Category Archives: Wine, Beer & Spirits

Marcella DiLonardo's butter-pecan old fashioned

Level Up Your Next Old Fashioned With This Butter Pecan-Infused Simple Syrup

A butter pecan twist on a classic old fashioned? Yes please! This is the perfect  That’s the Spirit winter cocktail to enjoy after an afternoon spent in the snow or on the ski hills. This bourbon based drink features a homemade pecan-infused simple syrup that even includes a touch of real butter. The addition of the butter is what really gives this syrup that rich, creamy and familiar flavour of butter pecan ice cream. But, don’t discard those pecans when you are done making the syrup. Enjoy them over a scoop of vanilla ice cream as an added treat. Lastly, this versatile syrup tastes amazing in espresso too!

Related: Not Drinking This Holiday? Try This Alcohol-Free Ginger-Rosemary Christmas Cocktail

Marcella DiLonardo's butter pecan old fashioned

Butter Pecan Old Fashioned

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 1

Ingredients:

For the simple syrup:
½ cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup pecans, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the old fashioned:
2 oz quality bourbon
½ oz buttered pecan syrup, or to taste
2 orange peels, divided
½ oz water
3 dashes bitters

Related: Meet Justin Hall, Estate Winemaker and North America’s First Indigenous Winery

Marcella DiLonardo's butter pecan old fashioned

Directions:

1. For the simple syrup, in a saucepan over medium heat whisk together the water, sugar and pecans. Bring to a gentle simmer and continue stirring until the sugar is fully dissolved.

Butter pecan simple syrup
2. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter. Let mixture stand for 15 minutes before straining. Set aside at room temperature until ready to use.

Related: Kick Off Cozy Season With This Apple Cider Moscow Mule

Strainer with pecans

3. To build the old fashioned, add the simple syrup, bitters and one orange peel to a rocks glass. Muddle to release the flavours of the orange.

Hands muddling an orange peel

4. Fill glass with large ice cubes followed by the bourbon and water. Stir to combine. Garnish with remaining orange peel and enjoy!

Overhead shot of Marcella DiLonardo's butter pecan old fashioned

Related: Like Marcella’s butter pecan old fashioned? Try her gingerbread martini

Seedlip's Cosnopolitan

Celebrate Dry January With This Quick and Easy No-Alcohol CosNoPolitan

Whether you’re going low-alc or full-on embracing Dry January (and beyond), this tasty, quick and easy cocktail will add occasion to any moment. Best part? You can enjoy it anytime, because it’s hangover-free.  

Related: Try This Alcohol-Free Ginger-Rosemary Christmas Cocktail

Seedlip

Seedlip’s Quick and Easy CosNoPolitan:

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 1

Ingredients: 

For the simple syrup:
½ cup sugar
½ cup water

For the CosNoPolitan:
2 oz non-alcoholic vodka alternative or an non-alcoholic spirit such as Seedlip Grove 42
1 oz cranberry juice
½ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz simple syrup
Orange peel for garnish

Related: Stock Your Dry January Bar with These Standout Non-Alcoholic Alternatives

Directions:

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add water and sugar. Bring to a simmer, stirring with a whisk until all the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

2. To build the cocktail, add to a shaker filled with the simple syrup, cranberry juice, fresh lime juice and non-alcoholic spirit of choice.

3. Shake until you hear the ice change pitch, to a lighter clinking sound, and strain into a coupe glass.

4. Garnish with an orange peel and enjoy!

Related: Meet Justin Hall, Estate Winemaker at Nk’Mip – North America’s First Indigenous Winery

Best non-alcoholic alternatives

Stock Your Dry January Bar with These Standout Non-Alcoholic Alternatives

Going low-alcohol or alcohol-free this Dry January? Fear not, we are far beyond the sugary “mocktail” alternatives of yesteryear and gone are the days where non-drinkers were forced to miss out on the social component of clinking cocktails. 

Today’s low-alcohol, non-alcohol and alcohol-free industries have evolved and the space is full of innovative craft spirits that introduce the much-needed complexity familiar to craft cocktails aficionados, the world over. Make room on your bar cart: here is the ultimate guide to the best tried and tested craft alcohol alternatives available in Canada. 

Related: Not Drinking? Try This Alcohol-Free Ginger-Rosemary Cocktail

Seedlip's fleet of non-alcoholic spirits

Seedlip Distilled Non-Alcoholic Sprits

Seedlip entered the non-alcoholic scene four years ago, but its origin story stretches much further back. It starts in 1651 to be exact, which is when physician, John French, published The Art of Distillation, documenting his non-alcoholic recipes. It is also the time period when the founder Ben Branson’s own predecessors in Lincolnshire started farming, hand-sowing seeds using baskets called seedlips – the brand’s namesake. Spending two years to tinker and perfect Seedlip’s award-winning distillates, Benson eventually launched three original non-alcoholic spirits, each with their unique flavour profile: The herbaceous Garden 108, the aromatic Spice 94, and the newest citrus-forward Grove 42. What sets Seedlip apart is that it isn’t outright emulating any of the traditional spirits (such as rum, gin or vodka). It is instead introducing an original non-alcoholic spirit to compliment a whole new range of cocktails (so much so that Seedlip published its own cocktail recipe book, titled The Seedlip Cocktail Book). You can also download a free ebook Seedlip Recipes at Home, full of recipes as well here

Related: The Top 10 Food Trends of 2021, According to TikTok

Lyre's London Dry Spirit

 

Lyre’s Impossibly Crafted Non-Alcoholic Spirits

If you have particular favourites when it comes to traditional spirits, Lyre’s offers the greatest range of award-winning non-alcoholic expressions that pay homage to popular and time-tested boozy classics. Practically any traditional cocktail can be recreated with Lyre’s fleet of distillates. From absinthe– and amaretto-style spirits to coffee liquor– to triple sec– and vermouth-like options, Lyre’s selection is impressive (13 in total), and the folks behind the brand have clearly done their homework; even the alternatives to rum come in varieties of White, Dark or Spiced Cane style. The Australian brand’s cheeky branding will introduce a level of levity to the occasion, ensuring “everyone can enjoy the mirth and merriment of a soiree or shindig,” whether they are expecting, are a designated driver, or are choosing to go low-alcohol or to forego alcohol altogether for some other reason. Its “Seize the night, embrace the day” motto will keep you functional the morning after, and there are no artificial colours, even though its options are  doppelgangers to their inspirations (see Lyre’s Malt take on bourbon). 

Related: Pinterest Predicts These Food Trends Will Be Huge in 2022

Lumett's non-alcoholic beverages

Lumette!

Aiming to illuminate your drinking experience, British Columbia’s Lumette! was born out of desire to combine a love of natural ingredients with cocktail culture. The delightful result is a  trio of distilled alt-spirits named London Dry, Bright Light and Lumrum. They are handcrafted using a bounty of premium botanicals and traditional distilling methods, and yield delicious renderings that are great additions to low- or zero-proof cocktails. Bright Light brings forth notes of juniper, citrus, rose, mint, cucumber and grand fir. Lumrum on the other hand hits warmer aromas of molasses, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. With London Dry you’ll get juniper, and a citrus forward burst of flavour. 

Related: These Sisters Are Changing the Dessert Game with Their Stunning Gluten and Dairy-Free Vegan Cakes

Sobrii 0-Gin and 0-Tequila against a copper still and bar tools

Sobrii Distilled Non-Alcoholic Spirits

Another Canadian favourite on this list, Sobrii was started in 2017 by Bob Huitema as he pursuit a great-tasting cocktail that didn’t contain alcohol. Growing up on a farm near Stratford, Ontario, Huitema brought his experiences in the food and beverage industries in pursuit of Canada’s first non-alcoholic gin. The result was Sobrii 0-Gin, and soon after Sobrii 0-Tequila followed. Huitema achieved this using natural botanical distillates and extracts with no sugar, no sweeteners and no artificial flavours. It’s “0 calories, 0 sugar, 0 hangover.” The former folds in juniper berry, coriander, all spice, star anise, Canadian ginseng while the latter echoes the familiar taste and heat of tequila by infusing agave with spicy jalapeno, hot blackpepper, savoury coriander and Canadian ginseng

Related: Cold-Busting Citrus Smoothie That’ll Save You When Sick Season Hits

CEDER'S Distilled Non-Alcoholic

CEDER’S Distilled Non-Alcoholic

Evoking the sense of “everyday escape,” CEDER’S is meticulously created in Sweden with rare botanicals found in the Cederberg Mountains of the Western Cape, South Africa. Aimed at being “perfect for those times when you want to opt out without feeling left out,” the brand has won awards with its four options titled Classic, Pink Rose, Wild and Crisp. Classic centres on juniper and is fresh and forward, Pink Rose includes rose and hibiscus and is a beautiful addition to any cocktail glass visually, Wild will expand your horizons with rooibos and buchu flavour, and Crisp is refreshing – crediting pristine Swedish water in its list of ingredients. 

