liquor and libations

get a black belt in booze

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.


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.


everything but the kitchen sink April 17, 2007

Filed under: cocktails,liquor,mixology — liquorandlibations @ 1:22 pm

On Saturday night, in preparation to hit Tropical Fever night at the ANZA club, I looked in the fridge to mix a drink. We had one can of tonic, leftover cava from making French 75s the night before, a bottle of my dad’s homemade white wine, and the usual standards on my home bar – gin, vodka, whisky, tequila, etc.

I thought about pulling out a cocktail book, but decided to wing it, and inspired by making the French 75, I decided to riff on that cocktail and bring out the leftover champagne and adding a tropical twist.

The Bleu 75

– 2 oz vodka
– 1 oz blue curaçao
– juice of 1 lemon – around 1 oz
– 1 oz orange juice
– a few dashes of simple syrup (make your own at home, bring 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar to a boil, take it off the heat and voila)
– champagne or sparkling wine

Shake everything but the sparkling wine in a shaker with ice. Top it off with some sparkling wine or champagne and stir.

Try it out, it’s tasty, and if you like champagne cocktails, you’re in luck, Married with Dinner is hosting Mixology Monday this month, with champagne cocktails as the theme.


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.


vodka flavored vodka April 3, 2007

Filed under: liquor,marketing — liquorandlibations @ 12:55 pm

Some of the best marketing I’ve seen in awhile comes from Reyka Vodka, Iceland’s first and only vodka.

“In Iceland we like to drink vodka, because we like the taste of vodka… some countries like to drink the flavored vodka, but here in Iceland, if you want the taste of banana, you just eat a banana. so the only flavored vodka we make, is vodka flavored vodka.”

There are three fantastic ads from Reyka currently posted on YouTube – the actress is awesome and the black and white animation is lovely and whimsical. One of the videos even includes a cartoon puffin humping the her leg – hilarious!

Via Notcot.


liquor & libations unofficial guide to duty free March 28, 2007

Filed under: liquor — liquorandlibations @ 1:48 pm

duty-free.jpgCanada has plenty of restrictions on where you can buy alcohol. While in Quebec you can at least get a bottle of wine at the grocery store, here in BC we have our choice of government run liquor stores, and private liquor or beer & wine stores. In the US however, you can buy booze almost anywhere – the grocery store, the gas station, I’ve even seen it near the pharmacy counter at the drug store (I’m sure it’s someone’s idea of medicine). Alcohol in the US is usually quite a bit cheaper as well, so the likelihood is if you’re Canadian and you’re heading over the border, you’ll want to stop at the duty free.

Here are some suggestions to help you on your way:

Know how much you can bring back
If you’ve been away more than 48 hours, on returning to Canada you are allowed to bring in:
• 1 liters (40 ounces) of liquor or wine; or
• 24 containers, at 355 milliliters (12 ounces) each, or their equivalent, of beer or ale

You can bring in more, just make sure to declare it, if you are caught bringing in alcohol you haven’t claimed they can charge you a fortune and take it away.

Look for the deals
On a recent trip to San Francisco we brought home 2 bottles of Absolut Vodka (one regular and one flavoured) for $29 – we saved $19 off the regular duty free price, and at $35 a bottle back in town, it was pretty much buy one get one free!

Talk to the sales people
The duty free store at the Cancun airport has tequila company representatives all trying to get you to buy their products. While many are pushy and over the top, you can learn a lot from these people about their products, and when I have over 100 tequilas in front of me, most of which I’ve never heard of, I need all the help I can get.

Try something new
While it may be upsetting to then end up stuck with a giant bottle of Fireball Whiskey, this is a great opportunity to try something you haven’t had before, whether it’s a new type of alcohol or just a new brand. Try the local specialty, or bring home a liqueur you’ll only use it cocktails. If you’re in a really large store, look for premium brands – when you get back home, you’ll be glad you tried out the Tanqueray 10 instead of the Gordon’s Gin.

If all else fails, go for the free gift
If there are too many things to choose from and you can’t decide what you want, find the bottle with the sample attached, or even a free hat or T-shirt. Keep it for yourself, or give it away as a nice souvenir from your trip.