Archives for the month of: March, 2013


This is not a sidecar. It’s the Scooter. Clever, right? I replaced the cognac with pisco, I replaced the cointreau with maraschino, I replaced the lemon juice with guava juice, I added some Boker’s Bitters and a shook it and served it straight up, with a cherry. This one went over really well at the Gwai Lo Pop Up. I wanted something that the guests at Sen5es that order cosmos and kamikazis like it’s 1993 would not be afraid of.  Also, it’s part of my dipping my toe into the Tiki puddle.

April 8th I will be doing a workshop for any of my friends that are starting to get into cocktails, or have been bartending for a while now and realized that they aren’t sure what’s built and what’s shaken. Several people have asked me about this, so here’s your chance. Monday April 8th from 1-4(ish) at Rock Lobster, I will be making drinks and explaining how drinks are made in relation to the ones that I make. It will cost you $30 to attend (which is pretty cheap I feel) but I am limiting it to ten people. So, head to the “contact” section of the blog if you are interested. Peace!

Photo: Jessica Blaine Smith



Look at that! I put my face under your drink! 


Just about a year ago when we started working (as opposed to just planning) GwaiLo stuff, Christina Suggested that we get lighters as business cards, which is a solid idea if you smoke, but I don’t, and though I do like lighting stuff on fire, it didn’t seem like the best move for me as a contact info spreading idea.


I never liked the idea of having a business card. I guess in Japan if you are presented with a business card and you don’t read every detail before pocketing it, it’s rude. So I made beer coasters with my face and like 12 words on them. Adam Cook did the face design for the Bar Tour flyer last year and my lady did the coaster design, ordered them and took the pictures that you see here.


If you don’t drink, or aren’t drinking when you get given one of these or find one on a bar top, at a coffee shop, or in your purse (because I’m sneaky) there are other things you can do with it. Look, I have glasses (sometimes true) or a moustache (impossible) or you can just use the blank space on the back to get/give a phone number from/to sexy babetron that has been making eyes at you all night.

Keep and eye out, I’m going to breadcrumb these around the city.


This drink is called a Boulevardier. I have seen it as a 1.5oz Bourbon, 1oz. Campari, 1oz. Sweet Vermouth drink and also as equal proportions. I like the equal proportion version, but with a very rye heavy bourbon like Wild Turkey or Bulleit. This drink is not for wusses. The glass, I feel, suits the drink well. It came from the AGO gift shop.  This drink is stirred and served either on rocks or straight up. You might notice that it is pretty similar to the Negroni, except with whiskey in place of gin. Apparently this drink predates the Negroni, but who really knows this stuff, oh wait, this guy. I also like the idea of having this drink be really cheap (turkey, martini rosso) or really ballin’ (pappy, carpano).

Also, due to a bunch of my friends asking, and the changing of seasons, I will be taking a monday afternoon soon to run through the drink list for Rock Lobster brunch (soon) and the spring/summer list. If you want to come watch me make drinks and hear me talk about cocktails and liquor, let me know and we will get you in to check this stuff out. I haven’t decided yet about a cost for doing this per person, but I imagine it will not be expensive, just a covering cost of liquid and time thing.

Peace til next week, which will be the end of series one of my Drink Of The Week stuff.

Phot, as always, by Jessica Blaine Smith.



This is The Paper Crane. It’s a pretty obvious Paper Plane knock off, but made with Mekhong in place of bourbon. This drink is funny because I started with the name, (Kuypers’ suggestion) and worked backwards. This was part of the Gwai Lo  pop-up menu and in the initial ideas for the Gwai Lo cocktail list we had planned on having a series of drinks that were obviously inspired by classics but with goofy names (Typhoon, Singapore Swizzle etc…). For this drink (which I now think I may have written about before) I use 3/4oz. measures of mekhong, lemon juice, aperol and amaro nonino. Shake the hell out of it and then serve it on rocks. It’s pretty tart and very refreshing with a little spice.

Photo: Jessica Blaine Smith

How can you tell if you’re hanging out with a vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.

I stopped eating eggs on a regular basis when i was about 11 years old. I would still eat them occasionally, depending on what else was around, but the explanation of what they were really grossed me out. Eggs, be they from a chicken, alligator or human sound like nothing I want in my mouth. I still ate a lot of desserts though.

I went vegetarian in 1998. The girl I was dating at the time was veggie and all my favorite bands were veggie and vegan and about a third of my friends were not eating meat, so why not? Plus Taco Bell and The New Ho King are delicious.

I went vegan in 2001. The last thing I ate on purpose that wasn’t vegan was a krispy kreme donut. I worked at 102.1 The Edge and they were dropping off three dozen every morning and I had pretty much been vegan for weeks/months leading up to that point, but have you ever had a Krispy Kreme? They are delicious.

Then I started working with Underground Operations and we were all political and vegetarian and vegan (except for Stacey) but we drank a bunch and were too broke to afford decent meat and cheese anyway. Tour diets were made up almost entirely of cold cans of refried beans on crappy tortillas and spaghetti with tomato sauce. Plus blueberry bagels from Tim Horton’s are delicious (though questionably vegan).


