As good as my favourite spirit is to drink, it does a doozy in the kitchen as well!

Calgarian and aspiring home food genius Angelo T is no stranger to booze in his culinary concoctions. There’s always a new idea brewing in this household cook’s creative juices. When I heard about his Bourbanize everything: Korean double fried chicken with bacon, chive and cheddar cheese cornbread and maple bourbon soy syrup, I knew we couldn’t keep the lid on this one.

Set your tastebuds to salivate and read on for this edible stroke of bourbon genius!

Korean double fired chicken with bacon, chive and cheddar cheese cornbread and maple bourbon soy syrup.

Korean double fired chicken with bacon, chive and cheddar cheese cornbread and maple bourbon soy syrup.

Bourbanize Everything: Korean Double Fried Chicken with Bacon, Chive and Cheddar Cheese Cornbread and Maple Bourbon Soy Syrup
By Angelo Tembreza

If the whiskey game was like a 90’s rap game, I’d be throwing up Westside signs for bourbon and getting into fist fights over which side is the best side.

There isn’t enough room in this blog post to cram in how awesome Bourbon is. But that’s ok, because there’s more than enough room in this post for three recipes with two ways to use bourbon.

Korean Double-Fried Chicken

When it comes to frying, the king of the fried chicken methods may just go the Koreans for figuring that one round of frying wasn’t enough to achieve crispiness and moist succulent meat. In fact, letting the drumsticks rest and then frying it a SECOND time made everybody’s fried chicken eating lives much better.

Now although the following take on Korean Double Fried Chicken seems high maintenance, I can say that it’s highly rewarding. When you’ve experience your fair shares of stale, soggy, and questionably pink fried chicken, the effort is justified. I know, this may not be the perfect fried chicken, but rather an idea of an amazing fried chicken that’s been upgraded with bourbon.

Step 1: Bourbon braise your chicken

For this recipe, we’re working with drumsticks. Strictly drumsticks. I’m sure thighs and wings could do and could yield different results, but that’s just another great excuse to try this recipe out more than once!

Per 16 ounces or 1 pound of Chicken
¼ cup of bourbon

¼ cup packed brown sugar (or maple syrup if you’re extra fancy in the pockets maple syrup)
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon star anise seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 bay leaves
4 cups of just-boiled hot water

In a large container, dissolve the sugar and salt in hot water. With a mortar and pestle, roughly grind the peppercorns, star anise, and coriander seeds. Add the mixture with the bayleaf into the water. Cool the mixture to room temperature before adding the chicken. Refrigerate between 12-24 hours.

Step 2: Batter and double fry your chicken

¾ cup of flour
½ cup of cornstarch
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
¼ cup of bourbon
¾ cup of water (or light pilsner for extra bubbles)
5 cups of vegetable shortening (if frying in larger batches, exchange 1 cup for grapeseed oil)

Preheat the oil to 350.

Take the chicken out from the brine and air dry it for over an hour. If the chicken is still wet or moist, dust a little bit of cornstarch on the chicken.

Pour the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt into bowl and mix together.

Pour in the bourbon and water. Whisk briefly, but leave some lumps and don’t overmix.

Dip the chicken into the batter and throw into the oil. Depending on the size of your fryer, make sure your batches aren’t too big that the chicken are too clumped in together and the temperature drastically dips. I would stay within 5 drumsticks per round. Fry the chicken for 7-8 minutes till it’s golden. To check if it’s done, stick a thermoter and the inside of the of drumstick should read at 180 F.

Let the chicken sit on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Make sure the oil is at 350 F

Fry the chicken a second time for 6-7 minutes. Take out lightly season with salt.

Step 3: Korean season-ize your chicken

1 tablespoon of minced garlic (about 5-6 cloves)
1 tablespoon of minced ginger
4 tablespoons of soy sauce
5 tablespoons of gojujang
1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
2 tablespoons of maple syrup (or honey if you want to play it safe)

In a bowl, mix ingredients thoroughly.

Throw the fried chicken in and coat generously.

The chicken itself would have been perfect over a bowl of rice, or fried rice, or a fried bowl of rice (pending test kitchen project). But after having Calgary’s Anju Restaurant’s Korean double fried chicken and having it served with a side of chive cornbread with a maple soy glaze, I felt inclined to accompany these spicy drumsticks with cornbread and sauce it maple-bourbon style.

