September 29, 2011

proof rum, pioneer pints, Vol. 53

We have a yearly, end of September tradition of visiting Black Creek Pioneer Village and then apple picking at Devins. For us, it’s the perfect way to mark the beginning of autumn. This year, we were pleasantly surprised to find that Black Creek ( had opened its very own brewery. Black Creek has a few fall festivals coming up and we do recommend visiting them and the brewery. Enjoy today’s two pioneer ale and orchard-inspired cocktails. ‘Like’ us on Facebook and Twitter to get last minute updates on tastings, parties & events.

Harvest Punch 2 oz proof rum • 4 oz apple cider • 1 oz maple syrup • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
To an ice-filled shaker, add 2 oz proof rum, 4 oz apple cider, 1 oz maple syrup and 1 oz lemon juice. Shake and strain into Collins glass filled with ice and garnish with apple slices.


Black Creek Boilermaker 1 oz proof whisky • 1 Black Creek Beer
Pour the proof whisky in a shot glass. Pour the beer in a pint glass. It’s pretty simple – knock back the proof whisky and chase it with the beer. Traditionally, the shot of whisky was dropped into the beer and drank in one gulp, but we prefer to savour our drinks.

Black Creek Historic Brewery recreates the techniques, tools and recipes used by brewers in 1860s Ontario. Their Brew Masters do everything by hand on a small scale. 

It's a great place to learn about beer because, unlike a modern commercial brewery, you can see every step in the process for yourself. And, no one else has a Brew Master ready to welcome visitors in period costume. (


Devins Orchard is a family owned and run farm business, now in it’s 90th year! It has evolved over the years from a wholesale orchard, providing fresh apples to the local fruit markets in Aurora, Newmarket and Stouffville, to a pick your own farm/market with over a dozen varieties, some old favourites and some just a few years on the scene. Today, the fourth generation of the Devins family is active on the farm and we look forward, as always, to sharing our farm this fall with all our wonderful customers. (

MacIntosh, Cortland and Wealthy apples are in season now. Make sure to pop into their market store for apple butter, cider and pies.


Because we are still enjoying a balmy autumn, it is far too early to jump into the cold weather menu of stews and soups. That’s why this sweet & tart autumnal salad, made with a bounty of delicious fall fruits, is a perfect seasonal main or side dish to accompany pork, chicken or salmon.

Autumn Fruit Salad 1 large apple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes • 1 ripe pear, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries • 1/4 cup walnuts • 4 oz firm blue cheese, crumbled • 1/2 red Onion, sliced thin • 1 tbsp proof whisky • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar • mixed greens • Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
Place the walnuts on a cookie sheet and toast in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove, let cool, and roughly chop.
In a large bowl, toss together all the ingredients, except greens. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over bed of mixed greens.

Weekend Forecast:
Saturday: Sunny with cloudy breaks and a whopping high of 10 degrees
Sunday: Mainly sunny and 14 degrees

September 22, 2011

proof rum, aloha summer, Vol. 52

For the last official day of the season we are throwing an endless summer luau. Strap on your coconuts, ukulele and grass skirt and sing aloha to summer with today’s hawaiian-inspired menu. Also join us in toasting Thursty Thursday’s one-year anniversary with these two juicy pineapple cocktails – one for the rum fans and one for the whisky lovers. ‘Like’ us on Facebook and Twitter to get last minute updates on tastings, parties & events.

proof’s polynesian punch 1 oz proof rum • ½ oz triple sec • 3 to 4 oz Ceres pineapple juice • splash of lime juice. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add all ingredients and shake. Strain into an ice-filled glass and garnish with a grilled pineapple wedge.


The five-o 1 ½ oz proof whisky • ¾ oz dry vermouth • ¾ oz Ceres pineapple juice. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add all ingredients and shake. Strain into a chilled martini glass.


Who says luaus have to be oceanside? We are having a very ‘civilized’ and grown-up luau dinner party in the comfort of our own dining room. This one you can do year round. Here are the recipes:


Pork and Pineapple Kebabs 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar  • 2 tbsp proof whisky • 1 garlic clove, crushed and mixed with 1/2 teaspoon salt • 1 tsp dried hot red pepper flakes • 1/4 cup vegetable oil • 1 1/2 pounds boneless trimmed pork shoulder or pork loin, cut into forty 1-inch pieces • 1/4 cup ketchup • 2 tablespoons white vinegar • 2 tablespoons sugar • 2 teaspoons soy sauce • 1/2 teaspoon salt • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil • 1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into thirty 3/4-inch-thick wedges • 10 10-inch wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes

In a large bowl whisk together the red-wine vinegar, whisky, the garlic paste, and the red pepper flakes, add the vegetable oil in a stream, whisking until it is emulsified. Add the pork, stirring to coat it with the marinade, and let it marinate, covered and chilled, for at least 6 hours or overnight. In a bowl whisk together the ketchup, the distilled vinegar, the sugar, the soy sauce, the salt, and the sesame oil until the sugar is dissolved and reserve the sauce. Drain the pork, reserving the marinade, and thread it and the pineapple, alternating them, onto the skewers, using 4 pieces of pork and 3 pieces of pineapple on each skewer. Brush the kebabs with some of the reserved marinade and grill them on medium to high on gas bbq, basting them for the first 10 minutes with the reserved marinade and turning them, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pork is just cooked through but still juicy. Brush the kebabs with the soy & ketchup sauce and grill them, turning them, for 2 minutes more.


Macadamia Couscous 1½ cups couscous • 1½ cups very hot chicken or vegetable stock • 1/2 cup currents or raisins • 1/2 cup raw macadamias, roasted and chopped • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil • 2 tablespoons lemon juice • 1 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley • 1/4 tsp cinnamon • 1/4 tsp cumin • salt & pepper to taste  
For macadamia couscous place couscous in a bowl, add very hot stock, stir and set aside for 5 minutes or until stock is absorbed, then stir in currents, nuts, cinnamon and cumin. Combine olive oil and lemon juice in a small bowl and whisk well, then pour over couscous, add herbs and toss gently to combine.

Grilled Pineapple 1 pineapple • 1/4 cup brown sugar • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon • 1 tbsp proof rum • 1 lime, juiced
Remove the skin from the pineapple and cut into quarters lengthwise. Remove the core. In a big ziploc or marinating container stir together sugar and cinnamon. Add pineapple and rum and shake it up before marinating it for up to 30 minutes or more. Cook pineapple on a hot grill until you have grill marks on each side. Remove and toss with lime juice. Best if served hot. We like it on vanilla ice cream, drizzled with dulce de leche.

If you really want the set the stage, you can find some great decorations and props at the following stores: for authentic tiki bars (, cups and decorations (, target (, hawaiian shirt tommy bahama (

Do the hula to some of these classics: Don Ho, Tiny Bubbles, Elvis, Blue Hawaii, Ledward Kaapana, Black Sand, Jimmy Buffet, Beach Boys, Surfaris, Any artist playing Slack Key Guitar or any Luau Party Compilations from Amazon or itunes.

Weekend Forecast:
Saturday: Scattered showers and a high of 20 degrees
Sunday: Cloudy periods and a high of 21 degrees

September 15, 2011

proof rum, the premiere, Vol. 51

Okay...we really are seeing double today.
With TIFF happening in the city right now, Toronto’s party scene is on fire. Everywhere you look, there’s a mob of fans swarming a red carpet. Speaking of parties – proof rum’s official release will take place tomorrow night at the Spoke Club. And because we are going ABSOLUTELY bonkers this week, we will keep it short and sweet. Today’s signature Thursty Thursday recipe is also our opening act at the Spoke. Enjoy proof rum’s premier performance with the proof rum runner. ‘Like’ us on Facebook and Twitter to get last minute updates on tastings, parties & events.

proof rum runner 1 oz proof white rum • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice • 4 oz Ceres Hanepoot white grape juice
Fill a tall glass with ice cubes. Add 1 oz proof rum, 1 tsp lemon juice and 4 oz Ceres white grape juice. Stir & garnish with grapes.


Ceres is the best 100% pure fruit juice you can buy - wholesome, earthy and natural, with no added cane sugar, colorants or preservatives - the pure goodness of nature from the valley of Ceres. Ceres was launched in South Africa in September 1982. It is the flagship brand of the Ceres Fruit Juices Company and commands a premium in the marketplace. Our rum is a perfect match to Ceres wide array of flavours: mango, peach, lychee, pineapple, papaya, cranberry & kiwi, white grape and pear are just to name a few (


Gone are the days of the stodgy old boys club. Membership-based Spoke Club offers an exclusive experience all set in a hip, comfortable environment. With an interior made up of blonde wood and soft leather, the Spoke’s attention to detail extends throughout the building. Its 1200 Square foot art gallery space, screening room and elegant upstairs patio attract a lot of agency, media and entertainment types. 