Related: 12 Foods That Can Help Lower Blood Pressure

FLUÈRE Drinks in Raspberry Blend

FLUÈRE Drinks

Latin for “flow”, FLUÈRE (pronounced flew-air) seeks to bring cocktail aficionados the experience of drinking alcohol without the alcohol. It does so with its four original blends: Original Blend (Gin), Raspberry Blend (Pink Gin), Smoked Agave (Mezcal) and Spiced Cane (Rum). The brand is inspired by the Romans, as they travelled and experimented with herbs, spices, and botanicals that they picked up along the way. FLUÈRE distills all botanicals individually in a copper pot using hydrosteam distillation, promising to get the very best out of each branch, leaf and berry.  For example, the ingredients the brand lists feature coriander seeds from Casablanca, the best juniper berries from the Himalayas, lavender from Provence, and lemon peel from the Mediterranean. The Spiced Cane blend Hints of dark roasted coffee, cocoa, liquorice, tonka beans and toffee, with a touch of sugar cane and molasses, evoking fine Caribbean rum. It is warm, complex, and full of character. The Original Blend has a unique afterbite and lists juniper and lime peel to give a bright and fresh character, while lavender and coriander add a satisfying herbal finish. The Raspberry Blend boast complex yet balanced taste, including fresh distilled raspberries, adding smoothness and slight sweetness to the nose. The brand also offers a 5 per cent pledge back for ocean cleaning projects.

Related: 18 Healthy (And Tasty) Smoothie Recipes That’ll Keep You Full

HP Juniper

HP Juniper

Proudly made in Quebec, award-winning HP Juniper is the province’s first-ever non-alcoholic spirit brand. Patrick Cool and Valérian Roy created the non-alcoholic gin-focused line out of a fierce passion for this classic spirit. The award-winning creations come in Classic Gin and Floral Gin variety and tap into the duo’s existing expertise in the beverage industry space (in 2017 they also launched the world’s first Gin Ale – a beer brewed gin-style). Distilled in a copper still, the sugar-free spirits are made with gin aromatics such as juniper berries, as well as yuzu lemons, organic cucumbers, cinnamon, lemongrass, eucalyptus, rosemary, and coriander seeds. Its Floral Gin blend uses rose, hibiscus, eucalyptus, cucumber flowers, and juniper berries.

Related: 12 Canadian TikTok Food Accounts You Need to Follow

ROOTS Divino with a mixologist in the background preparing a cocktail

ROOTS Divino

Craft aperitif from Greece, ROOTS Divino is a non-alcoholic vermouth based on wine and focused on reviving age-old recipes “using earthy and elemental flavours.” The brand was started by two brothers in 2013, whose own family tradition of distilling spirits goes as far back as 1850. Fast-forward to 2022, and ROOTS Divino now includes zero-proof craft aperitifs with a story to tell. Absinthe wine (vinum absinthium) or vermouth as we call it today, got its origins in ancient Greece with Hippocrates back around 400 BCE, when the father of medicine fortified and infused wine with wormwood and other botanicals such as artemisia (absinthe) for more medicinal purposes. ROOTS Divino leans into the typical vermouth maceration process before diluting the result, while maintaining the “heart” of the blend, with its distinct aromas and flavours. Its Aperatif Blanco is fresh and sour with rosemary, thyme and wormwood, while Aperitif Rosso is bittersweet with notes of bitter orange, gentian and wormwood.  

Related: Advice From a Cheese Master: How to Buy, Store and Eat Cheese

Stryyk Vodka Bottle alongisde a fig and a fig martini

Stryyk

Rolling out in 2018, Stryyk’s NOT G*N, and NOT R*M were created to not only mimic but rival their alcoholic counterparts. And they come deceptively close. They are the brainchild of Alex Carlton, bar world vet with more than two decades of experience tinkering in the beverage world. And he wasn’t alone. The process was carefully finessed under the watchful tutelage of some of the UK’s most renown bartenders, and soon after NOT V*DKA joined the lineup. Adding to the fleet of available spirits geared at health-conscious hedonists, Stryyk macerates botanicals with ethanol and water before passing the solution through a moderised steam distillation process. They then blend, filter and cut back the resulting spirits so they are under 0.5 Alcohol By Volume (ABV). The spirits are ultra low in calories, carbs, have no sugars, or artificial flavours.

Related: This Popcorn Shop is Destigmatizing the Ex-Con Label, One Kernel at a Time

Fleet of Sexy AF Spirits

Sexy AF Spirits

Award-winning, Sexy AF Spirits is Alberta’s first non-alcohol, plant-based spirit. Founded by Jo-Anne Reynolds following a girls’ trip where she was underwhelmed by the options available to those who opted not to drink, she sought to fill the void. Reynolds wanted a solution that was 100 per cent alcohol-free, sugar-free, was natural, and that tasted great in cocktails. Sexy AF Spirits achieved its goal by infusing botanical extracts into the end product, making each blend 33 per cent of botanicals by volume. This makes Sexy AF Spirits the strongest entirely alcohol-free spirit available in the market. The results have won Global-Plant Based Certified Sexy AF multiple double-gold awards. Sexy AF features six varieties: Spiced Yum, ViirGiin, AperTease, Triple Sexy, Amar-oh, and Friski Whiski. Of these six, the last four have won San Francisco World Spirit Competition Double Gold awards.

Related: Flavour Trends to Watch For According to the Latest Flavour Forecast

Tuscan Tree Non-Alcoholic Aperativo Spirit

Tuscan Tree Non-Alcoholic Aperativo Spirit

Made in the style of a classic Italian aperitif, UK’s Tuscan Tree’s non-alcoholic aperativo spirit is made using a traditional copper pot still to produce individual distillates. These are then removed before blending and bottling. Tuscan Tree makes Tuscan Blood Orange aperitif and you can find it through Club Zero in Canada. It includes juniper peel and berry, cardamom, pimento, cascarila bark, gentian, rhubarb root and more. It’s flavour combination is ideal for an Italian spritz, non-alcoholic negroni, or simply paired with tonic water.

Related: Why We’re Drawn to Comfort Baking in Times of Stress, According to a Psychologist

Silver Swallow

Silver Swallow

Created by two Ottawa entrepreneurs, Silver Swallow is the first non-alcoholic (with 0.5 per cent alcohol) champagne-inspired premium kombucha on the market in Canada. The brand gets its name from the rare organic white tea it uses, which is hand-picked in Yunnan, China. Available in Ontario and Quebec, the luxury kombucha is meticulously brewed in Canada. The beverage stands up to sparkling wine at any special occasion, and is light and well-balanced with a delightful, complex finish. You’ll taste notes of clover, wildflowers, honey and tropical fruit (it pairs well with fruit, seafood and cheese).

Related: Metis Herbalist and Educator Lori Snyder on Urban Foraging and Food Sovereignty

Acid League Proxies Holiday Pack

Acid League Proxies

While Ontario-based Acid League was created by food scientists to offer a wide range of living vinegar-based products to foodies, its Proxies line of limited-edition non-alcoholic wines deserves a spot on this list. Many non-alcoholic wines can be a big, disappointing miss, but Proxies eschew this trend and reinvigorate the idea of non-alcoholic wines. Complex and interesting, you will enjoy them on their own merit. Its range layers blends of juices, teas, spices, bitters and more. There are plenty of options to choose from, but its Holiday Proxies set features a seasonal triumvirate of festive options: Fruitcake, Linger and Truffle. The latter actually folds in the prized Alba white truffles to evoke the finish of aged red wines. It’s fruity and fresh and will keep you exploring its combination of earthy-fruity layers, sip after sip. Linger is a dark rosé inspired by classic holiday cranberry sauce, while Fruitcake combines dried fruit and baking spices in a bright Riesling with pineapple, and orange zest.

