Tag Archives: cocktails

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

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

Doing the Gombey Smash

It is always such a startling revelation for me to discover that foods I previously thought I hated, I now actually really like. And, it seems to be happening with more frequency as I age. Perhaps it’s a side effect of Botox use? (Only kidding!)

It began about 15 years ago, with coffee. I thought I didn’t like coffee, but my friend Brigitte introduced me to a big bowl filled with hot steamed milk and foam, with just a tiny bit of coffee and 2 spoonfuls of sugar. What a gateway that was. Within no time at all I was drinking a huge bowl of espresso, with just a touch of steamed milk and a mere 1/4 teaspoon of sugar. A few years ago I joined the dark side and began eating, and loving, cilantro. Then I discovered the joy of Brussels sprouts. I love them raw, sliced thinly on the mandoline, with silvered almonds, Pecorino Romano cheese, lemon juice and olive oil.  Then there was the discovery of my love for walnuts and hazelnuts. Walnuts used to send shivers up and down my spine, but now, I love them. I think I was philosophically opposed to hazelnuts because Giada uses them or Nutella in every recipe she makes. Then I had them sprinkled over a salad of green beans, thinly sliced raw mushrooms, parmesan, lemon juice and olive oil. Whoa, talk about taste sensations.

All this to say, that I have just discovered another new edible love. It happened while on holiday with my 5 siblings, 1 niece and mother. We took my mom to Bermuda to celebrate her 75th birthday. I discussed the issues leading up to this journey in my last post. If you read it, or if you have parents and/or siblings, then you will completely understand what I am about to divulge to you. Somehow, as adults, when we get together with our parents and/or siblings, we revert back to childhood patterns and behaviours.  I am sure a psychologist would have a field day with the analysis of this phenomenon, but suffice it to say, old jealousies and petty annoyances rear their ugly heads. Let’s just say, that alcohol helped to soften some of these sharp edges.

On our second night in Bermuda, we met in the bar for cocktails before dinner. I love to be with my sisters for many reasons. The fact that three of them love Prosecco, like I do, makes cocktail time much more celebratory. It always feels more festive to order a whole bottle of Prosecco rather than just a glass, like I usually do. The fourth sister ordered a “Gombey Smash.”My mom ordered a glass of water. My brother ordered a gin and tonic. I think he needed to display some testosterone with all these women! My almost 11-year-old niece ordered a ginger ale.

When the drinks came, the sister with the Gombey Smash started licking her lips and making mmmmm noises. Of course I had to taste. She was right! It was fantastic. Fruity, slightly tangy and loaded with my favourite flavour, coconut. I looked at the cocktail menu to see what was in this concoction. Pineapple juice, orange juice, apricot brandy and Malibu rum. RUM?? I don’t like rum. Apparently I do like Malibu rum. A lot!

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be with my mom and all my siblings on such a happy occasion. We had never taken a holiday together and it was very special. Now, we just have to hope that the surgery we perform on my 11-year-old niece, to remove her memories of all conversations she may have overheard while on the holiday, goes well! After all, what happens in Bermuda, stays in Bermuda.

Mix up a big batch of this drink at your next family gathering and soon you will all be doing the Gombey Smash!

To print the recipe for Gombey Smash, click here.

Cocktails at the Cottage

I think I have a special fondness for these recipes because the last time I  had them was at my friend Sandy’s cottage.  Sandy and her husband are the ultimate hosts.  After almost 3 weeks of rainy July weather, upon our arrival, they arranged for the sun to come out and there it stayed for the entire 3 days of our visit. Each day, at precisely 5:15 p.m., drinks and hors d’oeuvres were served on the dock.  There we were, lounging by the lake in our comfy Muskoka chairs and Sandy appeared with a bowl of this tapenade and flatbread crackers.  I think my love of this tapenade may also have something to do with the fact that she served it with these ice cold pomegranate martinis. 

Any left over tapenade keeps well in the fridge for weeks.  It is also wonderful in sandwiches and tossed with hot pasta.

Sandy’s Green Olive Tapenade

2 cups green olives with pimentos, drained of brine
1/3 cup Italian parsley leaves
1 large clove garlic
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 1.  Place green olives and parsley in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade.  Turn machine on and drop garlic clove through the top while blade is spinning.  Pulse mixture about 10 times until olives are coarsely chopped.

 2.  Add olive oil, lemon juice and black pepper and pulse 2-3 more times.  You want a chunky mixture.  Do not process until smooth.

 3.  Transfer mixture to small serving bowl and serve with crackers or slices of toasted baguette.

Frozen Pomegranate Martinis

This recipe is adapted from a July 2000 recipe in Gourmet Magazine.  In the original recipe they used frozen chunks of watermelon instead of the pomegranate ice cubes.

You can actually feel virtuous drinking this cocktail.  The antioxidants in pomegranate juice have been shown to be beneficial to heart health by breaking down fatty deposits on the artery walls.  This drink requires some advance planning as you need to make POM ice cubes from the juice.  Once frozen, they will keep in a zip-loc bag in your freezer for several months.  It’s always good to have a bag of POM cubes on hand.  You never know who will show up.  Serves 4

2 small bottles POM wonderful pomegranate juice (each bottle is 473 ml)
zest from 1 lime
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup lime juice
½ cup Vodka  (regular, raspberry, lemon, mandarine) use whatever you have

1.  Pour 2 bottles of pomegranate juice into ice cube trays and freeze for several hours, until solid.  If not using right away, frozen juice cubes can be kept in a zip-loc bag.

2.  Zest Lime and add to sugar.  Juice limes.

3.  In a blender, combine half the juice ice cubes, lime zest, sugar, and vodka.   Blend until almost smooth and add remaining juice cubes, a few at a time, blending until totally smooth.

3.  Pour into martini or wine glasses and serve with a straw.  Beware of a brain freeze if you slurp too fast.