By December, the thirst-quenching quaffs of summer are long forgotten. Dark, dreary days and frosty nights dictate a different approach to imbibing, with deeper shades of spirits spreading warmth and well being from within. Hot mixes knock the chill out of winter-weary bodies and create quick comfort. Four Canadian bartenders weigh in on winter warm-ups you’ll want to try at home or at an establishment in your area.
Jay Jones – Vancouver
Jay Jones describes his mixing style as “ingenuity based on classic designs” and enjoys “introducing his own ingredients and conceptual flavours.” He matches the mood of guests using intuition and alters his approach according to the season. “In the winter, you tend toward things that are a little deeper in nature. Spice inevitably pops up. Winter cocktails are often more dictated by sugar because the palate is ready for a bit more sweetness,” he advises. Rather than creating hot drinks, Jones generates warmth and resonance from the inside out. As he says, “Who hasn’t been warmed by a whisky as it works its way into you?”
Jones will create new cocktails this winter using different spirit bases. With recent awards including 2011 and 2012 PourMaster Vancouver, GQ magazine’s 2012 Most Imaginative Bartender in Vancouver and enRoute magazine’s 2012 Canadian Bartender of the Year, there’s little doubt these libations will make a big splash.
the four horsemen
This is the ultimate “end of day, warm you from the inside out” drink and pairs well with rich cheeses after dinner, adding a bit of decadence to complement the saltiness.
1 1/2 oz Maker’s 46 Kentucky straight bourbon
3/4 oz Averna Amaro Siciliano
1/2 oz Giffard Abricot du Roussillon
4 dashes The Bitter Truth, Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter Bitters
Combine all ingredients with ice in a mixing glass. Stir gently for 15 to 20 seconds. Fine strain into a coupe and serve neat.
This sweet cocktail is named for Mount Gay Rum, the oldest Rum brand in existence (established in 1703). Barbados is quoted as “the birthplace of rum.” Rich appetizers such as foie gras with brioche match the richness of the drink, while an accent of cherry gratin adds sourness to go along with the sweet and softly bitter flavours of the cocktail.
1 oz Mount Gay Extra Old Barbados Rum
1/2 oz Cynar
1/4 oz Giffard Vanille de Madagascar
1/4 oz Giffard Banane du Brésil
Combine all liquid ingredients with ice in a mixing glass. Stir gently for 15 to 20 seconds. Fine strain into a rocks glass. Fill the glass with large ice cubes. Garnish with fresh lemon peel.
Dave Mitton – Toronto
David Mitton, owner/bartender at the Harbord Room in Toronto, will play with more scotch and cognac cocktails and Canadian whiskies this winter. “Everyone has been going bourbon and rye cocktail crazy. We’re in Canada and we’ve got lots of Canadian whiskies here,” said Mitton. He notes that “booze-forward cocktails will continue to be a trend.”
The signature cocktail at the Harbord Room is the Ronald Clayton, an all-alcohol concoction created in memory of his grandfather, a dairy farmer in small-town New Brunswick. Mitton’s grandfather, who drank Crown Royal and smoked a pipe, treated his grandchildren to homemade vanilla ice cream drizzled with maple syrup. The Ronald Clayton, a take on an Old Fashioned, infuses Crown Royal with vanilla bean, tobacco syrup and organic maple bitters. The tobacco syrup is made by boiling down alcohol and pipe tobacco.
For a less booze-forward drink, the Spiced Pear is a take on a sour, a cocktail with egg whites, citrus and bourbon, and is made with Canadian whisky, pear juice, spiced syrup and egg white. The egg white emulsifies and expands to give the drink a nice creamy texture.
On the role of cocktails, Mitton says, “God created wine for a reason — to have with your meal. I think that cocktails are great for before dinner or after dinner. Cocktails are for helping you to open your palate and help with digestion.”
the ronald clayton
Vanilla-infused Crown Royal Canadian Whisky with organic maple bitters. It has a solid, manly look but is hardly harsh. Instead, the taste is sweet and smoky, a result of adding tobacco syrup to the drink.
2 oz vanilla-infused Crown Royal
1/2 oz tobacco syrup
1 dash organic maple bitters
Stir all the ingredients over ice and fine strain into and Old Fashioned glass. Serve with one large ice cube.
Wiser’s Legacy Whisky has aromas of rich oak with warm notes of apple and cinnamon. This full-bodied, silky-smooth Canadian whisky has slight notes of juniper and coriander, which gives it an almost gin-like edge. There is sweetness with a hint of tart green apple, fresh-cracked black pepper and some bold oak with an ever-so-subtle spicy wine quality to it.
1 1/2 oz Wiser’s Legacy Whisky
1 1/2 oz fresh pear juice
3/4 oz spiced syrup
1 dash walnut bitters
1 egg white
Hard ice cubes
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, dry shake for about 1 minute so that the egg white emulsifies. Then add ice to shaker and shake until well blended and fine strain into an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.