Related: Meet Justin Hall, Estate Winemaker at Nk’Mip – North America’s First Indigenous Winery

TÖST Sparkling White Tea on a table with people gathered in the background

TÖST

TÖST was created to offer delicious-tasting beverages that can be enjoyed at any time, anywhere, and by everyone. Whether used as mixers, or enjoyed on their own, they are refreshing, light, delivering a sense of elegance to any occasion. Choose from TÖST’s Sparkling White Tea (cranberry and ginger) and Rosé (ginger and elderberry), both of which are dry (not too sweet), sparkling, sophisticated and have an engaging aroma. 

Related: We Tried the Our Place Perfect Pot — Find Out If It’s Worth the Hype

Fever-Tree Mixers

Fever-Tree Mixers

If you like your cocktails, you know mixers matter. Fever-Tree offers a fleet of premium and diverse mixers that are not only incredibly nuanced and flavourful, but also ramp up the complexity of any cocktails you create using the spirits noted above. In Canada, you can choose from 16 flavours (and spare yourself by not checking out what’s available elsewhere because you’ll instantly want to try the other flavours too). Locally, you can choose from Premium Tonic Water, Refreshingly Light Tonight Water, Refreshingly Light Cucumber Tonic Water, Elderflower Tonic Water, Mediterranean Tonic Water, Aromatic Tonic Water, Lemon Tonic, Premium Ginger Ale, Refreshingly Light Ginger Ale, Premium Ginger Beer, Refreshingly Light Ginger Beer, Spiced Orange Ginger Ale, Smoky Ginger Ale, Club Soda, Sparkling Sicilian Lemonade and Sparkling Pink Grapefruit (you can find out more about Fever-Tree’s Canadian offerings here). Pair these with your alt-gins for a classic Gin and Tonic, a zero-proof vodka for a martini, or a Moscow mule and so much more. 

Related: The Top 5 Kitchen Utensils Every Home Cook Needs

All products featured on Food Network Canada are independently selected by our editors. For more products handpicked by our editorial team, visit Food Network Canada’s Amazon storefront. However, when you buy through links in this article or on our storefront, we earn an affiliate commission.

Non-alcoholic ginger-rosemary Christmas cocktail against a Christmas tree backdrop

Not Drinking This Holiday? Try This Alcohol-Free Ginger-Rosemary Christmas Cocktail

Whether you’re going alcohol-free, are sober-curious, or soberish over the holidays, this aromatic non-alcoholic spritz cocktail is the perfect sip. The zero-proof cocktail brings fresh seasonal and herbal aromas of rosemary, white cranberry and ginger, without compromising on the complexity of traditional boozy cocktails. 

It’s a light, refreshing drink you’ll want to sip all night long for any festive occasion this December. No alcohol (or hangover) required. 

Related: This Vegan Eggnog Recipe is So Good It’ll Impress All the Non-Vegans Too

Non-alcoholic ginger-rosemary Christmas cocktail against a Christmas tree backdrop

Alcohol-Free Ginger-Rosemary Christmas Cocktail

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Chill Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1  hour
Serves: 2

Ingredients:

For the ginger-infused water:
2½ inch ginger root
2 cups water

For the rosemary simple syrup:
2-3 rosemary sprigs
½ cup sugar
½ cup water

For the Christmas cocktail:
1 lime
2 oz rosemary simple syrup or to taste
6 oz ginger-infused water
6 oz white cranberry juice
Splash of soda
Handful pomegranate arils
1 rosemary sprig

Related: Meet Justin Hall, Estate Winemaker and North America’s First Indigenous Winery

Non-alcoholic ginger-rosemary Christmas cocktail ingredients

Directions:

1. For the ginger-infused water, in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, add 2 cups of water. 

2. In the meantime, grate or peel ginger using the back of a teaspoon or a pairing knife, chopping it into small cubes. When the water is about to simmer, add in the ginger. 

Non-acoholic ginger-rosemary Christmas Cocktail ginger-infused water

3. Leave water and ginger to gently simmer, until it reduces to half its volume, about 15-20 minutes. 

4. Strain the ginger water into a glass or small mason jar, and set aside, leaving to chill in the fridge for about an hour before preparing your cocktail.

Note: if you have a carbonator device, we recommend you can also carbonate the ginger water, for extra fizz.

Related: Cooking With Tea: 15 Sweet and Savoury Recipes for Every Meal

5. For the rosemary simple syrup, coarsely chop 2-3 sprigs of rosemary. 

Non-alcoholic ginger-rosemary Christmas cocktail rosemary simple syrup

6. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add water, ½ cup sugar and chopped rosemary.

7. Bring to a simmer, stirring with a whisk until all the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. 

8. Strain using a sieve into a reusable container, leave to cool completely. Cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before making the rest of the cocktail (the simple syrup keeps in the fridge for about two weeks).

Related: Passionfruit and Coconut Linzer Cookies Will Be the Star of Your Cookie Swap

9. To assemble the Christmas cocktail, in a shaker with ice, add juice of 1 lime, 2 ounces of chilled simple syrup, 6 ounces of chilled ginger-infused water, 6 ounces of white high quality cranberry juice. 

Non-alcoholic ginger-rosemary Christmas cocktail featuring lime, lemon squeezer and a tin shaker

10. Shake until the sound of the ice makes a lighter, higher-pitched clinking sound, about 10-15 seconds. 

11. Fill highball glass halfway with ice cubes, and strain shaker mix into it. 

12. Add splash of soda and stir.

Related: Kick Off Cozy Season With This Apple Cider Moscow Mule

Non-alcoholic ginger-rosemary Christmas cocktail with pomegranate arils

13. To garnish the cocktail, slap a rosemary sprig against the palm of your hand a few times to release aromatic oils. 

14. Add the sprig to the cocktail and top with pomegranate arils. Serve and enjoy. 

Modifications: You can also prepare this as a pitcher drink. Just multiply ingredients by five or more and stir in a pitcher, in place of a shaker. If you’re pressed for time, simply swap out the ginger-infused water with high quality ginger beer, such as Fever-Tree Premium Ginger Beer. Just be sure to half the sugar in the rosemary simple syrup. For a boozy option, you can also add in spiced rum or vodka.  

Related: These Cranberry, Camembert and Pomegranate Bites Will Be Devoured in Minutes

Marcella DiLonardo's gingerbread martini

This Gingerbread Martini is the Perfect Holiday Cocktail

A creamy dessert-style That’s the Spirit martini inspired by my favourite holiday cookie: This gingerbread martini features a vodka spirit base with Irish cream and a homemade gingerbread simple syrup.

The simple syrup will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, making this drink the perfect festive cocktail to enjoy all holiday season long! 

Related: Kick Off Cozy Season With This Apple Cider Moscow Mule

Marcella DiLonardo

Gingerbread Martini

Prep: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 1

Ingredients:

For the simple syrup:

½ cup water
½ cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
1-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced

For the martini:

1 ½ oz vodka
1 oz Irish cream liqueur
½ oz coffee liqueur
½ oz gingerbread syrup, or to taste
Gingersnap crumbs, for serving & rimming
Caramel sauce, for serving
Whipped cream, for serving

Related: Kickstart the Holidays With This Easy White Russian and Eggnog Cocktail

Marcella DiLonardo gingerbread martini mise en place

Directions:

1. For the simple syrup, in a saucepan over medium heat add the water, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and ginger.

Marcella DiLonardo's gingerbread martini

2. Bring to a boil and cook until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes before straining.
4. Strain mixture & refrigerate until ready to use.

Related: Travel Back in ‘Thyme’ With This Seasonal Twist on a Classic Aperol Spritz

5. For the martini, to a cocktail glass filled with ice, add the vodka, Irish cream, coffee liqueur and gingerbread syrup.

Marcella DiLonardo's gingerbread martini

6. Stir until well combined.
7. Rim glass with gingersnap crumbs and drizzle with caramel sauce.

Marcella DiLonardo's gingerbread martini

8. Strain martini mixture into glass.
9. Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and additional gingersnap crumbs if desired.

Marcella DiLonardo's gingerbread martini

Like Marcella’s Moscow mule? Try her refreshing Strawberry Rhubarb Gin Spritzer

Nk'Mip estate winemaker Justin Hall

Meet Justin Hall, Estate Winemaker at Nk’Mip – North America’s First Indigenous Winery

The world of wine and winemaking can sometimes feel exclusionary and inaccessible, even as at its core, the dinner table staple has been connecting people to each other and the land as far back as 9000 BCE

Justin Hall and his Band’s Nk’Mip Cellars are leading a new era in winemaking while also reconnecting wine lovers to these roots. As North America’s first Indigenous winery, Nk’Mip (pronounced In-Ka-meep) is owned and operated by the Osoyoos Indian Brand and the Osoyoos culture is woven throughout. 

Justin Hall Nk'Mip estate winemaker

North America’s first Indigenous winemaker

Justin Hall himself is the first Indigenous winemaker in North America, and oversees Nk’Mip’s entire wine making process, from grape harvesting through bottling. His own trajectory to his present role is closely intertwined with the winery’s history, and the Osoyoos Indian Brand, of which he is an Elder. 

While the winery has been operating for some 50 years, and is part owned by Arterra Wines Canada today, the Band maintains majority ownership, and ensures its members are involved throughout. 

They, and winery operators, have also invested in Hall and his growth, from cellar hand in 2004 when he first joined Nk’Mip, to where he is today, overseeing the cellar’s entire wine production. 

Related: How to Order Wine at a Restaurant Like a Pro

Nk'Mip vinyard grapes on a vine

From cellar hand to estate winemaker

From those very first days, Hall knew winemaking was something he wanted to pursue more seriously. “By day four [at that first job], I had signed up at the local college in Penticton… I met some friends. We started doing wine tastings on our own, studying wine, and that was it,” he laughs. 

Hall went on to hone his craft further in Australia and New Zealand’s Lincoln University. And while he did not have the traditional academic background of his classmates, he had years of hands-on experience that allowed him to bridge what he learned out in the vineyards with theory. 

Related: Meet the Youngest Self-Funded Winery Owner in Ontario’s History

Nk'Mip vineyards with rolling hills in the background

Osoyoos, the sweet-smelling place

Today, Hall has brought back that understanding to Nk’Mip. Sitting on 300 acres of the hottest and driest part of Canada, in the south end of the Okanagan valley (Oliver, BC, specifically), the winery is nestled amidst the Osoyoos Desert – the northernmost tip of the Sonoran Desert. 

The cellar produces an average of 18,000 cases annually (that’s 216,000 bottles, if you’re wondering). And while only available in western Canada, Nk’Mip has won awards internationally. “People from Germany ask about our little intimate cellar, and then they start to realize, ‘Oh, what does it mean? And what is it about?’”  

Translating to “bottomland” in English, Nk’Mip’s climate and soil (known as terroir in sommelier-speak) are nestled amid time-weathered mountains, sage and other desert flora, mirrored lakes and an otherwise-arid landscape, giving Nk’Mip wines their unique characteristics. 

Related: The Dark Side of Trendy Superfoods (and What You Can Do to Help)

Nk'Mip vineyards, facing a lake against a setting sun

“Have you ever lifted up a big pile of leaves and you smell the black earth underneath? It smells almost sweet,” says Hall. Herbaceous sage, too, is another note  permeating the air. 

When Hall was asked to describe how these characteristics influence Nk’Mip wines, he consulted with his Elders on what word in the Okanagan language might best capture that local essence (wine connoisseurs refer to this quality with the French word “garrigue”). 

The answer was Sín iʔ tmxʷulaxʷ (pronounced sin eet tim whoo lough), which means “sweet smelling place,” referring to the natural aromas that various cycles of the earth produce. “And I thought it was a perfect example of what we’re trying to get across.” It’s a nod to the fertile land the vineyards sit on, and the grapes they yield.

Related: Joshna Maharaj on Tackling Food Security, Inclusion in Canada’s Hospitality Industry + More

Nk'Mip's select wines

From wine names to viticulture

The Band’s culture seeps into Nk’Mip in other ways too – starting with the names on the bottles.  

It’s premium table wines are named Qwam Qwmt (pronounced kw-em kw-empt), translating to “achieving excellence.” 

Hall explains that the winery was asked to come up with a name that reflects perfection. “Well, there is no such word [in the Okanagan language]. Nothing in nature is perfect. It’s always flawed, ever so slightly. So Qwam Qwmt is achieving excellence. It’s getting to the best that you can, but not actually being perfect.” This wine is produced in very limited quantities and is deemed worthy of this title. “I’m not afraid to show that against any wine in the world,” says Hall. 

Mer’r’iym, on the other hand is the word for “marriage” and the perfect name for a wine that represents the union of Nk’Mip’s Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec.  

Related: The Most Delicious Ways to Use Leftover Wine

Nk'Mip vineyards

These traditions dig deeper too. Some 500 Osoyoos Indian Brand members watch over this region, ensuring their practices remain as sustainable as possible. “We are protectors of the land, if you will, and I’ve always believed that it should be left in a better place than when we arrived,” says Hall. 

“The last thing I want to do is go out and nuke all the bugs that are out there and just create a sterile, stagnant environment where there’s nothing alive other than the grapes, but that doesn’t make good wine. What makes good wine is good microflora. You want the bacteria in the soil to thrive. You want the spiders,” he adds. “So when you find spiders, you know you’re doing something fairly right.”

Related: The Best Foodie Gifts from Small Canadian Businesses

Nk'Mip with the resort in the background

What an estate winemaker looks for in a wine

When it comes to what’s in the bottle, Hall has a few considerations before reaching for that perfect one. 

“Depends on the day, and it depends who I am with,” he says. “What I am looking for in a great wine is texture. Balance is super key. You always want to have a wine with balance [acidity, sweetness and viscosity]. There’s nothing worse than having something that’s sticking out – it’s what they would call ‘rough edges.’ Especially with tannins or acidity, you get these rough edges where the wine isn’t quite silky or it doesn’t roll in your mouth quite like rolling in a glass. Now, having that said, I can almost go the opposite direction,” adding, “Sometimes you’re just looking for a little bit more complexity.”

But at the core of it, for Hall, wine is also about community. “You know, enjoying wine with friends and food and sitting down and talking. It’s not just ‘how’s the weather outside?’ It’s not small chat. Getting out and actually understanding somebody… like the older ways where we actually sat down and you met friends face-to-face, enjoying a bottle of wine. That makes all the difference in the world.”

Visitors can also experience Nk’Mip themselves in-person and can stay at the Band’s Spirit Ridge Resort (though be forewarned, the lodge books up to a year in advance).  

In the meantime, you can find Nk’Mip wines through Great Estates Okanagan and through specialty retailers in BC and Alberta.

Related: Metis Herbalist and Educator Lori Snyder on Urban Foraging and Food Sovereignty

White Russian and Eggnog Cocktail

Kickstart the Holidays With This Easy White Russian and Eggnog Cocktail

Putting a holiday twist on the classic White Russian cocktail, this decadent and surprisingly easy to make cocktail is a star at any occasion. Given that this That’s the Spirit cocktail uses only three ingredients, I highly recommend using good quality vodka and eggnog as we’re aiming for decadence. Equally appropriate before or after dinner, this creamy festive cocktail is one you’ll be making again and again. Cheers!

Related: Travel Back in ‘Thyme’ With This Seasonal Twist on a Classic Aperol Spritz

White Russian with Eggnog Cocktail

White Russian and Eggnog Cocktail

Prep: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Serves: 1

White Russian Cocktail with Eggnog Mise en Place

Ingredients:
2 oz Vodka
1 oz Kahlúa
Splash of Eggnog

White Russian Eggnog

Directions:
1. Fill a rocks glass with ice.

