November 25, 2010

proof whisky, Grey Cup Sunday, Vol. 8

It’s time for Thursty Thursday! Let us first begin by wishing our friendly neighbours to the south a very Happy Thanksgiving! We would also like to give thanks to our U.S. friends for introducing us to the all-american game of football. If not for your great invention, we would be Christmas shopping early (instead of watching the Grey Cup this Sunday) In return, we would like to offer you a twist on one of ‘our own’ national treasures, the Caesar. Today’s Thursty Thursday cocktail is named the Grilled Caesar. If you want to learn more about our brand visit Become a friend on Facebook and Twitter to get last minute updates on all of our tastings, parties and events.

The Grilled Caesar
1 ½ oz proof whisky
2 tsp Bull’s Eye BBQ Sauce ( )
¼ oz lime juice
4 oz Motts Clamato Juice* (original)
1 beef pepperette
Celery Salt

Rim a tall glass with fresh lime and celery salt. (you can also sprinkle it on top of drink instead of rim) Fill the glass with ice and add 1 ½ oz. proof whisky, 2 tsp. BBQ sauce, ¼ oz. lime juice and 4oz. Motts Original Clamato. Stir to mix. Garnish with a beef pepperette. (or substitute pepperette with skewer of green olives and pickled onions.) Sable and Rosenfeld offers a great Tipsy Cocktail Stirrer.

* TIP: Don’t cheap out on the clamato. Mott’s still makes the best clamato and it will make a HUGE difference in your drink We definitely prefer Motts Original recipe because we like to adjust spice and flavour according to taste. If you prefer a spicy rim on your caesar, try Motts Clamato Rimmer instead of the celery salt.

Pitcher size: (don’t miss the game) To a pitcher, add 1 ½ oz. cups proof whisky, 2 tbsp. BBQ sauce, ¼ cup lime juice and 4 cups Motts Clamato. Stir to mix.

If you choose to make your own BBQ sauce, here’s an easy recipe. It can be used in your Caesar and then slathered on all of your bbq’d treats:
proof barbecue sauce
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup proof whisky
3 tbsp brown sugar
3 tablespoons light molasses
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
11/2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Method Bring all ingredients to boil in saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; simmer until sauce is reduced to 2 cups, stirring often, about 10 minutes. It can be made 2 weeks ahead. Cover; chill. Use at room temperature.

If you’re thinking of having the guys over to watch the game this Sunday , you better first stock up on some Grey Cup staples – I am talking meat and more meat. Chicken wings, short ribs, red hots, sliders, cheeseburgers, bratwurst, kielbasa – they’ll all do. Or you can keep it simple – throw some franks and bratwurst on the grill and set up a smokin’ condiment bar. You can pick up some quality dogs at your local butcher, or visit Mac & Mark’s little unknown shop, M & M Meat Shops They have a nice variety of fire-roasted Beer Bratwurst, Oktoberfest and Big Reds. They’ve been serving Canadians since 1980 for a reason.


Where to begin with condiments – there are so many choices...We investigated some of the most popular hot dog toppings and here’s what we came up with. They range from standard to truly bizarro: (melted marshmallows?)
Mayonnaise, ketchup, spicy ketchup, Blue Cheese Dressing, refried beans, tomato chutney, mango chutney, apple chutney, apple butter, cranberry chutney, maple syrup chutney, Crushed Red Pepper, Colby Cheese, blue cheese, cheddar cheese, swiss cheese, pepper jack cheese, cream cheese, taco sauce, Cottage Cheese, Chopped Cilantro, Pinto Beans, salsa, salsa verde, guacamole, avocado, sour cream, canned tuna, shrimp salad, potato sticks, potato chips, garlic mashed potatoes, anchovies, chives, sweet pickles, dill pickles, hot pickles, green peppers, red peppers, banana peppers, jalapenos, pastrami, hummus, baba ganoush, french fries, raw mushrooms, fried mushrooms, peanut butter, butter, salad dressing, wasabi, black pepper, egg salad, fried eggs, chopped boiled egg, steak sauce, bacon, sundried tomatoes, black olives, green olives, minced garlic, minced basil, horseradish, lettuce, chopped cucumbers, sprouts, sunflower seeds, honey, cabbage, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, hot sauce, barbecue sauce, salsa, crushed pineapple, cream cheese, potato salad, pepperoni, chili sauce, ketchup, Dijon mustard, spicy brown mustard, honey mustard, sauerkraut, coleslaw, chopped onions, caramelized onions, green onions, dijonnaise, prosciutto, melon relish, onion relish, spiced apple relish, pickle relish, corn relish, chili con carne, fried bologna, baked beans, tomato sauce, chopped tomatoes, spiced garbanzos, shrimp salad, canned tuna, celery seed, spinach, carrot relish, chow chow, cucumber relish, green tomato relish, tzatziki & many many more.