If anyone has seen The Mind of a Chef, Sean Brock has an amazing recipe for cornbread cast iron skillet. I used his recipe and added a handful of chopped chives and ½ cup of shredded cheddar cheese as well as slight variations on ingredients, within reason that I don’t have direct access to the ingredients suggested because well, Canada and the Southern US have a long distance between them.

Chive, Cheese and Bacon Skillet Cornbread
(makes 9-10 servings)

6 ounces bacon, sliced into cubes
2 cups cornmeal
1 teaspoon kosher (or sea) salt
½ cup of old cheddar cheese
¼ cup dried chives (about 1/3 if using fresh)
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1½ cups whole milk buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Heat a cast-iron skillet (around 9-inch if possible) on medium heat

Cook bacon in the skillet, tossing frequently to render fat. After 4-5 minutes when the pieces are crisp, set aside on a paper towel to drain. Reserve the fat.

Put the bacon in a skillet large enough to hold it in one layer and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently so that it doesn’t burn, until the fat is rendered and the bits of bacon are crispy, 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove the bits of bacon to a paper towel to drain. Reserve the fat, at least 5 tablespoons bacon fats are needed for this recipe. Let the fat settle to room temperature.

Mix bacon bits, cornmeal, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a bowl.

With 4 tablespoon of fat, mix into buttermilk and egg. Combine with the dry ingredients as well as the cheddar cheese and chives. Don’t over mix.

Reheat the skillet on the stove on high heat. Once hot, add one tablespoon of bacon fat and coat the whole skilled. Pour in the batter. If it sizzles, you must dance.

Toss into the hot oven for 20 minutes, but at the 15 minute mark poke a toothpick (or butterknife) in the middle and if it comes out clean, it’s ready.

To top and bind the chicken and the cornbread together I present, the bourbon maple soy syrup.

Bourbon Maple Soy Syrup

¼ bourbon
¼ maple syrup
¼ brown sugar

3 tablespoons of soy sauce (add more to taste)
Combine ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Serve in a bowl beside the cornbread.
The cornbread, the chicken and the glaze make for an unquestionably perfect combo. The airy bread lends to the density and moisture of the meat while the sauces (my god the sauces!) are bursting with taste. Calorie-wise…well I never said this was a healthy recipe, did I?

A few things to note: when calling to use types of bourbon, one can always play around with different makes each either favouring the sweeter or spicier side. The first time I made this recipe, I used Makers Mark and the second time I used Buffalo trace. Also when looking for gojujang, the first place to start is your nearest Asian supermarket, but I’ve seen it carried in the Asian International isles as well.


Move over crappy cocktails! When big spirit names like BACARDI come to town, it’s a sure sign Calgary’s food and drink scene is growing up. In fact, according to Avenue Calgary, the city saw 27 new locations open in 2014.

The BACARDI Legacy competition invites talented contemporary bartenders from around the world to participate in it’s search for BACARDI’s next legacy cocktail. This is the fifth year for the competition, but the first year that BACARDI has included Calgary in its heats, which took place December 3, 2014 at The Living Room on 17th Avenue.

Competitors were judged on the following: cocktail name; technical skills and presentation flair; appearance; aroma; balance flavours and character appeal; ingenuity and innovation; inspiration and story behind the recipe; refreshment; and product knowledge.

The Calgary Contenders

5th Annual BACARDI Legacy Cocktail Competition

5th Annual BACARDI Legacy Cocktail Competition

Nunca Te Rindas By Ray Burton, Redwater Grille BACARDI Superior Rum, raspberry puree, basil simple syrup, pineapple juice, lime juice, orange zest, raspberry basil skewer

Nunca Te Rindas
By Ray Burton, Redwater Grille
BACARDI Superior Rum, raspberry purée, basil simple syrup, pineapple juice, lime juice, orange zest, raspberry basil skewer

After Five By Tony Migliarese, Cilantro BACARDI Gold Rum, green chartreuse, lime juice, simple syrup, egg white, chocolate bitters, fresh mint

After Five
By Tony Migliarese, Cilantro
BACARDI Gold Rum, Green Chartreuse, lime juice, simple syrup, egg white, chocolate bitters, fresh mint

Close Talker By Darren Fabian, Candela BACARDI Gold Rum, pomegranate juice, honey syrup, black walnut bitters, muddled orange, cinnamon lime wheel, orange zest

