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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Lounge in “Patiotown” for your summer stay-cation

Vancouver’s Gastown creates a safe, social outdoor oasis for the return of cocktail culture this summer. It makes perfect sense for the neighbourhood founded on the bar that helped build a city.

Supplied photo

Under some welcome umbrella shade on the Jules Bistro patio, live music wafts over from a nearby performer, the all-day-happy-hour Chambord kiss of French Martinis flow for $14, while cocktailians sip under vintage lamposts festooned with lush flower baskets. It almost feels like the “before times.”

As life slowly returns to normal this summer, Vancouver’s Gastown—the neighbourhood where the city started, and where our most famous bar ever was started by its namesake, nicknamed Gassy Jack (aka John Deighton) more than 150 years ago—has embraced pandemic conditions to enhance its reputation as patio central.

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Canada’s James Grant named Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year

Edmonton’s James Grant is 2021 World Class Bartender of the Year. Supplied photo

For the second time in only four years, a Canadian bartender has taken home the title of World Class Bartender of the Year.

After a gruelling four-day virtual final, Edmonton’s James Grant triumphed over his colleagues from 50 countries to win the world’s biggest and most prestigious cocktail competition, Diageo World Class.

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In the mix

Photo courtesy of Volcan

When it’s hot out, nothing tastes better than a bright, citrusy Margarita. But who has the energy to squeeze all those limes? Luckily for the lazy among us, Volcán De Mi Tierra Tequila has come to the rescue with a new made-in-Canada Margarita pre-mix designed to perfectly complement the tequila’s citrus, cherry and white pepper flavours.

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Satisfying summer sips

Three ‘extremely drinkable’ cocktails from Donnelly Group’s Trevor Kallies

Photo courtesy of Donnelly Group

I’ve been crafting and designing cocktails for close to 20 years. There are a handful I can look back on with a great deal of pride and, of course, a handful that I would love to forget, but those closest to me can’t seem to let go. (There was an incident with a blue whale candy circa 2003.) Regardless of the wins and losses, there is a fairly steady evolution of where it started and how it’s going.

I realized extremely early in my role as Beverage Director for Donnelly Group that 95 per cent of the drinks I design that find their way onto the 14-plus menus around Vancouver and Toronto are not for me. Not for my enjoyment anyway. I can appreciate their flavour, their ingredients, the spirits and brands found within, of course. When I say “not for me,” I am referring to the fact that a great cocktail is designed for the enjoyment of the guests and to capture the brand of the bar, not to appease the hubris of the bartender.

Here are a handful of relatively recent cocktails that we’ve been pouring at some of the venues. They’re extremely drinkable (if I do say so myself) and not overly cost- or technique-prohibitive to be made at home.

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Modern Martini

Modern Martini. Photo courtesy of Donnelly Group

Available at Brass Fish. I typically have three cocktails that I’ll order when time calls for a cocktail. A Negroni is likely what I am most known for ordering. Number 2 would be a Margarita (rocks, half-salt rim). For the past few years I have led our team in overall Martinis consumed. I can’t get enough of them. The Modern Martini is our flagship Martini on the Brass Fish menu. It’s the type of Martini that will gateway you into drinking more Martinis. You’re welcome. It’s a rare occasion when I don’t have a bottle of this in my home freezer for an after-work libation.

• 1.5 oz gin (preferably Beefeater for the citrus punch)

• 0.25 oz dry vermouth (Dolin if you have it; Martini Dry also works)

• 0.25 oz Tio Pepe fino sherry

• 0.25 oz St-Germain elderflower liqueur

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Stray Bullets

Stray Bullets. Photo courtesy of Donnelly Group

Available at Brass Fish and The Three Brits. This one quickly became a staple at Brass Fish when we opened in February 2020. It found its way onto a few other menus and holds its own in the overall sales of cocktails in the pubs.

• 2 oz silver tequila (preferably Olmeca Altos 100% Agave)

• 0.5 oz simple syrup (1:1)

• 0.5 oz lemon juice

• 1 oz passionfruit purée

• Soda

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Good Vibes Only

Good Vibes Only. Photo courtesy of Donnelly Group

Available at Granville Room. I basically grew up as a bartender at Granville Room so it will always hold a special place for me. Good Vibes Only is a drink that came along mid-2020. It started as a Collins-style drink and found its way into the frozen drink machine and is currently being poured in slush format.

• 2 oz gin (preferably Beefeater London Dry, which has lots of citrus and juniper)

• 0.5 oz St-Germain elderflower liqueur

• 0.5 oz crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur)

• 0.5 oz lemon juice

• Soda

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Fun in the sun

Playful cocktails in retro formats are just what we’re craving right now

Getty Images photo

This summer we plan to party like it’s, well, not pandemic times. In fact, we’re going to have some fun playing with retro cocktails in different formats, like jelly shots and boozy popsicles. I mean, who says a cocktail actually has to be liquid? Here are the nostalgic patio crushers we plan to enjoy all summer long.

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