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Spirits and Cocktails

Spirits and Cocktails

Station Cold Brew Coffee Cocktails

November 16, 2015
Station Cold Brew and Jameson

Over the summer, Shawn fell hard for Station Cold Brew Coffee. While I gave up coffee in January, he remains a connoisseur. So when he tried Station’s cold brew and Jameson Irish Whisky combo at the Toronto Wine & Spirit Festival, he was hooked.

Since then, he’s become a regular drinker of Station’s all-natural and Canadian made cold brew. We buy the coffee concentrate and keep a jug in the fridge. Even with fall’s chill moving in, cold brew is still on the menu. He prefers it for mid-day sipping and with no bitter aftertaste and less acidity than most coffee, it’s an overall smoother experience.

He also spent some time this summer experimenting with cold brew coffee cocktails. These were perfect for cottage sipping and remain great cold weather alternatives. Here are some of his fun experiments:

Station Cold Brew Coffee and Bailey's

Station Cold Brew ready to drink coffee and Baily’s: Approx 5oz to 1.5oz Baily’s or to taste, ice (Vanilla and Cinnamon Bailey’s used here, any type is fine).

Station Cold Brew coffee concentrate, Grand Marnier, whisky and milk:
2oz coffee concentrate, 4oz milk, 1oz each Grand Marnier and whisky.
Station Cold Brew Coffee Cocktails

“Iced Irish Coffee” – Station Cold Brew ready to drink coffee and whisky topped with whipped cream.

Station Cold Brew Coffee

He advises playing around with either the coffee concentrate or the ready-to-drink option to create versions that meet your own tastes.

And let’s say you’re looking for a hot coffee option for a cold winter day?

Matt Jones, whisky ambassador for Beam Suntory, offered a few great tips.

“Bourbon and coffee go well together, Canadian Club Maple as well. Just add a dust of cinnamon and nutmeg here and there, whipped cream, and even make a bourbon vanilla whip cream. So many ways to go. There is also Bourbon/Canadian Club Maple Frappé, which is just shaken coffee with our whiskys and cream over ice,” he says.

Are you a cold brew fan? Or you prefer your coffee the traditional way? Do you have a coffee cocktail you love? Share it in the comments or on social.

CC Maple


Spirits and Cocktails

Halloween Wine and Cocktail Ideas

October 26, 2015

Halloween is one of our favourite holidays and Shawn and I are always up for some spooky fun. This year, we’ve already participated as ‘running bandits’ at the Monster Dash 5K and we’re planning to spend October 31st with the lights out watching horror movies.

So what wine pairs best with horror movies? Sparkling, of course! Nothing goes better with salty popcorn than a crisp, dry sparkling wine. But Halloween offers lots of great wine options – you can add some real flair to your vampire costume by pairing it with a blood red wine in a suitably spooky goblet.

Casillero Del Diablo 2014 Malbec

We may just crack open the Casillero Del Diablo 2014 Malbec I recently received as a gift as our Halloween wine this year. The devilish logo has Halloween night sipping written all over it. Have you tried it? Share your thoughts in the comments or on social.

Want something a little sweeter for your Halloween treat? Consider this delicious Scotch-based cocktail Shawn and I recently tested. Wait, did I just suggest Scotch in a sweet cocktail? You bet I did – and your party guests will definitely be impressed by this pumpkin-pie-in-a-glass goodness.

Since I’m still off sugar, I had to skip this one, but I did have fun watching Shawn shake it up and I confess to stealing a sip for taste-testing purposes. What a surprise – this is not-too-sweet and perfect for fall sipping.

The Famous Grouse Scotch Pumpkin Pie Martini

Made with Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky, we subbed the pumpkin pie filling (not something we keep on hand) for pure pumpkin and half tsp of organic brown sugar. We also used 2% organic milk instead of half & half to make a slightly healthier version. Either way, it was well-worth the effort.

Famous Pumpkin Pie Martini
1oz Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky
4 tsp pumpkin pie filling
1oz apple juice
0.5oz half & half cream
0.25oz maple syrup
2 dashes cinnamon
ingredients in a shaker tin with ice, shake vigorously and strain into a
chilled Martini glass. Garnish with fresh grated nutmeg.


The Famous Grouse Scotch Halloween Cocktails

Looking for other options? Canadian Club and Jim Beam sent me some spooky cocktail recipes you can shake up to impress your guests.

Ogre’s Brew
1oz Canadian Club 100% Rye
0.5oz Bols Blue Curacao
4oz orange juice
Shake with ice (turns bright green!)
Strain into a tall glass filled with fresh ice
Garnish with gummy worms

Dancing with the Devil
60 mL Jim Beam® Devil’s Cut® Bourbon
30 mL Triple Sec Liqueur
30 mL fresh lemon sour
30 mL passion fruit juice
2 dashes Tabasco® Sauce
Shake with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry

What will you be serving this Halloween? Do you plan to go with wine or cocktails? And have you ever had a Scotch cocktail? What did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments and on social.

While I received a sample of Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky to try in this cocktail, all opinions are my own.

