Well aged

Cocktails are better in a barrel—even if you don’t have one

Before, during and after—the spirits, the barrel and the finished, barrel-aged cocktail. Matthew Benevoli photos

What exactly is barrel aging? Simply put, it’s the interaction between alcohol and the wooden barrels it’s resting in. This process can range from a mere 60 days to years, decades, even centuries. When temperatures rise, spirits absorb deeper into the barrel staves; then they retract out when temperatures cool. This constantly changing interaction affects the spirits by mellowing harsher notes, adding body and giving deeper, richer flavours.

Continue Reading

Turn up the heat

Homemade chili syrup and liqueur add sizzle to summer cocktails

Before you get started, assemble your ingredients, including fresh peppers such as habaneros, serranoes and jalapeños. Photos by Matthew Benevoli

Just like summer, Home Bar is bringing the heat! Spicy drinks aren’t new, but have recently experienced a popularity boom, whether the heat comes from hot sauce, fresh jalapeños or spicy spirits. 

We’ll be making something more dynamic and versatile than just popping jalapeños into a bottle of tequila. Chili liqueur allows for balanced, nuanced flavours, can be added or substituted into drinks, and can be as fiery as desired. Or, if you prefer, you can make a chili syrup for all your zero-proof drinks.

Continue Reading

Jupiter Ascending

Jupiter Ascending. Matthew Benevoli photo

Make this cocktail at home by smoking it in a decanter. 

1 oz Courvoisier or other VSOP Cognac

1 oz Arbutus Distillery Birch Liqueur

0.5 oz medium sherry

1 tsp grapefruit oleo saccharum (see note)

2 drops saline solution (1:5 sea salt to warm water)

Hickory smoke

Garnish: dehydrated orange wheel

Continue Reading


Fire up fall’s woodsy flavour

There’s more than one way to add the autumnal aroma of smoke to cocktails. We explore your options. Matthew Benevoli photos

Fall has arrived and there’s a chill in the air, so it’s time to trade T-shirts for sweaters and cosy up with a comforting drink. Dark, boozy cocktails offering a warming feeling become our go to, and through smoking we can elevate those drinks and invoke a fireside experience.

There are many ways to smoke cocktails, using ingredients such as woods, herbs and spices, and employing anything from a lighter to culinary torches, wood planks and the handy appliance known as a smoking gun. Smoking might seem intimidating, but with the methods on the next page and some practice, you’ll soon be creating complex flavour layers in every sip. 

Whichever method you choose, practice makes perfect. Have fun experimenting—just mind those fingers!  

Continue Reading
1 2 3 10