In the vast landscape of classic cocktails, many American favourites have elevated to infamy. Consider the Manhattan or Martini for a moment. So what are the quintessential Canadian Cocktails?
The Canadian identity is multi-cultural. When I find myself discussing Canada to my friends overseas, I find it easiest to explain that each province is like its own country, in size, diversity and culture.
For instance, I am french Canadian with roots in Quebec. Educated in Ontario. Now living in beautiful British Columbia, 4000 Km’s away from my birthplace. With more than 10 years as a bartender from the left to the right of our country. I feel qualified to judge the cocktails from Canada’s Largest Cities.
I invited three of Vancouver’s finest bartenders over to “discuss” the city cocktails. Collectively we have around 30 years of experience slinging drinks.
Tarquin Melnyk (TM) of Mezcaleria, as well as a partner at just cocktails.
Andrew Kong (AK), a newcomer, and all around creative man. About to be the newest cocktail bar in Vancouver HJU:Z Lounge.
Rather than make this another history lesson, let’s link you to some very articulate words about these cocktails.
The Toronto Cocktail is the oldest of the bunch, first detailed in the 1920’s. HERE, the wonderful Christine Sismondo tells the tale of the Toronto.
The Vancouver has roots in the cities first licensed cocktail bar, the bar in the Sylvia Hotel. Opened in 1950’s. HERE, the very knowledgeable Justin Taylor gives you all the details on the Vancouver.
The cocktail that sparked this “discussion” was the newly minted Montreal Cocktail. A project by 15 of Montreal’s Finest, led by Kevin Demers of Coldroom. HERE is the Tales of the Cocktail article where Lindsey Reynolds interviews Mon. Demers.
After constructing the cocktails at least 3 times each. Using various base spirits, bitters and brands.
We graded each a simple EYE – NOSE – MOUTH out of 5.
– GIN – SWEET VERMOUTH – BENEDICTINE – ORANGE BITTERS – LEMON RIND or ORANGE RIND
– CANADIAN WHISKY – FERNET – SIMPLE SYRUP – AROMATIC BITTERS – ORANGE RIND
– GIN – CANADIAN WHISKY – GENTIAN POURING BITTER – APERITIVO – GRAPEFRUIT RIND
Conclusions were many but the consensus was that they are all delicious in their own way.
We agree that we have made more “Vancouver‘s” than each of the others and felt we could articulate this drink the best. This drink is about the wormwood flavours.
The Toronto is a seemingly simple drink that can change drastically by the volume of Fernet you use. This drink is all about your Fernet tolerance, and there were some disagreements about how much to use – depending on your intended audience.
The Montreal felt the most modern. The gentian pouring bitters, Suze, for instance, is still an acquired taste in this volume. To many of us, it still evokes memories of illicit drugs 😉
The question we ultimately raised was, “What Canadian city cocktail will pop up next?”
We all feel that more cities should take the task that Kevin and his team did.
Telling the story of your city with the new classic cocktail. Challenge laid. Hopefully accepted.