Quench

Dreamtime, Bourbon Time

I’ve always loved the stories where people slip out of the present and into a different time; kid’s stories like Tom’s Midnight Garden, or the Narnia series, or, in adult fiction, The Time Traveller’s Wife. There’s something compelling about the notion of arriving in another time, unmoored from the present, where the universe bends and …

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Sweet news: Northern bitters make beautiful drinks

Yukon concocters, experimenters, cocktail lovers and fans of northern botanicals, take cheer! A kindred spirit walks among us. She is Jennifer Tyldesley, and as you will have recently learned in these pages, she makes her own small-batch bitters and sells them under the brand name Free Pour Jenny’s. Tyldesley’s philosophy is similar to my own: …

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The Dark and Stormy

I just returned from a trip to Seattle, where I didn’t go to a single cocktail bar. Nor did I enjoy the happy hours for which Seattle is famous. Instead I enjoyed cocktail hour with my travelling companion and our mutual friend at our friend’s house in Phinney Ridge, where there is both a sauna …

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The Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned takes us right back to the beginning of the history of cocktails. In 1806 a reader wrote to the editor of The Balance and Columbian Repository, a newspaper published in Hudson, New York from 1801-1807, asking about the meaning of a new word: “cocktail.” The editor replied, “Cocktail is a stimulating liquor, …

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Sake!

Yukon Spirits launched two whiskies while I was skiing in Japan. I have not tried either yet (one of them is sold out, I hear) and in Japan, where whisky has been winning international awards since 2001, I drank whisky only once, from a 200 ml bottle of 12-year-old single malt purchased at 7-11 for …

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Raspberry Ultimatum

At the beginning of January I set myself the task, for 2016, of clearing the cupboard of experimental aquavits, infused spirits and liqueurs. A task that was easier set than done, especially when the experimental beverage, put up with such hope and optimism two years before, turns out to be nasty and medicinal-tasting. Such was the …

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Old Friends and Family Recipes

When my Mom and Dad were a young couple living on Avenue Road in Toronto their local watering hole was the rooftop bar at the Park Plaza Hotel, one of Toronto’s most elegant drinking spots. Mom and her best friend, who lived in the same building, would hop on the Avenue Road streetcar and ride …

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Switching Up the Drinks Menu

In the world of beverages, everything old is new again. The cocktail revival of recent years has been matched by a revival of interest in old-fashioned, non-alcoholic refreshers. On food blogs, in restaurants and in modern cookbooks you’ll find recipes for herb or fruit-infused waters, fruit and vinegar combinations like shrub or schwitzel, fermented drinks …

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Extraneous Bananas

When your friend blows into town, you hang onto your hat and lay on the groceries, especially the Stolichnaya Vodka, or “Stoli”, as he calls it. Your friend is a Martini drinker, and particular about his cocktail of choice. He likes a dry Martini, so the vermouth must be dispensed via a tiny spray bottle. …

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Here’s a tip: spruce makes for a great cocktail

Like so many Yukoners during this crazy low-bush cranberry season, I’m clearing out the freezer to make room for berries. In the process I’ve unearthed several treasures: 10 kilos of pork bones, 3 duck carcasses, 2 whole Taku River sockeye, undated, and best of all, 3 bags of spruce tips, harvested in 2014, that I’d …

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Crabapples and Calvados

It’s August 31 and the snow is halfway down Gray Mountain. In downtown Whitehorse the leaves are still on the trees and many of them are green. This morning I talked to my sister, who lives in Parksville but used to live here, and she said that in 1992, the snow fell on September 13 …

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The Appropriate Road Trip Beverage Strategy

Key to the success of the summer road trip is an assortment of the beverages appropriate to each occasion, and the necessary equipment to concoct and serve them. Take this morning, for instance I am sitting on a camp chair outside Pinedale Auto Wreckers on the outskirts of Prince George, British Columbia. The fence beside …

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Birch Beer!

I’ve always known Uncle Berwyn’s Pure Yukon Birch Syrup was the best birch syrup in Canada. As it turns out, our homegrown syrup, produced off-grid in a homestead on the banks of the McQuesten River by Berywn Larsen and Sylvia Frisch, is actually the second-best birch syrup in the world. So say New York birch …

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Bitter Lessons and Sweet Memories

Gin is the quintessential summer spirit, especially for those of us who live above the 49th parallel. Rum, tequila, and bourbon more properly belong to the south, evoking sea and sand and dreamy afternoons under the liveoak tree. Gin, however, was invented in the Northern Hemisphere, first appearing in Holland in the 17th Century and …

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Speak Easy, Drink Well

In New York, speakeasy-style bars are all the rage. Dark, guarded by doormen or hidden behind a “front” establishment like a hot dog stand or a drugstore, these modern shrines to the cocktail recall the thrill of illicit drinking during Prohibition. On a recent tour through Harlem, home to hundreds of speakeasies in its heyday, …

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A Tale of Two Gardens

A Whitehorse friend recently told me about a useful book called The Gin and Tonic Gardener, by Janice Wells, a gardener and newspaper columnist in St. John’s, whose thesis is there is no gardening problem so large that it cannot be solved by a gin and tonic in a deck chair. Gardens, she posits, should …

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Bourbon and Words to Live By

On a sunny Saturday a few weeks ago I joined 70 other curious souls at a bourbon tasting and barbecue cohosted by the Yukon Chamber of Commerce and the Yukon Liquor Corporation. Seventeen different fine and rare bourbons were set up at three tasting stations in Waterfront Station, while a long table of crispy chicken …

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Learning As I Go

In an interview, Bob Weir, rhythm guitarist for the Grateful Dead, admitted somewhat sheepishly, that yes, it was a bit embarrassing learning how to play the slide guitar on stage. All his mistakes were out there for the audience to see. Judging by the success of the Grateful Dead’s live shows from the mid ‘60s …

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Cherries for the Delayed Win

Last holiday season I cajoled members of my family into forming teams and entering a contest, invented by me, entitled, “The First Annual Shake-off, Stiroff Cocktail Competition,” to be held on Christmas day just prior to dinner. My 85-year-old mother agreed to be the judge. There were many things wrong with this idea. First of …

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Honouring the Bounty of Scotland

Up on the Alaska Highway, in the bright boîte called Tonimoes, attached to the SKKY Hotel, a quiet ritual takes place every Tuesday. Informally known as Scotch night, the weekly event “honour[s] the bounty of Scotland with the frugality of a Scot,” according to the Tonimoes website. In other words, you can get a really …

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