Holiday party season is in full swing. Sequins are everywhere, lunch invites are rolling in as work productivity is rolling downhill.
If you’re anything like me, you prefer to host a Christmas shindig at home versus booking out a venue. Just because your holiday house party happens at home doesn’t mean the fun factor has to be any less than a 12 out of 10. Hallmarks of a noteworthy holiday party include: strong, wintery cocktails, sparkly decor, snappy dress, a toe-tapping playlist, a dance floor (mandatory; see also: kitchen or living room), plentiful, tasty nosh and fantastic folks to laugh the night away with.
While I can’t help you with the entire list above save for sparkles, dance moves and laughter (if I’m invited, that is) – I can help with the wintery cocktails part.
To help you host a party for the history books or at least for The Facebook, I’ve curated a little list of cold weather, Canadian cocktails near and far to help lubricate the conversation and possibly kick start the dance floor at your festive soiree. I approached some of Canada’s best barkeeps for their wintery cocktails – you know, the ones guaranteed to warm your cockles, while dazzling guests with alluring flavours and textures. Click the jump below to nab drink recipes from Baie Saint Paul Quebec to Vancouver, British Columbia and points in between.
Shaken & stirred – these wintery cocktails will impress your guests and warm you up
On a recent trip to Vancouver, a gaggle of good friends and I took over half of the teeny new resto Grapes & Soda. One the menu: a lot of natural wines and pretty cocktails served in even more beautiful glassware. Bartender Satoshi Yonemori shared the recipe for his Amber Brandy Fizz, which is a throwback to frothy mustachioed times and loud conversations.
Amber Brandy Fizz
By Satoshi Yonemori, Grapes & Soda, Vancouver, B.C
30ml Brandy (French or Spanish)
20ml Plum Puree
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
½ Egg White
- Add the ingredients to a shaker and shake hard! The idea is to shake long and hard enough so the egg white is beaten to almost a meringue like consistency and emulsifies with the other ingredients.
- Enjoy this light, refreshing, yet creamy textured concoction.
East Vancouver’s founding father of the local distillery movement, Odd Society Spirits makes gin, currant liqueur (which is lovely as a drink or ice cream topping, incidentally) and vodka. Their tasting room is a great place to pop in or park it for a while thanks to the industrial-but-comfortable feel and local art on display. Here’s a fab figgy drink to warm your cockles.
By Kylie Bartlett, Odd Society Spirits, Vancouver, B.C.
1.5oz Odd Society Spirits Oaken Gin
1 Bar spoonful (large) of fig purée*
0.75oz vanilla liqueur
0.5oz lemon Juice
0.25oz simple syrup
1 dash Apothecary Elder Growth Bitters
Combine all ingredients in a shaker, add ice and shake vigorously. Double strain into coupe glass and garnish with a dried fig on the side of the glass.
*Fig Purée How to: add one cup of dried figs chopped finely to 1.5 cups of water. Bring water and chopped figs to a boil, add one cup of demerara sugar, stir in sugar bring to a boil again then turn down to low heat and simmer for 10/15 mins or till slightly thick.Take off heat to cool. Once cooled put mixture into blender or food processor, blend until puréed. Add 2oz of Odd Society Spirits East Van Vodka to the mixture to keep it from spoiling and stir.
Deep in the heart of Saskatoon’s Riversdale neighbourhood, The Hollows makes simple, locally-sourced dishes in a beautifully retro space. Located in the Golden Dragon, this west-side rest’s menu is well-edited and innovative (think dandelion fritters or Elk carpaccio).
The Fir Tree Gimlet
By Chef Christie Peters, The Hollows, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
1.5 oz. Plymouth Gin
.5 oz. simple syrup
.75 oz fir tree infused lime*
Fir Tree Infused Lime Recipe: combine 100ml fir needle & 500ml fresh squeezed lime juice. Liquify all ingredients in blender & strain.
Oh Tacofino, how I love thee and how you’ve grown up into such a hip and metropolitan version of yourself. Though it’s roots are in a colourful, roadside food truck/bus in Canada’s surf capital Tofino, B.C., there are now two bricks’n’mortar locations in Vancouver. So ditch the neoprene and opt for a boyfriend blazer and make this Mexican version of a classic cocktail.
By Julia Diakow, Tacofino, Vancouver, B.C.
1 oz El Jimador reposado tequila
1 oz Becherovka (a Czech herbal bitter)
1 oz Cocchi Rosa (an Italian fortified aperitif wine)
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until well chilled. Strain over fresh ice in an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with orange peel and a dusting of cinnamon.
The Treasure Island – golden inside and out.
With sweeping views of downtown Toronto, Trump Hotel’s America is a bold, vibrant answer to hotel dining. The youngest sibling of the Oliver & Bonacini restaurant family, America is known for it’s eye candy bar staff and well-suite patrons.
By Wil Publow, America at Trump Hotel, Toronto, Ontario
2oz Angostura 1919 rum
Dash of orange and vanilla bitters
Dash of Kahlua
Muddle orange peel and add to a rocks glass. Add ice. Pour two ounces of Angostura 1919 rum. Add a dash of orange and vanilla bitters. Add a dash of Kahlua. Top with freshly ground pepper. Garnish with an orange peel.
About 1.5 hours from Quebec City, on the shores of the St. Lawrence River sits Le Germain Hotel Charlevoix. An ode to modernity in the country, the hotel and it’s Charlevoix flavours are a popular escape for locals and international folks alike.
By Rémi Bouchard, Le Germain Hotel Charlevoix, Baie Saint Paul, Quebec
75 ml Chic-Choc Rum (spiced rum from Gaspé, Quebec)
½ lime cut in quarters
sugar to taste (+/- ½ teaspoon)
In an old fashioned glass, use a muddler to crush the lime, rum and sugar. Add crushed ice and stir 15 seconds with a spoon. Serve in the same glass decorated with a slice of lime.
What is your favourite holiday beverage?