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Valentines Day is tomorrow, and for the most part when you think about Valentines cocktails the images that spring to mind are drinks that are overly sweet, colored to make it look red or pink and not necessarily even good.

But that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, there are a number of excellent cocktails that fit the Valentines Day theme perfectly that you may want to start making all year round. Here are a few that will certainly put you in the mood:

Sicilian 75

A twist on the classic French 75, this has all the right ingredients for a romantic evening; something bubbly, something sweet and just enough bitterness to give it a kick.

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz fresh blood orange juice
  • 1 oz gin
  • 0.5 oz simple syrup
  • 0.25 oz Campari
  • 2 oz dry champagne

Method: Add juice, gin, syrup, and Campari in a shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into a champagne flute. Top with champagne and garnish with a slice of orange.

French Monaco

Beer drinkers are usually out of luck when it comes to Valentines Day. Beer doesn’t typically fit the image of a “sexy” drink, but that’s only because you haven’t experimented enough. The French Monaco is perfect for Valentines, and it’s extremely popular with the younger crowd in Paris. Just be sure to use good quality Grenadine, not the crappy stuff.

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz Grenadine
  • 2 oz lemonade
  • 6 oz pale lager

Method: Add grenadine, lemonade, and lager to a highball filled with ice. Stir gently, so as not to lose the carbonation of the beer, to combine.

Vesper Martini

This classic martini has all the right elements of a sexy cocktail, and it has the added benefit of actually being really simple to make.

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz gin
  • 1 oz vodka
  • 0.5 oz lillet
  • Lemon peel for garnish

Method: Add the gin, vodka and lillet to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well until it’s ice-cold, strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a large thin slice of lemon peel.

Campari Sour

This is very much like a Whisky Sour but far lighter and has more elements of citrus and sour. It also turns out a nice bright pink color, perfect for Valentines Day.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz gin
  • 0.75 oz Campari
  • 0.75 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz simple syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 dash orange bitters

Method: In a cocktail shaker add gin, Campari, lemon juice, simple syrup, bitters, and egg white, and shake without ice for about 30 seconds. Then fill the shaker full with ice and shake vigorously until the egg white is incorporated and frothy. Strain the mixture into a chilled coup glass.

Espresso Martini

If you thought coffee wasn’t sexy, then think again. There’s something about how easy this cocktail is to drink, with its equal parts creamy and bitter that makes this an absolute smash for Valentines.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz Grey Goose Vodka
  • 1 oz Espresso
  • 0.75 oz Premium Coffee Liqueur

Method: Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake hard. Double-strain the liquid into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with shaved nutmeg for some extra spice.

Love Song

For those looking for that chocolate kick during Valentines, this offers a creative alternative that drinks like an adult version of chocolate milk.

Ingredients:

  • 5 oz fresh milk
  • 0.5oz of premium dark chocolate
  • 1.5 oz Humboldt Distillery Organic Vodka
  • 0.25 tsp organic vanilla extract

Method: Measure 4oz of milk in measuring cup, add to a saucepan and bring to a low simmer. Add in chocolate and whisk frequently until completely melted. Remove from heat. Add 1oz of cold milk to mixture and let cool (5-10 minutes). Once cooled, pour back into measuring cup. Add Organic Vodka, vanilla extract, 2 cubes of ice and stir; strain into glass and garnish with grated chocolate.

THE KING CUATRO

BACARDÍ Rum teamed up with actor and filmmaker, Michael B. Jordan, to create a rum-filled love potion this Valentine’s Day. It’s creative, and if you go the extra mile, it looks incredibly sexy.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz BACARDÍ Añejo Cuatro
  • 0.75 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 0.5 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • 0.25 oz Honey
  • 2 Blackberries
  • Martini and Rossi Prosecco

Method: Muddle blackberries in a tin, and pour all cocktail ingredients in. Shake and strain into coupe glass. Top with Martini and Rossi Prosecco and to be really impressive, garnish with a Blackberry-speared purple orchid.

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Oh that’s right, you’ve heard it here first; all the cool kids will be drinking Rosé beer, so better get educated.

What exactly is rosé beer? Simply put, they are beers that brewers are tweaking to bring out the crisp and tart qualities that you would typically find in a rosé wine. Something that is refreshing and easy to drink but still has some subtle flavours that reflect spring and summer.

