Recipes: 10 Refreshing Summer Cocktails
Photo: Courtesy of No. 99 Whisky
It’s summer, warm breezes are the order of the day and a sense of kicking back and relaxing — drink in hand — starts to settle in.
We may not be able to fully head out to enjoy our local just yet, but you can practice the art of mixology at home and impress your social bubble. And, it wouldn’t be totally Canadian unless there was a bit of a spirit of giving back. Many of the companies featured here embarked on charitable initiatives during the pandemic.
For example, most of the parent companies of these spirits — Corby, Diageo, Beam Suntory, Campari Canada and Moët Hennessy/Charton Hobbs — donated $50,000 each to the Bartenders Benevolent Fund, a Canadian non-profit organization that raises much-needed funds for bartenders, servers and other hospitality staff who have fallen under serious financial hardship.
So in that spirit of giving back, we’ve asked a few of our favourite bar experts to share recipes using made-in-Canada spirits.
1. Northern Keep Vodka Soda
This premium vodka is made with Canadian rye and winter wheat by Alberta Distillers, named Distillery of the Decade at the 2020 Canadian Whisky Awards. It’s been distilled five times before bottling for smoothness. The feel-good factor: every bottle of Northern Keep sold will help to protect 5 square feet of ecologically significant land through the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC).
1 part Northern Keep® Vodka
3 parts premium Soda Water
Lemon and lime for garnish
Fill a rocks glass with ice. Add vodka and soda. Garnish with a lemon and lime twist.
2. Prairie Queen (Served in REIGN)
This cocktail, created by the Fairmont Royal York’s Director of Mixology, Rus Yessenov, in Toronto, is served at the hotel’s freshly minted Reign restaurant, using Dillon’s 14th in Line gin. The spirit is distilled in the Niagara Region using botanicals from the Royal York’s rooftop herb garden.
1oz Dillon’s ‘14th in Line’ Gin
1oz Lot 40 Rye
1.5oz Ginger & Carrot Syrup
.75oz Lemon Juice
Dill sprig for garnish
Method: Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Fine strain into a chilled Nick & Nora glass. A Trivia Note: A Nick & Nora glass is a hybrid of a champagne coupe and a martini glass; it’s named after Nick and Nora Charles, the famed fictional detective couple of the silver screen-era (think The Thin Man) played by William Powell and Myrna Loy.
3. No. 99 Ginger Old Fashioned
Treat yourself to a cocktail that’s good enough for the Great One. It’s wonderfully simple, only requiring a few ingredients — perfect for your DIY staycation. It’s one of Wayne Gretzky Estates’ most beloved cocktail recipes, courtesy of Estate mixologist Zac Kvas, and a nice summery twist on a classic Old Fashioned.
- 2 OZ. No. 99 Red Cask Whisky (or any whisky you have at home)
- 1 OZ. Gretzky Ginger syrup (or any ginger syrup you have at home)
- 10 shakes ginger bitters
- Orange zest
- Fresh ginger
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Muddle hard on orange peel. Add ice, and stir until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with fresh ginger and mint.
4. 40 Creek Whisky’s The Engineer
The feel-good factor: in 2020 they switched up the production line to include high-alcohol sanitizer at their Grimsby-based Forty Creek Distillery. The sanitizer was delivered to local community organizations including the Canadian Red Cross and St Catharines Hospital Niagara.
- 2 oz Forty Creek Spike Honey Spiced Whisky
- 0.75 oz Lime juice
- 2 dashes of bitters
- Topped with Ginger Beer to taste
Build the cocktail in a Collins glass. Add ice and give it a quick stir to mix ingredients. Garnish with lime zest.
5. Bloody Queen Caesar
Try this twist on the great Canadian classic, created in Calgary a little more than 50 years ago.
1 oz gin
.25 oz stout beer
4 oz Walter Craft Caesar Mix (Mild Spice)
1 bar spoon HP Sauce
2 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
Pinch salt & pepper
Rim: lemon, Walter Craft Caesar Rim
Garnish: fresh cucumber, lemon wheel
Rim glass with lemon juice and Caesar rim. Fill glass with ice, add gin, stout, Caesar mix, remaining ingredients, stir gently. Top with salt and pepper, garnish and enjoy. Cheerio mum!
6. Crown Royal Crown and Cola
The oh-so-posh factor: This Gimli, Manitoba-made spirit, was originally created by Seagram in 1939 as a gift to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on their first royal visit, hence the crown-shaped bottle.
- 1.5 oz. Crown Royal Fine De Luxe Blended Canadian Whisky
- 4 oz. cola
- 1 lime wedge
Pour whisky into an ice-filled shaker or highball glass. Add cola and stir. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Trendspotting: Like a Rainbow
There’s a movement toward coloured spirits, and three of the best are made right here in Canada. Why not have a little bit of fun while you’re sipping?
7. Gold: Ungava Gin Grapefruit Tonic
1.5 oz. ungava® premium gin
2 oz. tonic water
1 grapefruit wedge
Fill an old-fashioned glass with ice cubes. Add the gin and tonic water. Stir well and garnish with a grapefruit wedge.
8. Black: Hounds Vodka Caesar
- 1 oz of Hounds Black Vodka
- 2 dashes of hot pepper sauce (tabasco)
- 1 dash of Worcestershire, or to taste
- .5 of lime juice
- 8 oz of clamato juice cocktail
- Ice cubes
- Walter Caesar Rimmer
Wet the rim of a cocktail glass with the lime wedge; set aside for garnish. Place Walter Caesar Rimmer in a small dish, and press the rim of the glass into the salt to coat. Add ice to the glass.Pour Hounds vodka, Worcestershire sauce, and hot pepper sauce over the ice; top with tomato-clam juice. Garnish with lime wedge and mini pickles and olives.
9. Blue: Empress Gin’s Royal Spritz
1.5 oz Empress gin
2 oz Cranberry Juice
Fresh (or frozen) berries
Build ingredients in a stemless wine glass, starting with berries in the bottom, followed by ice. Layer the cranberry juice, sparkling wine and finally, the gin on top. Garnish with a mint spring. Stir before sipping.
And, because we do love some je ne sais quoi
Okay this last one’s not made with a Canadian spirit, but we’ll excuse that as it’s Cognac, a nod to our Franco-Canadian heritage.
10. Hennessy VSOP Old-Fashioned
2 ½ Parts Hennessy V.S.O.P
1 Part simple syrup
2 Dashes of bitters
Garnish: Orange Twist
Mix all ingredients over ice. Stir. Garnish with orange or lemon twist.