Showing posts with label Signature Drinks: Regular Joes and Restaurant Pros. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Signature Drinks: Regular Joes and Restaurant Pros. Show all posts

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Signature Drinks: Regular Joes and Restaurant Pros

Happy Saturday, everyone! Looking for a refreshing summer cocktail to sip tonight? Well look no further because I'm pleased to bring you the latest installment of Signature Drinks: Regular Joes and Restaurant Pros!

Meet Chef Michael Moffatt, a definite "Restaurant Pro" and the Executive Chef at Beckta Dining and Wine and Play Food and Wine here in Ottawa.

Through our email correspondence I got the sense that Chef Moffatt is a bit like his restaurants: a serious culinary professional, but with a sense of fun and a down to earth nature. He is a Chef that would not only wow you on the plate, but then sit down and have a cocktail with you and share a story. So, without further ado, let's pull up a chair and listen to Chef Mike tell us about his favourite summer cocktail:

"My favourite summer drink is a Vodka Gimlet. I use the classic preparation, but with 1/2 fresh lime juice and half Rose's lime cordial. The story is that when I worked in Banff years ago my diet was, shall we say, lacking balance? Pretty well the only thing I could guarantee I would consume every day was booze(it was Banff after all!) So, in a drunken stupor one night in conversation with a buddy, I decided it would be smart to start mixing citrus into my drinks so I didn't get scurvy -- remember I was pretty drunk when I was thinking about this! Anyway, I started buying limes and just adding sugar to the vodka. When in conversation with a bartender one night he told me about the Gimlet and basically told me I was making a half-assed version of it so I might as well try the real thing. I've been hooked ever since -- one for the taste, and two because it reminds me of my time in Banff --very nice partial memories!"

Photo Credit: Flickr user erikhagman

Vodka Gimlet (Banff-style!)

2oz Vodka(really good stuff or why bother???)
1oz Simple syrup
2oz Lime juice
2oz Lime cordial

Stir together..also easy to make in a bathtub quantity!

Sounds refreshing! I'm a huge lime lover myself so this is one I'm definitely going to try very soon. Listening to his stories of working in Banff brought back memories of my own when my own diet consisted largely of Carib beer, Smirnoff Ice and Rum Punch when I was part of a fun, international crew who worked on Toronto's best party boats. Ah, the memories of Roti, "cold tea" and summer fun...

Thanks to Chef Moffatt for sharing his recipe and story with After the Harvest!

I'm working on a new series idea, so this may be the last signature drink I'll be sharing for a while, but please feel free to go back through the series and make some of these tasty beverages at your parties and events this summer!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Signature Drinks: Regular Joes and Restaurant Pros

Today in this signature drink series, I am pleased to introduce to you one of my "restaurant pros", Toronto-based Mixologist Courtney Stewart!

Courtney has mixed her creative drinks at Barrio, Soma and Kultura, and is currently working on new endeavours. A friend of mine told me about the fabulous cocktails and service she received from Courtney so I just had to contact her and ask her if she had a signature drink to share with After the Harvest.

She responded with her signature spring cocktail: Fresh Attitude!

In her words,

"Fresh Attitude is uber-refreshing and has been very well received by clients of mine as well as friends and family!"


For this recipe I prefer:
  • A very clean Vodka such as Iceberg, (which is Canadian and has been rated in the top three tasting Vodkas)
  • Fresh mint and/or basil
  • The juice of a perfectly ripe cucumber (if you do not have access to a juicer, muddling the cucumber with the lime and herbs will suffice)
  • Plump limes
  • An inexpensive Spanish Cava, (such as Segura Viudas or Freixenet)
  • Alternatively for a less potent drink, substitute Sparkling Elderflower Water for Cava.

