Let’s set our targets on the Vesper cocktail. The first classic cocktail ever invented for a fictional character, this is the first drink James Bond orders in Casino Royale.
The original recipe for a Vesper:
3 parts of Gordon’s Gin
1 part Vodka
1/2 part Kina Lillet (which ceased production in the 1980′s)
Combine ingredients in a stirring vessel. Add ice and stir (Wondrich‘s orders!) Strain into a chilled coupé. Garnish with a lemon peel with pith removed.
In chapter seven of the book, Bond order’s it thus,
“Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?” (Casino Royale, Ian Fleming, 1953)
Christened for Vesper Lynd, the beautiful double agent that Bond tragically falls for in the first novel. Close study of the Bond character shows that he continues to visit her grave throughout the series. When near death Bond has visions he’s reunited with Vesper. In between, he liberally consumes every spirit on the back-bar, including bourbon Old Fashioned’s.
The original Vesper Cocktail is more about the gin than the marriage of gin, vodka and apéritif. Which leaves room for experimentation. Something that I did while in California recently. Belvedere has just launched a new variant in their infused category and I got to have a taste. It seemed like the perfect time to try a twist on the Vesper.
1 part Belvedere Mango Passion Infused Vodka
1 part Tru Organic Gin
1/2 part Greenbar Grand Poppy Aperitive or Cocchi Americano
Juice from 1 Kumquat
1 small bunch of fresh Dill
Combine ingredients in shaker tin. Add ice and shake. Double strain into chilled coupé. Garnish with fresh dill and express oil from a grapefruit peel over glass.
The Belvedere Mango Passion is a olfactive odyssey. The nose is sweet Tangerine. The mouth-feel suggests a creaminess from Mango. Mandarin resonates. There is lingering lime and passion-fruit on the pleasantly dry finish.
The Grand Poppy liqueur is a complex melange of bitter California poppy, artichoke, orange, lemon, grapefruit, bearberry, California bay leaf, pink peppercorn, dandelion, blessed thistle, burdock, rue, artichoke, gentian, geranium, cherry bark and cane sugar. It conjures the feeling of a very bitter-sweet Lillet, as the Kina originally tasted.
The Tru Organic Gin has a wheat spirit base macerated with juniper, lemon, lavender, angelica, orris, coriander, vanilla, cardamom, clove, fennel, cinnamon, allspice, chamomile and star anise for up to two months giving it a distinctive color and bold flavor.
In Poland dill, or ‘koper’, is one of the most popular herbs in the regional cuisine. It is a perfect aromatic addition to the cocktail. The Kumquat brings a unique form of acidity. The grapefruit oil complements the array of other botanicals and fruits.
Some of the products available from Greenbar Craft Distillery, Los Angeles
2 Parts Ketel One vodka
1/2 Part Giffard Violette
1 Part Cherry purée
1 part lemon juice
3-4 kaffir lime leaves
Shake all ingredients with a boston shaker with lots of ice. Double strain into chilled glass.
Aromatic on the nose with sweet/spicy notes. The taste is smooth and fruity with flavours of cherry bomb, lime, and floral notes. Medium body that rolls off the tongue and a long finish.
I (@rebeccamind) wanted to create something that would have a smooth texture with lots of different layers of flavour.
We found this interesting, but it did not influence the cocktail, we swear..
Cherry bomb (film)
Cherry bomb is a drama film released in the United Kingdom in 2009, starring Rupert Grint, James Nesbitt, and Robert Sheehan. Filming began on location in Belfast on 7 July 2008, and lasted four weeks. The film includes nudity, drinking, drugs, shop-lifting and car theft. It was released to DVD on 23 August 2010 in the UK. It is currently awaiting release in the US.
Cherry bomb premiered at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival, but was initially unable to find a distributor. An online campaign by Grint’s fans was credited with helping to secure a deal for distribution in the United Kingdom.
Whether you like your tomato based drinks stiff like a Red Snapper cocktail, or long, like a Caesar, not too many craft cocktail bartenders in Canada are overly enthused to make the Nation’s most popular cocktail for you.
Maybe it’s the curse of popularity or the laborious steps it can take to season and garnish the drink. We believe it is genuinely that the primary mixer commonly used to make the Caesar is loaded with HFCS (15 grams per serving), MSG, Artificial Color and Sodium.
