Beer cocktails, delicious or blasphemous?

Rob Montgomery

Beer cocktails are something with which I’ve always had a bit of a troubled relationship.

Presumably they’d be right up my alley given that I like both cocktails and beer, but when it comes to both those wondrous things, I’m something of a purist (a point I’ve touched on briefly once before). That is, I like cocktails of the old fashioned variety–both in name and in style–and when it comes to adding things to beer, I’m generally of the opinion that a good beer does just fine on its own thank you very much so put that fucking fruit down before I break your arm.

Accordingly, the concept of combining the two seemed to me like a surefire way to ruin two good things.

And so it was with some trepidation that I accepted an invitation recently to attend a showcase of beer cocktails hosted by Rob Montgomery, bartender at The Miller Tavern, wherein Rob would be unveiling the bar’s soon-to-debut-beer-cocktail menu incorporating beers from McClelland Premium Imports into his libations. Continue reading “Beer cocktails, delicious or blasphemous?”

The Devil’s Cut

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Most people who know a thing or two about distilling have heard of the “angel’s share,” the term given to that small portion of spirits or wine that is lost to evaporation during the barrel-aging process.

Few however, have likely heard of the “devil’s cut” a term being given to the portion of spirits that’s absorbed by the barrel the spirit is aged in.

Now, almost certainly, so few have heard this term because it’s a clever marketing term invented by the folks at Jim Beam, the largest whisky distributor in the world–but nevertheless, it’s an intriguing concept (hey, I’m as savvy as the next big-brand cynic but a cool gimmick is a cool gimmick–especially if it has “devil” in its name!).

Thankfully, the very folks who invented a term for that booze that’s lost to the barrel have also “developed a proprietary process that actually pulls the rich whiskey trapped inside the barrels’ wood after they’re emptied.”

What luck! Continue reading “The Devil’s Cut”

What to Drink This Week: The French 75 (aka The Southampton)

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This installment of “What to Drink This Week” features a drink that for me is a summer time staple. It’s supposed to feel like close to 30 degrees today, and I’m sure that won’t last, so why not try to squeeze out a little more summer with a cocktail today before we all hunker down for the winter with dark beer, brown liquor, and German erotica….er, just me?

Anyway, this is a summer drink I thought I invented–but most certainly didn’t.

The beverage is technically the French 75, though my version is modified slightly and rechristened The Southampton. 

Both beverages are a ridiculously potent mix of champagne or proseco and gin.

The French 75 was so named because the act of having a few is not unlike the feeling of being assaulted by the French 75mm light field gun, arguably the first piece of modern artillery, capable of  delivering 15 rounds-per-minute (which was not bad when facing an enemy with bolt-action rifles in 1897). Continue reading “What to Drink This Week: The French 75 (aka The Southampton)”

You Should Already Be Drinking: Forty Creek Whisky

*I received financial compensation for this post. 

I‘ve never been all that interested in Canadian Whisky.

It’s sort of a shameful secret of mine given that I’m clearly an enthusiast of alcohol and also fiercely (some might say stupidly) local when it comes to my beer consumption. But the Canadian stuff has never really done much for me. Perhaps it goes back to my days of drinking excessive quantities of Canadian Club before high school dances, but I’ve always found rye, and by association, Canadian whiskies just too sweet and more often than not, I’ve opted for Canadian whisky’s decidedly more established cousin from Scotland.

Thankfully though, I was recently invited to attend a whisky tasting led by Forty Creek’s own master distiller John Hall, and I got a bit of an eye opener: Canadian whisky can taste pretty good. Continue reading “You Should Already Be Drinking: Forty Creek Whisky”

What to Drink This Week: The Pimm’s Cup

If you’re anything like me,  you’re likely also frequently trying to find ways to justify your alcoholism by pairing seemingly mundane occasions with appropriate drinks, thereby making the event much more fun; for example mint juleps for the Kentucky Derby,  Old Fashioneds for the season premier of Mad Men, Scotch when you’re ironing, etc.

And now that we’re smack dab in the middle of Wimbledon, you, like me, are probably wondering what’s an appropriate drink to consume at 8am on Friday when Djokovic and Federer face off in the men’s semi-finals, right?

Yes, you were totally wondering that. Continue reading “What to Drink This Week: The Pimm’s Cup”

Drinking in Prince Edward County

*sure, the title of this post should probably be “Drinking in and around Prince Edward County”, but that doesn’t sound as catchy.

Last week, to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, my wife and I took a trip to Prince Edward County. While we’re both somewhat amateur oenophiles, and the wine was a draw, I was anxious to see if I might be able to track down some decent local beer–perhaps owing to the fact that I was very much aware I was missing Session 99, the closing ceremonies of Ontario Craft Beer Week.

And while we were able to find some beer (more on that later), we actually unintentionally stumbled on something of a craft spirits hidden gem when we ended up at 66 Gilead Distillery.

Recommended to us by an employee of Huff Estates winery who overheard that we were embarking on an alcohol-related tour of the county, 66 Gilead is, amazingly, a former hops farm that now houses a craft distillery on an 80-acre piece of land that features a beautiful house built in 1874.

While we didn’t go into the barn (and I’m now kicking myself for not requesting a tour) their website notes that the hops barn next to the house remains intact with it’s drying floors and brick ovens. Continue reading “Drinking in Prince Edward County”

Beer? Cocktails? Liquor? Problem solved.

There’s been a lot of debate lately in the world of Toronto alcohol enthusiasts over the merit of cocktails.

Toronto lifestyle publications like the Grid and blogTO seem to have amped up their cocktail coverage, and stories abound in the dailies about the complex new places that mixology is taking Toronto’s drinkers.

The mixed-libation trend seems even to have spilled over (pun!) into the world of beer.

Beer cocktails seem to have reached a new level of prominence and you can even find beer cocktail recipes from certified cicerone, beerologist, and blogger, Mirella Amato in the current issue of the LCBO’s Food and Drink magazine.

[Semi-related sidenote: Back in March the beer cocktail debate really began to rage (as much as online writing about beer can rage…) when Andy Crouch, author of BeerScribe.com called for “Death to Beer Cocktails.”

Ezra Johnson-Greenough, founder of The New School craft beer commentary blog then responded with a somewhat-less-than-subtly-titled “Andy Crouch is a Big Fat Idiot” and various other beer bloggers joined the fray on both sides.

The fracas ultimately culminated in Toronto’s own Stephen Beaumont calling for cooler heads to prevail by noting the “Futility of Either/Or Thinking.”]

In short, things seem to be getting pretty crazy in the world of Toronto libations in general and, as Christine Sismondo summed up in an excellent HuffPo article this week about how exactly we got here, the “mixology” craziness has even reached a point where “today’s professional craft cocktail makers create syrups from scratch and hand-carve ice to achieve specific levels of coldness suited to the level of dilution required.”

Uh, alright then.

Toronto bartenders, it seems, are going to great and weird lengths to one-up each other with the most original concotions and some of them seem to bringing all the annoyingly pretentious aspects of foodie-ism to my favourite past-time; namely, getting drunk.

Continue reading “Beer? Cocktails? Liquor? Problem solved.”