You will need:

  • Mortar and Pestle
  • Knife and Cutting Board
  • Large Cocktail Shaker
  • 4 Champagne Flutes

For 4 Cocktails:

Chiffonade a sprig of mint and basil, (or two of one of the herbs), and remove the stem if possible. Cut a lime into quarters and muddle half with the herbs. Juice a well-washed cucumber with its skin, which should produce at least 8 oz. Then combine 4 oz Vodka, 4 oz juice, muddled lime and herbs with ice into shaker, mix vigorously then strain into four flutes. I enjoy torn herbs in mine but depending on your taste, you can strain through a fine strain for a cleaner presentation. This should amount to a little more than half the glass. Then pop open your Cava or Elderflower Water and fill the flute.

I don't know about you, but this cocktail sounds so refreshing and perfect for these sunny spring days we've been experiencing! Courtney and I plan to stay in touch, so stay tuned as she may be sharing more of her cocktails online in the future! Many thanks to Courtney for bringing her pro mixology skills to After the Harvest.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Signature Drinks: Regular Joes and Restaurant Pros

In keeping with my signature drink series, I thought it was about time to share my own favourite summer cocktails! Although I've worked in the restaurant industry quite a bit, I'm pretty sure I qualify as a "Regular Joe".

Photo Credit: Flickr user teenage_precious

On a warm summer night out with girlfriends in the city, I almost always choose a Cosmopolitan. I know, it's so predictable! However, once a bartender made me a Cosmo using Grand Marnier instead of Triple Sec, and it made this standard girly drink that much more flavourful!

Photo Credit: Flickr user bsdubois00

Put ice cubes into a cocktail shaker, then add:
1 oz. vodka
1/2 oz. Grand Marnier
the juice from half a lime
a splash of cranberry juice

A cosmo should be pink (not red) so make sure it's only a splash of cranberry! The flavours blend so nicely and make for the perfect summer cocktail!

Photo Credit: Flickr user Speed-Light

When it's time to hit a patio, I highly suggest you try a "Diablo Margarita" made famous by the great people at Tortilla Flats, one of my favourite patio spots in Toronto. The recipe is simple: half Corona, (or Sol or Dos Equis), half margarita mix (although I suppose you could also use pure lime juice, it just wouldn't be as sweet!)

Photo Credit: Flickr user naughton321

When I was first offered this drink the combination didn't sound all that appealing to me, but once I had a sip on that sunny patio, my mind was changed! It's the perfect refreshing beverage for an afternoon on the patio with friends.

Next time you hit a patio or go out on the town this summer, why not try some of the tasty cocktails I've been featuring in this series! Up next: a talented mixologist and her signature cocktail! Stay tuned!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Signature Drinks: Regular Joes and Restaurant Pros

It's Mojito Monday! Or so I hear from my newest "Regular Joe" in this signature drink series. Allow me to introduce you to Liam Smith: Musician and Mojito Man!

Photo Credit: Krissi Campbell

Liam is a talented musician who contributes his skills and passion to two bands: Mr. Something Something and The Donefors. When he's not playing bass or the other multitude of instruments he knows how to play, Liam enjoys a good Mojito.

Photo Credit: Sarah Fortunato

"I like a classic Mojito. A couple of years ago, my fiancee started working at a Cuban restaurant in Toronto's west end. They were closed every Monday so she was guaranteed to have that night of the week off. Monday became Mojito Monday very quickly. Every Monday in that summer we would have some friends and family come over for Mojitos and tapas/finger-food. We continued the tradition last year and we'll be starting up season three of Mojito Mondays very soon.

It's a fairly simple drink:

  • Ice cubes
  • Rum (I like amber but a lot of people prefer white)
  • A few fresh mint leaves
  • 1-2 tbsp lime juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 1-2 tbsp sugar (raw is best)
  • Soda water

Make sure you muddle the mint with lime juice and sugar before adding the liquids.The great thing about a Mojito is that it's a good base that you can easily add some pizzazz to. For example, add some pomegranate nectar or crushed raspberries. Even some watermelon puree makes it extra refreshing."

The DoneFors are playing at Irene's Pub in Ottawa on the 21st of May.

Mr. Something Something will be at The Rainbow Bistro on the 5th of June.

