Category Archives: Drinks

Hibiscus and Grapefruit Gin and Tonic

with a cucumber garnishGin and tonic is not really my drink of choice. I’m not much of a hard liquor drinker. Perhaps it has something to do with an unfortunate evening with vodka when I was in junior high school. But that’s a story for another time. My husband, on the other hand, loves gin and tonic.

At our family reunion weekend this past summer, I hired a wonderful caterer to help out with all the cooking. We were a big group and I didn’t want to be stuck in the kitchen all weekend, missing out on all the fun. Erin, the owner of the catering company, suggested we set up a gin and tonic bar for the first night when everyone arrived. I quickly informed her that I didn’t drink gin and tonic. She told me that, clearly, I have not tried the right gin and tonic and she was on a mission to convert me. I agreed, with the caveat that we have some wine and Prosecco ready, just in case. The Botanist and FevertreeI was fully expecting to take a polite sip, smile and say, “Thanks, that’s lovely.” and quietly pour the drink down the drain when she wasn’t looking. I’m terrible at confrontation.

She mixed up a cocktail using The Botanist Gin, Fever-Tree Tonic Water, and a squeeze of fresh lime. I took a sip and discovered that “Say. I like Gin and Tonic. I do!!” Everyone adored this delicious drink. The gin is created using 22 hand foraged natural botanicals. Gin is traditionally made with juniper which I find has a strong pine presence. The Botanical gin does use juniper but it is judiciously balanced with other botanicals including mint, elderflower, sage, orange peel and thyme to name a few.

Fever-Tree tonic water is the perfect accompaniment to The Botanist Gin, as it is crafted using floral botanicals. The combination of this tonic and that gin are culinary alchemy. I should mention that this is not a sponsored post, but it sure could be. I have come over to the dark side!!pouring tonic-2In early October we were out for dinner in Toronto and the waiter handed us a gin and tonic menu. One of the cocktails featured The Botanist gin and Fever-Tree tonic. It arrived at the table with a little tray containing dried hibiscus flowers, cucumber and a slice of grapefruit. The hibiscus flowers turned the drink a pretty pink colour and added a lemony-tart and berry-rich flavour. The grapefruit upped the pucker factor and made this an extremely easy to sip, refreshing drink. all the fixingsLast week, as my husband was sipping his gin and tonic and I was enjoying a glass of wine (I’m not totally converted yet!) he asked me how many calories we were each consuming. I did the math and discovered that 1.5 ounces of gin with 6 ounces of tonic water contains about 180 calories. A 5-ounce glass of white wine, I boasted, is only 120 calories. He then asked me when was the last time I poured a 5 ounce glass of wine? Ouch!

Click here to print recipe for Hibiscus and Grapefruit Gin and Tonic.

with a grapefruit twist

Toasted Coconut Cold-Brew Iced Coffee

ready to drink 3Remember the movie Field of Dreams? Kevin Costner, hears a voice telling him “If you build it, he will come.”  I love this philosophy. Some may call it wishful thinking, but I think it’s more powerful than that. I am putting a bathtub into our new condo, in the belief that if I do, one day I will have grandchildren to bathe in it.

And, I truly believe that if I make this Toasted Coconut Cold-Brew Coffee, summer will finally arrive. Full disclosure, as I was shooting this post on Sunday, snowflakes were falling outside my window. But let’s remain positive, shall we?

So, cold brew coffee. What’s all the buzz about? It’s not the same thing as iced coffee. Iced coffee is made by brewing strong coffee, chilling it and then pouring it over ice. Cold brew is prepared by saturating coarsely ground beans with cold water and then letting it sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours. Then it is strained and served over ice.

Cold brew is much lower in acid than traditional iced coffee. It has a natural sweetness and smooth finish. If you are curious to understand the chemistry behind this culinary alchemy, check out the post I wrote last summer.ready to pourBut now, onto the toasted coconut part. My daughter alerted me to the fact that Starbucks recently introduced Toasted Coconut Cold Brew to their summer lineup. While their Unicorn Frappuccino or Pumpkin Spice Latte hold zero appeal for me, this introduction has my name written all over it. My love of all things coconut is no secret to regular readers of this blog. This is my 21st coconut post!