White Russian with eggnog

2. Pour vodka and Kahlúa into the glass.
3. Using the back of a bar spoon, pour eggnog on top and serve.

Marcella DiLonardo's Poison Apple Cocktail

This Bewitching Poison Apple Cocktail is the Perfect Way to Celebrate a Spooky Halloween

It isn’t Halloween without something a little spooky, right? This cocktail is inspired by the ultimate hallmark of spooky season, the  “poison apple,” and  it’s sure to be a hit for any Halloween gathering. Be it a party with friends or a night in watching scary movies with popcorn, this bewitching That’s the Spirit cocktail features a whiskey base with a blend of apple cider and “bloody” pomegranate juice for sweetness. Serve it in a stemmed coupe glass for an elegant presentation. Cheers, if you dare!

Related: Travel Back in ‘Thyme’ With This Seasonal Twist on a Classic Aperol Spritz

Marcella DiLonardo's Poison Apple Cocktail

Poison Apple Cocktail

Prep: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Serves: 1

Marcella DiLonardo's Posion Apple Cocktail ingredients shot

Ingredients:

2 oz whiskey
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz pure apple cider
1 oz pomegranate juice
2 to 3 dashes of bitters
Halloween gummies, to garnish (worms, eyeballs, spiders, etc.)

Related: 12 Dead-Easy Halloween Cocktails You Need to Try This Year

Marcella DiLonardo's Poison Apple Cocktail

Directions:

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass with ice. Add the whiskey, lemon juice, apple cider, pomegranate juice & bitters.
2. Shake or stir until well combined.
3. Strain mixture into a coupe glass.
4. Garnish with gummies and enjoy!

Marcella DiLonardo's Poison Apple Cocktail

Like Marcella’s Moscow mule? Kick off cozy season with her Autumn-Inspired Apple Cider Moscow Mule.

Apple cider Moscow Mule

Kick Off Cozy Season With This Autumn-Inspired Apple Cider Moscow Mule

As the weather changes and the autumn apple cravings kick in, this cider twist on a Moscow mule is a must-try cocktail to celebrate the start of fall. The spicy flavour of the ginger beer (a key ingredient to a traditional Moscow mule) pairs perfectly with the sweet mulled cider. So throw on your favourite fall sweater and shake up the latest That’s the Spirit cocktail!

Apple cider Moscow Mule

Apple Cider Moscow Mule

Prep: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Serves: 1

Related: Travel Back in ‘Thyme’ With This Seasonal Twist on a Classic Aperol Spritz

Apple cider Moscow mule ingredients

Ingredients:

2 ounces vodka
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice (about 1/2 a lime)
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1 pinch ground cinnamon
3 ounces apple cider
3 ounces ginger beer
Apple slices, to garnish
Fresh rosemary, to garnish
Lime wedge, to garnish

Related: This Blood Orange Negroni is the Perfect Summer Cocktail

Apple cider Moscow mule with cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker or cocktail mixing glass with ice. Add vodka, lime juice, ginger, cinnamon and apple cider. Shake or stir until well combined, about 30 seconds.Hand stirring apple cider Moscow mule
  2. Strain over a moscow mule glass filled with ice. Finish with a splash of ginger beer. 
  3. Garnish with apple slices, rosemary and lime. Cheers!

Apple cider Moscow mule

Like Marcella’s Moscow mule? Try her refreshing Strawberry Rhubarb Gin Spritzer

Thyme Aperol Spritz

Travel Back in ‘Thyme’ With This Seasonal Twist on a Classic Aperol Spritz

Thyme Aperol Spritz

Thyme-Infused Aperol Spritz

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings:  1

Related: Savour the Best of the Season With This Strawberry Rhubarb Gin Spritzer

This That’s the Spirit Aperol spritz is a classic summer cocktail. It’s light, refreshing and truly tastes like summertime in Italy. Take this cocktail up a notch by incorporating a little thyme-infused simple syrup. The thyme really complements the orange and herbal notes in the Aperol tying this cocktail together. Perfect for a hot summer day (or eve), this spritz is one you’ll want to keep making again and again! Cheers. 

Related: Savour the Best of the Season With This Strawberry Rhubarb Gin Spritzer

Ingredients:

Thyme simple syrup (makes 0.5 oz)
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
3-4 fresh thyme sprigs

3 oz Prosecco D.O.C
2 oz Aperol
0.5 oz Thyme simple syrup
Splash of soda
Garnish: Orange wedge and fresh thyme sprigs

Related: This Blood Orange Negroni is the Perfect Summer Cocktail

Directions:

Thyme-Infused Simple Syrup

  1. Add ½ cup sugar and water to a small saucepan over medium heat. 
  2. Stir until sugar is dissolved. 
  3. Remove from heat and add 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme. Let steep for 10-15 minutes, depending on how strong you want the thyme flavour to be. 

Related: This Earl Grey Mar(tea)ni is the Cocktail You Need

Thyme Aperol Spritz

Cocktail 

  1. Fill a white wine glass with ice. 
  2. Pour 3 parts of Prosecco D.O.C, followed by 2 parts of Aperol and 0.5 oz. thyme-infused simple syrup. 
  3. Top with a splash of soda and stir. 
  4. Garnish with an orange wedge and fresh thyme sprigs. 

Like Abhi’s summer cocktail? Try his refreshing Brazilian Lemonade Margarita

 

Marcella DiLeonardo's strawberry rhubarb spritzer

Savour the Best of the Season With This Strawberry Rhubarb Gin Spritzer

Marcella DiLeonardo's strawberry rhubarb spritzer

Strawberry Rhubarb Gin Spritzer

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

Related: Melon Frosé Sangria is Made for Warm Summer Nights

Marcella DiLeonardo's strawberry rhubarb spritz ingredient shot

Strawberry rhubarb pie in a cocktail? Yes please! This That’s the Spirit cocktail is a sweet-and-sour-lover’s dream. It features freshly picked local strawberries and vibrant pink garden rhubarb. However, if you only have frozen fruit on hand, that works too. Just adjust the honey based on the sweetness of the strawberries. Lastly, don’t throw away the leftover fruit compote, enjoy it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or mixed into your morning yogurt. Cheers!

Ingredients:

1 tsp lemon zest
½ cup fresh or frozen rhubarb, diced
1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries, diced
2 tbsp honey
1 pinch salt
¾ cup water
4 oz gin, divided
Sparkling water, to finish
Sliced lemon, to garnish

Strawberry rhubarb compote

Directions:

  1.     To a saucepan over medium heat add the lemon zest, rhubarb, strawberries, honey, salt and water. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 10 minutes, until the fruit breaks down.

  1.     Using a fine mesh sieve, strain mixture to release the syrup. Set aside in a glass jar until ready to use. This syrup can be made up to a week in advance. 
  2.     Fill 4 cocktail glasses with ice. Evenly divide the syrup and gin amongst the glasses. Top with a splash of soda water, garnish with lemon and serve!

Related: Melon Frosé Sangria is Made for Warm Summer Nights

Abhishek Dekate's Brazilian Lemonade

This Refreshing Brazilian Lemonade Margarita is THE Drink of Summer

Looking for summer in a cup? Look no further. This Brazilian Lemonade Margarita is a combination of two popular summer drinks that is super refreshing and a perfect way to cool off on those hot summer afternoons. Made with fresh limes, this That’s the Spirit drink is not only tangy and sweet but deliciously creamy too. Lose the tequila and this can easily be enjoyed as a non-alcoholic bevvy  as well. Cheers!

Abhishek Dekate's Brazilian lemonade margarita cocktail in a rimmed glass

Brazilian Lemonade Margarita

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 1

Related: This Refreshing Brazilian Lemonade Margarita is THE Drink of Summer

Ingredients to make Abhishek Dekate's Brazilian Lemonade Margarita

Ingredients:

Brazilian Lemonade
4 limes
½ cup condensed milk
½ cup granulated sugar
4 cups cold water

Cocktail
4 oz Brazilian Lemonade mix
1 oz tequila
Garnish: salt rim + lime slice or wedge

Related: Melon Frosé Sangria is Made for Warm Summer Nights

Directions:

Brazilian Lemonade

  1. Mix cold water and sugar and chill until ready to use. This step can be done ahead of time.
  2. Wash limes thoroughly with soap and cut each lime into 8ths.\
  3. Add cold water and sugar mixture into the blender along with limes and condensed milk.