Our favourite topping combination is DEFINITELY one that we have recently invented. It goes something like this – proof whisky caramelized onions, grated 10-year-old cheddar and Maille Dijon (à l’ancienne). Here is the recipe for proof whisky Caramelized Onions.

proof whisky caramelized onions
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. butter
1 medium yellow onion
1 tsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 oz proof whisky

Heat vegetable oil in sauté pan over high heat. Add butter to pan and brown slightly.
Add onions and sear on high for about 2 minutes. Add brown sugar and salt. Continue to cook for another 10 minutes or until onions are lightly browned, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Add whisky. Cook until all liquid is cooked off and onions are a nice brown color.

On Saturday we hit the Brickworks for some Buddha Dog ( ), and the Dog was a no-show. The upside to this story is that we FINALLY were able to sample some of Jamie Kennedy’s awesome French fries – and Whoo-ah! These chips are not overrated... JK fries are made from local, organic Yukon potatoes that are fried in sunflower oil and then tossed in a combination of both fine and coarse sea salts and fresh thyme. They are served in hand-rolled parchment cones with your choice of cider mayo, chili mayo or homemade ketchup.

We will be sampling two great cocktails at the LCBO (Exmouth) in Sarnia this Saturday (5 - 9pm) Pop in if you are in the area. Visit our events page for details (

Thanks for stopping in to visit the Diamond Estates ( booth at the Gourmet Food & Wine Show. It was a great time.

Weekend Forecast:
Saturday: Sunny with a few flurries (are you kidding?) and a high of 4 degrees
Sunday: Variable cloudiness and a high of 5 degrees (oh well, you’ll be inside watching the game)

November 18, 2010

proof whisky, Pocky, Pretz and peas, Vol. 7

Welcome to another week of ‘the proof is in’. On Saturday night we are having friends over for a quick drink before going out for sushi. Because we like to stick to one set of flavours for the evening, we have decided to draw inspiration from Chinatown. This week’s Asian-inspired Thursty Thursday cocktail is The Gingersnap. You will want to flag this ‘snappy’ little spirit for upcoming cocktail parties and holiday gatherings. To learn more about our brand, visit Become a friend on Facebook and Twitter to get last minute updates on all of our tastings, parties and events.

The Gingersnap 
(created by
1 ½ oz proof whisky
½ oz fresh lemon juice
1 tsp chopped ginger
4-5 oz cloudy apple juice* (unfiltered apple juice)
1 coin of candied ginger
LOTS of ice
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add 1 ½ oz. proof whisky, ½ oz. of lemon juice, 1 tsp chopped ginger, and 4-5 oz. cloudy apple juice.  Shake and strain into a glass filled with ice. Garnish with a piece of candied ginger.

Pitcher or Punch-bowl size:
12 oz proof whisky
3 oz fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped ginger
32 oz or 1L of cloudy apple juice* (unfiltered apple juice)
LOTS of ice
Combine all ingredients in a container with lid filled with ice, shake vigorously and strain into punch bowl or pitcher, add 1-2 cups of ice and stir well.

*Cloudy vs clear apple juice Cloudy apple juice is said to be healthier than clear, because it is not processed as much. It contains more pulp, fibre and is found to have higher concentrations of antioxidants. The manufacturing process used to make clear apple juice considerably decreases the levels of polyphenols in the end product. (polyphenols, are the antioxidants which are also found in red wine, berries and dark chocolate) We found a PC version at Loblaws.

Toronto has two Chinatowns – the main Chinatown in the west end (dundas st. w & spadina) and the smaller East Chinatown (broadview & gerrard). There are about six Chinatowns in the entire GTA (with Markham and Mississauga). If you have time, do walk through either of the downtown areas, because here is where you will find the real treasures.

