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drink of the week: an ode to gin June 26, 2007

Filed under: cocktails,drink of the week,liquor — liquorandlibations @ 12:50 pm

Thank you Epicurious for your excellent tribute to gin! Apparently gin is having a 21st century resurgence, but for me it never left as my spirit of choice. This is a great article covering everything from tasting notes on different brands, to how gin is made, to pre-prohibition era styles (London Dry, Dutch-style, and something called Old Tom gin). While I already knew a fair bit about juniper and the other aromatics used in the production of my favourite spirit – thanks to the Bombay Sapphire bottle for piquing my interest – it was interesting to learn more about how gin is made and its sordid history.

From the Epicurious article Gin Blossoms:

How gin is made
Gin begins very much like vodka ends — as a neutral grain spirit — but then is flavored with a world of seeds, spices, herbs, fruits, and roots that are known collectively as botanicals. Some gins are made in the belly of the still; the botanicals are left to soak in the base spirit. As soon as they’ve imparted their flavors, the spirit is distilled and then cut with water to a drinkable strength. Others are made by boiling the base spirits and passing the resulting vapor through a chamber that holds the mix of botanicals. When the steam is cooled back into liquid, it’s gin.

Typically, common flavorings such as angelica, coriander, and lemon peel take a backseat to the piney aroma and flavor of juniper berries, gin’s defining characteristic and the very root of its name. (The word gin is a distortion of genever, the Dutch word for juniper.) Gin’s restored popularity, however, has spawned a flood of new brands, including some — cucumber-and-rose-petal-spiked Hendrick’s Gin, for example — that challenge the dominance of juniper.

And while you can’t go wrong with classics like the martini or the much beloved gin and tonic, the wealth of gin recipes out there should be enough to get even the most seasoned gin drinker inspired to try something new.


Calpico, the tastiest mixer you’ve never had May 30, 2007

Filed under: cocktails,drink of the week,general,mixology — liquorandlibations @ 1:17 pm

i_calpico.jpgSo the sun is out and you want to try a new refreshing cocktail. If I tell you there’s nothing tastier than a Calpico, a Japanese fermented milk drink, you’ll probably start laughing at me, but the liquor and libations drink of the week is the Calpico Cocktail.

In Japan, Calpico goes by the rather unfortunate name of Calpis, which according to Wikipedia, comes from combining cal from calcium and pis from Sanskrit sarpis (good taste). So what exactly is in Calpico? Mostly water, nonfat dry milk and lactic acid. The drink is non-carbonated and produced by lactic fermentation. It’s probably like nothing you’ve ever tasted before, and mixed with a bit of juice or in a cocktail, it’s a tasty treat. We’d suggest trying out both the water and the soda versions, as they come in small bottles or cans, and add different things to a drink.

For your first foray into Calpico, try the Milky Pink, an adaptation from the cocktail menu at local favourite Guu.

Milky Pink

2oz vodka
3oz Calpico water (buy the premixed stuff, it already has sugar in it)
3oz pink grapefruit juice

In a Collins glass with ice, mix vodka, Calpico and juice. Stir to combine and garnish with a cocktail umbrella. If you’d like a fizzy drink, substitute Calpico soda for the Calpico water.

Guu has a great selection of Calpico cocktails they mostly call “milky drinks” with Calpico, vodka and fruit juice. We recommend experimenting at home with the spirit and fruit juice of your choice.

Make sure to check out the Calpico site for a number of great cocktail recipes, as well as non-alcoholic drinks and desserts.


MXMO: Mexican Lemonade May 11, 2007

Filed under: cocktails,drink of the week,mixology — liquorandlibations @ 11:29 am

Many apologies for the slow posting this week, the rain and gray skies have finally lifted from our fair city, and rather than be at a computer any longer than we have to, we’ve been outside in the park having drinks in the sun.

That being said, this Monday marks MXMO: tequila, and since tequila is a liquor and libations favourite, I’ve come in from the sun long enough to give you a cocktail recipe that you’ll want to be making all summer long.

If you’ve ever had an Irish lemonade, then you won’t be too surprised by this one, but as much as I love Irish whiskey, nothing says summer to me like tequila.

Mexican Lemonade


  • 2oz good tequila (I use silver or blanco for its smoothness)
  • 3-4oz sour mix (make your own, it’s soooooo much better and keeps forever in the fridge)
  • a splash of grenadine
  • a splash of simple syrup
  • soda water

Put all the ingredients except for the soda water into a shaker with ice and mix well. Strain into a Collins glass with ice and top up with soda. Garnish with a lemon or lime wheel.

