January 27, 2011

proof whisky, gerrard india bazaar, Vol. 17

Do you suddenly feel the impulse to escape to a warm and exotic place even though it’s logistically out of the question? At this time of year it’s normal to want to jump a plane with a one-way stub in your hand. Good news – there are many creative ways to satisfy these urges without ever leaving the tarmac. This is our focus today. Thursty Thursday, take me away! (much like Calgon) To learn more about our brand visit www.proofbrands.com. Become a friend on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Proof-Brands/181641835185326 and Twitter http://twitter.com/proofbrands to get last minute updates on all of our tastings, parties and events.

Warm up in the land of coconut trees and spices with this hot drink.

Chai toddy
1 teaspoon honey
2 oz proof whisky
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 chai tea bag (or 1 tsp loose tea*)
hot water
1 cinnamon stick
Add the honey and lemon juice to a tea cup and warm in the microwave for 30 seconds, or until the honey becomes very runny. Pour boiling water into the mug and add the chai tea bag. Leave the bag to infuse for 2 minutes, before gently squeezing against the side of the mug with a teaspoon and removing. Add proof whisky and stir well. Serve piping hot with a cinnamon stick.

*Directions for steeping loose chai tea: Fill infuser with 1 tsp loose tea. Drop infuser into 6oz cup of boiling water and let steep 5-7 minutes - remove infuser & add all ingredients.

Chai tea: The foundation of chai tea is, of course, black tea. This tea has the full flavor that most people prefer. Black tea is tea that has been dried, rolled, and then allowed to oxidize.  After the tea has turned black, it is heated in an oven to stop the oxidation process.  Once it comes out of the oven, it will be ready to be stored. Chai tea originated in India and was introduced there by the British in the 19th century.  As India is the land of spices, it is not surprising that the Indians immediately began to experiment with ways to augment the flavor of the tea.  One of the most common spices added to chai tea is cinnamon. Besides cinnamon there is ginger, cardamom, vanilla, nutmeg and cloves added to most.

We visited the Tea Emporium for some loose tea. (www.theteaemporium.com
“Our adventure started in 2000 after living in Germany - we fell in love with specialty tea shops in Europe and kep scratching our heads at why you couldn't find a good cup of tea in Toronto. In a land that had embraced specialty coffee and placed value on quality - how was it possible that finding good tea meant playing detective and hunting it down? So...we decided to take the matter into our own hands - and grow a business. A business whose purpose was to introduce people to the wonders of tea - teach about the fascinating nuances of tea - and first and foremost - provide a quality product with quality service.” Tea Emporium

Matthew introduced us to a wonderful Kashmiri Chai (partial organic) Full-bodied black tea blended with exotic cardamom, cinnamon, cloves mint, nutmeg, tellicherry pepper and black tea.

This may sound a little cheesy to some, but every month we throw a theme-night dinner party for friends. Normally, as a rule, you should never experiment with new recipes for guests, but this can be a great way to play with flavours from different cultures while keeping your company entertained. Just make sure to invite close friends and not your boss and his wife. (oh and serve lots of drinks, making sure that everyone is cabbing it) You can take the theme as far as you like by playing themed music, decorating and um, wearing costumes? Okay, this might be taking it too far, but it’s fun. Just pretend you’re on a cruise ship.

For years, we have made several successful trips to The Gerrard India Bazaar in search of sarees, posters and ganesha figures for occasions such as these.

Gerrard India Bazaar is the largest marketing place of South Asian goods and services in North America. With over 100 shops and restaurants which represent regional diversities of South Asian culture, food, music and products, this slice of the Indian subcontinent offers a wide selection of services and products exhibited in an exotic display of sights, sounds, tastes and aromas. The array of merchandise available here helps South Asians maintain ancient cultural and religious traditions, and keep in touch with the contemporary lifestyle of the Subcontinent.” (www.gerrardindiabazaar.com)

While there, enjoy the buffet at Regency Restaurant (1423 Gerrard Street East, 416.778.7366 www.regencyrestaurant.ca) or at one of the many other establishments.