Kat Boytsova, recipe tester over at Epicurious figured out how to make this at home. To make the toasted coconut flavouring syrup, simmer toasted coconut, water, honey and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat and let it steep for a while. Strain the coconut and you have toasted coconut syrup.

I used coconut sugar instead of regular white sugar. While I am under no illusion that coconut sugar is healthier for you than regular sugar, I do enjoy the nutty taste and faint coffee aroma it imparts.pouring coffee 2Pour the cold brew over ice, add a splash of coconut syrup and finish with some coconut milk.

pouring coconut milk

Click here to print recipe for Toasted Coconut Cold Brew Iced Coffee.

ready to drink 1

 

The Captain’s Cocktail

drinks for 2 in blue glassesWith party and holiday season just around the corner, I thought I’d share with you a twist on the classic gin and tonic. Recently on the last night of our holiday in Newfoundland at Fogo Island Inn we were treated to a Cocktail Tasting Session.  Assistant Food and Beverage Co-ordinator Bryan put us under his spell as he crafted four special cocktails using classic spirits with the addition of roots, herbs, fruits and berries that grow on Fogo Island.

For our first cocktail, Bryan taught us how to make “Some Shockin Good”, a vodka based cocktail featuring foamed egg white, tart cherry juice, marinated cherries and liquorice syrup. Bryan disappeared into the walk-in freezer and returned with a huge hunk of ice broken off a 10,000 year old iceberg, a giant mallet and some safety goggles. I got to work out my aggressions and smashed some chunks off the iceberg to pour the finished cocktail over. IcebergAccording to Bryan, as an iceberg forms over thousands of years, air becomes trapped between the thin layers of snow. Eventually, that air must find it’s way out, so when you pour a drink over iceberg ice, it snaps,crackles and pops. That’s the sound of gas being released, after being trapped inside for 10,000 years. We happily sipped to the Rice Krispies soundtrack.

The second drink was a cocktail crafted from Screech. My recollection of what else went into that drink is a bit fuzzy. I do recall that for the third cocktail, some kind of smoking gun apparatus was brought to the bar and Bryan smoked some spruce buds (I think?) to add to a whisky based cocktail.

For our fourth cocktail, my husband requested a gin and tonic based drink. Bryan got to work and created a delicious concoction, which we promptly dubbed “The Captain”, my husband’s nickname.

He earned this moniker many years ago, before we became parents. We would visit friends and family with children and inevitably, driving home after the visits, he would comment that when he had kids they would be better behaved than our nieces and nephews. He joked that his kids would salute him and answer “sir, yes sir, daddy sir” when he told them to clean up their toys or go to bed. I know you will be shocked to hear that it didn’t quite go that way with our own.

For this drink, gin and tonic are joined in the glass with lime juice, simple syrup, St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur and a splash of Chambord liqueur. Should you decide to splurge on a bottle of Elderflower Liqueur, here are a few more great cocktail ideas.squeezebar set upPoured over ice, “The Captain” is sure to mellow even the toughest parent at your gathering.Pouring_The_Captain

Click here to print recipe for The Captain.

drinks for 2 a

Buzzing About Cold Brewed Coffee

liquid velvet
I arrived at the coffee party a little late in life. I didn’t start drinking it until I was in my late 30’s.   Now I start each day with an extra-hot skim milk latte (made in my beloved Nespresso machine, and no, they’re not paying me to say that!) Up until a few weeks ago I would have told you that I really didn’t like iced coffee at all. It always tasted too bitter to me. But then my daughter was visiting for the weekend and made a pitcher of “Cold Brew” coffee. One sip and I was hooked. So smooth, like drinking liquid velvet. No bitterness at all. In fact it tasted slightly sweet, even though I hadn’t added any sugar.

There’s been quite a bit of buzz going on about “Cold Brew” coffee. It’s not the same thing as iced coffee. We’re talking about a whole different kettle of fish here. Iced coffee is prepared by brewing strong coffee, chilling it and then pouring it over ice. Cold brew is prepared by saturating coarsely ground beans with cold water and then letting it sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours. Then it is strained and served over ice.

In the first instance, heat is doing the work of extracting the flavour from the coffee. In the second instance, time is doing all the work. When time replaces heat, the resulting coffee is much lower in acid and has a natural sweetness and smooth finish. Why does this happen?

If you slip on your lab coat for a minute and join me for a science lesson, I’ll explain.  Coffee is comprised of many chemical compounds. One group of these compounds is known as chlorogenic acids, a key contributor to coffee’s characteristic bitter taste. Chlorogenic acids do not dissolve as well in cold water as they do in hot water, which means that cold brew coffee tastes less acidic. There’s a bit more chemistry involved, but that’s the gist of it.

Feel free to add a bit of milk or cream for a luxurious treat. If you like it sweeter, add a bit of simple syrup, as plain sugar will not dissolve very well in a cold liquid. Simple syrup is basically equal parts of water and white sugar, boiled until the sugar dissolves and then chilled. I always have a jar of it in my fridge. It keeps forever, and you just never know when your sister will stop by with all the fixings for fish tacos and your brother-in-law, an amateur mixologist, will want to whip up a batch of margaritas to drink with the tacos.Cold Brew coffee 2There are several pricey contraptions available on the market for making cold brew coffee, but really, all you need is a large pitcher or mason jar, coffee beans and a grinder (or coarsely ground coffee) and a strainer lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter. ready to brewGrind the beans coarsely. Finely ground beans lead to a cloudy brew. The ground beans should look like this:coarse grindPlace the beans in a large container and cover with cold water. I like a ratio of 1 1/2 cups of ground coffee: 8 cups cold water. I used a fancy glass pitcher because I knew you were watching.adding cold waterStir the grounds, cover the jar with some plastic wrap and leave it on the counter for 12-24 hours. Strain through cheesecloth or a coffee filter and store, covered, in the fridge. It will keep for up to 2 weeks.

Click here to print recipe for Cold Brew Coffee.

Feel free to add milk, cream or even blend it with vanilla ice cream for an amazing coffee milkshake. adding milk 625 sq

Watermelon Lime Gin Fizz and Family Togetherness

pouring 625 sqDepending on where you are in your particular family life cycle, hearing the phrase “Family Togetherness” may wrap your heart like a warm hug or may cause you to run screaming from the room.

In my case, the chicks are all grown and have flown the coop. When my progeny all come together under the same roof, I sleep sounder at night. It fills me with joy. However, there was a time when I wanted to run kicking and screaming from their loving and sometimes all encompassing embrace, but that’s a tale most moms can relate to, and there is certainly  no need to go into the gory details here.

This past weekend, the stars and planets were aligned just right and we were together as an entire family at the cottage.  As we were having dinner on Saturday night, the youngest, wanting to relive the defining moments of his childhood, asked his siblings what were some of their worst memories of growing up. He is a bit of a “glass half-empty” kind of kid. We all laughed and then they were off down memory lane, telling stories about the time(s) mom yelled, or the time blood spurt everywhere when dad cut the youngest with an electric razor during his inaugural shave.

As I listened to my kids tell these tales it struck me that even with all the digital advances we have made with memory keeping, a family’s folklore and history really lives best through good old fashioned story telling. It is the telling and retelling of these anecdotes that connect us as a family. In our family, some of the stories have been told so many times that my kids and their cousins use a shorthand system to refer to them. As in, “Oh come on Uncle Roger, tell us Chapter 18 again.” (Chapter 18 is the tale of how my husband came to shave off his moustache of 31 years, after losing a hockey bet.)

My daughter and I collaborated on Saturday to create this cocktail. One to two of these will be all you’ll need to get the stories flowing. Somehow, the kids and I polished off the entire pitcher while my husband was napping on the hammock, so I am certain that by next summer he will be telling the saga of his hurt feelings when his family neglected him during aperitivo hour.

Click here to print recipe for Watermelon Lime Gin Fizz.

Icy cold watermelon spiked with lime and gin refreshes like nothing else on a sweltering afternoon.bowl of limes and white bowl of frozen melon cubes 3jpg