Have you ever had a really good Mojito? I remember a Blood Orange Mojito I had once that was delicious! Up next in this series: a Professional Mixologist and her special spring cocktail recipe! Stay tuned :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Signature Drinks: Regular Joes and Restaurant Pros

Today's signature drink comes from Rob Pethes, not just a "Regular Joe" but an amazing travel photographer based in Toronto. I have been lucky enough to taste this margarita myself, and can assure you, it's the best margarita I've ever had. Full stop. Don't believe me? Try it yourself! Rob sent me the story behind his favourite drink, and he told it so well, I thought I'd let him tell you about The Perfect South Coast Margarita himself:


Like all great cocktails, this one is partly someone else's recipe, and partly my own inspiration. And of course, like all great cocktails, it comes with an even better story.

I lucked into what I consider to be one of the best margaritas ever as my wife and I were touring around California a few years back. We were staying in a great little B&B called the Blackberry Inn just outside of Yosemite National Park in Groveland, California. The proprietor, Ann Marie Brown has a wonderful place with a big wraparound porch out front and a dozen hummingbird feeders along the porch. In the evening hundreds of hummingbirds come out to feed from the bushes. You're literally 4 feet away from these beautiful little birds, buzzing around back and forth, as you enjoy a glass of Chardonnay on the porch, munching on some of the best home made chocolate chip cookies I've ever had. If you ever make it to Yosemite, I strongly suggest you stay at the Blackberry, which gets consistently amazing reviews on Trip Advisor.

Ann Marie is quite the traveler. She's the author of 13 guidebooks on hiking in California. You can see some of her books on her website. After a few days in Yosemite we were on our way to Big Sur on the Pacific Coast. Ann Marie told us that we simply had to visit Nepenthe for some great food and the best margarita we'll ever have. As a huge fan of spirits in general, I was sold! This place is right on the edge of a cliff and looks out onto the Pacific with a fabulous menu, great views, and apparently great margaritas. Tasting the 'South Coast Margarita' was my new mission for this trip.

Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur a.k.a. Rob's mad photography skills

I wasn't disappointed. The margarita was tart and strong, but not so much as to knock you down. We had a great meal, watched the sunset, got a few photos and had a wonderful night. If you'd like to have a look at some photos from California, please visit my website. Above is one of the views from Big Sur, a beautiful part of the Pacific Coast Highway. This part of California needs to be on your travel list. Nepenthe has a great webcam too -- for those dark days of winter, you can click on their site anytime you like and take in the views.


Back to the margarita. Like all cocktails, the trick is to blend good ingredients. You can go cheap and use some silver crap tequila, and Triple Sec, but you may as well use one of those Margarita mixes if you're going to do that. Here is my suggestion: do it right. Once you taste this South Coast Margarita, you'll never be happy again with the weak cocktails they serve at most bars.

Tequila is a lot like Scotch, there are various grades, colours and vintages. For straight up shots, you want as good a quality as you can afford, at least Reposado which means up to 1 year of aging. The more expensive Anejo is 1 to 3 years. Anejo is sipping tequila, but it's pricey. The Silver or Blanco is unaged and frankly not worth mentioning. If the Tequila needs salt and lime to stomach, then you're drinking crap. Good tequila can be sipped without any additives. The last part of the Tequila story is that you want 100% de agave, which is basically the difference between blended Scotch or Single Malt. The one I'm drinking right now is Cazadores (Reposado) which goes for around $40 at the LCBO. A nice mid priced bottle that is smooth, with a little heat on the way down. With a mixed cocktail, you don't need to use the best tequila, but you don't want to use junk either.


As I mentioned, no Triple Sec. That's a cheat. You need to use good ingredients, which means you're going to use Cointreau and Grand Marnier. Get the small bottles first, cause this stuff is pricey. Finally, get yourself some ReaLime in a bottle, some fresh limes, some Tonic water (in a can so it's always fresh), and some ice. The Tonic water is my personal tweak to the recipe. It takes away the strength of the liquor, gives it a bubbly effect, and enhances the limes. This drink is so refreshing that you'll have guests showing up all the time. I'm warning you, be careful who you share this drink with!