In fact, a single serving of commercial Mott’s Clamato has 1300 milligrams, almost the entire daily limit of 1500. All of it contained in a plastic bottle.
It would seem that there’s place for a craft alternative in the ever more ingredient conscious marketplace.
Enter Walter Caesar. Craft product with better ingredients, more flavour and all stored in a gorgeous glass bottle.
We hope that this year will be largely defined by the continued improvement in mixers for popular drinks. Walter’s has launched in Toronto and Vancouver, and their expansion into the Alberta market is slated for late March. Caesar’s seem to be the next popular drink that will get a craft facelift.
So who is/was Walter?
Walter Chell was a Hotel Manager tasked with creating a special drink to celebrate the opening of an Italian restaurant in the Calgary Inn (1969). Taking inspiration from Spaghetti alle Vongole and the existing Red Snapper (Bloody Mary) cocktail created by Fernand Petiot for the St. Regis Hotel in New York (1934). Walter stumbled on a formula that had legs. Serious legs.
For some, there will be a question about the cost of using the more expensive mixer. Aaron Harowitz, one of the Founders of Walter All-Natural Craft Caesar Mix, acknowledges the point, but says that he’d like to see people stop thinking of the Caesar as a drink that comes in a pint glass and one that is a little more sipping sized. We couldn’t agree more.
So here’s our recipe for a Red Snapper:
The iconic Red Snapper Cocktail
1.5 oz Soyombo Mongolian Vodka or Martin Miller’s Gin
2.5 oz Walter Caesar Mix
.25 oz Fresh Lime or Lemon Juice, to taste
2 drops Bitter Truth Celery Bitters
2 drops Hot Sauce (We still love Tabasco)
3 drops Worcestershire sauce
Combine liquid ingredients in a Boston Shaker. Add ice. Shake hard and strain into a coupé with a fleur de sel rub on one side. This gives the person imbibing the drink the option to choose more or less salt. Garnish is entirely up to your creativity. (For the picture above we used fresh Dill as the garnish)
For those that prefer a longer drink (less boozy) then the move to a Caesar simply requires a bit more Walter Caesar mix, to taste. We suggest serving it in a rocks glass with a side part of fleur de sel. Garnish with either fresh herbs, olives, lime or celery. Walter Caesar have two recipes. One lightly spiced (White Bottle Capped) and a spicier one (Black Bottle Capped) that has grated horseradish.
So how does the Walter Caesar Mix taste? HERE IS OUR FULL REVIEW ON THE PRODUCT ITSELF.
It is an outstanding product. It’s delicious. Thick and fresh tasting. The spicier variation is our favorite with its vibrant horseradish bite.
For those about to get a Craft Caesar, we salute you. Photo by Cory Knibutat.
The cosmopolitan is likely the first cocktail I ever made. Then I hated to make them, and now I make a damn good one.
This is a new classic, with a murky history came about in a time when revolution began in mixology.
Some say this cocktail started that revolution.
In my generation this cocktail made popular by Dale Degroff, and then the television show Sex in the City.
The Fresh Cosmopolitan
45 ml Belvedere Citrus
15 ml Cointreau
40 ml Fresh Cranberry Juice*
20 ml Raw Simple Syrup
1/4 lime wedge squeezed
Fresh Cranberry Juice
Simplest way to make healthy and tasty cranberry juice and not COCKTAIL
- Steep frozen cranberries in water for 24 hours then crush the berries slightly in the water and allow to rest for another 24 hrs.
- Add simple syrup to taste. I dont add any until I want to drink it.
- Store bought cranberry "cocktail" is packed with sugar and tastes, well, sythetic. Try this and never go back.
This cocktail should be shaken hard, and should come out rather light reddish pink. Really, it is to taste. I like a little more cranberry and a little more lime. Personal preference is a part of particular drinking.
60 ml Soyombo Mongolian Wheat Vodka
10 ml Pineapple Thyme Shrub
5 drops Brooklyn Hemispherical Rhubarb Bitters
1 Coupe washed with St. George Absinthe
Combine vodka, shrub and bitters in a stirring vessel. Add ice, stir until well chilled and strain into coupé that has been washed with absinthe. For best absinthe coverage, spray with an absinthe filled atomizer into a cold coupé.
