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This drink is one of my favorites that Christina Kuypers ever came up with. We had it on the menu for the month long Gwai Lo pop up last fall and it is one of those simple to make but complex to taste as long as it’s made properly.

We used 1.5oz El Dorado 12 year rum, .75oz. Cynar and .5oz. Amaro Montenegro. You stir it and then flame an orange cheek (which took me a few hours to remember how to do properly, I have it down now as I was demonstrating at my friend Wendy’s house last week in Ridgeway). Served straight up in a coupe, this is one of the least summer style drinks you will see on a drinks blog this summer. Deal with it.

I am at Tales of the Cocktail right now so come find me. I’ll be with the Sailor Jerry guys for a lot of the week, and otherwise, just look for the coaster.

Sorry I haven’t posted in a few weeks, you know how summer gets.


Here are a few things though.

Sailor Jerry Rum has invited me to go to Tales Of The Cocktail with them. I am really excited and feel really lucky to have this chance. If you find yourself there, just look for wherever Sailor Jerry is and I will be there. When I get back I will set up the basics class. To the people that have gotten in touch about it, I promise it’s coming. To anyone else interested, please e-mail me.

Bar Isabel is an amazing place to work. I am learning a lot and with Mike Webster and I working together, I feel like I am improving my skills rapidly.

I have been working out a lot lately and have managed to put on weight. Having been a skinny white guy my whole life, I feel really good about it. So does my girlfriend, because she gets to work on her photos while I’m in the living room working out, which I’m told is funnier than anything on TV.


We were in Mexico a few months ago, when I got back I had an e-mail in my inbox asking if I would be interested in making drinks at The Stop Night Market. Last year the event was such a hit that this year they held it over two nights. I was scheduled for night number two and was asked to come up with a cocktail using Meukow cognac.
If you aren’t aware, traditionally, cognac is associated with colder climates. Consumed after hearty meals in front of fires on bear skin rugs or sitting in terrifically ornate, throne-like chairs.  Working this delicious cognac into a summer time drink was a challenge.


Meukow in particular is very oak heavy so mixing it with other spirits works well, but going juicy is not so simple. When we were in Mexico in April, though, I remembered Jamaica (ha-MIKE-ah) being a floral, bitter syrup that was added to soda or water to make a nice refreshing drink but with some round character to it. BINGO! I made 5 litres of syrup using dried Jamaica flowers and added some lemon juice and a healthy dose of cognac. There we are, a lemonade, but not over sweet or sour and nicely rounded by the afformentioned woodsy overtones. When the event was over (we ran out in about an hour and 15 minutes) I had about 3 litres of the syrup left over, so we ran it as a special at Bar Isabel and we ran out there too. I guess I found a winner. Even though I never properly came up with a name. After the night market myself and a handful of friends headed to Pharmacy where some of my best friends, got very creative with my coasters.

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A few other things:

1. The new Black Sabbath record is not bad. I had my doubts about it, but it sounds like pretty classic sabbath, just with modern production.

2. I am planning on doing some more competitions in the next little while.

3. If you work for a liquor company and need a hand at any of your events, please call me.

4. I am just stocking up on bar supplies to start running my beginners course on a regular basis. If you are (still) interested, hit me up.

That little nugget of information was conveyed to me by a dude named Matt that is affiliated with Tromba in Australia. I had no Idea that Paloma meant anything other than “delicious tequila and grapefruit soda drink” before we met. I also hadn’t eaten 1/2 a pound of  pork tacos in one sitting, but that’s a different blog post.


Pretty much anyone that has some tequila and some ting can make this drink. I make it by filling a tall glass with ice, then pouring in 2oz. of tequila, then filling it with the grapefruit soda.
What’s that? You haven’t got any ting?
Well, have you got some club soda? How about a grapefruit? BOOM! That should cost you about 65 cents. You can do this. I believe in you.

Summer looks like it might be here for longer than 2 or 3 days at a time (finally) so drink some Palomas. I know this guy does.

Also, tonight I will be at The Stop Night Market, making drinks with Meukow Cognac. See you there.

jbs-TheAviation02The Aviation fell into obscurity once prohibition was repealed. That’s when things like gin and whisky took too long to get/make, so vodka kind of took over. Also, throughout the years both Maraschino Liqueur and Creme De Violette have been available really infrequently in North America, especially Ontario so the drink only got a new life in the last 10 years or so.

jbs-TheAviation03London dry gin, lemon juice, and the above mentioned liqueurs give this drink a zippy, refreshing kick that makes me want to make a pitcher of them. The garnish is a proper maraschino cherry (not one of these), and usually they are skewered. In general, I’m not into skewering garnishes. I like seeing them IN the drink, through the side of the glass, not perched like a vulture. Of course if I’m making someone else’s drink I garnish as I’ve been instructed. With something like The Aviation though, I feel safe just dropping the cherry in the glass.