Use a medium or tall glass. I rarely measure the liquor in my drinks, but in this case use a jigger to get the right proportions.

  • 3 cubes of ice
  • 1/2 lime, quartered and squeezed into the glass (this isn't a garnish -- use it all!)
  • 3 squirts of ReaLime lime juice


  • 1 oz good quality Tequila, 100% de agave, minimum a Reposado aging(Cuervo Gold, Cazadores, El Jimador, Cabo Wabo, Olmeca, Herradura, Milagro, whatever you prefer)
  • 1/2 oz Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau

Fill up the glass with tonic water.Stir and enjoy with friends.

If this isn't the best Margarita you've ever had, then please, email me your recipe, because you and I need to be friends!!

The Perfect South Coast Margarita

My extreme thanks to Rob for sharing this recipe with all of us and for his entertaining and honest way of telling the story! I can say from experience, I have been one of those guests that he's made this drink for and I always request it now when I visit! Cheers, everyone!

Rob Pethes Photography

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Signature Drinks: Regular Joes and Restaurant Pros

Last week I started a new series called Signature Drinks: Regular Joes and Restaurant Pros, which will share with you the favourite cocktails and signature drinks of people in and out of the culinary trade.

That being said, allow me to introduce to you our first "Restaurant Pro". Jose Rosales Lopez is a Sous Chef currently living in Vancouver. I met Jose a while back while I was working at Gilead Cafe, and he is definitely a talented Chef with a great balance of professionalism and personality! I remember many a Sunday that I enjoyed a delicious frittata made by Chef Jose, and he also makes a mean guacamole.

When it comes to cocktails, Jose prefers something simple and refreshing:

"My favorite drink would have to be a plain old Vodka Tonic. It's simple I know, but it's so crisp and refreshing after a long night's work. It reminds me of nights out with friends watching comedy shows and general good times. A shot of Absolut with a wedge of lime and I'm one happy camper."

image via flickr user How happy is your happy hour?

With the weather warming up I'm sure some of us will be looking for fun and unique cocktails to sip on patios, however sometimes a simple cocktail can do the trick.

Up next in this signature drinks series: a photographer shares his recipe for the perfect South Coast Margarita...stay tuned!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Signature Drinks: Regular Joes and Restaurant Pros

It's Friday, everyone! A perfect day to kick off a new series I've been working on... Signature Drinks: Regular Joes and Restaurant Pros! In this series I'll be sharing with you the signature drinks and favourite summer cocktails of some fabulous people: some are in the restaurant trade, and others are not. They all enjoy a good cocktail though, and I'm happy to share their preferences and special recipes with all of you! Cheers!

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to our first "Regular Joe", although really, she's anything but regular! Meet Briana Buckmaster, an actress and beauty blogger based in Vancouver, B.C.

Briana's blog is called City Cinders (short for City Cinderella) and on her blog she shares her expertise as a makeup artist as well as other great fashion and beauty tips, sprinkled with a good amount of sassy humour and pop culture influence. Currently she is rehearsing an new improv show with Vancouver TheatreSports called Impro-Musical!

Not surprisingly, Briana's favourite drink is just as fabulous as she is: Champagne.

photo via Flickr user Styggiti

"My favorite drink would still have to be a big ol' glass of Champers. I'll take the cheap stuff if it's around. My girlfriends and I used to go to bars and order bottles of it just to feel fancy! It has such a celebratory nature with the sparkly bubbles and all. My favorite these days? Blason De Bourgogne, Crémant Brut Reserve. Yummers!"

City Cinderella
City Cinders Blog
City Cinderella on Twitter

Many thanks to Briana and make sure to stay tuned to After the Harvest for more signature drinks! Up next: a Sous Chef with a penchant for a refreshing cocktail...