To make the Pineapple Shrub you will need
1 cup raw sugar
1 cup water
1 cup Pineapple (fresh cut)
1 bunch Fresh Thyme
Apple Cider Vinegar
Combine water and sugar in a pot. Simmer until the sugar dilutes into the water. Add chunks of fresh chopped Pineapple and whole Thyme. Allow to steep until the flavors and aroma of pineapple and thyme permeate mixture. Pour ingredients into large canning jar. Top with apple cider vinegar, seal and let sit in fridge overnight. Use a tea strainer to isolate liquid into serving vessel. (Fact: Leftover Pineapple Thyme is amazing on pizza)
It is a challenge to create cocktails that celebrate the subtlety of vodka as a flavor and not cover it up.
This cocktail has fun with that challenge, creating a drink that is approachable by many palates while still complex enough to appeal to the toughest cocktail critic.
Soyombo Vodka is made from the wheat that grows on the Mongolian-Manchurian Steppe. It uses organic, non-GMO grain and sees no high fructose corn syrup or glycerin added to its last bottling to give the artifice of smoothness. The distiller is forced to use the best of ingredients and mind his craft carefully. The Soyombo symbol is the first letter of the Mongol alphabet and means ‘enlightened‘ or ‘created out of itself’.
A fascinating fact about St. George is that they’ve produced their absinthe since well before the U.S. ban was lifted in 2007. That’s because while it was illegal to sell, it was not illegal to produce, and so they worked for the 11 years prior to the ban being lifted to perfect their recipe. And perfect it they did. Their recipe calls for a first infusion of brandy with wormwood, fennel, and star anise. The second infusion calls for mint, tarragon, opal basil, lemon-balm, hyssop, meadowsweet, and stinging nettles.
The result is a drink that has the complex herbaceous nose of the absinthe. Every sip has subtle flavors of pineapple and thyme and the finish has the lingering character of the vodka with a faint bite of rhubarb bitters.
The Kollar Club
2 parts Double Cross vodka
1 bar spoon Yellow Chartreuse
1 bar spoon Fireweed Honey
5 drops Bittermen’s Boston Bittahs (Chamomile Lemon)
Garnish: Lemon Twist
Combine ingredients in stirring vessel. Stir to combine honey with other ingredients and then add ice to stir and chill. Serve in a chilled coupe. Express lemon oil on top and garnish with lemon peel.
Double Cross Flag & Coat of Arms
Double Cross is an ultra premium winter wheat vodka in a bottle designed to honor Slovak nationalism, poetry and history. The name is a playful reference to their nation’s flag
The Double Cross bottle has a piece of poetry on the back of the bottle in Slovakian. Translated it reads:
‘And she came to me softly garbed in lillies
As unassuming as a skylark song and the snowy wings of a dove
And knocked on my door…’
The cocktail, designed to pay homage to the alpine character of the vodka, careful to preserve its distinct nose and to keep its distinct spice notes present through to the finish. Not a common task for a vodka drink.
The name Kollar Club, taken from Jan Kollar. He was a Slovak poet, writer and thinker who passionately fought for Slovakian national unity in the mid-1800′s. The Kollar Club is also a Slovak community club and live music venue in Pittsburgh that started its life as a library named after Jan Kollar.
For those that love to imbibe better, we salute you – “na zdravie!”
2 Parts Okanagan Spirits Poire Williams
1 Part Lillet Rose
1 Part Luxardo Prugna
Dash Ginger Shrub
1 Bar spoon orange oil
Combine all ingredients into a boston shaker and shake with ice. Double strain into chilled cocktail glass.
It was a pleasure to meet Jacob Sweetapple yesterday and be introduced to the Absolut Elyx, the latest in the Swedish Vodka line. Absolut has taken the most well marketed product, in the biggest category, and put it into the darling of the spirits industry….the copper still, the result is delicious.
For anyone who has been under a rock since 1979 when it all started for Absolut. The bottle shape has become an international symbol for the largest selling distilled spirits category, and not just the brand. Here is the Advertising Story, equally delicious.
The Absolut “Citron” and “Raspberri” are the top flavours sold here in North America and Canada respectively. [UPDATE: HERE is an Economist Article on the Consumption per person]
Along the way I have used a lot of Absolut, arguably the Citron was in the original Cosmopolitan and is frequently in mine. Also my first “french kiss martini” combines Chambord, pineapple and Raspberri with a little Jäger for bite and has been a hit on a few bars I have tended.
