Tag Archives: wine-beer-spirits

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.

Related: How Food Injustice Inspired This 23-Year-Old to Start Her Own Farm, Plus Her Advice for You

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.”

Related: The Most Delicious Ways to Use Leftover Wine

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.

Related: The Most Expensive Wine and Spirits Ever Sold

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

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

Because it isn’t the holiday season without a cup of boozy eggnog, I’m serving up a vegan twist on this staple winter drink. This version is not only dairy free, it’s gluten- and egg-free too! The eggnog gets its delicious creaminess from canned coconut milk (don’t use the boxed variety) — and is naturally sweetened with maple syrup. Serve this warm on a snowy day or chilled over ice, whichever you prefer. For a kid-friendly option, just omit the bourbon or rum. Cheers!

Ingredients:

2 14-oz cans full-fat coconut milk
1 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk
½ cup pure maple syrup
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch fine salt
½ cup bourbon or spiced rum
Coconut whip, for serving

Related: 20 Vegan Holiday Entrées You’ve Never Tried Before

Vegan eggnog ingredients

Directions:

1. In a saucepan over low heat, add the coconut milk, almond milk, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and salt. Whisk until combined. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Vegan eggnog in pot

2. Remove from heat and pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer to ensure it is smooth. Stir in bourbon.

Related: 12 Must-Try Fall Cocktails to Give Thanks for This Autumn

3. Serve warm with a dollop of coconut whip and a pinch of nutmeg. To serve chilled, transfer mixture to a glass serving pitcher and refrigerate until ready to serve. When ready to serve, fill a glass with ice, add eggnog, a dollop of coconut whip and a pinch of nutmeg.

Vegan eggnog in two glasses

Like Marcella’s vegan eggnog? Try your hand at her winter greens mac and cheese or her sausage, apple and sage-stuffed acorn squash recipe!

How to Make a Classic Manhattan Cocktail

With the holiday season in full swing, thoughts are turning to what to serve at festive parties. What better cocktail than a classic Manhattan – easy to make (and customize according to how sweet or dry your guests like it)?

perfect-manhattan-cocktail-recipe

It’s said the Manhattan was created in New York in the late 1800s. According to some, Sir Winston Churchill’s mother was throwing a party at The Manhattan Club in honour of Samuel J. Tilden (a presidential candidate at the time) and a guest was making a cocktail from rye whisky and sweet vermouth which was so popular the club made it theirs (many say this story, although entertaining, can’t possibly be true as Churchill’s mother would have been in Europe and pregnant at the time). Others believe the cocktail was invented in the 1860s by a bartender named Black who worked at a bar on Broadway. No matter who invented it, it’s become a classic all over the world and you’ve probably got all the ingredients in your liquor cabinet already.

cocktail-manhattan-in-glass

The Classic Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

Ingredients:
2 oz rye whisky or bourbon
1 oz sweet vermouth (You can use ½ oz sweet and ½ oz dry vermouth)
A dash of bitters (Angostura)
Cocktail or Maraschino cherry for garnish
Ice

Directions:
1. Place the ice in a mixing glass, add the bitters.
2. Pour over the whisky and vermouth then slowly stir the drink until chilled.
3. Place the cherry in the bottom of a chilled serving glass, add more ice then slowly pour the cocktail over the ice.

Looking for more drink ideas? Try these Sensational Canadian Cocktails.

gluhwein-in-cup

How to Make Traditional German Glühwein

Glü-what? Glühwein is a spiced red wine that’s traditionally served at Christmas markets in Germany and Austria. Translated roughly as “glowing wine” which refers to the temperature the wine is heated to, this holiday drink is meant to warm you up as you make your way around the market stalls, chatting and shopping and will ensure you won’t get cold.

Mulled wine, as we call it in English, is actually really simple to make and even better, it’s easy to make large batches which makes it perfect for entertaining over the holidays.

Making mulled wine is simple but it does involve a little bit more than just heating the wine – it’s a delicate balance of spices (cinnamon, star anise, cloves), citrus fruits, alcohol and sugar. Play around with the ratios to see what you like best. Mull your wine early to fill your house with the wonderful smells of the season to greet your guests as they arrive. Keep the pot on very low heat through the party and keep an eye on it – you’ll surely need to make more at some point!

cup-of-gluhwein

Glühwein Recipe

Makes: Approximately 2L (enough for 12-24 depending on if you are serving tasting portions or full serves)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick
8 cloves
2 clementines or small oranges
peel and juice of 1 lemon (approx. 1/4 – 1/3 cup)
peel and juice of 2 clementines or small oranges (approx. 1/2 – 3/4 cup)
2 x 750 mL bottles fruity red wine
1/2 cup port
1/2 cup Grand Marnier or Cointreau
1/2 cup brandy
clementine or orange slices, for garnish
cinnamon sticks, for garnish

cup-of-holiday-german-gluhwein

Directions:
1. Place the sugar and cinnamon stick in a large (2 litre) pot.
2. Stick 4 cloves into each whole clementine and place them in the pot with the sugar.
3. Add the lemon and clementine peel and juice (you should have around 3/4 – 1 cup juice in total) to the pot.
4. Pour in just enough wine to cover the clementines and heat over medium heat until it boils. Simmer for around 5 minutes.
5. Add the rest of the wine, the port, the Grand Marnier (or Cointreau) and brandy and stir well. Heat for around 15 minutes on low-medium heat. Do not allow the wine to boil.
6. Serve hot with a slice of orange or clementine and perhaps a dash of cinnamon or cinnamon stick as garnish.