A wonderful addition to your cookbook collection is Phaidon’s ‘India Cookbook’ written by Pushpesh Pant. This book offers 1000 authentic recipes, which take you through the various regions of India. The recipes are clear, and the design and photos are exquisite. They have cleverly designed it to look like a sack of basmati rice, which makes it a great coffee-table book as well. (www.phaidon.ca/store/food-cook/india-9780714859026/)

You can leave your home AND learn more about the history of India by visiting the AGO:
Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts brings to Canada for the first time more than 200 spectacular works of art created for India’s great kings — including paintings, furniture, decorative arts and jewellery. These magnificent objects chronicle the many aspects of royal life and celebrate a legacy of cultural patronage by generations of maharajas, both in India and in Europe. (www.ago.net/maharaja-exhibition)

If you have no desire to leave the snow, there are many winter wonderful things happening around the city this weekend.

WinterCity Festival started yesterday and runs until February 8th. Check out the city's website for list of events. (http://www.toronto.ca/special_events/wintercity_blurb2.htm) Winterlicious: Take advantage of the incredible value and exclusive prix fixe menus offered at 150 of Toronto's top restaurants. (for list of restaurants http://wx.toronto.ca/inter/se/restaurants.nsf/Winterlicious?Openform) Interior Design Show: Starting today and running all weekend (www.interiordesignshow.com)

Finally –  Don’t forget to join us for a drink at the Richmond Hill LCBO. We will be sampling proof whisky cocktails from 4-8pm. (8783 Yonge Street. Visit our events page for more details www.proofbrands.com)

Weather Forecast:
Saturday: Scattered flurries and a high of - 4 degrees
Sunday: Scattered flurries and a high of - 5 degrees

January 20, 2011

proof whisky, cabin fever – never! Vol. 16

We are at the halfway mark of winter. The holidays are over, cars are buried in snow and there is only February to look forward to – blech! January can be a bit of a downer, if you let it be. Over the years we have learned that the only way to make it through a Canadian winter, is to embrace it. Dress warmly, get into outdoor activities or hibernate with a book and blanket. This week we offer you a comforting drink to enjoy by the fire. To learn more about our brand visit www.proofbrands.com. Become a friend on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Proof-Brands/181641835185326 and Twitter http://twitter.com/proofbrands to get last minute updates on all of our tastings, parties and events.

proof winter cream
1 1/2 cups proof whisky
1 can of condensed milk
1 cup whipping cream
4 eggs - beaten
2 tbsp chocolate syrup
2 tsp instant coffee
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

Mix all ingredients in blender. Chill down in refrigerator. Shake before serving. Serve over ice or add to hot cocoa. Recipe makes a quart. (stores in fridge for 4-6 weeks)

Cheese fondue is a soul-warming comfort food to be shared with friends.

It was invented out of necessity in the 18th century. Swiss villagers, separated from large towns by the long, freezing winters, were rarely able to enjoy fresh food. Instead, most of the villagers relied on foods like bread and cheese, which were made in the summer and had to last through the fall and winter months. In the 60s and 70s many people served this communal dish at parties. We find it best enjoyed in the intimacy of your own space with close friends. (www.fonduebits.comThe most comforting fondue is still the classic bread and cheese version.