BC’s Steel and Oak brewing has already hopped on the trend with a special release, the Blush Rosé Saison. Blush was brewed with pilsner, spelt, flaked wheat, and acidulated malt and fermented with Saison yeast. It then sat on Merlot and Cab Franc grape skins from their neighbours at Pacific Breeze Winery and can conditioned for 6 weeks to give it a Rosé-like quality.

Steel and Oak aren’t the only ones, and certainly not the first. One method to achieve a rosé like quality without actually labelling the beer a “Rosé” is to use hibiscus flower in the brewing. The end result is a bold rouge colour with a tart palate; a great example of this again comes from BC with Brassneck Brewing’s Hibiscus Wit.

Brewery Ommegang, one of New York’s most an esteemed Belgian-influenced operation also recently released Saison Rosé, a 7.7 percent ABV farmhouse ale.

Granted all of these beers are either seasonal or limited releases, but it showcases the early trend, one that is expected to grow over the next several years.

Can it be viewed as a marketing fad? Sure. But there’s no denying the popularity of the style, and these aren’t lacking in flavour. Honestly, if this is the next gimmick, then I’m all for it. It’s better than “Fruit loops beer” or flooding the market with poorly made Hazy IPAs.

I say bring on the Rosé!

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Collective Arts makes great beer, and if you haven’t figured it out already we are big fans. Not only is the beer great, but the can designs are simply stellar. Prophets & Nomads is no exception to this rule.

This Gose starts as an unfiltered wheat beer made with malted wheat. This creates a unique cloudy yellow colour and provides a refreshing crispness and twang.  The low hop bitterness is paired with coriander and Himalayan salt, adding hints of complementary dryness, spice and a touch of sharpness to the beer.

Gose’s can be polarizing, but the nice thing about Prophets & Nomads is it is incredibly approachable. It’s the kind of beer that wouldn’t turn off newcomers to the style while still offering enough of a flavour profile to keep gose fans happy.

It’s a beer that is very easy to recommend for practically anytime of year, but pairs particularly well with warmer weather and BBQ’s.

Prophets & Nomads:

  • ABV: 4.2%
  • IBU: 12
  • Bittering Hops: Saaz
  • Flavour: Pink Himalayan Salt & Coriander
  • Malt: 2 Row, Pilsner, Wheat
Prophets & Nomads Gose - Vimeo
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So the biggest news coming out of the Superbowl today is a debate over a commercial that provoked some serious backlash.

If you haven’t seen it already, Bud Light ran a campaign poking fun at both Miller Light and Coors Light for their use of corn syrup in their beer. Here’s the ad:

Bud Light - Special Delivery - YouTube

Now is it accurate? Yes. But accuracy doesn’t tell the whole story.

First of all, we need to understand why Bud Light did this in the first place. Corn syrup is easily one of the most publicly hated additives; more specifically high fructose corn syrup. That’s an additive that has both glucose and fructose sugars and is really not good for you. So on the surface, a beer using corn syrup to brew doesn’t seem good right?

Well no. First, it’s not high fructose corn syrup being used, but regular corn syrup containing only glucose. And here’s the reality: beer needs sugar. Sugar, is the base ingredient to help the yeast create alcohol, so for Miller and Coors to use corn syrup is totally normal. Many popular Mexican lagers use corn as a base sugar.

Second, Bud Light does no different, just with different ingredients. Bud Light uses rice, which ultimately provides a similar level of sugar content for their yeast to consume. And that’s the important point here. the yeast consumes the sugars. Rice, corn, barley, it doesn’t matter what is used, the yeast consumes all the sugars therefore it’s not like the drinker is actually drinking corn syrup in their beer.

So Bud Light has taken an ad poking fun at their competitors by targeting an ingredient that is easy to recognize but poorly understood. It’s a marketing gimmick. The funny thing is we’re talking about Bud, Coors and Miller all beers that aren’t known for their quality but their mass produced beer. This is really a non-argument.

I’m not arguing that corn syrup should be in beer, but what I am saying is it doesn’t matter for macro-beer like Bud Light. This is like arguing the differences in syrups between Coke and Pepsi. You don’t expect either product to have organic, high quality ingredients, and neither are really all that different. So drink your Bud or Coors or whatever, not on the argument of corn syrup but on the argument of which one tastes less like dirty bath water to you.

