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Archive for the ‘Cocktails & Recipes’ Category

Autumn Margarita

Posted by Arctic Wolf on September 13, 2015

dulce vida autumn margarita SAM_1712A few days ago, I made the point that as the weather turns cooler, my preferences with respect to the style of cocktail which I enjoy begins to change. When the evenings turn chill, I often want a stronger more intense cocktail than the typical tall deck drink offers. Making such a bar drink with an aged spirit rather than a young clear spirit also offers a cocktail with more depth and character.

Here is my Autumn Margarita made with those cool evenings in mind.

Autumn Margarita

2 oz Añejo Tequila (Dulce Vida Organic)
3/4 oz Orange Curacao
1/2 oz fresh Lime Juice
1/2 oz fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 oz sugar syrup (1:1 ratio)
Lime Slice

Add the first five ingredients into a metal cocktail shaker with ice
Shake until the sides of the shaker frost
Strain into a cocktail glass
Add a Lime Slice for garnish


If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more mixed drink recipes!

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Classic Cocktail: Rum Old Fashioned

Posted by Arctic Wolf on September 10, 2015

Most persons consider the Old Fashioned Cocktail to be a bar drink primarily for whisky lovers. And the mixed drink does taste great when made with an aged whisky. However, when made with an aged rum of quality, the cocktail is just as tasty. I like to experiment a little when I make bar drinks and for the recipe shown below I have used two kinds of bitters for my cocktail (Angostura bitters and Fees Cocktail Bitters). The Angostura bitters add a very nice hit of cloves (amongst other flavours), and the Fees Cocktail bitters seem to be heavier on the cinnamon. For myself the combination works well. I have also experimented with different citrus rind, but I always seem to go back to orange peel for the best results.

Paired with some nice bittersweet chocolate, the Rum Old Fashioned is a spectacular evening indulgence.

Rum Old Fashioned SAM_1708Rum Old Fashioned

2 oz Flor de Caña 7 Gran Reserva
1 tsp simple syrup
2 or 3 drops Angostura Bitters
1 or 2 drops Fees Cocktail Bitters
3 large ice cubes
1 twist of orange peel

Add the first four ingredients to a rocks glass over the ice cubes
Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink. (This will release the oil from the orange zest into the drink)
Drop the peel into the cocktail if desired.

Please Enjoy Responsibly!

Note: If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!

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Cocktail Hour: The Autumn Daiquiri

Posted by Arctic Wolf on September 5, 2015

Aged rums are not just for sipping neat or mixing with cola. In fact, daiquiri-style cocktails made with aged rum have an added dimension of flavour which is very appealing. Here is one such mixed drink I recently created for the cool autumn evenings which are sure to be on their way.

Dark Wing Daiq SAM_1694Autumn Daiquiri

2 oz Flor de Caña 5 (Añejo Clasico)
1/2 oz Orange Curacao
3/4 oz fresh Lime Juice
3/4 oz fresh Lemon Juice
1 oz sugar syrup (1:1 ratio)
Lemon slice

Add the first five ingredients into a metal cocktail shaker with ice
Shake until the sides of the shaker frost
Strain into a cocktail glass
Add a Lemon Slice for garnish


If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more mixed drink recipes!

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Mixed Drink: The Honeylemon Ginger Julep

Posted by Arctic Wolf on September 2, 2015

Here is a tall refreshing deck drink suitable for summer evenings with friends and family.

Honeylemon Ginger Julep SAM_1707Honeylemon Ginger Julep
(an Arctic Wolf Recipe)

2 oz Wild Turkey 81 Bourbon
1 oz Wild Turkey Honey
1 1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz sugar syrup (1:1 ratio)
a splash of ginger-ale to fill

Muddle 2 sprigs of mint with the sugar syrup in the bottom of a shaker
Add the Wild Turkey 81, the Wild Turkey Honey and the Lemon Juice
Shake over ice until the cocktail shaker frosts
Fine strain into a tall glass filled with ice
Complete with a splash of ginger-ale and stir
Garnish with another sprig of mint

Enjoy Responsibly!

