Toronto Cocktail Week: Bartender tells the story behind Sex and the City’s favourite drink

Toronto Cocktail Week: Bartender tells the story behind Sex and the City’s favourite drink

This article originally appeared in the Toronto Star on September 26, 2013. Dale DeGroff offered up the Cosmo to Madonna at the Rainbow Room in 1988. The rest is history. While the jury is still out on who invented the Cosmopolitan cocktail, any bartender will tell you the vodka and cranberry drink was popularized by Dale DeGroff, who revitalized the moribund cocktail scene in the 1980s. According to DeGroff, the drink was created in test…

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Nice day for a white whisky

Nice day for a white whisky

In Niagara, Dillons is the latest to make craft booze with a local bent. When distiller Geoff Dillon wants to experiment with new recipes, boxes of pears and plum arrive from neighbouring fields at his Beamsville distillery. When his father, Peter Dillon, wants to increase their selection of cocktail bitters, he scrapes bark from a walnut tree near a winery where they once lived. Home-grown distilling like this hasn’t existed in Ontario since the 19th…

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What’s vital in a cocktail? Good spirits, say old hands

What’s vital in a cocktail? Good spirits, say old hands

This article originally appeared in the Toronto Star on July 7, 2013. Advice is flowing freely ahead of Monday’s world-class cocktail mixing competition at the Toronto SoHo Metropolitan Hotel. Philip Duff spends much of his time judging cocktail competitions. Ironic, he says, because the world-renown mixologist never won anything when he was an up-and-coming bartender. “When I started out, a contest was for a case of light beer and a T-shirt, and it was judged by…

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Macallan releasing new range of single malt whiskies

Macallan releasing new range of single malt whiskies

This article originally appeared in the Toronto Star on July 2, 2013. Macallan distillery is releasing a new range of single malts, eschewing age statements in lieu of wood maturation. In Skyfall, James Bond is seen sipping Macallan Scotch whisky. The British secret agent might prefer his martini shaken, not stirred, but how old does he like his single malt scotch? It soon won’t matter. With the release of its new 1824 range, available at…

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Kampai Toronto, a sake festival for lovers of brewed rice

Kampai Toronto, a sake festival for lovers of brewed rice

This article originally appeared in the Toronto Star on May 29, 2013. Kampai Toronto offers 100 varieties of saki at the Fermenting Cellar in the Distillery District on May 30. “Try some sake. It’s rice wine.” John Gauntner, one of the world’s leading sake experts, hears this all the time. “Rice wine is a misnomer. It doesn’t actually exist,” he says. Sake, Japan’s national beverage, is brewed — not fermented like wine or distilled like…

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Master mixologists compete over Toronto’s best cocktail

Master mixologists compete over Toronto’s best cocktail

This article originally appeared in the Toronto Star on March 27, 2013. As Robin Kaufman pours his rum-based cocktail into a glass, he shares the most important ingredient in mixology: the conversation. “The cocktail is expected of you as a job, but the conversation is the real skill, the real finesse,” he says. Earlier this week, the 27-year-old Nova Scotia native was awarded both the public and judge’s prizes at the Toronto edition of Made…

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Corn shortage worries bourbon connoisseurs

Corn shortage worries bourbon connoisseurs

  Canadians have discovered American-style whiskey — bourbon, that’ll be — but a drought in the U.S. corn belt has hurt supplies to the legendary Kentucky distillers. Craft producers who source corn locally have fared better. Seated in a corner booth at the bar of the Drake Hotel, Fred Noe, Jim Beam’s seventh-generation master distiller, has plenty of family stories to share. “My dad had me around the distillery from the time I was a…

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