liquor and libations

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Music Goes Better with Wine May 30, 2007

Filed under: events,general,tasting,wine — liquorandlibations @ 2:59 pm

The Gorge amphitheatre on the Columbia river in central Washington state is touted as one of the best outdoor concert spots in the States and it deserves the reputation. Visually stunning with excellent acoustics and room for 20,000 people the Gorge hosts prime music festivals such as Sasquatch, which recently took place on the Memorial Day weekend.

A mere five hour drive from Vancouver, the Gorge is an excellent reason on its own to inspire a roadtrip. But the icing on the cake is the fact that along the way you can visit some of the many excellent wineries that have been cropping up in Washington state over the last decade, making it the second largest wine producer in the USA after California.

At about the same latitude as the Bordeaux region in France, Washington has many areas suited to wine growing but the one best explored on the way to the Gorge is the Columbia Cascade region. Heading east from Everett through Stevens pass, the road travels through snow capped peaks and lush forests on to rolling sagebrush hills ideal for vineyards.


3 BottlesIn the Lake Chelan region Tsillan Cellars is the winery of choice. Designed and developed by Dr. Robert Jankelson, the winery provides “an unmatched venue to enjoy the Italian art of living enhanced by fine wines.” Sounds good to me! Try the ’03 Bellissima Rossa, a Cab Sauv, Merlot and Cab Franc blend which won the double gold at the 2007 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

Don’t miss Leavenworth, the cutest little Bavarian Village in the state. Try the boutique Eagle Creek Winery, full of old-world European charm to prepare your taste buds.

To round out the trip, be sure to visit the easily accessible Chateau Faire Le Pont in Wenatchee (only an hour from the Gorge). The name means “Bridging the Gap” and refers to when a holiday falls mid-week but you continue right through to the weekend. We should adopt this motto more often! Not to be missed, the Cabernet Sauvignon, the Pinot Noir, and the new 2003 Tre Amore.


For more information check out

Happy road trip!


Calpico, the tastiest mixer you’ve never had

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.


For the Locals – Eat Vancouver! May 22, 2007

Filed under: beer,events,local,tasting,wine — liquorandlibations @ 5:00 pm


This weekend marks the annual Eat Vancouver festival. Billed as the “Everything Food & Cooking Festival” this year also includes a beverage stage highlighting beer, wine, sake, coffee and more. While the Food Network celebrity stage will definitely be a big draw for many people, for those of you already sick of “Vancouver’s Own Iron Chef Rob Feenie” (and if I have to see him on one more White Spot commercial, I definitely will be), then check out the tasting areas.

The drinks stage promises you will:

Enjoy some of the best wines, beers and spirits from British Columbia and around the world, offered for tasting by the vintners and producers themselves. Sample, compare and ask questions directly from those who know.

The Grapes & Hops Presentation Stage, located right inside the Tasting Pavilion and hosted by Vancouver’s own Wine Diva, Daenna Van Mulligan, will feature an impressive lineup of seminars, food pairings and wine tasting’s with celebrities drawn from the world of wine and beer plus culinary and mixology experts.. The Presentation Stage is located right in the Tasting Pavilion and provides comfortable seating. Master of Ceremonies Daenna will host writers, chefs, vintners, wine experts and a host of other presenters from across the country.

We’ll be checking out the Wine, Beer and Spirits tasting pavillion on Saturday and promise to report back on our best bets.


tonic taste test May 15, 2007

Filed under: general,tasting — liquorandlibations @ 1:54 pm

tonic.jpgI’ve been drinking tequila and tonic ever since I went to Mexico last fall. After bringing back two giant bottles of tequila I started to substitute it for many other spirits in my favourite mixed drinks – tequila instead of rum in mojitos, tequila instead of whiskey in the Mexican lemonade, so I was intrigued by Married With Dinner’s recent tonic taste test when making tequila and tonic. Since I also enjoy a gin and tonic fairly regularly, I know that while good quality spirits are necessary, a good tonic can make all the difference. Married with Dinner had four tonics to test with, two mass market entries – the ubiquitous Canada Dry and Schweppes tonic waters, as well as two boutique tonic waters – Fever Tree and Stirrings.

“The results were interesting. Canada Dry was the clear loser with a Two Tongues Stuck Out in Disgust rating; “Overly sweet and chemical-tasting,” said our panel. Our tasters were also a bit disappointed by the Stirrings tonic. It had the advantage of tasting like natural product, but was nearly as sweet and oddly fruity as the Canada Dry. The second mass-market entry, Schweppes, fared better, although it brought out the boozy, horse-blanket nature of the tequila. The overall winner was the Fever Tree tonic, which balanced sweet and bitter and added welcome herbal notes.”

After finding a tonic recipe in Imbibe Magazine, I’ve been searching for quinine to make my own homemade tonic. It’s one of the main flavour components of tonic, but seeing as it’s a malaria remedy (and Canada doesn’t exactly have malaria outbreaks anymore) it’s not readily available. Once I’m able to make my own tonic, we’ll do a liquor and libations tonic tasting comparing mass market to homemade to see whether it’s worth the time, effort and taste to make your own.


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!


happy birthday imbibe magazine! May 1, 2007

Filed under: general — liquorandlibations @ 1:45 pm

imbibe_current-cover.jpgImbibe magazine, in our humble opinion, the best drinks culture magazine around, is celebrating its first birthday. I picked up the premier issue last year, and have been loving it ever since.

Each time I pick up a copy I learn something new – last issue included a recipe for homemade tonic (once I track down all the ingredients, I’m going to make one tasty G&T!) and this issue will have us all hand crafting our own bitters. There are articles on coffee, beer, cocktails and wine, as well as the drinks culture and industry. So whether you’re looking for a guide on how to host a wine tasting, some fantastic, inventive new cocktail recipes, or you want to read well-written spotlights on small local producers, Imbibe is a great resource for anyone interested in the world of drink.

The latest issue of Imbibe is now on the news stands, and if you haven’t picked up a copy before, check it out. You can even browse page by page through the latest issue with their neat Java preview, or better yet, find a store with a decent magazine selection (even Chapters carries it here in Vancouver) and pick up a copy, you’ll be very glad you did!

And make sure to also visit the Imbibe Unfiltered blog.