I would recommend making a pitcher (or two) of these in place of margaritas at your first BBQ of the year. I’m going to make a round of them when we kick off the first game of our croquet season.


turn up the mariachi and grab a margarita May 4, 2007

Filed under: cocktails,drink of the week — liquorandlibations @ 2:33 pm

This Saturday is Cinco de Mayo, and although it’s not really celebrated in Canada, you can bet there’ll be some big parties down in the States. While it’s been said that Cinco de Mayo is the Mexican equivalent of St. Patrick’s day (where “everyone is Irish”, and drinks flow like water), it’s definitely a good excuse to eat some tasty Mexican food and make an authentic margarita. So put your blenders away and grab that lime juicer, cause it’s time for a Classic Margarita!


– 1 oz good quality tequila
– 1/2 oz triple sec
– 1 oz.fresh squeezed lime juice (don’t use bottled!)
– simple syrup (to taste)
– salt and a lime wedge for the rim

Run the lime wedge around the rim of the glass and dip the wet glass edge in salt. Combine the remaining ingredients in a shaker full of ice and shake well. Strain drink over ice into your salt rimmed glass. Garnish with a lime wheel. Drink and enjoy!

Your next step is to make some tasty tacos, or even grab a bag of tortilla chips and some salsa, crank up the mariachi music and say Salud!


my brandy alexander always gets me into trouble April 25, 2007

Filed under: cocktails,drink of the week,liquor — liquorandlibations @ 12:50 pm

feist.jpgIn celebration of the upcoming release of fellow Canadian Leslie Feist’s new album, the liquor and libations drink of the week for the final week of April goes to… the Brandy Alexander. Not one of my absolutely favourite cocktails, but a classic nonetheless. I was reminded of this tasty little number when listening to the pre-release of Feist’s The Reminder (go have a listen on her myspace), which includes a sweet little love song called Brandy Alexander.

The Brandy Alexander


  • 1 1/2 oz brandy
  • 1 oz brown creme de cacao
  • 1 oz heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

Shake the brandy, creme de cacao, and cream in a shaker full of ice. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with nutmeg.

If you’re looking for a cocktail in place of dessert, this one should do, there’s also a tasty blended variation with ice cream if you want the full deal.

Go mix yourself a drink, turn on some good music and relax, it’s Wednesday after all, and the weekend is just around the corner.


mxmo: The French 75 April 16, 2007

Filed under: cocktails,drink of the week,liquor,mixology — liquorandlibations @ 4:22 pm

Liquor and Libations is very pleased to participate in our very first MxMo (or Mixology Monday) . This month hosts Married with Dinner chose champagne cocktails as the theme, which brought me back to one of my very favorites – the French 75.

French 75

– 1.5 oz of gin
– 2 oz lemon juice
– champagne or sparkling wine
– super fine sugar (I use a few dashes of simple syrup)

Combine gin, lemon juice, and sugar in a shaker full of ice. Shake well, pour into a Collins or another tall glass, and top with champagne. Garnish with a cherry (I was out, so I made do with an umbrella.)

It’s like an extra special, extra tasty G&T, with champagne replacing the tonic.

Cocktail Times offers a brief history on the cocktail’s origin:

Named after the French 75-millimeter guns, this champagne cocktail was created during the first World War by American army officers. The original recipe called for gin, absinthe (now illegal in the United States) and calvados. Calvados is an apple brandy made in France. It is produced from an apple cider and aged in oak barrels for several years.

The French 75 is a classic – all I can say is gin, lemon and champagne, what a wonderful combination. If you like tart and bubbly, this is your drink.


peroni is tasty April 2, 2007

Filed under: beer,drink of the week — liquorandlibations @ 6:21 pm

peroni.jpgPeroni is a light, crisp premium pilsner from Italy. Established in Vigevano Italy in 1846 by Fransico Peroni, the beer is still brewed in Italy to the original recipe from 1963. Also marketed as Nastro Azzurro, meaning Blue Ribbon in Italian, it fits right at home with other European lagers you’re probably already drinking.

If you like Stella Artois or Heineken, next time you’re out, give Peroni a try. It’s a nice, tasty easy drinking beer. The beer & wine store below my apartment usually has it in stock, making it, along with Mexico’s Negra Modelo, one of my standard purchases.

According to their slogan, Peroni is Italy’s #1 beer, but since it’s the only Italian beer I’ve ever seen on the shelf here in Canada, and because I spent my one visit to Italy savouring the country’s wonderful wines, I’ll just have to take Peroni’s word for it.

For more information on Peroni, check out their site (beware, it’s Flash-tastic!)