Note: If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!

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Martini Monday: The Gin Martini

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 29, 2015

Gin Martini

Gin Martini

Gin appears to be the original Martini spirit. There is some speculation as to how exactly this bar drink evolved, the beginnings of this cocktail form was perhaps initiated as early as 1888 when a recipe for a bar drink which consisted of half a wine glass of Old Tom Gin, and half a wine glass of Vermouth was published (Johnson, Harry (1888), The New and Improved Illustrated Bartenders’ Manual; Or: How to Mix Drinks of the Present Style). Over time this simple bar drink evolved and changed into the present day Martini.  

Prohibition did its part to popularize the Martini as its main ingredient, Gin, was very easy for an illicit establishment to produce (illegally), and by the time prohibition ended, the Gin Martin may well have been the most popular bar drink served in North America.

Today, it remains a popular cocktail. Like the Vodka Martini (which arrived later on the scene), the Gin Martini can be served at varying degrees of dryness depending upon the amount of aromatized wine (usually vermouth) is used in its construction. The traditional recipes found in the cocktail guides from the 1920’s usually recommend a ratio of gin to vermouth of 2:1. Modern recipes contain much less vermouth, and in fact my brother-in-law’s favourite recipe calls for his cocktail glass to be rinsed with Vermouth only and the rest of the volume of his cocktail to be gin and garnish.

Traditional Gin Martini (cucumber garnish)

Traditional Gin Martini (cucumber garnish)

At the recent Belvedere Martini Seminar hosted by Ali Dedianko, Belvedere Vodka Global Ambassador, she made the point that we should perhaps explore also a larger range of garnishes than the typical olive or lemon peel. One of the garnishes she suggested was cucumber, and that is the direction I have chosen to go for this particular construction of my Gin Martini which combines No. 3 London Dry Gin and Stock Vermouth with thin slice of cucumber in an excellent Martini cocktail:

The following link will take you to my recipe page:

Gin Martini (with cucumber garnish)

Note: I made this point with respect to the traditional Vodka Martini, and it bears repeating again with respect to the Gin Martini. Once you open any bottle of vermouth, it is important that you realize that all aromatized wines have a very short shelf life. This is because the wine will begin to oxidize almost immediately, and after only one short week (even if the bottle is refrigerated) it’s flavour will have undergone a noticeable and undesirable change. I suspect in fact, that it is experiences with bad vermouth that have led many people to decrease its volume in the classic martini cocktail, not understanding that the vinegary component they are tasting is not a normal flavour component of good vermouth.

Please use fresh vermouth whenever you are serving Martini cocktails.

Posted in Cocktails & Recipes | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Martini Monday: Reversing the Vesper

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 22, 2015

Ali Stirs up a Cocktail

Ali Stirs up a Cocktail

Two weeks ago I introduced the Vesper Cocktail (see recipe here) which was conceived and popularized by Ian Fleming in his 1953 James Bond novel, Casino Royal. It is basically a dry Gin Martini with a dollop of Vodka added. Some have claimed the dollop of Vodka served the purpose of smoothing out the relatively strong flavour of Gordon’s Gin which Bond called for in the original recipe. (If you read my Gordon’s Gin Review written several years ago, I make mention of the unusually strong flavour of this dry gin.)

The Reverse Vesper is a variation upon the original cocktail, and it was introduced to me by Belvedere Global Ambassador, Ali Dedianko. Ali was in Edmonton this past Spring presenting a “Crafting the Perfect Belvedere Martini” seminar for an intimate gathering of local media. Ali featured the Reverse Vesper and even had all of us sampling the delicious bar drink at the event. We were shown that by reversing the proportions of Gin and Vodka in the original Vesper, we create the reverse cocktail. In this case, rather than using a dollop of Vodka to soothe the flavour of a sharp gin, a dollop of dry gin is used instead to add a light piny character to the traditional Vodka Martini.

Reverse Vesper with Cucumber and Lemon

Reverse Vesper with Cucumber and Lemon

When I decided to reconstruct a Reverse Vesper at home for a few of my friends, I decided to employ a premium vodka which would add its unique flavour and character to the cocktail as well. For this purpose I chose Belvedere Unfiltered Vodka which is distilled from 100 % Dankowski Rye grain grown on a Single Estate. The Belvedere Unfiltered features wonderful light chocolate tones within its rye forward flavour profile. I also decided to use a better gin than Gordon’s, in fact I used one of my favourites, No. 3 London Dry Gin. To give the martini an additional twist, I employed both a cucumber garnish (the flavour of which works very well with both the gin and the vodka), and a twist of lemon peel which pairs well with both dry gin and with the added cucumber.

All of the combined flavours within the Reverse Vesper are simply divine, and you can find my recipe page  here:

The Reverse Vesper Martini

Note: Once one goes down the path of adding a little Gin to their Vodka Martini, or in the case of the Vesper, adding a little Vodka to their Gin Martini; then suddenly a whole new range of mixing possibilities opens up to those inclined to be creative. Many standard cocktails including Gimlets, Daiquiris, Fizzes, and Collins can be the subject of this type of experimentation with the aim of building new cocktails this summer. I embrace this form of creativity, and I encourage all who read my postings to do the same.

Posted in Cocktails & Recipes | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Martini Monday: Shaken Vs Stirred and the Dry Martini

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 15, 2015

Double Strain

Ali Dedianko Double Strains her Martini

As everyone knows (at least those who have been following my Monday Martini series), I was invited to a special Belvedere Martini Seminar hosted by Blevedere’s Vodka Global Ambasssador Ali Dedianko which served as the inspiration for these Martini explorations. One of the topics which came up at her seminar was whether a proper martini should be shaken, or whether it should be stirred?

The popular theory is that the violence of shaking a martini in a cocktail shaker with ice will cause more of that ice to melt, and will therefore dilute your cocktail. Following that line of thinking, it would seem that stirring should be the preferred method of chilling your martini.

However, it is time to debunk this notion that shaking your cocktail to chill it will necessarily cause excessive dilution. The simple fact is that whether you are shaking your cocktail, or whether you are stirring your cocktail, the science of thermodynamics dictates that the same volume of ice will melt to bring your cocktail to zero degrees irregardless of whether it is shaken or stirred. It is not possible for one method to melt more ice that the other when chilling a bar drink.

But, that is not the whole story. What shaking in a cocktail shaker full of ice can do, is break the ice into very small pieces which will slip through the large holes on your cocktail strainer. It is those small ice particles which might make it into the cocktail which cause dilution of your martini as they will continue to melt after the bar drink is poured. That is why, if we choose to shake our Martini to chill it rather than stirring the cocktail in a mixing glass, we should take an additional step and double strain our chilled bar drink into our martini glass. The second strainer should be a fine sieve which will catch those small ice particles. After catching them in the fine sieve, we can then discard them into our bar sink keeping them out of the our bar drink.

Dry Vodka Martini SAM_1606This means that when I make my Dry Vodka Martini, I do not need to worry about dilution. And because I do prefer to shake my martinis rather than to stir them (this saves time), I always remember to double strain the cocktail.

In the case of the Dry Martini recipe I am sharing today, I have decided to additionally shake things up (pun intended) by adding not one but two garnishes to the bar drink. Some purists may believe it is sacrilege to add more than one garnish; but I really enjoy the complimentary flavours of both cucumber and lime in my martini. This is especially true when I use a superior vodka such as Belvedere Unfiltered (my review of this spirit will be published in a few short weeks). This particular premium vodka has a light but firm rye flavour. It makes sense to give this spirit just a little more to work with, and so I will make a small break from tradition.

Here is a link to my recipe page where you will find my Dry Martini:

Dry Vodka Martini (with cucumber and lime)

Note: The moral of this posting is that there is in fact a bit of truth to the idea that cocktails which are shaken rather than stirred may be slightly more diluted. However we can mitigate this effect with a second fine sieve, which is why if a Martini recipes calls for the drink to be shaken, it should always specify that the cocktail should also be double strained.

As noted, I prefer to shake my cocktails. It is a faster way to make multiple cocktails for friends, and it puts on a better show for those who might be watching.


Posted in Cocktails & Recipes | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Martini Monday: The Vesper Cocktail

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 8, 2015

Ali Dedianko, Belvedere Global Vodka Ambassador

Ali Dedianko, Belvedere Global Vodka Ambassador

Last week I introduced everyone to Belvedere’s Vodka Global Ambassador, Ali Dedianko who hosted the Belvedere Martini Seminar which I attended at the downtown Edmonton restaurant, North 53. During that seminar, she introduced me to a very delicious cocktail called the Reverse Vesper (which I will discuss in one of my future postings). The Reverse Vesper is of course, based upon the more famous Martini-style cocktail the Vesper, (which is the subject of this posting).

The Vesper appears to be the invention of Ian Fleming who first published the recipe in his famous 1953 novel, “Casino Royal (which is also of course the novel that introduced the world to the iconic British secret agent, James Bond). In chapter 7 of the novel, Bond tells a bartender to build him a dry martini in a deep champagne goblet. His specific instruction is:

“Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel.”

Felix Leiter who is accompanying him seems impressed with the bar drink, so James Bond goes on to explain to his CIA counterpart:

“I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad.”

Vesper SAM_1604Ian Fleming’s sentiments regarding proper cocktail construction hold a ring of truth as that is indeed the manner in which most of the bartenders I have spoken to prefer to build their best cocktails.

Of course Bond comes up with the perfect name for his cocktail when he meets Vesper Lynd in the next chapter. Her name was chosen by to her parents because she was “born on a dark and stormy night” and thus they chose the Latin word “vesper” for her name which means “evening”. James apparently feels the name suits his cocktail and asks Miss Lynd if he can borrow the name.

I have decided to construct my Vesper Cocktail as closely as possible (given what is available in my home bar setting) to James Bonds original formulation.

You can find this recipe by clicking on the following link which will bring you to my Vesper recipe page:

The Vesper Cocktail

Note: After the 1953 publication of Casino Royale,  the Vesper Cocktail became popular with bartenders around the world; however, the actual name of the drink and its complete recipe was not mentioned on-screen in the original, 1967 Casino Royale Movie. This first Casino Royale movie did not star Sean Connery. Instead actor David Niven played James Bond in what was actually  a spoof film which satirized the other James Bond films produced to that point. It was not until 2006 when the 2nd adaptation of the original Casino Royale novel was released as a movie, that we heard the first onscreen reference to the Vesper cocktail. Of course, by then the original novel had already made it famous.




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Martini Monday: Traditional Martini (with grapefruit peel)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 1, 2015

The Vodka Martini can be served either in the traditional format, some prefer to call this a ‘Wet’ Martini, or in a more modern style which is typically called a ‘Dry’ Martini’. However, what makes a martini wet versus dry is a matter of debate. Most bartenders agree that the distinction between wet and dry is a matter of the amount of aromatized wine (usually vermouth) which is added to the cocktail. A wet martini has a higher ratio of vermouth to gin (or vodka) than does a dry martin. Exactly when the martini slips from wet to dry depends upon which bartender (or which cocktail enthusiast) you are speaking to.

Belvedere Martini Seminar

Ali Dedianko hosting her Belvedere Martini Seminar

At a recent Belvedere Martini Seminar I was invited to (hosted by Ali Dedianko, Belvedere’s Vodka Global Ambassador) it was suggested to me that a martini constructed at a ratio of 1 part vermouth to 2 parts vodka could be considered ‘wet’, whereas a martini constructed at a ratio of 1 part vermouth to 6 parts gin or vodka could be considered ‘dry’. Those ratios are as good a starting point as any; however that elusive tipping point from wet to dry remains a matter of conjecture.

Taditional Martini SAM_1591

Traditional Martini (with grapefruit peel)

The main theme of Ali’s seminar, was not in defining when a martini was wet or dry; it was the suggestion that each person should find their own sweet spot of wetness or dryness where they prefer their martinis to be. It was also suggested that the garnish chosen for your martini need not be confined to olives or lemon peel. Many other garnishes can and should be considered with the thought process being towards a flavour note which would compliment the base spirit and the vermouth rather than clash with them. (At the seminar, Ali Dedianko used cucumber, grapefruit peel, and lemon peel as her chosen garnishes to great effect.)

Over the next several weeks, and taking my cue from Ali who taught me a lot, I will be hosting Martini Mondays here on my website. Each week I will publish a different Martini recipe using different ratios of Vodka (and/or Gin) with Vermouth, and experimenting with different garnishes. The recipes I publish will feature Belvedere Vodka, Belvedere Unfiltered Vodka, No. 3 London Dry Gin, and Stock Vermouth all supplied by Charton Hobbes, and who arranged for me to attend the Belvedere Martini Seminar.

I will begin with a Traditional Martini which features a grapefruit peel garnish. You can find that recipe by clicking the link below which will send you to my recipe page:

Traditional Martini (with grapefruit peel)

It is my hope that some of you try these recipes at home, and perhaps make some suggestions of your own in my comments section. I may include some of your recipes too (depending upon whether I have the ingredients handy).

Enjoy the coming summer months everybody, its Martini Season!


Note: North 53, a fantastic downtown Edmonton Restaurant was the venue for the Belvedere Martini Event. They have a unique menu featuring Northern cuisine and based upon the samplers we were served, the food is delicious! If you are looking for a great downtown restaurant, I recommend you give North 53 a try.

Posted in Cocktails & Recipes | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

2015 Margarita Challenge #2 – Tromba (Blanco Tequila)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 25, 2015

Tromba SAM_1522

Margarita Tromba

I have arrived at the Number 2 Margarita Spirit in my 2015 Rum Howler Margarita ChallengeTequila Tromba (Blanco).

I will admit now, that this particular spirit actually ranked number 1 on my independent scorecard; however my other judges overruled me (although none of my jurors has the Trombo Spirit placed lower than third on any of their scorecards). This new spirit surpised and delighted all of the judges most of whom had never tasted the spirit before. It is well deserving of its high placement in the Margarita Rankings.

In case you are unfamiliar with the brand, Tromba is a new boutique tequila created by Marco Cedano. According to the website information, Marco first forged his reputation in Mexico as the original Master Distiller for Don Julio. After working with one of the largest (and most well-known) tequila brands in the world, he decided to go ahead on his own, as both Master Distiller and Founder his new independent brand, Tequila Tromba.

Sandy Silence SAM_1508

Sandy Silence

Here is a link to my full review of this new Tequila Spirit:

Review: Tromba Tequila (Blanco)

“… I was very delighted with the aroma which the glass presented to the breezes. There was a light but firm punky agave scent within those breezes with had melded very nicely into the typically sharp peppery note of the highland tequila. There is a ‘freshness’ rising into the air with effervescent scents of lime zest combined with fruity agave, hints of spearmint, and a touch of licorice …”

Tromba was in fact such a nice spirit that I could not resist designing a new cocktail experience for this outstanding agave spirit. This mixed drink, Sandy Silence, can be found at the conclusion of the review.

All the best everyone, and stay tuned for the spirit my judges ranked number 1.


Note: If you wish to follow my 2015 Rum Howler Margarita Countdown, I have created a summary page which will list all of the results as they are published. That page is available here:

2015 Rum Howler Margarita Countdown

Posted in Awards, Blanco Tequila, Cocktails & Recipes, Extras, Tequila, Tequila Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »


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