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Pisco Sours are a tricky drink to master; it can easily become too sour or too frothy, but when a bartender gets it right, it’s one of the most drinkable cocktails on the market.

While the origin of pisco sours can be in dispute depending on who you talk to, it’s generally common knowledge that the drink became popular in the 1920s in Lima. An American bartender named Victor Morris moved to Lima to open a bar. After experimenting with various pisco cocktails, one of his bartenders came upon the modern iteration of the pisco sour. Morris’ bar was filled with Peruvians and travellers all wanting to get a taste of this cocktail.

Overall the drink consists of pisco, simple syrup, lime (preferably Peruvian limes), egg whites and a couple dashes of bitters on top. The real key to the cocktail, however, is to shake it rather than use a blender. The blender tends to be an inexact science, while the shaker will make it frothy every time. That’s no guarantee, but the best pisco sours are usually poured from a shaker.

In celebration, the first Saturday of every February is Pisco Sour day in Peru, and so in honour of this day, we’re giving you the ultimate pisco sour recipe to enjoy.

Pisco Sour

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz pisco
  • 1 oz fresh-squeezed peruvian lime juice
  • 3/4 oz simple syrup
  • 1 fresh egg white
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters

Method: Combine pisco, lime, simple syrup, and egg white in a cocktail shaker without ice and seal. It is important to get the right froth from the egg white, that you first shake without ice. Shake vigorously, until egg white is foamy, about 30 seconds. Now add ice to shaker and shake again very hard until well-chilled, another 30 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass; dash bitters atop the egg-white foam. Enjoy!

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When most people think whisky, the countries of Scotland, Japan, Ireland come to mind. However, Canada has a long tradition of distilling whisky, and it gets far less credit than deserved. In fact, when renowned British whisky writer Jim Murray gave Crown Royal’s Northern Harvest Rye his ‘best whisky of the year’ award for 2016, drinkers lost their collective minds. How could a Canadian whisky beat out the entire world’s supply of whisky?? And one that was less than $40 a bottle no less.

Because Canadian whisky is better than you think. And here are a few bottles to prove it.

J.P. Wiser’s 35

Wiser’s is not an unfamiliar brand to most Canadians, but what makes this bottle unique is it’s the oldest whisky Wiser’s has ever put out. The wait was worth it. In 2018, this won Canadian Whisky of the Year, and has a number of other medals to show off as well. It’s not cheap though, a bottle will easily run over $150.

Lot 40

Lot 40 is a superstar Canadian rye that was discontinued in the early 2000s, but there was such an uproar that the Hiram Walker distillery revived the whisky, and you can now find a good supply of Lot 40 across Canada and the US. The 100-percent rye puts the spotlight on Canadian spice, with pure, heady flavours of dark pumpernickel, citrus, and pepper. Lot 40 is perfect for bold rye cocktails.

Alberta Rye Dark Batch

It makes a whole lot of sense that one of Canada’s best whiskies would come from a province that knows a thing or two about grains. Dark Batch is a blend of 91% rye, 8% bourbon and 1% sherry, making it multi-layered and definitely unique. Alberta Distillers is the number one rye producer in North America with more than 450,000 barrels aging on site.

Signal Hill

Compared to some of the older brands on this list, Signal Hill is relatively new. However, what they don’t have in age, they are making up for in taste. Aged in three different barrels then blended; this ultra-smooth whisky opens with a delicate nose of honey, vanilla, dried fruit and a touch of barrel spice. The palate is rich with a round and creamy mouthfeel followed by a lengthy, warm finish.

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

Of course this was going to make the list. While some may feel like this whisky has been much overblown since 2016, there is a reason it received top accolades by one of the world’s most renowned whisky experts. In fact, Murray has liked it so much that he’s awarded it best Canadian whisky for 2017 and 2018. All that, and it’s still under $40, so that’s hard to beat.

Forty Creek 22 Year Old Rye

Finally, if you’re looking to splurge then this is the Canadian whisky to buy. Coming in at well over $200 in most provinces, the 22 year old rye is an excellent example of why Canada should be a contender for solid whisky. It also doesn’t hurt that this particular bottle took home Canadian Whisky of the Year at this years Canadian Whisky Awards.

