We asked Jeff Savage, Bar Manager at Proof Cocktail Bar in Calgary, to share the history of six of Canada’s most popular cocktails.
Many hotels created signature cocktails to get patrons into lobby bars. That was the case with the Vancouver Cocktail, said to have been invented in the 1950s at the city’s Sylvia Hotel. Its flavour is similar to the Toronto, but it’s not quite as bitter. The drink is made with gin, sweet vermouth, orange bitters and Bénédictine (a spiced, French liqueur).
Sip it at: Sylvia Hotel in Vancouver.
1.5 oz gin
0.75 oz Punt e Mes vermouth
0.25 oz Bénédictine
2 dashes orange bitters
Stir with ice, strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a trimmed orange zest.
The original version of this cocktail was invented by the voyageurs (French-Canadian explorers), but their version called for whisky mixed with caribou blood, served hot. The cocktail is now made with red wine or port, Brandy and maple syrup, but is still served hot. It’s made in large batches and often served at festivals or in people’s homes.
4 cups red wine or port
1.5 cups brandy
3 tbsp maple syrup
8 dashes Angostura
2 cinnamon sticks
5 whole cloves
1 large orange peel
Though there’s controversy surrounding where this cocktail was invented, its earliest mention is in Cocktails: How to Mix Them, a book by Robert Vermeire, which states the Toronto cocktail was much enjoyed by Canadians. There’s no debate Toronto adopted this drink made with Fernet (a bitter liqueur), rye, simple syrup, Angostura bitters and orange peel garnish.
Sip it at: Civil Liberties speakeasy.
2 oz Canadian whiskey (Jeff uses Lot 40)
0.25 oz simple syrup
4 dashes Angostura
Stir ingredients with ice, and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Pour 0.25 oz Fernet-Branca over a spoon on top of the cocktail to layer the drink. Garnish with a trimmed orange zest.
Launched in 1927, The Hotel Georgia reopened in 2011 as the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, housing Hawksworth Restaurant. Former bar manager Brad Stanton found its namesake cocktail recipe and modified it. The current recipe includes gin, lemon, orgeat (an almond-based sweetener), egg white and orange blossom water, with nutmeg dust as a garnish.
Sip it at: Hawksworth Restaurant, Vancouver.
1.75 oz gin
0.75 oz lemon juice
0.5 oz orgeat syrup
6-8 drops orange blossom water
1 egg white
Shake all ingredients with ice, strain back into shaker, and shake again without ice (dry shake). Double-strain with a fine mesh strainer into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
Arguably the best-known Canadian cocktail, the Caesar has been around since 1969. It was created by Walter Chell, an employee at the Calgary Inn (which is now the Westin Calgary) as the signature drink for the hotel’s Italian restaurant. The classic version incorporates vodka, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, clam and tomato juice and a spiced rim.
Sip it at: Anywhere—you’ll find a version at most Canadian bars and restaurants.
1.5 oz vodka
6 oz Clamato juice
3 dashes hot sauce
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Rim a collins glass with celery salt and add the vodka and Clamato juice to the glass. Season with hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Stir with ice and garnish as desired.
Jeff Savage invented this cocktail at Proof in Calgary for Canada’s 150th birthday. It incorporates ingredients including Banff’s Park Glacier Rye, Prairie-grown rosehips (which add ruddiness), Bittered Sling Bitters produced in Vancouver, lemon juice and Cocchi Rosa, an aromatized wine. This adds up to a fresh, floral cocktail, reminiscent of springtime in the mountains.
Sip it at: Proof in Calgary.
1 oz Park Glacier Rye
1 oz Cocchi Rosa
0.75 oz lemon juice
1 barspoon rosehip preserve
2 dashes Bittered Sling Moondog Bitters
Shake all ingredients together with ice and double-strain into a chilled coupe glass.
[This story appears in the July 2017 issue of WestJet Magazine]
Five Wineries We Love
September means it's almost harvest season, and we can't think of a better way to take in the stunning fall colours than by visiting Canada's stunning wine country regions. From Penticton's Painted Rock Estate Winery to Nova Scotia's Luckett Vineyards, here are our staff picks for wineries in British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia.