I hope it’s something simple, like a highball, rather than, say, a Ramos Gin Fizz, which requires egg whites, orange blossom water and a seltzer bottle, among other things.

After that, it’s best to start with classics. They are, after all, classics for a reason—they taste good, and they work—but they are also a good place to start experimenting if you want to get creative. Here are five drinks every home bartender should have in their repertoire.

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The new home bar

Getty Images photo

Even before we found ourselves hunkering down at home trying to flatten the curve of a global pandemic, home bartending was already a growing trend. Once COVID-19 hit, though, we were all living in a world of cocktail kits and mixology livestreams and tutorials on how to arrange your bar cart.

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DIY vermouth

Add a personalized twist to your favourite cocktails with this aromatized, fortified wine

For this white vermouth, you’ll need botanicals such as grapefruit peel, bay leaves, dried apples, chamomile and mint tea, which mimic the earthy flavours of the wormwood that gave vermouth its name. Matthew Benevoli photo

Let’s talk about the often-misunderstood aperitif vermouth. What is it? Where does it come from?

Vermouth is fortified wine with herbs, roots, spices and sometimes sugar added. There are a handful of different styles to choose from: the most common offerings are sweet red, traditionally from Italy; and dry white wormwood-infused from France. The word vermouth is the French pronunciation for “wermut,” which is German for wormwood, the mystical herb that gives absinthe its reputation and provides the distinctive dry, bitter note found in vermouth.

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Dangerous drinks

10 things not to do at home—or anywhere, according to CocktailSafe’s Camper English

Writer Camper English, the San-Francisco-based founder of Alcademics, created cocktailsafe.org when he saw the risky techniques being used by some bartenders. Bastian Bochinski photo

The Roof is on Fire! That was the name of a dangerous-drinks seminar that San Francisco writer Camper English (of alcademics.com fame) and Bittermens co-founder Avery Glasser gave in 2016 at Tales of the Cocktail. Their warnings on potentially dangerous bartending ingredients, equipment and techniques were so eye-opening, English later nabbed a grant to develop cocktailsafe.org, a geekily helpful website packed with deeply researched information and resources.

“Bartenders on Facebook were chatting a lot about potentially dangerous drinks … and I thought it would be useful to put all this information, and a lot more, in one place as a reference to bartenders everywhere,” he says.

Here are his top 10 red flags for home mixologists—and pros, too.

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Unleaded: the Best Alcohol-free Drinks of 2021

Let’s retire the mocktails and let these placebo drinks, “nocktails” and free-spirited bottles happily get you through Dry-uary

A huge range of non-alcoholic spirits and other drinks are increasingly easy to find in Canada, since non-boozy drinks can ship almost anywhere. Sobrii photo

This year could be peak Sober Curious: just check out the new booze-free vending machine at Larry’s Market in the Shipyards, featuring mickeys of Solbru booze-free spirit and cans of Sober Carpenter and Partake near-beer in slots that recently held healthy salads and takeout—proof that Dry-uary is a full-blown lifestyle trend.

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