It’s cool to be a cocktail aficionado these days. More sophisticated than serving just beer or wine, why not learn a few mixology tricks to impress your friends, family or co-workers.
According to Michelle Hunt, mixtress of The Martini Club, one trend in the world of cocktails is colour. Since it’s the season to sparkle, silver and gold are two of the key colour trends.
While Goldschlager, with its swirling gold leaf suspended in viscous, clear liquid, is well known, Sabrina Greer, also of The Martini Club, says it lends drinks a strong cinnamon flavour. Edible silver and gold leaf can be purchased at food stores, like Bulk Barn. Adding a touch to a clear liquid cocktail adds a very festive touch, as in the Silver Bells Punch recipe below.
This punch also contains Elderflower Cordial, this season’s big flavour trend.
“Elderflower is the most up-and-coming flavour in the beverage world right now. It adds such a floral note,” says Greer. She advises this punch can be mixed without the vodka to give designated drivers, weight watchers and pregnant guests a delicious drink option. Serve the vodka on the side so those who wish to imbibe can.
The use of bitters in cocktails is also on the rise, says Greer. “Bitters are a huge trend all over the world.” Whether alcohol or glycerin based, they are combinations of herbs and spices that can drastically change or enhance the flavour of your drink.
Classic cocktails, like Manhattans, which have bitters in the recipe, are making a comeback, but bitters have been taken to a whole new level with many interesting new flavours, like celery, rhubarb and chocolate.
Skinny is in! According to Greer, lower calorie drinks that use light beer as a cocktail mix, like the Canadian Mistletoe below, are a huge trend, as are cocktails that use fresh ingredients famous for their antioxidants, such as cucumbers, blueberries and cranberries. “There’s a perception of health there,” she explains.
Sophsticated festive cocktail recipes from The Martini Club:
Molson Canadian 67 with peppermint, lemon and pomegranate, garnished with a mint sprig
Fill a goblet with ice. Add a small dash of peppermint extract, the juice of 1/8 fresh lemon and 2 oz. pomegranate juice. Top with Molson Canadian 67 and garnish with a mint sprig.
To a pot, add 1-750 ml bottle Canadian whisky, 1 cup Madeira, zest of one orange, zest of 1 lemon, 2 oz. lemon juice, 1 tbsp. ginger, 1L fresh (cloudy) apple juice or apple cider, 1 cup pineapple juice, 6 cinnamon sticks, 6 cloves 2 tsp. nutmeg, 2 Tbsp. honey
Bring to a simmer for at least 25 minutes. Strain out liquid and place in a heatproof serving vessel. Serve in tea cups and garnish each with an orange slice.
SILVER BELLS PUNCH
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add 1 oz. white grape vodka, 1/2 oz. chamomile infused grappa, 1/2 oz. elderflower cordial, 1/2 oz. lemon juice and 2 oz. white cranberry juice. Add a pinch of edible silver flake and a dash of orange bitters. Shake and strain into a stemless wine goblet with ice and and garnish with sliced lemon wheels, peeled and thinly sliced cucumbers and green grapes, halved.
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add 1 oz. Cognac, 1 oz. lemon juice and 1 oz. winter syrup, (which is The Martini Club’s seasonal take on simple syrup: equal parts sugar and hot water -- 1 cup each -- with 6 cinnamon sticks and 1 tsp. cloves). Shake and strain into a coupette (old fashioned champagne saucer glass), garnish with a cranberry.
OLD FASHIONED HOLIDAY
Add 1/2 lemon wheel and baby finger-size piece of orange zest to rocks glass. Add 1/2 oz. raw sugar simple syrup. Muddle. Fill glass with ice and add 1.5 oz. whisky and 1/2 oz. Antica Formula vermouth.