Close Talker
By Darren Fabian, Candela
BACARDI Gold Rum, pomegranate juice, honey syrup, black walnut bitters, muddled orange, cinnamon lime wheel, orange zest

The Spanish Legacy By Nathan Head, Milk Tiger BACARDI Superior Rum, sherry, roasted pineapple juice, agave syrup, cilantro sprit, lime bitters, pineapple leaf

The Spanish Legacy
By Nathan Head, Milk Tiger
BACARDI Superior Rum, sherry, roasted pineapple juice, agave syrup, cilantro sprit, lime bitters, pineapple leaf


Even Tempered
By Christopher Cho, Ayden Kitchen & Bar (Saskatoon)
BACARDI Superior Rum, Aperol, Calvados Boulard, lemon juice, grapefruit syrup, grapefruit bitters, grapefruit peel & skewer

Disapora By Neila Macintyre, Ox & Angela BACARDI Superior Rum, cava, sherry, lemon juice, simple syrup, pear puree, edible yellow flower

By Neila Macintyre, Ox & Angela
BACARDI Superior Rum, cava, sherry, lemon juice, simple syrup, pear purée, edible yellow flower

Cuban Cola By James Nguyen, Teatro BACARDI Gold Rum, Kahlua, dark cacao, cuban espresso, can sugar syrup, coffee beans

Cuban Cola
By James Nguyen, Teatro
BACARDI Gold Rum, Kahlua, dark cacao, cuban espresso, can sugar syrup, coffee beans

The Darkest Martini By Rod Redford, Milk Tiger BACARDI Gold Rum, citric acid, ginger bitters, tamarind lime bitters, toasted oak bitters, lemon peel

The Darkest Martini
By Rod Redford, Milk Tiger
BACARDI Gold Rum, citric acid, ginger bitters, tamarind lime bitters, toasted oak bitters, lemon peel

The Winner:

While judges commended the skill and ability of all competing bartenders and their cocktails, the winner of the Calgary heat was James Nguyen from Teatro with his Cuban Cola.

Winner of the Calgary heat, James Nguyen for his Cuban Cola libation.

Winner of the Calgary heat, James Nguyen for his Cuban Cola libation.

James’ creation incorporated two lesser known flavours in Cuban history, cacao and espresso.

The beginnings of cacao production in Cuba are difficult to pinpoint, but many sources say it first appeared in the 17th century. Cadbury makes mention of cacao plantations in Cuba starting up upon the conquest of Cuba and Haiti by France in 1684. The Havana Times boasts Baracoa, an area in the extreme east of Cuba, as a mecca of cacao in Cuba, contributing around 70 percent of the nation’s total cacao production as of April, 2011.

Café Cubano, a type of espresso shot where the espresso is sweetened with demerera sugar as it is brewed, remains a popular activity in Cuba (and Cuban communities in the United States) after espresso machines were first imported into the country from Italy.

Calgary winners advance to the National Finalist Showcase in March for the opportunity to compete in the Global Legacy Competition in Sydney, Australia.

For more details on the BACARDI Legacy Competition or to see last year’s winning cocktail, visit www.BACARDIlegacy.com.


Back in October, 2015, we were invited to create a signature cocktail for the Glenbow Launch Party featuring Kaleidoscopic Animalia: An exhibition designed and curated by Paul Hardy.

We sought out to create a drink that was both well balanced and delicious, as well as one that told a story. As we explored the different panels and themes from the exhibition, the topic of Canadiana stuck out for us the most. Our drink was well received at the launch party, we’re told it sold more cocktails than any previous launch event!

We bring you…. The Beaver’s Tale

Beaver's Tale-3The Beaver’s Tale is one that goes back to the 1600s when trappers traded with the Aboriginals for beaver pelts to feed a European fashion trend of beaver fur hats. This cocktail explores the journey of the beaver in this time period from the nest of twigs it sits on representing the beaver’s home up to the top hat garnish, portraying the final use of the beaver pelt. The drink incorporates birch syrup, (birch bark is a beaver’s main food source in the fall and winter) along with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Cointreau, Cherry Brandy and Charred Cedar Bitters from Black Cloud Bitters here in Calgary. The large spherical ice cube also ties in to the drink with just it’s tip visible, much like when we see a beaver swimming in the water, only it’s very top can be seen. The drink is shaken and then flows out to calmly cover the ice sphere just as a rushing river tumbles down and settles once it hits the wall of a beaver dam.