Straining of Brazilian lemonade

4. Pulse blender a few times (10 seconds max. each cycle) until ingredients are fully integrated. Do not over-blend as this will cause the limes to break down leaving a bitter aftertaste.
5. Strain liquid through a fine-mesh strainer using a spoon.
6. Serve over ice and enjoy!

Abhishek Dekate rimming a rocks glass

Cocktail

  1. Rim rocks glass with salt and set aside.
  2. Place ice cubes in your rimmed glass.

Adding Brazilian lemonade to the rocks glass

3. Add tequila and Brazilian Lemonade mix.
4. Stir and garnish with a lime slice or wedge. Enjoy!

Like Abhi’s summer cocktail? Try his Blood Orange Negroni.

Abhishek Dekate's blood orange negroni

This Blood Orange Negroni is the Perfect Summer Cocktail

A twist on the classic Italian cocktail consisting of three liquors: gin, Campari and sweet vermouth with a splash of freshly squeezed blood orange, this cocktail is both vibrant and refreshing. This rich That’s the Spirit bevvy incorporates this seasonal fruit — not only are blood oranges the perfect combination of sweet, juicy and tart, but the colour itself is mesmerizing. Cheers! 

Abhishek Dekate's blood orange negroni

Blood Orange Negroni

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 1

Related: Melon Frosé Sangria is Made for Warm Summer Nights

Ingredients:

1 oz gin of choice
1 oz Campari
1 oz sweet vermouth
1 oz freshly squeezed blood orange juice + slice for garnish

Abhishek Dekate's ingredients needed for a blood orange negroni, including sliced blood oranges, and more

Directions:

1. Fill a mixing glass with ice, gin, Campari, sweet vermouth and freshly squeezed blood orange juice. Stir stir stir.

Abhishek Dekate squeezing a blood orange into a mixing glass

2. Add a large ice cube to a rocks glass and strain the cocktail into the glass.

Abhishek Dekate straining his blood orange negroni

3. Garnish with a thin slice of blood orange. Enjoy!

Like Abhi’s summer cocktail? Try his Earl Grey mar(tea)ni.

Orange-coloured mar-tea-ni against an orange background

This Earl Grey Mar(tea)ni is the Spring Cocktail You Need

Earl Grey is a breakfast tea staple often served with cream and sugar, but when shaken with gin, it’s even more delicious. This easy That’s the Spirit cocktail is a tea-infused variation on the classic gin sour. The floral notes of Earl Grey tea pairs perfectly with the botanical notes of the gin — making this the ultimate spring cocktail for your next “tea time.” Cheers!

An orange-coloured frothy MarTeaNi against an orange background

Earl Grey Mar(tea)ni

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes
Servings: 1

Ingredients:

½ cup sugar + extra for rimming
½ cup water
1 Earl Grey tea bag + loose tea leaves for rimming
2 oz gin of choice
¾ oz lemon juice
1 egg white

Ingredients required for a MarTeaNi, including a martini glass, a shaker, glass tray, loose earl gray leaves and more

Directions:

1. Add sugar and water to a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved.

2. Remove from heat and add 1 Earl Grey tea bag. Let steep for 10-15 minutes, depending on how strong you want the tea flavour to be.

Related: Whiskey, Green Tea + Honey = The Only Cocktail Recipe You’ll Ever Need

3. Rim martini or coupe glass with sugar and loose tea leaves, set aside.

4. Add gin, lemon juice, Earl Grey simple syrup you made earlier and egg white to a shaker without ice. Shake vigorously (10-15 seconds).

5. Add ice to the shaker and shake again until chilled. Strain into rimmed martini or coupe glass. Enjoy!

Hand pouring out the mar-tea-ni cocktail into a rimmed martini glass

Here are more warm-weather cocktails you’ll love.

Healthy moscow mule cocktail on countertop

Celebrate National Moscow Mule Day With This Low-Sugar Moscow Mule Cocktail

March 3rd marks National Moscow Mule Day! This modern classic is great for ginger beer lovers and is typically made with vodka, lime and ginger beer, plus a little sugar. This That’s the Spirit Moscow Mule recipe shows you a fantastic way to add some fruit and herbal notes, and depending on the spirit preference, even more in-depth flavours that will really elevate this yummy cocktail. Bonus? It’s low in sugar and can be made non-alcoholic simply by omitting the spirit.

Healthy moscow mule cocktail on countertop

Low-Sugar Berry Sage Moscow Mule

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Rest Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours, 10 minutes
Servings: 1

Ingredients:

200 ml gin (or spirit of choice)
3-4 leaves sage + 1 for garnish
1 heaping tsp of blackberry jam
½ oz lime juice
4oz light ginger beer
Blackberries for garnish (optional)

Healthy moscow mule cocktail ingredients

Directions:

1. In a non-reactive container, pour in spirit of choice (I picked gin to pull out some evergreen botanicals to compliment the sage in the drink). In your palm, gently lay down 3-4 leaves of sage and clap your hands together to release oils. Add sage to gin and cover with lid. Let the mixture sit for 3-4 hours or overnight. Agitate once in a while.

Healthy moscow mule cocktail syrup

2. Remove sage leaves from the mixture. This infused spirit is shelf stable for a few months.

3. In a shaker tin or mason jar, add 1 ½ oz sage-infused gin, plus blackberry jam and lime. Shake without ice to break up the jam. Add ice and shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds. Strain into tall glass packed with ice.

Related: Ina Garten’s Fresh Whiskey Sours Will Be Your Go-To Cocktail

4. Top with ginger beer (¾ way to the top). Stir. Garnish with 3 blackberries and a sprig of sage (don’t forget to give it a gentle clap to release the oils!). Enjoy immediately.

Healthy moscow mule cocktail on countertop

Like Evelyn’s low-sugar berry sage mule? Try her non-alcoholic winter colada or her whiskey, green tea and honey cocktail.

Whiskey and green tea cocktail

Whiskey, Green Tea + Honey = The Only Cocktail Recipe You’ll Ever Need

My father used to drink blended whiskey with a pre-made green tea as an aperitif to dinner. I will always remember him giving me a little sip despite my mother running towards us in the background. It is a very nostalgic, typical Chinese businessman drink. This That’s the Spirit version has beautiful blended Scotch, whisked matcha tea, honey and soda. It is a refreshing cocktail suited for any occasion.

Whiskey and green tea cocktail

Tea and Honey Cocktail

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Rest Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

3 large slices of ginger
¼ cup + 4 Tbsp water, divided
½ cup honey
1 ½ oz blended Scotch
1 oz matcha tea
½ oz lemon juice (approximately ¼ lemon)
Soda
Ice for shaking
Candied ginger and lemon wheel for garnish

Whiskey and green tea cocktail ingredients

Directions:

1. In a blender, combine ginger slices, ¼ cup water and honey. Pulse two or three times and then blend on low for 20 to 30 seconds until ginger is broken down. Let mixture sit for about a half hour.

2. Strain out solids through a colander or strainer into a non-reactive container. Recipe can remain in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Related: Celebrate Lunar New Year With These Must-Have Chinese Kitchen Tools

3. In a bowl, add matcha tea and 4 Tbsp water. Whisk until bubbly and all powder is dissolved.

4. In a shaker tin, add blended Scotch whiskey, ginger-honey mixture, matcha tea and lemon. Add enough ice to cover the liquid, plus a little bit more. Cover the other side of the shaker tin and shake vigorously for 10 to 15 seconds until well chilled.

Green tea mixture being poured into shaker

5. Strain the contents of shaker tin into a tall Collins glass. Fill glass with ice and top with soda. Garnish with lemon wheel and candied ginger slice. Enjoy immediately!