Then in 2006 I started working at The Drake and when you start there you train as a food runner, a busser and a bar back. I excelled at bar backing but would still occasionally have food running shifts, until the brunch crew realized that my adult hands had never cracked an egg. So the extra set of hands during busy brunch services was useless and that’s how I got sent to just straight bar back shifts. Now that you know this, watch me make bourbon sours, it’s hilarious.

Since the Drake, I have worked at hotel in Vancouver (around the corner from Steamrollers), Savoy (curry all the time), Campagnolo (troughs…look at my twitter photos), Gwai Lo (asians love alternate forms of protein) and now Rock Lobster (jerk spice on macaroni noodles, why not? Also Hawker Bar is like 67 steps away and their Lahksa Lemak is amazing) and my being vegan has never really gotten in the way of what I do. I am not the kind of vegan to get in anyone’s face about it. One night at Campagnolo I helped the kitchen out by prepping buffalo heart spiedini. At Rock Lobster I shuck oysters and split lobster tails. I have still never tasted a caesar in my life.


The reasoning behind being vegan in the first place was that there are some issues with the planet. Starvation, lack of water, fuel costs, etc… So you’ve got all this land in the world dedicated to farming grain, then you feed that grain to livestock, then you feed that livestock to people. Along with all the waste of water and fuel and soil that goes along with all those processes, it just seems…wasteful. So why not just grow grains, and feed them to people? All people.

“What about the farmers?” Right? Well, how’s the price of pork been going for the past ten years? And beef? And isn’t there an issue with horse meat in everyone’s burgers right now? So maybe the farmers need to rethink their methods and livelihood. I went to school to learn how to run a  radio station, now I order liquor once a week. I know I’m just one guy and the opportunities presented to me are much different than some guy my age from say Carstairs but we live in a world where adaptability is a mandatory trait.

Anyway, what I wanted to get at was that I’m not calling myself vegan anymore. I plan on spending the rest of my life traveling, and I can’t expect to go to some taco stand in rural Mexico and get tabbouleh. Or walk into a cafe just outside Addis Ababa and get a slice of banana bread that contains no egg, butter or whatever (or banana bread at all). This doesn’t mean that I am going to start eating exclusively at Beast or that I won’t be calling Cory at The Harbord Room before I go in to let him know I’m coming and will be eating vegan (this is a topic for a different post, but it drives me nuts when people assume that chefs will cater to specific diets, even though it flies in the face of what they do as a chef, in the case of The Harbord Room, vegan isn’t that much of a stretch for them and they do it well for me every time I’ve ever been there). I’m still going to Hot Beans as my first choice for burritos in the city and when I go to cities like New York or Portland I’m going to hunt down the vegan joints and I’ll probably stock my hotel room with hummus and almond milk.

The truth is, in the past 6 months or so I have occasionaly sipped drinks with egg white, finished plates of food that my friends were done with that had cheese or whatever on them and at a sherry tasting last November I ate a piece of sausage that was supposed to be the best thing in the city and I thought it tasted like the tofurky things that I bring to every bbq i go to…and I don’t even like them that much.

I am just trying to be respectful of my surroundings and the people in them and the planet in general. So maybe I’m selling out, but all the bands and friends did that forever ago.


Now that Toronto’s Hottest Bartender, Jess’ 10th Anniversary and the big move are all over with we are thinking about our next trip. Other than heading to Boston for 3 days for my friends Holly and Frank’s wedding I haven’t gone away in a long ass time. The last time I went away for longer than a week was when I went to Vancouver to deal with some legal issues and then rode back to Calgary with Mares of Thrace. Then stayed in Calgary for a couple days while Therese dealt with a bunch of legalities of her own. Here’s something not many people know, The Kensington Wine store rules. Also, liquor taxes in Alberta are way different (see almost non-existant) than Ontario taxes. So I went to this liquor store that  Ron from The Diamond recommended I check out. While there I bought a bottle of Lemon Hart, Punt E Mes (readily available, just sitting there on a shelf with a bunch of other liqueurs and fortified wines) Taboo Absinthe and some Luxardo Maraschino. Then I grabbed some citrus from a safeway (SAFEWAY!) on the way back to Therese’s newly purchased and soon to be sold condo. We both needed a drink, so this is what I came up with.

2oz. Lemon Hart
.5oz Punt E Mes
2 Barspoons Maraschino (i was at a shreddeer/videogame developper/transcriber’s a house, so I improvised here)
Absinthe rinse
Lime Zest on top
Served on rocks

So a little in the Red Hook  vein, but really just created from “uh, let’s see what we got here”
I had this on the list at Campagnolo for a while, and I know Robin Kaufman loved it. Of course that version was made with Gosling’s Black Seal and the punt e mes cost like 12 dollars more per bottle.


Oh yeah the name! It comes from an episode of Star Trek The Next Generation where Cpt. Picard goes back to Earth and visits his families winery. His brother, with whom he’s always had a tenuous relationship, starts giving Jean-Luc the gears about drinking synthohol and the Captain responds with “drinking synthohol heightens one’s appreciation for the genuine article”. BOOM!

Drink Photo, of course, by Jessica Blaine Smith.

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