If you are pressed for time, or trying to avoid some undesirable weather (yes, as Canadians, we get it), you can visit one of the larger indoor Chinese markets. T & T Supermarket, now owned by Loblaws and with several locations, ( has an amazing assortment of prepared foods, a huge seafood area with live fish tanks, fresh produce and even an indoor food court and bakery. You may also want to head north to either First Markham Place in Unionville ( or the Pacific Mall ( on Steeles for an interesting shopping and dining experience.

Asian-inspired Bar Snacks:
Most NA lounges and lobby bars supply a bowl of mixed-something, whether it be nuts, rice crackers or olives, when a patron orders a drink. The more upscale you go, the better the snacks – at least this is what you would expect. We believe that the quality of their mix says a lot about an establishment. Even when we have zero time to prep snacks, we always put some thought into which salty tidbit would best be washed down with our drinks. We will do a full volume on pairing bar snacks & cocktails at a later date, but for today we are talking about an assortment of ready-made asian-inspired snacks that were found in and around some of Toronto’s Chinese markets. These particular snacks ‘spoke to us’, but there are many cool and colourful edibles out there to choose from. Sample them all and have some fun with it.

Wasabi peas are popular in Japan. They are made from fried green peas coated with a mixture of wasabi powder, soy sauce and sometimes sugar.

Wass-Ub? Ee Snack Mix from the Bulk Barn (okay, its not chinatown, but it makes a great conversation piece) ( combines wasabi peas, with wasabi coated peanuts, sesame nuts and many other colourful surprises. Sesame sticks are a bit more earthy and come in a variety of seasonings.

A healthy alternative to the fried snack is edamame and sea salt. We like to use flavoured salts. (don’t forget to put out a bowl for the empty pods)

Prawn chips come in beautiful colours and pack a lot of flavour.

Pocky and Pretz are delicious Japanese snacks that come in a multitude of flavours, from salad flavour to pumpkin flavour. Pocky’s are dipped in sweet icing and Pretz are normally savoury. We chose the tomato Pretz, and boy, are they addictive.

A Quick Reminder!!
This weekend join Kevin Brauch (Thirsty Traveler), David Adjey and many others to ‘Savour the culinary styling of Toronto’s finest restaurants’ and ‘Sample the world’s finest wines, beers and spirits’ at the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo. We will be there. Find us at the Diamond Estates booth from Thursday to Sunday.

Weekend Forecast:
Saturday: Variable cloudiness and a high of 7 degrees.
Sunday: Cloudy with showers and a high of 8 degrees.

November 11, 2010

proof whisky, The Spiked Rooster Vol. 6

Welcome to another week of the proof is in’. As a special treat, we prepared this week’s hot Thursty Thursday drink off-site. On Monday we decided to bring our recipe to The Rooster Coffee House in Riverdale ( 479 Broadview Avenue), because we wanted to use the best coffee possible. With the help of its expert barista Jay, we successfully brewed an appropriately named ‘cock’-tail, The Spiked Rooster. This yummy little eye-opener makes the perfect post-brunch drink on a lazy weekend morning (or afternoon). Enjoy! To learn more about our brand, visit Become a friend on Facebook and Twitter to get last minute updates on all of our tastings, parties and events.

The Spiked Rooster
1 ½ oz proof whisky
1 tsp vanilla simple syrup*
5 oz espresso (or good quality coffee)
Heavy cream or frothed milk**
Pour 1 ½ oz proof whisky, 1 tsp. vanilla simple syrup and 5 oz hot espresso into a coffee mug or latte bowl, slowly float the heavy cream or frothed milk on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

* Vanilla simple syrup recipe – Combine equal parts of sugar and boiling water. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Pour into a jar or bottle with a lid and drop in a 1” piece of vanilla bean (you can substitute a 1/4 teaspoon of real vanilla extract for the bean). Let cool and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. This syrup is also great in your morning coffee. You can re-use the vanilla bean once the syrup is gone by putting it in your sugar bowl for vanilla sugar. (You can infuse your simple syrup with a variety of flavours like cinnamon sticks, cloves, etc.)

**HINT: Non-Fat Milk will be the easiest to foam. It will however not be as decadent a combination with your coffee. 2% Milk will foam quite easily and is a nice balance between ease of foaming and some fat in the milk making for a creamy and tasty drink.
Whole Milk is going to be the most challenging to create foam with. It will however be some kind of tasty when combined with coffee. The extra fat in the milk makes your latte or cappuccino a special treat. The milk is important, treat yourself.