Here are three great fondue recipes:
Whisky Bacon Cheddar Fondue
(http://thedailybacon.com/) Yield: 4-6 servings

2 ¾ cups (11 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup beer (light beer recommended)
4 teaspoons prepared horseradish
4 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon proof whisky (in place of bourbon)
2 tablespoons chopped cooked dbl-smoked bacon
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
4 teaspoons chopped scallions
Toss the cheese with the flour in a bowl. Place a metal bowl over a saucepan filled with two inches of water (or use a conventional double boiler). Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium. Pour the beer into the bowl. With a fork, stir in the horseradish, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add half the cheese mixture; cook until the cheese is melted, stirring constantly. Add the remaining cheese a small amount at a time, stirring constantly in a circular motion after each addition until the cheese is melted. Pour the bourbon slowly around the edge of the bowl. Pull the cheese mixture away from the edge of the bowl; cook for about 30 seconds or until the alcohol cooks off. Stir proof whisky into the cheese. Fold in the bacon and pepper.
Pour into a warm fondue pot and keep warm over low heat. Garnish with scallions.

Whisky-Cheese Fondue (www.foodandwine.com)
1 pound extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 garlic cloves, halved
1 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons proof whisky
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Crusty bread, breadsticks and carrot sticks, for serving
In a bowl, toss the cheddar and Jack cheeses with the cornstarch. Rub the garlic cloves on the inside of a saucepan, then discard. Add the wine to the saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the cheese mixture in 4 batches, whisking constantly over moderate heat and letting it melt completely between additions. Add proof whisky and stir just until the fondue begins to bubble, 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; serve hot with bread, breadsticks and carrots.

Gruyère and Cider Fondue (www.epicurious.com)
Bon Appétit, March 2009 by Rick Rodgers
8 ounces kielbasa sausage, cut on diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices
4 cups coarsely grated Gruyère cheese (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup William Premium Cider (www.williamcider.com)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Calvados, applejack brandy, or poire Williams (clear pear brandy)
2 Granny Smith apples, cored, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 baguette, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
Preheat oven to 300°F. Heat heavy large skillet over high heat. Add kielbasa slices and sauté until browned on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm.
Toss cheese and cornstarch in large bowl to coat. Bring William Premium Cider and vinegar just to simmer in medium saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium low (mixture should be barely simmering). Add a handful of cheese to simmering cider mixture. Stir until cheese is melted. Add remaining cheese 1 handful at a time, stirring until melted between additions. Increase heat to medium and cook until fondue begins to bubble, stirring constantly. Stir in Calvados. Season to taste with pepper.
Transfer fondue to pot. Set fondue pot on stand; light candle or canned heat burner. Arrange sausage slices, apple slices, and bread cubes in bowls alongside fondue pot.


St. Lawrence Market Since 1901, the South St. Lawrence Market has been known primarily for its fruits, vegetables, meat and cheese. For many years, few people realized that Toronto's original City Hall had been incorporated into today's south market. The history of the South St. Lawrence Market also includes the north "farmer's market" and St. Lawrence Hall as well. (www.stlawrencemarket.com) (Tues-Thurs 8am-6pm, Fri 8am-7pm, Sat 5am-5pm)

Eventually you will need to leave your home for supplies. A great place to spend a winter morning is at The Market. The warmth, the vibrant colours and wonderful aromas of baked bread and fresh produce waft from every corner. Much like an indoor mall you can navigate from vendor to vendor, oblivious to any undesirable weather happenings outside.

The market is best enjoyed during the week or early morning when it is not as busy and the food is fresh. There is an excellent assortment to choose from. We like to spread it around and select items from various vendors.

We were there for three reasons -  bacon, cheese and bread.

You can even purchase a warm sweater or tuque for your chilly trek home.

A fun way to spend a wintry afternoon or evening is to dust off the board games and call up some friends. Classics like Charades, Pictionary, Scrabble or Monopoly can all be riveting with the right crowd, food and drinks. Stop by your nearest Zellers or Toys R Us for Cranium, Apples to Apples, Risk, Battleship or any other classic game.