Looking for more seasonal drinks? Try these 10 Tasty Mulled Wine Recipes.

Melon Frosé Sangria is Made for Warm Summer Nights

Summer nights are made for sangria. Fresh summer fruit, chilled wine and a little bubbly make the ever-popular summer sipper. Yet, you can easily take this drink for classic to epic with the help of your freezer and blender. Trade your red wine for rosé and combined with juicy, ruby-red watermelon, cantaloupe and herbaceous elderflower liqueur. The result is a cool summer frozé that will be a hit at your next summer barbecue or dinner party. Learn how to make this easy summer cocktail with our simple 4-ingredient recipe.

melon-froze

Melon Frosé Sangria Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 4 hrs 40 min
Makes: 6 cups

Ingredients:
1 bottle rosé wine
1-½ cups chopped watermelon, plus more for garnish
1-½ cups chopped cantaloupe, plus more for garnish
3-4 ounces elderflower liqueur

rose-frozen

Directions:
1. Pour wine into a 13×9-inch baking dish or pan. Cover and freeze for 3-½ hours.

2. Blend watermelon, cantaloupe and liqueur until fully pureed. Scrape wine into blender and blend until smooth. Return to freezer and chill until thickened and slushy in consistency, about 1 hour. Serve immediately, garnished with skewered chunks of watermelon and cantaloupe.

melon-in-blender

Looking for more sweet summer drinks? Try these 30 Summery Sangrias.

natural wines

What is Natural Wine and Where to Find It in Canada

Natural wine is the drink du jour. The trendy, funky new kid is popping up in small and exclusive quantities in wine stores and on restaurant menus throughout the country. This exciting frontier in viniculture, with its old-school, hands-off approach, produces some of the most beautiful bottles out there – if you can score some. But, like the term “natural” itself, natural wine is not a regulated phrase, so you best do some research before purchasing to ensure they’re getting what they asked for. If you’re looking to try this trend, bring this cheat sheet along so you know what you’re tasting.

What is Natural Wine?

Natural wine is a different kind of grape-growing approach, one where the winemaker keeps pesticides and chemicals out of the equation, letting the grapes breathe and come into their own before harvest. Seasonal whether patterns play a big factor in the wine’s flavour.

If the weather is hotter, the grapes will have more sugar, producing more alcohol upon fermentation. If the season is cooler, the grapes will be dry (less sweet), producing less alcohol upon fermentation, and possibly fermenting slower. Unlike some mainstream wines that are built on repetition and familiar taste, natural wines go with the flow, making a dynamic and exciting range of flavours each year. Most natural wine should be sulfur-free, a big risk for oxidation, so it’s to be enjoyed fresh, not aged. Some wineries which incorporate natural processes and wild fermentation, opt to add sulphites to preserve it for shipping and storage.

Related: Crowd-Pleasing Canadian Wines for Under $15

How is It Made?

Natural wineries make a point to differentiate themselves from large-scale productions, which often ferment the grapes in temperature-controlled rooms. Natural wines are made by taking what comes to them. This can include spontaneous fermentation, where wild yeasts existing in the air ferment the wine. Using wild yeast is an unpredictable method, making this process a true challenge. With each type of yeast, comes a different flavour. Yeasts can affect the mouth feel and aroma of wine, making natural wine making a gamble. But when it turns out right, it’s outstanding.

What Does Natural Wine Taste Like?

Because of their spontaneous nature, tastes can range from tropical to floral, skunky to sour or ultra-funky. Some bottles are clear, some are cloudy; it depends on whether the wine is filtered or not.
Red, white, orange, rosé and sparkling wine – all of which begin with their own specific flavour – are transformed into something different based on terroir (the growing region and land), climate, grape varietal and when they are picked. The best thing you can do is sample your way to a favourite.

Where Can You Find Natural Wine in Canada?

Specialty retailers, wine bars and mail-order services are your best bet for getting a taste of natural wine. Restaurants with sommelier-run wine programs are another great place to try. For instance, The Black Hoof in Toronto has a knowledgeable staff of enthusiastic, on-trend wine aficionados who can help you find a natural wine to enjoy by the glass or bottle. In Montreal, Hôtel Herman’s lengthy, yet focused, wine list carries natural wines from around the world. Burdock and Co. in Vancouver offers a selection of natural wines served by a knowledgeable staff who can answer your toughest natural wine questions.

Related: Must-Try Local BC Wines

It’s not just found at restaurants. Pearl Morissette, a winery in Niagara’s famous winemaking region headed by a former Burgundian winemaker, is creating alluring natural wines with mystique, charm and sophistication, taking this from bohemian hipster trend to world-class treat. Their wines are available at their vineyard, online and in restaurants.

And, no matter where you are in Canada, you can order through Nicholas Pearce Wines, which carries one of my favourite natural wines, the Pearce Predhomme Chenin Blanc (South Africa). Grab a friend, order a case and split it – you won’t be disappointed.
Ask questions, request and seek out natural wine in your area. It’s worth the effort, not only for the thrill of the hunt, but the true difference in taste.

Photos courtesy of Allison Day