A new kind of aromatherapy

October 8, 2009

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As I mentioned on Monday, I’ve been counting my calories the last couple of weeks so when I read about vaportinis, the inhaled cocktails that have no calories but all the booze buzz, I was more than intrigued!

The idea was born in Helsinki where vodka is poured over hot coals and revelers inhale the vapors, but modified for indoor use by Red Kiva lounge in Chicago. They’ve created inhaled cocktails that sound like they’re equal parts vaporizer and bong. The picture above shows the vessel Red Kiva uses to serve their inhaled cocktails. It works like this: inside the bowl, alcohol is heated to 110°F until it starts to vaporize. Then, you breathe in the vapors through that little glass straw. It all sounds ultra weird but the idea of a calorie-neutral cocktail almost compels me to hop a plane to Chicago for the long weekend.

How about you? Intrigued or turned off?

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Topline Trends Tuesday: The Draper effect

June 2, 2009

ManhattanCocktailDrops

Blame it on Don Draper if you like, but right now one of the trendiest drinks around is rye whiskey. From Manhattans made with spicy rye (instead of sweeter bourbon), to Crown Royal straight up, rye is now popular with more than just my dad and his cronies. In fact, I’ve had a tremendous response to the Manhattan Cocktail Drops featured in my recent LCBO Food & Drink magazine story.

While as a proud Canadian I’d like to see this trend focused on enjoying Canadian rye exclusively, the fact is American ryes (made from mash containing 51 percent rye or more before being aged for at least two years in oak barrels) are catching the attention of serious aficionados.

What about you, do you love rye or loathe it? Do you drink it straight up like a Scotch or use it in cocktails?


“Open That Bottle Night”

February 27, 2009

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I’ll embrace almost any reason to open up a bottle of wine. Most Friday evenings the fact that Battlestar Galactica is on is reason enough for me to pop a cork. So, when I heard that February 27th is Open That Bottle Night, I was instantly intrigued.

The event, which has taken place on the last Saturday of February for the past 10 years, is meant to prompt wine lovers to uncork the bottle that they coddled and ogled until now it’s the perfect age or just let sit and collect dust waiting for a special occasion that either didn’t come or didn’t include people who would appreciate the wine.

I love this idea since I think that in the current economic climate we all need a treat and what’s better than a treat you paid for years ago? My husband Martin has always said that wine cellars are for when you’re broke and, as you can see from the picture above, we’ve been broke many times!

Do you have a bottle in your wine cellar or liquor cabinet that you’ve been saving for special occasion? Will you open it tonight?


Mmm… cocktails

August 28, 2008

To heck with running away and joining the circus. If I go missing, look for me in New Orleans. I won’t be whooping it up on Bourbon Street but “soaking” up culture at the newly opened Museum of the American Cocktail.

Now that I read about their seminars and tasting events, I wonder how the world coped without a destination like this one before now? Can you imagine how great their gift shop must be?

Although most of us likely won’t finish this blog post and head for the airport to experience this museum today, I thought I’d share a cocktail inspiration that you can use at home right now.

Floral flavours and accents such as rose and hibiscus are hot beverage trends right now so I suggest that you pick up some Australian wild hibiscus flowers in syrup (available from the Designer Cocktail Company) and use them to make stylish cocktails like this hibiscus sour to create a stylish, museum quality cocktail experience!

Hibiscus Sour*

2 oz Whiskey
1oz Fresh Lime Juice
1 oz Pressed Pineapple Juice
3/4 oz Hibiscus Syrup
1/2 oz Pasteurized Egg White
Hibiscus Flower

Shake whiskey, lime juice, pineapple juice, hibiscus flower syrup and egg white vigorously in an ice filled cocktail shaker for 20 to 30 seconds then strain over cracked ice into an old fashioned glass. Garnish with a skewered Hibiscus Flower.

What was your signature drink this summer?

*Recipe and image courtesy of Designer Cocktail Company


Coconut cups

August 20, 2008

It seems that weddings are in the air for many of my young friends this year. Martin and I will have attended four weddings and as many wedding related parties in twelve months by the time Thanksgiving arrives.

I have to say that I’ve been impressed by the diversity of celebrations I’ve been asked to share. From traditional to quirky, the brides and grooms we know are letting their personalities shine through so that their weddings are anything but magazine layout knock offs. We’ve witnessed belly dancing and heard a bride pledge in her wedding vows to help her groom cope with the pain and anguish of being a lifelong Toronto Maple Leafs fan. Good times!

At a recent engagement party with a Hawaiian theme, I was particularly impressed by Heather and Mike, an enthusiastic young couple who trekked to T&T, bought whole coconuts and cleaned them to create pina colada glasses for the guests. (That’s Heather and Mike holding their own well-earned drinks above.)

Although the hostess had already taken every necessary step to make the party a success, I loved that this couple spent the afternoon before their party wielding machetes, joined in a mutual goal to encase alcoholic beverages in thematically sound barware. After all, if a couple can band together on a creative project that requires this magnitude of violence and still smile at one another, their chances of staying together have to be pretty damn good!

Have you been to a wedding or engagement party that entertained you in unexpected ways?  If so, tell us about it.


Drinkin’

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.