As of tonight, proof will be appearing at a several LCBO stores for special cocktail and food tastings
If you happen to be in the neighbourhood, pop in to meet us. Our first stop tonight is in Barrie. We will announce new events each Thursday. Visit our events page to find out more details. (www.proofbrands.com)

Weekend Forecast:
Saturday: Few Flurries with a high of -11 degrees
Sunday: Variable cloudiness with a high of -12 degrees

January 13, 2011

proof whisky, And the nominees are..., Vol. 15

This week we are gearing up for Sunday night’s Golden Globe Awards (www.goldenglobes.org), by offering you not one, but 10 great red carpet cocktails. If you still have not selected your favourite contender you may be persuaded in doing so after tasting one of our ‘nominee-inspired’ drinks. We thought that it would be fun to match whisky cocktails to each Golden Globe nominee. Sit back and enjoy the show. 
This week’s Thursty Thursday Feature recipe is our twist on the Social Network Appletini. To learn more about our brand visit www.proofbrands.com. Become a friend on Facebook www.facebook.com/proofbrands and Twitter http://twitter.com/proofbrands 
to get last minute updates on all of our tastings, parties and events.


proof whisky appletini
2 oz proof whisky
½ oz Sour Puss Sour Apple
Fill shaker with ice. Add 2 oz proof whisky and ½ oz Sour Puss Sour Apple
Shake and pour into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a cherry.

The Appletini has quickly become the official ‘Facebook’ cocktail after the success of this blockbuster film. Although we cannot take credit for the appletini – Zuckerberg beat us to it – we can lay claim to this tasty variation.

And the first nominee is...

Director David Fincher (Fight Club, Seven) teams with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) to explore the meaning of success in the early 21st century from the perspectives of the technological innovators who revolutionized the way we all communicate.

'Black Swan' follows the story of Nina (Natalie Portman), a ballerina in a New York City ballet company whose life, like all those in her profession, is completely consumed with dance.

Enjoy this intermission refreshment from the comfort of your own sofa. The Promenade Bar at NYC Ballet offers its whisky with a choice of pepsi, ginger ale or on the rocks.
(You can even pre-order your intermission cocktail online to avoid lineups www.nycballet.com)

The Promenade
1 oz proof whisky
4 oz pepsi, ginger ale or on the rocks
Pour proof whisky and mix of choice in ice-filled rocks glass.

Visionary filmmaker Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight) writes and directs this psychological sci-fi action film about a thief who possesses the power to enter into the dreams of others.

Wake up from your deep slumber, with this elegant elixir. We chose rosewater because Chanteuse, (of movie’s featured song) Edith Piaf is best known for her song La Vie En Rose.

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien
2 oz proof whisky
1 oz rose water*
½ oz Amaretto
Stir 2 oz proof whisky, 1 oz rose water, ½ oz Amaretto and serve over ice in an elegant cocktail glass. * Rosewater is available at most Loblaws, Rabba, No Frills, etc.

THE KING’S SPEECH (Drama) After the death of his father King George V (Michael Gambon) and the scandalous abdication of King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), Bertie (Colin Firth) who has suffered from a debilitating speech impediment all his life, is suddenly crowned King George VI.

A few of these will cure any speech impediment.

The King Eddy
1½ oz proof whisky
1½ oz sweet vermouth
¼ oz Bénédictine
Lemon Twist
Fill shaker with ice. Add 1½ oz proof whisky, 1½ oz sweet vermouth and ¼ oz Bénédictine. Strain into cocktail glass. Twist lemon over glass and drop it in.

Mark Wahlberg stars in Paramount Pictures' inspirational docudrama exploring the remarkable rise of Massachusetts-born, junior welterweight title winner "Irish" Micky Ward.

We went with Micky’s drink of choice, which is beer – punched up a little, of course.

The Micky Ward
1 ½ oz proof whisky
8-12 oz mug of beer
Pour the
proof whisky into a shot glass. Drop the shot glass into the mug of beer. Ding ding ding ding! Winner!

Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
ALICE IN WONDERLAND (Musical or Comedy)

Director Tim Burton and screenwriter Linda Woolverton (Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King) team up to deliver this visually dazzling take on the classic Lewis Carroll tale.