Vodka is a complex place, riddled with confusing advertising. In a sea of vodka, how do you stand out?
Absolut has always stood out, and they don’t need to put anything else on the label to do it.
- Hire the best in disruptive advertising from the beginning in TBWA, check.
- Hire creative professionals like an Aussie/Canadian to rep the brand, check.
- Be organic and “bio-diverse” before organic or BD was cool, check.
- Sit back and laugh when “local” movements start, because you always have been local, check.
- Be transparent about everything, check.
- Use as flavourful and as natural a process that you can for “flavours” without Maceration. Check!
What set’s Absolut apart?
Absolut employs all its farmers, all 450 of them exclusively farm for Absolut and they are all within 80 km from the distillery. The water is the next interesting point, the same well that is used for the original mash is the same water they blend the bottle with.
Little known fact that most Vodka companies blend with water away from the original “terroir” of the producer, and with 60% or more of the bottle water, it shows how important it can be.
If organic, local, and bio-diverse isn’t enough for you, there is a historical tale to be told.
Lars Olsson Smith, the man credited with the original recipe of “Absolut Rent Brännvin“ was forced to make it in on a small island in the Baltic Sea after stringent production and sales laws forced him to create an island system and a fairy for patrons to consume the pure spirit. After years of success and public outcry Lars Olsen Smith was allowed to move production and sale of the liquid to main land.
In short, the Absolut story is one worth knowing, and one that makes it sellable and original.
Jacob was charismatic and spoke from a bartenders perspective, which was nice. He even offered a welcomed twist on the classic tasting style. Offering chilled Vodka Martini’s with four different brands, combined with Noilly Pratt Vermouth. It was a nice change on classically “straight consumption” booze tasting.
Grey Goose, Kettle One, Belvedere and Absolut Elyx were compared, all had notes to like and dislike, depending on your context and palate. I enjoyed them all, and noticed a definite “smoothness” and “roundness” to the Elyx.
I am a purest and will say that it is hard to compare these brands in anything more than “marketing and category”, they are all top-notch, and the flavour preference is up to you, not me.
It was a pleasure to have a global (Aussie/Vancouverite) in to speak about the brands.
But, let’s just say it…
As you may tell, we always love the experience. BUT, I have to say something to the Vodka world….and every ambassador of the fine spirit.
Get over the classic “big brother” Vodka story….We, as bartenders, know about the 4X production, we know about the BIG Business that Vodka is. We even know how pure the distillation is compared to all the others, but it doesn’t help us sell it.
Most of us are even past the whole weird hate for vodka and vodka cocktails. It is time to just tell your story, not vodka’s.
It is time to put this to bed me thinks, and just be the champion of spirits. Absolut, you are a champion of champions.
Just be the cool older brother of the industry (where whiskey is the father), and do cool things, throw bartenders off a cliff with a bungee cord, pay for the BIG bar tab that we over do it on, all while staying classy.
I think it is great to be the role model for other spirits sometimes and just your BAD ASS self other times. Stop apologizing for being what everyone wants, the hipsters will forgive you.
I hope I speak for the bartenders in CANADA; that the chip on our perfectly carved ice shoulder has melted off.
Let’s get to the inspiring stuff.
4 parts Belvedere Earl Grey
1 part Frangelico
3 parts Fresh Lime Juice
3 parts honey syrup (1:1)
3 dashes Teapot bitters
Grate fresh nutmeg
Add ingredients without nutmeg into cocktail shaker. Shake hard, single strain into chilled coupe. Add single ice cube, grate nutmeg and serve
1 oz Roasted yellow pepper puree
1 oz Hibiscus and Ginger syrup
1 egg white
Hibiscus flower and Roasted yellow pepper sliver
Roasted yellow pepper puree:
Char outside of entire pepper until all yellow has turned black, place in a zip lock bag and refrigerate until cool. Remove seeds and charred skin.
Puree the flesh with just enough water to liquify. Strain through chinois.
Hibiscus Ginger Syrup:
Add two larger thumbs of julienne’d ginger and 1 1/2 cups water to a sauce pot and reduce by half, drain syrup from hibiscus flower jar into sauce pot.
Remove the flowers and rinse, place in freezer to hold shape. Add 1 Tbsp of wild flower honey to hibiscus and ginger reduction. Dissolve and bottle.