Like Evelyn’s tea and honey cocktail? Try her non-alcoholic winter colada or her apple spruce gimlet cocktail.

non-alcoholic winter colada cocktail next to pineapples and lemons

This Non-Alcoholic Winter Colada Recipe is Sure to Cure Your Winter Blues

Sure, we can’t travel right now, but we can pretend to visit a tropical island with this That’s the Spirit winter colada recipe. Combining flavours of pineapple and coconut milk, orange marmalade and a spiced syrup made with maple, cinnamon, cloves and allspice, this perfectly tropical pick-me-up is sure to cure your winter blues.

non-alcoholic winter colada cocktail next to pineapples and lemons

Non-Alcoholic Winter Colada

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

Spiced Syrup
¾ cup maple syrup
¼ cup water
1 tsp allspice berries
2 sticks cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
1 Thai chili (optional)

Cocktail
1 ½ oz non-alcoholic spirit
1 oz pineapple juice
1 oz coconut milk
½ oz spiced syrup
½ oz lemon juice (approximately ¼ lemon)
1 small Tbsp orange marmalade
Ice for shaking
Pineapple fronds and cinnamon for garnish (optional)

non-alcoholic winter colada cocktail ingredients on kitchen table

Directions:

1. In a pot, add maple syrup, water, allspice berries, cinnamon, cloves and Thai chili and bring to boil. Turn to low and let simmer for 5-10 minutes until flavours are integrated and slightly reduced.

non-alcoholic winter colada cocktail syrup in pot

2. Strain out solids through a colander or strainer into a non-reactive container. Recipe can remain in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

3. In a shaker tin or mason jar, add non-alcoholic spirit, pineapple juice, coconut milk, ½ oz the spiced syrup you just made, lemon juice and orange marmalade. Close up the shaking vessel and shake until jam is broken down (about 5 seconds). Open up shaker again and check that all ingredients are well integrated.

Related: Dazzling Non-Alcoholic Sparklers, Mocktails and Drinks for a Dry January

4. Add enough ice to cover the liquid plus a little bit more, do not be shy. Cover the other side of the shaker tin and shake vigorously for 10 to 15 seconds until well chilled.

5. Transfer the contents of the shaker tin into a large juice glass of your choice. Garnish with desired garnish (recommended: pineapple fronds and a dust of cinnamon for aromatics). Enjoy immediately!

person placing leaves in non-alcoholic winter colada cocktail

Like Evelyn’s winter colada recipe? Try her apple spruce gimlet.

Meet the Canadian Women Helping to Bring Gender Equality to the Wine World

It’s clear within minutes of our three-way phone chat that Emily Pearce and Jennifer Huether love talking about wine, from the terroir to the nitty-gritty details of winemaking. In a traditionally male-dominated industry, there’s something refreshing about hearing two women at the top of their game speak passionately about the grape. Not only do the Toronto-based entrepreneurs boast an encyclopedic knowledge on the subject, but they’ve also enjoyed massive success with Femmes du Vin — a  non-profit organization that launched less than five years ago.

“The story of Femmes du Vin is really about grassroots growth. It started in 2016 in my backyard in Toronto,” says founding president Pearce. “I got this idea to have a social event that was a safe space for women in the wine industry to come together to have a place to network, discuss successes and analyze challenges.”

What started as a small gathering has since transformed into the massively successful Harvest Seminars where speakers and attendees tune in from around the world to talk wine and culture.

For decades, women sommeliers or wine enthusiasts have been few and far between, with men dominating the conversation and top positions. Now, Pearce and Huether, master sommelier and  director of education at Femmes du Vin, are pushing for more inclusion of women in the wine world.

Related: Ren Navarro on Diversity in the Beer Industry – and How Companies Can Improve

Emily Pearce

Tell us about the genesis and evolution of Femmes du Vin and why it’s needed in the wine industry today.

Emily Pearce: “Eventually, [the backyard event] outgrew me setting up a tent and making homemade sushi in my backyard. We had our first brick and mortar event [in 2019] and it continued to grow out of community demand to what it was [in 2020] — which was an amazing virtual event with speakers and attendees from across the world. It speaks to the hunger in our industry for these safe places in our community for women to connect. While there are still challenges women face — be it wage discrepancies that still exist or issues around discrimination or harassment — I really just wanted to create a place where women could build stronger networks.”

Related: What is Food Insecurity? FoodShare’s Paul Taylor Explains (Plus, What Canadians Can Do About It)

What were your earliest experiences in an industry dominated by men?

Jennifer Huether: “That’s a great question. Personally, I started out in the wine business about 22 years ago. I fell in love with wine, started taking some courses and became a sommelier. I can honestly say to you that, back then, I would look around and I could name maybe two other women sommeliers in Toronto — a massive, metropolitan city. And that certainly felt like the case wherever I went — whether I was flying to England for exams or on wine trips that were led by different countries, we [women] were always a very small minority in the group. At that time it was also a bit surprising for people to come across you, so they would unintentionally start mansplaining wine to you because they didn’t understand that you’d studied it or worked in it for several years.”

Related: Celebrating 10 Female Chefs That We Love, From Anna Olson to Molly Yeh

What shifts have you started to see since starting Femmes du Vin in 2016?

EP: “It’s two steps forward, one step back. I look at the top positions in our area [of Toronto] and we’re seeing a proliferation of women in top positions. But, on the other side, you see a continuation of discouraging things — whether that’s discrimination against women or perhaps harassment or other obstacles that still exist. I’ve worked very hard and I’m grateful for the positions I’ve held in the wine industry, but I’ve been on the other side of the table. I still think there are clear obstacles facing women. Having a family, for a woman in our industry, is tremendously challenging [for example].”

Jennifer Huether

How can Canadian wineries work toward including more women?

JH: “Some confidential conversations I’ve had with [female] winemakers said it was a really, really tough road for them. What they’ve done, sort of like what we’re doing, is create a bit of a community for each other where they’ll get together and chat and support each other.”

Related: Metis Herbalist and Educator Lori Snyder on Urban Foraging and Food Sovereignty

EP: “And what Femmes du Vin is doing is we’re working on a really exciting project with two wineries [The Grange from Prince Edward County and Benjamin Bridge from Nova Scotia] and we’re going to be doing a private label Femmes du Vin wine which is very exciting. We’re working with a local winemaking school to offer internships for women — hopefully BIPOC women — to work with head winemakers for these custom private labels for Femmes du Vin. It will provide them with professional one-on-one experience with head winemakers that they can actually put on their resumes to make them more professionally competitive when it comes to the market… It’s a small thing that might only help a handful of women each year, but we’re really excited to be able to leverage our network and work toward change. A portion of the proceeds from the sales of those wines will also be going into our scholarship fund for women in wine.”

Related: 10 Facts That Will Shock You About Racial Injustice in Canada 

What is your favourite wine?

JH: “Can we give you a wine region or a style? [laughs] For me, we’ve got to go to France and we’ve got to go to Burgundy. Then we have to go with white wine — a Chardonnay. They’re the most intriguing wines in the world.”

EP: “I would have to concur — a beautiful Chardonnay from Burgundy. Anything with the word Montrachet in it. It’s so expressive with its terroir [the natural environment where it’s produced] and it’s versatile with food. It’s something that is a treat — a desert island wine that is irresistible.”

Related: Top Pinot Gris Wines to Sip Right Now

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Feature photo courtesy of Unsplash; second and third photo courtesy of Emily Pearce and Jennifer Huether.

gimlet cocktail with spruce tips

Cheers to the Holiday Season With This Apple Spruce Gimlet Cocktail

This holiday season, try a fresh take on the classic gimlet with this That’s the Spirit apple spruce gimlet cocktail — the ingredients are uniquely oh-so Canadian! The combination of apple and spruce tips lends itself to this beautiful cocktail that tastes like fresh winter’s breath. Have it with a spirit of choice or a non-alcoholic alternative (like juice or soda) to bring out all the different flavours. Plus: it’s easy to whip up!

gimlet cocktail with spruce tips

Apple Spruce Gimlet Cocktail Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

½ cup fresh-pressed apple juice
½ cup sugar
2 Tbsp dried spruce tips + more for garnish
Juice of 1 lime
2 oz spirit of choice (or non-alcoholic substitute)
Ice for shaking

gimlet cocktail with spruce tips ingredients

Directions:

1. Create your apple spruce syrup: in a saucepan, add apple juice, sugar and dried spruce tips. Bring all contents to boil.