Host your own ‘Mad Tea Party’ with this magical spiked tea.
Drink Me (makes 6 cups)
1 piece fresh ginger
6 cups cold water

2-3 orange pekoe tea bags
¼ cup liquid honey

6 oz
proof whisky
6 pieces rolled cinnamon bark

Very thinly slice unpeeled ginger. Set aside 6 slices. Bring remaining ginger and water to a boil in a small saucepan; add tea. Cover, slide off heat and steep 5 minutes. Meanwhile place a reserved ginger slice in each tea cup. Stir honey and
proof whisky into steeped tea. Strain liquid into cups; add a cinnamon stick. Serve while hot.

BURLESQUE (Musical or Comedy)
Christina Aguilera makes her dramatic feature debut as Ali, a small-town singer who takes her shot at stardom performing at a neo-burlesque nightclub in Los Angeles.

Because Burlesque also made the short-list for a Razzie, we thought it appropriate to match this musical contender with a raspberry-based drink.

The Razzie
2 oz proof whisky
¾ oz fresh lime juice
¼ oz simple syrup
½ oz Chambord
In an ice-filled shaker add 2 oz proof whisky, juice of ½ fresh lime, ¼ oz simple syrup. Shake and strain into a Collins glass. Top with 7up and then drizzle with Chambord.

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT (Musical or Comedy)
'The Kids Are All Right is the heartfelt new comedy from acclaimed director Lisa Cholodenko, starring Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, and Mark Ruffalo. Two teenaged children (Alice in Wonderland's Mia Wasikowska and Journey to the Center of the Earth) get the notion to seek out their biological father and introduce him into the family life that their two mothers (Bening and Moore) have built for them. Once the donor (Ruffalo) is found, the household will never be the same, as family ties are defined, re-defined, and re-re-defined.

We're in southern California – blender drink anyone?

This Drink is Alright
1 ½ oz proof whisky
¾ oz Cointreau
¾ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz simple syrup
Add crushed ice and all ingredients to a blender. Blend and serve heaped in margarita glass with lime slice and straw.

RED (Musical or Comedy) Based on the cult D.C. Comics graphic novel by Warren Ellis and Cully Hammer, 'Red' is an explosive action-comedy starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren.

It’s red and it’s delicious. Enough said.

The Crimson Cup
1 1/2 oz proof whisky
1 oz lemon juice
1 tbsp. cranberries (frozen & thawed)
1/2 oz maple syrup
2 oz cranberry juice
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add 1½ oz proof whisky, 1 oz. of lemon juice, 1 tbsp. cranberries (frozen & thawed) ½ oz. maple syrup and 2 oz cranberry juice. Shake sharply and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon and cranberry skewer.

And finally.....
THE TOURIST (Musical or Comedy)
Johnny Depp stars as an American tourist whose playful dalliance with a stranger leads to a web of intrigue, romance and danger in 'The Tourist'. During an impromptu trip to Europe to mend a broken heart, Frank (Depp) unexpectedly finds himself in a flirtatious encounter with Elise (Angelina Jolie) an extraordinary woman who deliberately crosses his path. Against the breathtaking backdrop of Paris and Venice, their whirlwind romance quickly evolves as they find themselves unwittingly thrust into a deadly game of cat and mouse.

Take a break from this wild adventure at Harry’s Bar in Venice. We have created our own version of their world famous Bellini. Cin cin.
The Rialto
1 1/2 oz proof whisky
4 oz peach juice
juice of ½ lime
peach slice for garnish
To a rocks glass filled with ice, add 1 1/2 oz.
proof whisky, the juice of 1/2 fresh lime, 4 oz. peach juice and a dash of bitters. Stir to mix and garnish with a peach slice.

For more information on any of these movies, visit: www.moviefone.com

Weather Forecast:
Saturday: Light Snow and a high of 0 degree
Sunday: Few flurries and a high of - 4 degrees