June 18, 2008

Thirsty for the latest news about this summer’s trendiest beverages? Drink in these words on the subject:

1. Cosmos – thanks to those Sex and the City gals cosmos are back! I for one look forward to having a cold, frosty, pink drink in my hand all summer long.

2. Winetails – bartenders are turning their creativity to developing sophisticated wine based cocktails (dubbed Winetails by mixologist Alex Ott). These alchemists have revitalized the hackneyed spritzer with the addition of muddled ingredients (a la mojitos), fresh pressed juices and martini making techniques. No shame in being this kind of wino.

3. Talking vodka bottles are a Russian novelty item that I think would make the ultimate hostess gift for my party animal friends (yes, Laura and Gabby, I’m looking at you!).

Bacon infused vodka for breakfast

April 10, 2008

Dave Gerry

At the risk of turning this into TV week, I’m going to tell you yet another story about morning TV. About a week ago I went to Vancouver to prepare entrées that use Jif peanut butter as an ingredient on Breakfast Television.

When I arrived at the studio for my segment, co-host Dave Gerry was setting up the kitchen to make Caesar cocktails from vodka that he had infused with bacon. As readers of my Topline Trends newsletter know, smoky bacon is a massively popular flavour right now at every level of cuisine. (Believe it or not when my husband Martin was in Israel last fall, bacon was even big there!) Needless to say, Dave’s experiment set my trend tracking senses atingle. Turns out he found the instructions for making this vodka online at the Brownie Points blog and thought it sounded fun.

After the segment (that’s Dave and Sima Sara on air above), I tried his vodka and can declare that it was, in fact, redolent of porky goodness; however, the flavor was pretty subtle so if you make this concoction yourself, use it for martinis instead of the Caesars Dave made or choose a double smoked bacon to use in the infusion to amp up the flavour.

If Caesars aren’t your thing, New York Magazine has yet another way to add bacon to your booze.

Celebrate Mardis Gras with a Sazerac

February 4, 2008

sazerac.jpgTomorrow the “greatest free street show in the world” will come to an end for another year as New Orleans marks Mardis Gras Day, the final day of 2008′s Carnival celebrations.

You’ve got to hand it to the residents of this recovering city. While the people living in every other North American berg were atoning with detox flushes and crash diets on January 6th for the excesses of a gluttonous festive season, NOLA residents were dancing the night away, splashing cocktails from shaker to glass and noshing on King Cakes at the private masked balls held to kick off Carnival.

The 2008 Carnival season has featured the traditional parades and parties — complete with enough shiny beads and sequined masks to make a Vegas show girl envious. Although attendance numbers won’t be in until after the party ends tomorrow night, predictions for the 2008 Carnival season are encouraging.

With a new and dynamic governor promoting tourism and renewal projects spearheaded by celebrities (such as the one supported by Brad Pitt) bringing attention to the long-term needs of the city’s residents, 2008 promises to be a better year all around for this historical and culinary destination.

Also on the comeback trail is the Sazerac, NOLA’s signature cocktail. Sazerac cocktails contain absinthe, an alcoholic beverage that was — from 1912 until very recently — illegal to sell in North American liquor stores. Now reformulated to remove harmful ingredients, absinthe is making a comeback with North American spirits connoisseurs and that, in turn, has allowed Sazerac enthusiasts to enjoy this classic cocktail again, too.

Although it’s likely too late for Canadians reading these words to make it to NOLA for Mardis Gras Day tomorrow, you can toast New Orleans on its renewal and hopeful future with a homemade Sazerac cocktail:

Sazerac Cocktail
Invented early in the 1800s by Antoine Amedee Peychaud and then perfected later in the century, the Sazerac was named and became the eponymous drink of the Sazerac Coffee House in New Orleans. Similar in taste (and potency) to a Manhattan, pernod or herbsaint can be used in place of absinthe to make this drink.

I tested Sazerac cocktails made with blood orange bitters as well as the traditional Peychaud’s bitters. Both made a drinkable concoction; however, the Peychaud’s bitters accented the herbal notes in the absinthe while the blood orange bitters enhanced the vanilla flavours in the whiskey.

1/2 tsp (5 mL) absinthe, herbsaint or pernod
3 oz (90 mL) rye whiskey
4 tsp (20 mL) simple syrup
1/4 tsp (1 mL) Peychaud’s bitters
Lemon twist

Place an old-fashioned glass in the freezer for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the absinthe to the glass; swish to coat the inside surface. Discard liquid.

Quickly add the rye, simple syrup and Peychaud’s bitters to an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake well. Strain into absinthe rinsed glass. Using a channeling knife, hold the lemon directly over the glass. Peel a long thin strip from the lemon, allowing the volatile oils that escape from the surface of the lemon to settle over the drink. Serve lemon twist on the side.

Check out a fun Carnival parade in Curacao at homemakers.com.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.