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January 24th is National Beer Can Appreciation Day, and so in celebration of this auspicious day we’ve pulled together a collection of beer cans that most definitely should be celebrated both for the can, and for the beer inside!

Collective Arts Brewing

Honestly this entire post could just be about Collective Arts Brewing. The brewery is founded on principles of fusing craft beer, emerging artist and musicians into one beautiful masterpiece. Each can series is an original design by a handpicked artist, and the artwork manages to be creative and descriptive at the same time.

Powell Brewing

Powell Street used to do everything in growler or bomber bottles, but since they embraced cans, their entire aesthetic has blossomed. Core beers, and special releases all get these fantastic, bold designs that definitely make Powell stand out on the shelves.

Phillips Brewing

We’re highlighting this one particular beer from Phillips Brewing because of how totally epic the design is. The Electric Unicorn White IPA smacks you in the face with rad 80’s vibes. Where else are you going to get a beer featuring a space unicorn shooting lasers from its eyes?

Apex Predator Brewing

Alberta’s Apex Predator Brewing came out with a limited series of beer based on villainous characters and the artwork on each can was justifiably appropriate. Beers like the Veruca Salted Brownie Oatmeal Stout not only looked cool, but tasted great as well.

Four Winds Brewing

Sometimes clean designs speak louder than anything else. That’s certainly the case with Four Winds and their beautiful Notus series of cans that feature clean geometric shapes and lines. These are instantly recognizable while staying true to the original Four Winds brand and design.

Twin Sails Brewing

Speaking of minimal design, Port Moody brewery Twin Sails has fully embraced the minimalist look in their can series, and it works incredibly well for them. For those in the know, they are instantly recognizable and the simple design helps inform exactly what beer is inside.

Superflux

Arguably one of the first breweries to champion the artists can design on the west coast, Superflux brewing doesn’t even have their own location (yet) but has somehow managed to establish a standard for both artistic design and minimalism that many brewers have worked to emulate over the years. If Collective Arts is the artistic leader on the East Coast, Superflux is the gold standard on the west.

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Generally when you walk into a cocktail bar that has a wall virtually covered in top shelf alcohol, you know you’re in the right spot.

Paper Plane is no except to this rule. The small, but beautifully designed space invites patrons to sit back and relax and let the bartender take care of your every need. While the establishment goes to great lengths to prepare a unique cocktail list, where their strength truly lies is on the far left of the wall. There, small oak barrels are vessels of alchemy, transforming concoctions of spirits, aperitifs and botanicals into barrel-aged delights.

The hallmark of barrel-aged cocktails is their mellowness. Three months in a barrel takes the edge off even the strongest whiskey. This allows the bartenders the ability to play with different flavours and aromas, bringing out some truly creative barrel-aged cocktails.

In addition to constant experimentation within the barrels, the bar is regularly going through a rotation of new and exciting drinks. Currently on their 10th rotation, drinks like the Yippie Ki Yay Motherf**ker (Sweet Potato, Barbados Rum, Cachaça, Trinidad Overproof Rum, Dry Curaçao, Marshmallow Orgeat, Lime) or the Bad Santa (Hot Milk Punch with Barbados Rum, Trinidad Overproof Rum, Bavaria Arrack, Pineapple Juice, Lemon Juice, Almond Milk, 8 Spices, Coconut Water, Coconut Oil) showcase just how totally outside the box these bartenders are.

 

There is a small selection of food as well, designed to compliment the unique flavours of whatever is being poured at the bar.

Owners Dan Phan and Johnny Wang, also own craft beer haven Original Gravity Public House next door, but for Paper Plane they wanted to make a craft cocktail bar that was exciting and accessible to the masses, and they’ve achieved that.

It’s a wonderfully sophisticated, but laid back environment that stands out from the rest of the establishments nearby. San Jose is lucky to have such a venue.

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Beer festivals are a dime a dozen, but cocktail festivals are a rare breed. Finding a good cocktail festival is like finding that hidden bar or restaurant that you don’t really want to tell your friends about. We’re really bad at keeping secrets though, so here’s some of the best cocktail festivals to prepare for this year!