1.5 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon
0.25 oz Cointreau
0.25 oz Bols Cherry Brandy
2 barspoons birch syrup
2 dashes Black Cloud Bitters Charred Cedar
Directions: Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain over a large ice cube in a rocks glass. Garnish with a top hat.

Country weddings, rustic settings and cocktails to match! Over the summer, we were invited to create a cocktail menu for a country wedding style shoot set on an acreage in the rolling foothills of Southern Alberta. While our drinks look good on camera, they taste even better in person. We want to share two of our favourite flavourful, masculine drinks from the day for you to try your hand at them too: the Smoke in Pears and the Dark & Handsome…and show off the dapper bar we had the pleasure of mixing behind too!

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Smoke In Pears

While Mad Men drank Old Fashioneds, real men kick it up one notch further with this modern twist on a classic cocktail. Sip on this dark aged rum, stirred in with pear syrup and smokey pear bitters with a scotch rinse.
2 oz aged dark rum
0.5 oz rich pear syrup
2-3 dashes Smokey Pear Bitters
0.25 oz a peaty Scotch
Directions: Rinse the inside of an Old Fashioned glass with the Scotch. Start by swirling this around more quickly in the bottom and then coating the sides. Dispose of any excess. In a mixing glass, stir together dark rum, rich pear syrup and Smokey Pear Bitters as you would an old fashioned cocktail. Strain over a large ice cube into the glass. Garnish with a pear slice.
Dark & Handsome
Move over MANhattan, Dark & Handsome’s just walked through the door. Reposado tequila, sweet vermouth, chocolate bitters and a touch of citrus make for a heady liquid aphrodisiac.
1.5 oz reposado tequila
1 oz sweet vermouth
2 dashes chocolate bitters
Directions: Stir reposado tequila, sweet vermouth and chocolate bitters together with ice in a mixing glass. Pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist or cacao nib.

The full gallery was first featured on Wedding Chicks. You can view the full collection on their blog: Rustic Opulence Country Wedding Inspiration.

Finally, a huge thank you to all of the amazing vendors who participated in the photo shoot:

Photography: Paisley Photography (@paisleyphotography)
Cakes & Catering: Pie Junkie (@piejunkieyyc)
Cocktails: Spirit of the Wench (@spiritofwench)
Coordinators & Stylists: Nicola Osse Event Management (@nicolaosse) and Tables By Design (@tablesbydesign)
Flowers: Creative Edge Flowers (@creativeedgeflowersyyc)
Groom & His Men: Derks (@derksformals) and Ed Williams Menswear (@ewmenswear)
Hair, Makeup & Beauty: Kent of Inglewood (@kentofinglewood), Mane House of Hair (@manehouseofhair)
Jewelry: EVStenroos – Designer Jeweller (@evstenroos)
Lighting, Entertainment & Photo Booth: HiTech Productions (@hitechyyc)
Paper Goods & Calligraphy: Paper Panache (@paper.panache)
Rentals: Art of Vintage (@art_of_vintage), Chair Flair (@chairflair), Cheap Smokes & Cigars – Calgary West (@csandcigars), Modern Luxe Rentals (@modernluxerental), The Dish and The Spoon (@thedishandthespoon.ca), Wood Working by JL (@rusticrentalsbyjl)

We came across some facts release by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission last month and thought we’d share a few things you may or may not know about Alberta’s liquor laws:

  • Alberta privatized liquor retailer in September, 1993.
  • Before privatization, there were a total of 803 liquor retailers selling 2,200 products province-wide.
  • As of December 31, 2014, Alberta is now home to 2,016 liquor retailers selling 20,113 products.
  • 66 per cent of Albertans said they’ve had a drink in the last 12 months. Of all Albertans, approximately 90 per cent drink responsibly.
  • Sales by volume of spirits, wine and beer have increased 65%, 158% and 56% respectively.
  • At no time may a licensee sell a drink for less than: Spirits / liqueur $2.75 /1 oz or less; Beer / cider / cooler $2.75 /341 ml bottle or 355 ml can; Draft beer $0.16 /oz; Wine $0.35 /oz.
  • So far in the fiscal 2014-15, the AGLC inspectors conducted 21,918 inspections at licensed premises.

Source: AGLC Quick Facts


abburgerfestlogo-1We’ve teamed up with our friends at Alberta Burger Fest to add another layer to this year’s fundraiser, drink pairings!