Spirits and Cocktails

Tutored Tasting – Sauza and Hornitos Tequila

June 12, 2015
Tequila Cocktail

After learning so much at the recent Canadian Club whisky event, I was excited to get an invite to a similar tasting for Sauza and Hornitos tequila. I’ve had tequila only on very rare occasions and, outside of copious references to its potency in country songs, I didn’t know all that much about the spirit.
That’s why this event was worthwhile for me.

We started the evening eating delicious guacamole and Mexican appetizers at Los Colibris restaurant and enjoying a tequila-based cocktail. Personally, I found the cocktail a bit strong and would have preferred something with a bit more fruit and fun, but I know they wanted to showcase the spirit in this.

Tequila tasting glasses lined up

Following the short cocktail session, we started the part I was really excited about – the tutored tasting with Sauza Brand Ambassador Karina Sanchez Huitron. I enjoyed learning about the different types of tequilas and how they are made, especially how barrel aging impacts on quality and flavour.

I think one of the reasons I’ve never been all that fussed about tequila is because I’ve only been exposed to the most basic forms – margaritas and shots. This session opened me up to the options and versatility of the spirit. Karina also noted that when doing a tequila shot with the Sauza Gold (should you be so inclined) you should substitute the lime for orange and cinnamon. I may just be willing to give that a try, by way of research of course.


Hornitos Bkack Barrel Tequila

Karina walked us through five tequilas – all very different – and then we were able to try each one with an appropriate food pairing. This was easily my favourite part of the night, as it showcased just how well tequila can pair with food. I had honestly been a bit skeptical going in, but each of the well-made bites seemed to fit with the chosen drink. I couldn’t try them all, because I don’t eat red meat, but the ceviche and Sauza silver was a personal favourite pairing, as well as the Hornitos Black Barrel and the fudge brownie. Tequila with dessert? Yes, and it was good.

The Black Barrel was my overall favourite of the night – and that of my
guest Paul Dearborn (@whitbywino), who compared it to bourbon. With lots
of oak and vanilla on the nose and 18 months in three different barrels,
this smoky spirit is good on its own or as a cocktail. The recipe below (courtesy of Hornitos) is one I
think I might try soon – tart cocktails are always hit with me:


Tequila cocktail recipe featuring Hornitos Black Barrel

While I remain a devoted wine lover, these experiences with spirits are always educational and interesting. I can now see myself heading back to Los Colibris or another Mexican restaurant and feeling more confident in ordering a tequila-based cocktail to enjoy with dinner.

Do you have a favourite tequila? Share your story in the comments or on social.

Thank-you to Sauza Tequila for inviting me to this event.

Spirits and Cocktails

Food Pairing Friday with Dan Tullio

May 15, 2015
Canadian Club 100% Rye Whisky
All photos provided by Canadian Club

I recently had the chance to attend a whisky tasting with Canadian Club. It was a good experience, as I haven’t explored spirits in great depth and am always excited to learn more about how things are made and why they taste the way they do. One interesting point was the potential food pairings for whisky.

I typically stick to wine for dinner but I was curious to learn more, so I reached out to Dan Tullio, Master Ambassador, Canadian Whisky, Beam Suntory Inc., one of the representatives for Canadian Club. I’m happy to offer up his thoughts about cooking and pairing with Canadian Club as my latest Food Pairing Friday guest column.

People don’t necessarily consider pairing spirits with food. Why do you think rye whisky is a good option for this?
People think that as a result of the higher alcohol strength of spirits versus wine/cordials/beer, the spirits will numb the taste buds, meaning you’re not able to really enjoy the food. On the contrary, Canadian Club 100% Rye (CC 100%) used in proper proportion in the preparation of food simply ramps up the taste experience.  It’s is a distilled spirit, clean and crisp as it flows out of the line on the small copper pot still.  Then it is aged in brand new white oak barrels and matured in the dry–arid high altitude elevation of central Alberta.  During maturation the wood imparts flavors such as caramel, vanilla, butterscotch, nuttiness, aromatic and smoky tones. These are prime candidates for a delicious paring, which basically ramps up the dish.

Rob Tucker and Dan Tulio
Dan (right) and brand manager, Rob Tucker.

What is your favorite pairing and why?
My job entails a lot of time away from home, but when I am with family and friends I take over the kitchen and barbecue.  The best planned meal for me is to marinate my T-Bone steaks overnight with at least 3oz of CC 100% per steak and a bit of salt and pepper—that’s it!  The spiciness of this rye whiskey is slowly absorbed and as the steaks get infused, the high rye whisky breaks down the molecular structure of the meat, making it tender and deliciously spicy.  To complete the overall experience, I flash barbecue at a very high temperature for no more than 4-5mins while I enjoy a CC 100% over ice with friends.

Dan Tullio, Beam Suntory
Dan leading a talk about Canadian Rye

Do certain types of rye whisky pair better than others?
Canadian rye whisky is a nickname for Canadian whisky.  In fact, there does not have to be any rye grain alcohol in the recipe. Canadian whiskies can add other spirits [up to 9.09%] of any type as long as its two years old [i.e. rum, scotch, bourbon, etc]. Also the majority of most Canadian whiskies have corn as the predominant grain. I personally like using CC 100% because it’s made from a single grain type – rye. It’s like what a single malt scotch is to a Canadian whisky.

Are you a fan of pairing or cooking with whisky? Share your favorite brands or recipes in the comments below or on social.