2. Once bubbling, lower to simmer. Allow to simmer on low for 15-20 minutes. Remove apple spruce syrup from heat and let cool.

cocktail simmering on stovetop

3. Strain out solids through a colander or strainer into a non-reactive container. Syrup recipe can remain in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

4. In a shaker tin, add 1oz of the apple spruce syrup.

Related: Ina Garten’s Fresh Whiskey Sours Will Be Your Go-To Cocktail

5. Slice a lime in half and squeeze the juices of both halves into the shaker tin, combining with apple spruce syrup.

6. Pick your of spirit (white spirits for more herbal, evergreen qualities; brown spirits to bring out warming spices in the drink). Add 2 oz of chosen spirit in the cocktail shaker.

gimlet cocktail with spruce tips pour

7. Add enough ice to cover the liquid plus a little bit more, do not be shy. Cover the other side of the shaker tin and shake vigorously for 10 to 15 seconds until well chilled.

8. Strain into a coupe glass (or your favourite cocktail glass) and garnish with winter herbs (spruce from your garden works!). Enjoy immediately.

gimlet cocktail with spruce tips

Feeling inspired? Check out these swanky cocktail recipes for New Year’s Eve.

Anthony Auciello Jr., the founder and co-owner of TerraCello winery

Meet the Youngest Self-Funded Winery Owner in Ontario’s History

There are a few reasons multiple reviews refer to TerraCello as a “hidden jewel” in the heart of Prince Edward County wine region. TerraCello is a non-commercialized, artisan, farm winery. The vibe is in a laid-back bucolic setting. Outside is a rustic patio, fire pit and outdoor wood oven and kitchen. Inside boasts a wood fireplace, lounge, tasting rooms, barrel room and a second clay pizza oven imported from Naples, Italy.

Anthony Auciello Jr., the founder and co-owner of TerraCello Winery, employs traditional, old-fashioned Italian methods to make certified natural wine and authentic Neapolitan pizza. He is also the youngest self-funded winery owner in Ontario’s history. Tony is the personification of hospitality: charming, warm, generous, and radiating passion and appreciation for his trade.

Anthony Auciello Jr., the founder and co-owner of TerraCello winery

The winery is a
tribute to Tony’s late father

“People know me for my wine and my pizza, but the real story is about a son paying tribute to his dad who passed away at a young age,” Tony explained. In 2004, Anthony paid a visit to his father’s home town of Anzano Di Puglia, Italy, which the locals referred to as Il Paradiso – The Paradise. The land was in bad shape. War and famine had pushed his uncle and grandfather out of Italy, and they were forced to abandon it. Overgrown bush and dirt mounds stood where plentiful fruit trees should have been. “It was an epiphany,” Tony said. When he returned to Canada, he would create the paradise his family was meant to have.

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At the time living in Toronto, Tony and his girlfriend (now wife) Danielle moved to Prince Edward County. “My wife got dragged along for this long, bumpy, crazy ride. She was a city girl. She wanted to stay and be a teacher in Toronto. But I had this gnawing void.” After years of working on the winery, Tony’s health began to deteriorate because of the long hours of work he was putting in. He and Danielle were deep in debt and struggling to get by.

Danielle had never had the chance to meet Tony’s dad, but one night she had a dream about him. She said he was dressed up in a suit, looking handsome and immaculate. (Tony later explained that his father always dressed up, despite having no money or status to merit it). Danielle also said that in the dream that Tony’s father was driving an orange convertible. (Tony explained that his father’s first car in Canada in 1969 was an orange convertible Camaro). Danielle said Tony’s father gave her a hug and, with an arm around her, told her: “Please don’t worry about Anthony – he knows what he’s doing.”

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With the $30 they had, Danielle went to Home Hardware and picked up a flag. She put it up at the road. Fifteen minutes later, two women walked in and bought the first bottle of wine they ever sold. “When they bought that wine, I swear to god it felt like they gave me fifty thousand dollars cash. It was like I had won the lottery,” Tony said. This first purchase washed away all the self-doubt that had been building up over the last five years of work. “I never looked back,” he said. “After that first bottle of wine, I said ‘we’re going to kill it. I’m not just going to do good pizza and wine; I’m going to become one of the best in Prince Edward County.’”

Outside TerraCello winery

They searched for a new property in the County. Where TerraCello now rests, there sits a giant well that separates the patio space from the vineyard. “When the owner showed me the well, I was sold,” Tony said. “The guys [who were here] were old, old school and I could relate because my dad was so old-fashioned.”

For five years, they worked 18 hours a day to restore and build the property into the gorgeous Italian farmhouse-style winery it is today. “Little by little, we built a reputation – one pizza at a time, one bottle of wine at a time. One customer at a time,” Tony said. On July 23, 2013, at 27 years old, Tony became the youngest self-funded winery owner in Ontario.

Outside TerraCello winery

Strict traditional methods

Tony executes a purist method. He is one of the few agriturismos in the County — the Italian tradition of farm to table. Tony fondly describes himself as “fanatical.” He is not only the owner, founder and financier, he is also the head winemaker and he makes all of the pizza dough, every single day, by hand.

The clay oven that they make most of their pizzas in is from Naples, Italy. Tony explained that making pizzas at scale in front a thousand-degree clay oven is very physically demanding, and not many can handle it. Apparently, it takes ten thousand hours to achieve the status of pizzaiolo. That’s a lot of flaming hot pizza.

Pizza oven inside TerraCello winery

COVID-19 has forced Tony to pull back on some expenses — such as, his membership to an official Canadian pizza organization — so that he could continue to spend on top quality ingredients. True to form, Tony gets all of his ingredients from Italy. The flour he uses costs about $50 per bag, and is approved by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (The Pizza Association of Naples). The tomatoes he uses are also Italy-approved. Everything, down to the handmade olive oil can from Naples, comes from age-old traditions. “If you ever have a pizza, even a margherita, and it’s got no oil, it’s not classified as a pizza. Period,” Tony warned. Italians are serious about their pizza. And after tasting it prepared in this way, so am I.

Pizza inside TerraCello winery

Natural winemaker

To classify as a natural wine, the grapes must be grown without pesticides, the wine must be stabilized naturally, it cannot be filtered and it cannot have any chemical additives. Most wines are processed by heavy filtering – “which is how 94% of the world’s wine is made,” Tony says. “I don’t believe in that.”
Woman holding glass of wine outside of TerraCello winery

Most of the time, natural wines are quite cloudy. By Canadian standards, we are legally allowed to put certain products in the wine to remove the cloudiness, but it goes against natural winemaking. The cloudiness is due to crystals in the wine that need to be precipitated out. In a modern setting, you’d use a tank with a chilling system. But as we know, Tony is a naturalist, so he does it the old-fashioned way. He opens the door in the wintertime and he allows the room to dip to -2 degrees for a week.

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The Boca Nera is his signature wine. An unfiltered, three-year in French oak aged, Barolo-style wine. Often called “The King of Wines,” Barolos are produced in the northern Italian region of Piedmont. It is made from the nebbiolo grape and is often described as one of Italy’s greatest wines. Tony’s Boca Nera has notes of caramel, toffee and French vanilla. If you could bottle the feeling of abbiocco, this would be it.

Bottle of wine at TerraCello winery

“Wine is like paint by numbers these days,” Tony said. Society wants uniformity and homogenization because they want the wine to taste the same every year. According to an expose on Bloomberg, there are such a thing as wine “fixers.” These are white glove chemists, often employed by billionaires and large corporations, who fix wines that have gone awry to ensure they taste consistent across batches. “I don’t want to over-control the product. I want it to taste different,” Tony said.

All you need is the right environment

Tony doesn’t have Wi-Fi at the winery, and he is unapologetic about it. He wants people to talk to the person next to them. “And they’re liberated,” he says. “After two hours of sitting outside they say, ‘we just had the best time of our life.’ And I didn’t do nothing. I just took them away from the distractions.”

Bottle of wine and charcuterie plate outside of TerraCello winery

“I didn’t want it to be a commercial, cookie-cutter winery where you go in and you do the formal tasting, and it’s all a premeditated spiel,” said Tony, “I wanted to take TerraCello back to the way my dad and us grew up — very old school, very warm, less transactional.”

Photos courtesy of Sabrina Stavenjord @sabrinastavenjord

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