As you’re out sampling some of Calgary’s best burgers, be sure to try out the suggested pairings from participating restaurants.

Have you found some pairings of your own? Share them with us and be sure to tag #ABBurgerFest!

Alberta Burger Fest runs May 1-10, 2015 in Calgary. For updates on participating restaurants, follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

$50 Burger Pairings

Bensonhurst Pizza

Nothing pairs with a burger quite like a milkshake! Try the Brooklyn Fog, an original creation just for Alberta Burger Week made with Earl Grey tea, cinnamon infused cream, vanilla vodka, Bailey’s Irish Cream, egg white and simple syrup.

Modern Steak

Is there anything more refreshing than a Lynchburg Lemonade? This cocktail creation made with Jack Daniels, Triple Sec, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup and club soda is slightly tart to help work against the rich beef flavours in Modern Steak’s burger.

$25 Burger Pairings

Midtown Kitchen

There’s no sense in saving the best for last. Showcasing the tropcial and citrusy aromas of Mosaic hops, Midtown has picked Last Best IPA to pair with its burger for it’s personality, character and flavour.

Swine & Sow

It’s time to get hoppy with it! If you find yourself pouring over the drink menu, cast your eyes upon Hop City’s Barking Squirrel. This amber lager has a distinct rich burnt orange colour and subtle noble hop aroma that Swine & Sow swears will enhance the flavours in its burger.

The Nash

Beer and wine lovers, try Last Best IPA or Road 13, a proprietary blend of Pinot Noir, Merlot and Syrah. Cocktail afficionados, start with the Quarter Horse, made with Jim Beam Black, Laphraig Quarter Cask, Amontillado Sherry and Yelllow Chartreuse finished with House made quinine-blackcurrant cordial and Bittered Sling Suius Cherry bitters.

$15 Burger Pairings

CRAFT Beer Market

The kitchen at CRAFT suggests trying the Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA. The citrus aromas will play well with the “carnitas” meat, and the slight hopiness will work well with the mild spice. Finally, the carbonation should scrub some of the richness from the slaw and cheese to leave the palate fresh for the next bite!

Billingsgate MKT

Does it get any better than a local brew? Try the Blonde from Village Brewery, an ale with a crisp, dry palate that balances a slight fruity sweetness and subtle bitterness.

Trib Steakhouse

The verdict’s in, you’ll be wining and dining with your burger at Trib Steakhouse. Try the Chateau St Jean Cabernet Sauvignon. This full bodied red wine displays notes of black fruit and sweet spices.

Murdoch’s Bar & Grill

For the beer lover, the best choice for Murdoch’s specialty burger is a pint of Velvet Fog or IPA from Calgary’s own Wildrose Brewery. If you prefer a glass of wine, try a glass of Raza Reserve Malbec.

$10 Burger Pairings

Ship & Anchor

This Calgary institution has chosen a house beer to pair with its burger! Order a pint of the Ship & Anchor Barnacle Pilsner, a hopped up Czech style pilsner made exclusivley for them by Village Brewery.

Do you see that little asterisk at the top of the site? The one with the words, “Extra Love For Anything Canadian,” behind it? Here’s a little of that love.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 7.35.21 PM

Vancouver-based Bowman Bottling Tonic is a small batch tonic syrup handcrafted in the heart of Vancouver’s Crosstown district and it’s looking for your help! It’s founders, Andrew Hudec and Nicolas Schneiter intend to use the funds raised to buy their ingredients in bulk, cover the costs of incorporation and rent a commercial test kitchen.

Pledging starts at just $15, open your wallet a little wider and you can snag yourself a bottle of Bowman Bottling Tonic for your very own!

Donate to this project on Kickstarter.

Eauclairepost1The area around Turner Valley is called Whisky Ridge, named after the illegal stills that churned out plenty of bootlegged moonshine after Prohibition became law in Alberta on July 1, 1916 (this was the second time the province saw alcohol outlawed. In the late 19th century, Canadian prairie provinces saw 17 years of Prohibition, which came to an end in 1892 according to an article in the Toronto Sun). How fitting that it is now home to Eau Claire Distillery, Alberta’s first craft distillery creating high quality, “farm-to-glass” Albertan spirits.

If you’re into exploring Alberta or looking for an easy day trip from Calgary, the drive out along The Cowboy Trail for a distillery tour and spirits tasting in the newly opened tasting room is well worth your time.

