A new kind of aromatherapy

October 8, 2009


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?

“Open That Bottle Night”

February 27, 2009


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

Ice follies

August 26, 2008

Photo credit: Martin Kouprie

This picture features a glass of iceberg-cooled scotch my husband drank earlier this summer in Newfoundland. While Martin loved this drink experience, I’m sure it won’t surprise you to learn that it never crossed his mind to have iceberg chunks shipped to our home in Ontario. That would be crazy, right?

After reading a few recent articles, I’m not so sure everyone reading my blog will agree. If the recent news about ice cube aficionadoism is the tip of a trend iceberg, then harvesting and selling glacial and ice floe ice may not be such a far-fetched idea after all.

Early last spring I wrote in my Topline Trends newsletter about ice aficionados who covet the disc-shaped ice chips available at quick service restaurants in the US such as Sonic and Taco Time. At these restaurants a glass of tap water is free of charge but a cup of ice cubes will cost $1 or more.

I thought this was pretty silly stuff but now I learn from a recent NY Times article that the ice snobbery trend is accelerating. From bottled ice to consumer awareness of branded cube makers such as Kold-Draft ice makers (which produces ice in three unique forms) and Hoshizaki machine (which can flake or cube ice in various sizes).

As result, ice is now a product that, at least for a select and privileged few, has gained an element of connoisseurship.

When I received a sample of Ice Rocks almost two years ago, I thought this product would be pretty much impossible to sell except as a novelty but now, I wonder if I was wrong.

What about you? Do you have strong ice preferences? Do you go for cubed or crushed? Do you chew it, suck it or let it melt in your drink? Go ahead, take the plunge and reveal your frozen water secrets.


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!).

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.