Add Ultimat, Cointreau
, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and puree along with egg white to a mixing glass. Hard dry shake, ice, and re shake.
Using the spirals of a bar spoon, drip the hibiscus syrup down the spoon to the bottom of the glass for a layered effect.
Garnish with a frozen hibiscus flower with a sliver of roasted pepper.
1 part Grey Goose Cherry Noir
1/2 part Cherry Brandy
1/2 part Carpano Antica
1 part lime juice
1/2 part Maple Syrup
2 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
Put rosemary and lime juice into shaker and muddle 8-10 times. Add rest of ingredients into shaker, shake well with ice, double strain into coop glass and garnish with rosemary sprig.
3 parts Yukon Midnight Sun (Espresso Stout)
1 part Yukon Solstice Botanical Vodka
1 part Yukon Lead Dog Ale Syrup *
5 drops Bittered Sling Moondog Bitters
2 pieces unsweetened organic dark chocolate
* To create syrup – reduce Yukon Lead Dog (Old English Ale) in a saucepan, on simmer. Stir in equal parts (1:1) demerara sugar with beer reduction. Add 1 piece dark chocolate and dissolve it thoroughly. Allow to cool to room temperature and use.
Combine all ingredients except Espresso Stout in shaker. Shake extremely vigorously and double strain into rocks glass.
Top with Espresso Stout.
Garnish with fresh grated dark chocolate. Imbibe.
3 parts Belvedere PURE (Lime Infusion)
2 parts Belvedere PURE (Carrot Infusion)
2 parts Lillet Blanc
4 Fresh Thai Basil Leaves
2 wedges of lime
1/2 part agave nectar
2 dashes Twisted & Bitter Black Pepper bitters
Add ingredients to ice filled mixing glass, shake hard, double strain into chilled coupe, dash bitters
2 Parts Skyy ginger infusion vodka
2 Parts Chambord
1 Part Cinzano Bianco Vermouth
1 Part Sweet Lemon Shrub
1 Part Rose’s Lime Cordial
Dash Angostura Bitters
Dash Lemon juice
Add all ingredients in a Boston shaker and shake hard with ice. Double strain into chilled cocktail glass.
3 parts Absolut vodka
5 parts grapefruit juice
2 parts eggwhite
Squeeze 1/2 an orange with 1 measure simple syrup (1:1) in a mixing glass.
Add remaining components and shake over ice. We won’t dry shake the egg whites because of the acidity of the grapefruit. The extra agitation and cold temperature ensures no seperation. Double strain into rocks glass with no ice. Garnish with orange in any manner you like
3 parts New Deal Gin
1 part Carrot Infused Belvedere PURE
1/2 part Lillet Blanc
2 dashes Rosemary & Grapefruit Bitter & Twisted
Add ingredients to chilled mixing glass. Stir over ice, add rind oils to glass first then strain into chilled coupe.
The Carrot Infusion;
Infusions like this are easy, you just need to set your reminders. Start with 3-4 organic carrots, (This is one case where organic is a MUST, as the other stuff is tasteless).
Grate them down and add them to a large mason jar, fill with a quality vodka and let it rest out of the fridge for 2 weeks. Shake it daily, put it beside the Salt so you don’t forget.
In 2 weeks, strain it out and start the process again. I typically do this for 4 cycles (cause I LOVE carrot), most infusions of “hard” veg and fruit take a little longer, and I like to keep it Fresh
and vibrant with the flavours and colours. As you get into the second cycle you can consider placing it in the fridge to keep it nice and BRIGHT ORGANGE.
at the end of it all, simple CHEESECLOTH strain it and put it in your favourite bottle.
4 Parts Genmaicha infused Ultimat Vodka
1 Part Gekkeikan plum wine (reduced by half)
1 Barspoon of cherry infused Cointreau
1/2 Barspoon rice wine vinager
Cointreau Cherries to Garnish
Combine ingredients in mixing glass, add ice and shake. Double strain into snifter and garnish.
4 parts Ultimat vodka
2 parts Cointreau
3 parts Pineapple juice
1 part egg white
1 part simple syrup
Squeeze 1/2 an orange with the egg whites and simple syrup(1:1). Add the spirtis and juice, shake over ice and strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish with flamed orange peel
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