The tour itself is around 20 minutes, taking you through a brief history of the area and the building housing the distillery (an old movie theatre on Turner Valley’s main street, once named Whisky Row, now named Sunset Boulevard).

If you time your visit right, you may luck out on a day that Eau Claire Distillery is making a new batch of spirits and see the team in action.

You’ll be taken through the main distillation area and then on into the whisky aging room. The room contains a gravel floor which helps maintain a consistent temperature and humidity level. One barrel in the room is over a century old!

The tour ends in the tasting room where you can sample the Parlour Gin, Three Point Vodka and seasonal spirit, which for our visit was the Spring Equinox, a light and fruity spirit with a dominant taste of prickly pear.

Tours and tastings run Wednesday through Sunday from 10am to 430pm. No reservations needed.

Looking for more information about Eau Claire Distillery? Check out its profile on MyLocalDistillery.com.

While travelling in Western Europe, our very own Jean Collins spent some time on the finer point of bartending at the European Bartending School. Certain she wasn’t the only girl who enjoyed a flavourful libation, she developed the Jean Collins inspired by her time abroad and for the gin lover in all of us!
Jean loves France, southern France to be more specific, she spent nearly a month there in March, 2014 during her year of adventures through 14 countries across 5 continents. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the intense commitment of the French to tradition and to doing things correctly are influences Jean has brought back with her.
The sweet, floral taste of St-Germain elderflower liqueur brings a bit of France to our flagship cocktail, the Jean Collins. Wanting something simple and easy to make, yet flavourful and unique, this is Jean’s favourite cocktail.
The Jean Collins
1 oz gin
1 oz St-Germain liqueur
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
Soda water
Fill a Collins glass with ice. Add gin, St-Germain liquer and fresh lemon juice. Top with soda water and garnish with lemon wheel or carcus of squeezed lemon.
These go down far too easily. Please enjoy them responsibly!
Red cocktail in martini glasses

Red cocktail in martini glasses

I was in Paris in April, 2014 assisting with a tour group from North America. We sat in a cafe our first evening in the city and one of the women ordered a martini.

In most parts of the Western world, the next question from your server would likely be:

“Would that be a gin or vodka martini?”

However, no such question came for my charge. Rather, the server took her order and a few moments later a martini glass containing a bright red liquid appeared at the table.

The client took one sip of the liquid and made a face.

“This is not a martini!” she declared and proceeded to send the drink back.

Our server, a bit confused, explained that, yes, this was a martini.

“In France, there are two kinds of martinis,” he shared. “There is the red martini and the white martini. Typically, women prefer the red martini because it is sweeter.”

As it turns out, the brand Martini is more popular in France than the cocktail, hence the sweet vermouth served to us in the cafe.

If ever you find yourself in Paris, here is your guide to ordering martinis:

Martini Rouge = Sweet Vermouth
Martini Blanc = Dry Vermouth
Martini Sec = Dry Martini, cocktail style


glasses with soda water and lemonIf you’re out of club soda, can you add tonic water instead?

It’s a question almost every cocktail newbie will wonder, but might be afraid to ask. I think the answer to anything involving cocktail explorations is that you can add whatever you want, but if you’re wondering if club soda and tonic water are interchangeable, the answer is no.

Why not? Do a simple taste test and you’ll find out. The two may both be carbonated waters, but tonic water has quinine and a sweetener added to it, which gives it a bitter flavour. It pairs well with juniper, hence the popularity of a good, old G&T (gin and tonic).

Tip: Before you buy tonic water, check the label. Cheaper brands like Canada Dry tonic water often contain high fructose corn syrup. Alternatives like Fever Free, Fentimans or Q Tonic contain alternative natural sweeteners like natural cane/fruit sugar, cane syrup or organic agave.

Club soda, on the other hand, typically has minerals like potassium bicarbonate and potassium citrate added to it to enhance its flavour, but isn’t as salient.

What can you use as alternatives? Well, for club soda, any straight carbonated water will do, whether it’s a mineral water with natural carbonation, seltzer water or one you’ve made with your Soda Stream. If you find yourself without tonic, you could add a dash of your favourite bitter to carbonated water, though it won’t give you quite the same flavour. Alternatively, keep a bottle of tonic syrup on hand like Porter’s Tonic Syrup from Calgary or Bowman Bottling Co. Tonic out of Vancouver.