Add your own unique flavour to cocktails with homemade bitters. Here’s how
Making your own bitters at home is a lot easier than you may think. However, we need to understand a few things first. Cocktails, by definition, are made up of four essential ingredients: spirits, sugar, water and bitters. Spirits are self-explanatory. The sugar and water elements can be exactly that or they can take on other forms, such as syrups and juices. Bitters are much more complex, though. Bartenders use bitters to bridge the flavours of spirits, sugar and water so they come together. The key to selecting the right bitter is to use one that complements the other three components in the cocktail.
What you need to know for making the recipes in The Alchemist.
Measurements: For the most part, our recipes are in imperial volume (fluid ounces, teaspoons and cups). We might occasionally use weight (for instance, an ounce of tea leaves for an infusion); in those cases, it will be noted.
Tools: The essentials are a cocktail shaker (cobbler or Boston), mixing glass, jigger, citrus juicer, Hawthorne and fine mesh strainers, muddler, bar spoon, sharp knife and vegetable peeler. Any special tools will be noted.
Glassware: You could fill your cupboards with different types of glassware, but you only really need three (aside from wine and beer): a stemmed “cocktail” glass, either the V-shaped martini or curved coupe; the short, stubby rocks or Old Fashioned; and the tall, narrow Collins.
Whether you’re looking for a new recipe or a great gift, these boozy books have you covered
Canadian Spirits: The Essential Cross-country Guide to Distilleries, Their Spirits and Where to Imbibe Them by Stephen Beaumont and Christine Sismondo (Nimbus Publishing, $29.95)
Two of Canada’s top spirits writers have compiled a comprehensive guide to the assortment of hooch produced from coast to coast to coast in this country. This is the essential book about the industry’s history and its future, covering more than 160 producers ranging from the behemoth Hiram-Walker in Windsor, Ontario, to Vancouver’s tiny Odd Society Spirits. Available October 31.
This ancient ingredient adds zest to your party drinks
Holiday entertaining is right around the corner and having a couple of easy, bold and delicious punch recipes on hand will really help set any party off on the right foot. It all starts with oleo saccharum.
Now, you might be wondering: What the heck is oleo saccharum? It is the Latin term for “oil sugar,” an ingredient that will change your home bartending.
Make summer’s favourite cocktail your very own with these bespoke ideas
Gin is unlike any other spirit. Simply put, gin is a distilled grain mash that produces a neutral alcohol or vodka. The spirit is then redistilled with botanicals, herbs and spices to achieve the final product. It doesn’t rely on aging in oak barrels like whisky, and it doesn’t rely on one agricultural product to achieve its flavour, like agave for tequila. The infusion process will determine the flavour profile of each gin.
In other words, gin is essentially a botanical-flavoured vodka. And that means, even though not very many of us will ever have access to a still, we can make our own quality gins by working with infusions.