If you’re curious, I got the bottle of Violette from Craig as a going away present at Campagnolo and have managed to only use like 5 ounces out of it. I treasure it as much as Short Round treasures his Yankees hat.
Photos, taken minutes before a rain storm, by: Jessica Blaine Smith


In case you were living under a rock, with your eyes covered and your ears plugged, on Mars, you know that Broken Social Scene played their first show in 2 years yesterday at Fort York in Toronto as part of what looks like it will be a yearly festival called Field Trip. It was a really good thing for Toronto, as for the last month or so we have been even more embarrassed by our clown of a mayor. The whole thing was very well planned and laid out. Jess was asked to shoot the event for The Hip and Urban Girl’s Guide website and I was her “assistant” (“would you like a beer?”). Cold Specks and Stars were the two bands I really wanted to see. Bloc Party were a nice surprise. But the thing I was most surprised by were 3 people wearing t-shirts I hadn’t expected to see there. Now, don’t go thinking I was outright surprised that someone could be into melodic hardcore and also Feist, I just didn’t expect to see the shirts around is all. The irony of being the guy with SLAYER, Minor Threat and Closet Monster tattoos and writing this is not lost on me.

3. Bad Religion. This one was the least surprising of the shirts I’m gonna mention here. This band has been around for like 30 years and has played as many festivals with as many bands as anyone so not too surprised. But I didn’t see the 22 year kid with a mohawk and a BR shirt coming.

2. Snapcase. Who even has a Snapcase shirt anymore? My favorite thing they ever did was a misfits cover, but they definitely played around a lot. I think they did a tour with the deftones at one point, so maybe that’s where this guy got it. He definitely was not sXe, as he spent most of BSS’s set falling into people.

1. SPAZZ. Okay, seriously? Grinding thrash from the late nineties and early 2000’s? On 625?And this dude looked like he loved Hayden. I have a SPAZZ CD that is a compilation of 3 of their LPs and it might be 35 minutes long.

Honourable Mention: The guy in a misfits t-shirt. Not so surprising, the crimson ghost is everywhere but the bondage pants and The Business ass-flap really set off the whole ensemble.


It’s been a while since I posted. Sorry. I have been learning everything about Bar Isabel and getting ready for The Stop Night Market. I will be making cocktails with Meukow cognac. You know how tough it is to make a cognac cocktail for summer time? So after a few tries at something summer-y that isn’t a Sidecar I came up with this.

2oz. Meukow
.5oz. Domaine De Canton Ginger Liqueur
5 drops Bitter End Mexican Mole Bitters


Not really summery and not the drink I’ll be doing for The Stop Night Market, but a delicious drink of the week anyway. Also, as the name indicates, it’s a nice sweet warm hug from mom. As for the drink for the night market, I don’t have a name for it yet, but there is a flower involved. I’ll tell you about that one later.

Also, I have had three or four inquiries about doing another cocktail basics class.
This one will be geared more toward home/hobby bartending, rather than executing cocktails at high volume. If you want in, please e-mail me, and I will start to set up a time/date.

Photos of wooden pegasus and warm hug from mom by: Jessica Blaine Smith


There it is! Juan Guzman.
Everyone in the city is talking baseball because, well, we have a team that has the capacity to do really, really well. This drink is a nice way to enjoy summer, that doesn’t involve $11 beers and screaming kids at a stadium.
1.5oz. Brugal Anejo
.5oz. Rothman & Winter Apricot Liqueur
.5oz. Lime Juice
2 dashes (big ones) of Angostura Bitters
Shake the hell out of it on ice and serve it straight up, with a mint sprig as garnish.
Also, if you are wondering, I have moved again, work-wise. I am now at Bar Isabel 3-4 nights a week. I am really excited to be working there. It seems like a great team and we launch our summer list soon, so keep an eye out.

Photos: Jessica Blaine Smith



Fortuna Mezcal has been in and around the city doing a bunch of events over the past few months. I featured a drink called a Long Winter which was a mezcal drink on MTV a few months ago. This week I had photos taken of a different mezcal drink called Say “What” Again!. This drink is made with smokey, leathery Fortuna, Victoria Oaken Gin that I won from the Toronto’s Hottest Bartender Competition (thanks again for voting), my favorite liqueur in the world, Tuaca and some Bitter End Mexican Mole Bitters. Imagine it as a Perfect Manhattan as far as proportions go.


What, you don’t know how to make a Perfect Manhattan? Maybe you should check out the “Services” page on my website, get in touch, and I can come teach you. It’ll be fun.

Photos, as always, by Jessica Blaine Smith

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