Tales of the Cocktail (New Orleans)

Tales of the Cocktail may be the single most well known cocktail event on the globe. Hosted in New Orleans, the industry descends on the city every year to showcase the latest and greatest in spirits and mixology, and there is plenty of booze to be had. It’s a can’t miss event for anyone with a passing interest in cocktails. This year the event runs from July 16th-21st.

Art of the Cocktail (Victoria, Canada)

Art of The Cocktail is one of the biggest cocktail parties on the West Coast of Canada! With over 40 exhibitors & 60 spirits being served, they bring the party to the heart of Victoria. This festival is generally held in October.

San Diego Spirits Festival

Now in its 11th year, the San Diego Spirits Festival is a massive party. The festival is an event that promotes cocktail culture and is the premiere West coast spirits festival held on the beautiful San Diego bay. With bartender competitions, tastings, seminars and parties, the festival offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity for brands to be supported and gain recognition among San Diego’s cocktail and culinary community and beyond. This year the party is August 24, 25.

Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival (Kansas City)

The Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival is a multi-day educational and entertainment spectacular. It celebrates and highlight the talented bartenders & enthusiasts of the Midwest, where attendees can learn from the world-class people of the industry.  The days include focused seminars by the best in the business, paired dinners, music performances and grand old good time. The event is generally hosted in September.

Apres Ski Cocktail Classic (Aspen)

The Après Ski Cocktail Classic is an annual slope-side celebration blending all things Après with Craft Spirits. Set in Aspen, the four-day event features the Après Tasting Experience, craft cocktails, seminars by award-winning mixologists and brand ambassadors, snow parties, pop-up bars, demonstrations, fireside chats, spirit-paired dinners, special on-mountain events, and the Great Après Ski Pub Crawl & Cocktail Competition. You can find the event this year running between March 14-19.

London Cocktail Week

London Cocktail Week is the original DrinkUp.London festival and this year marks it’s tenth anniversary, meaning they’ve organized ten full days of celebrations! The festival will get you trying special £6 cocktails in the best bars in London, as well as playing host to The Cocktail Village – a giant playground of cocktails in the heart of Brick Lane.

Singapore Cocktail Festival

Singapore’s Cocktail Festival is Asia’s largest celebration of cocktail event, bringing you world-class mixology experiences for a memorable nightlife with our bar tours, guest bartenders, drink makers & lovers from around the world. Held in May, they have a number of participating bars around the city as well as a central cocktail village similar to London Cocktail Week.

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Anyone that has been to Hanoi knows exactly what Bia Hoi is, and why it’s likely the cheapest beer you’ll ever drink.

Bia Hoi is relatively simple. Think of it as a Czech-inspired pilsner, but in Hanoi Bia Hoi is brewed daily and has little to no maturation time, so we’re talking about a beer that is incredibly light in both taste and alcohol content, coming in at essential 2-3% ABV. Bia Hoi has no preservatives and is fairly unregulated, so it’s very easy to get a spoiled batch, something that is quite obvious to the palate.

But here’s the real kicker: it’s typically priced between 3000vnd and 7000vnd which is equivalent to 15 US cents to 35 US cents per 12oz bottle, making it a fraction of the price of any beer you’ve ever had.

The best part about Bia Hoi is the culture surrounding the drink itself. Unlike conventional drinking establishments; Bia Hoi is a casual affair, with cheap plastic stools spilling out onto the streets and each glass typically ending with an friendly Vietnamese man pouring your next round before you’ve even finished the last, cheering “Bia Hoi! Bia Hoi!”

Drinkers will sit for hours and pound back Bia Hoi without a care in the world. It definitely helps the drink has very little alcohol, as by your fifth one, you’ll be more concerned about finding a washroom than about the possibility of a hangover the next day (some even swear Bia Hoi doesn’t lead to hangovers, but that’s likely more due to the massive amounts needed to be consumed to get drunk than anything).

If you’re unfamiliar with Bia Hoi, the concept can seem a little strange, even dirty, at first. Who would want to sit on an uneven plastic stool much too close to oncoming traffic and drink beer from a dirty glass and a keg that looks like it’s seen better days? The reality is, if you don’t partake, you’re missing out on one of Northern Vietnam’s most cherished nightlife traditions, and you may even start to enjoy it. Just remember, it’s not the best beer you’ll ever have, just the cheapest.

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