Jay used an espresso house blend and whole milk to create our drink. We were lucky enough to catch it on video. Check out his technique:

The Rooster Coffee House sells it’s own specialty roast, made to order by the artists at Te Aro ( 983 Queen Street East). You can order anything from a standard Americano or choose from their selection of custom blends.

They also offer an assortment of teas from Tealish ( 728 Queen Street West), and delicious sweets from both Jules Patisserie (  617 Mount Pleasant) and Circles and Squares (  3495 14th Avenue, Markham). Their fresh sandwiches come from Loîc (  722 Queen Street East)

The Rooster Coffee House is one of the 24 independent coffee shops participating in the Indie Coffee Passport. (

The passport is a great way for you to experience Toronto's fantastic independent coffee culture. The concept is super simple. It costs $25, and entitles the owner to one coffee-based drink at each of 24 participating espresso bars. The creators opened the card up to any independent shop south of Bloor Street.

Shawn Andrews is owner of the Rooster. She was sweet enough to answer our few questions:

PROOF: What are your views on Indie Passport vs Disloyalty Card – or does it matter to you at all?
S.A.: I love supporting independent small business and to be honest I really like anything that motivates us to get out and explore other neighborhoods in our city. I was really excited to be apart of the indie passport.

PROOF: Did the programme bring in a lot of new business for you?
S.A.: We have probably stamped 100 cards to date so I think it’s significant. You have to hope that if they had a great experience they will be back and tell a few friends. It’s a great concept.

PROOF: Douglas Coupland did a reading in your store – how did this happen? Will you/do you have lots of these special events? Any special new plans for winter?
S.A.: An editor from Random house is a friend and loyal customer and he asked if we would host an evening with Douglas Coupland. It was a magical night and the first in a series that this editor plans to hold here! We will be doing a lot of things like this in the future. Next is a viewing of an award winning documentary “Vine of the Soul” by Richard Meech. He will be there to do a question and answer after. (Nov 25 & 26 on

PROOF: In which direction do you see the Rooster heading? Do you think that you will ever apply for a liquor license?
S.A.: We have had a lot of people that would love to come and enjoy a drink with friends in the evenings and watch the sunsets over the city.......

PROOF: Will you sell any special holiday gifts? Will you list any seasonal coffees?
S.A.: Yes we will, we will have some wonderful coffees, teas and all the toys that go with it!

PROOF: Any funny stories you would like to share?
S.A.: We have a lot of great stories but to be honest they are best told early in the will see us and two of our best story tellers under the patio heaters seven mornings a week. Gerald and Robert, (and their two four legged companions) are the most interesting people you will ever meet. Historians that have a circle of regulars around them sharing story after story every morning at the Rooster...i get up early for it!

Thank-you Shawn! It was our absolute pleasure. WE are big BIG fans. :)

Because we cannot all hire Jay for his 24-hour barista services, we will mention a few shops that carry great quality coffee equipment for home purposes. 55 Mill Street (the Distillery District), 542 Danforth Avenue, 501 Danforth Avenue, 106 Front Street East, 231 King Street East, 565 Bloor West,, 165 Woodbridge Avenue, Woodbridge, 4120 Steeles Avenue, 87 Avenue Road,,,,,

And lastly, because we do not believe in drinking on an empty stomach, we leave you with this crisp little cookie recipe to nibble with your Spiked Rooster:

Nonna’s Biscotti (
Gourmet January 2009

By Toni Oltranti

yield: Makes about 42 cookies

active time: 20 min
total time: 2 1/2 hr (includes cooling)

1 cup sugar

1 stick unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons proof whisky (we replaced the brandy – Nonna wouldn’t mind)
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole almonds with skin, lightly toasted, cooled, and coarsely chopped (optional – can replace with dried fruit or 1/4 cup chopped candied ginger)
3 large eggs
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Stir together sugar, butter, whisky, and extracts in a large bowl, then stir in almonds and eggs. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt until just combined. Chill dough, covered, 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Using moistened hands, halve dough and form 2 (16-by 2-inch) loaves on an ungreased large baking sheet. Bake until pale golden, about 30 minutes. Carefully transfer loaves to a rack and cool 15 minutes.
Cut loaves into 3/4-inch slices with a serrated knife. Arrange biscotti, with a cut side down, on a clean baking sheet and bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool completely. Cooks' note: Biscotti improve in flavor if made 1 to 2 days ahead. Keep in an airtight container at room temperature.