The club also offers a well put-together menu by chef Ren Mercer. Despite its members’ club status, the atmosphere is very laid back. And draws a great crowd on the weekends. (

If you are not a member of the Spoke, you can always find a good meal and drink at the Bier Markt, located at the same address (600 King Street West

Here are just a few pix from last night's Reelworld party at the Empire Club in Yorkville ( proof was serving a proven cocktail favourite, the proof whisky Urban and proof rum runners (a new favourite) The place was buzzing with all sorts of industry types. We met up with Jonathan and Drew Scott – the devilishly handsome brothers of the Property Brothers, Kim Roberts of Being Erica, who is also starring in upcoming The Vow with Rachel McAdams, Tonya Lee Williams founder of ReelWorld (also of Y & R fame), Howard Green, producer of Machete Joe, publicist Sasha Stoltz and many more. (

Weekend Forecast:
Saturday: Sunny and a high of 18 degrees
Sunday: Sunny and a high of 19 degrees

September 8, 2011

proof whisky, TIFF opening day, Vol. 50

Whether you returned to campus life this week, loaded the kids on a school bus, or headed off to work after a long summer retreat, one thing is for certain – the Tuesday after Labour Day prompted a considerable change of routine for most. Things are back to business, traffic is heavier, summer is winding down and avid moviegoers are lined up for their premiere TIFF tickets. Yes! The Toronto International Film Festival opens today. This week, we are dedicating our Thursty Thursday cocktail to the scholars, film buffs and stargazers alike. ‘Like’ us on Facebook and Twitter to get last minute updates on tastings, parties & events.

the stargazer (single) 1 oz proof whisky • ½ oz Chambord* • juice of 1/8 fresh lime • ½ cup ginger ale • fresh Ontario raspberries
Fill a tall glass with ice. Add 1oz proof whisky, ½ oz raspberry liqueur, the juice of 1/8 fresh lime and 4 oz ginger ale. Garnish with fresh Ontario raspberries. (recipe by

The stargazer (pitcher) 1 cup proof whisky • ½ cup Chambord* • 1/8 cup fresh lime • 4 cups ginger ale (32 oz) • fresh Ontario raspberries
Pour all ingredients in a pitcher and stir to mix. Pour into tall glasses filled with ice and garnish with fresh Ontario raspberries. (recipe by


*If you do not want to invest in a bottle of Chambord, you can replace it by using more whisky (Nothing wrong with that! 1/4 oz more in single glass and 1/3 cup more in pitcher) To get the raspberry flavour use this easy simple syrup recipe (1 oz raspberry simple syrup in single and 2/3 cup simple syrup in pitcher size:

Raspberry Simple Syrup 1 cup sugar • 1 ½ cup water • 1 cup fresh raspberries or 2/3 cup frozen (with juice) Combine water and sugar in large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar has dissolved (about 5 minutes). Add raspberries and turn off heat. Cool to room temperature. Strain out berries and pour into bottle.(keeps for weeks at room temp with tight lid)


Ontario Autumn raspberries are in season. Time to whip up some decadent raspberry desserts and sauces.
If you have invested in a bottle of Chambord and you have leftovers (heaven forbid), try making this easy and delicious dessert recipe. These berries can be served on their own or as a topping for ice cream, crêpes or on sponge cakes. 

Drunken Raspberries 2 1/2-pint containers fresh raspberries • 3/4 cup Chambord
Combine raspberries and liqueur in small bowl. Let soak at room temperature at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.

Here’s a simple raspberry sorbet recipe from the Foodland Ontario website:
Fresh raspberry sorbet 1/2 cup Ontario raspberries, puréed and sieved • 1/2 cup Ontario Liquid Honey • 1/4 cup white corn syrup
Combine puréed fruit, honey and corn syrup; chill until very cold. Stir well and pour into ice-cream maker. Freeze according to manufacturer's directions.


Or you can get the raspberry VIP treatment at Dolce Gelato on the Danforth (this is their second location). 

They serve a few tasty red-carpet worthy treats. 

We tried their raspberry sorbet – yum! The original Dolce is located on College and offers a wider variety of treats. The College Street shop even serves a raspberry sorbet cocktail (


If you are looking for a  perfect place to do a little sightseeing over the next two weeks, try hanging out at the Bell Lightbox. The new home for TIFF is a beautiful, welcoming five-story complex at the corner of King and John Streets in the heart of downtown Toronto. Inside, visitors gather in a three-storey public atrium, 5 public cinemas, 2 galleries, 3 learning studios, a centre for students and scholars, the O&B Canteen (Oliver & Bonacini), Luma Restaurant, and a lounge. Designed by world-renowned architectural firm KPMB, this unique facility provides an essential meeting place for film professionals, educators and film lovers from around the globe.

If you would like to walk away with a little piece of TIFF, check out the TIFF gift shop for some fun Festival memorabilia. (


Last thing - remember to pick up your bottle of proof rum at the LCBO. It is now available in almost 100 stores across Ontario!! 
Check their site for your closest location (

Weekend Forecast:
Saturday: Variable cloudiness and a high of 24 degrees
Sunday: Cloudy periods and a high of 22 degrees