October 27, 2011

proof whisky, eye of newt and toe of frog, Vol. 57

Our cauldron is already bubbling and percolating in anticipation of Monday’s Halloween celebration. This year, we will conjure up some bewitching potions with our magical spirits. Enjoy today’s sweet sipper by a warm fire. Like us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Proof-Brands/181641835185326 and Twitter http://twitter.com/proofbrands to get last minute updates on tastings, parties & events.

dark spirit 1 oz proof whisky • 3/4 oz Cointreau • 3/4 oz fig simple syrup
In a cocktail shaker add all ingredients. Add ice and shake until very cold. Strain liquid into an ice-filled cocktail glass or chilled martini glass.

Fig Simple Syrup • 1/2 cup brown sugar • 1/2 cup water • 3 fresh figs, chopped
Add sugar, water and figs to a small saucepan. Over medium low heat, cook until sugar has dissolved and figs are very soft. Mash figs as they cook. (Be careful not to let sugar boil or burn.) Remove from heat and let cool, then strain. Refrigerate in bottle or jar.


If you are entertaining a crowd or coven, mix a batch of this refreshing blood-red proof rum punch. 
Dress it up with dried-ice and ghoulish cubes.

Witches brew 2 cinnamon sticks • 5 whole cloves • 3 tablespoons finely chopped peeled ginger • 1/3 cup water • 1/3 cup sugar • 3 cups sparkling cider • 4 cups cranberry juice cocktail, chilled • 1 liter bottle club soda, chilled • ½ bottle proof white rum • Ice
Bring cinnamon sticks, cloves, ginger, water, and sugar to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep, uncovered, 1 hour. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids, then chill until cold. Combine all remaining ingredients, except ice, with syrup in a punch bowl. Add ice before serving. Adapted from recipe on (www.epicurious.com)


Fig Infused Whisky 500 mL proof whisky • ½ cup fresh ripe figs, stems removed and chopped
Add figs to the proof whisky and cover tightly with cap or lid on jar. Store in a cool, dry place for at least two weeks (the figs will rise to the top). Shake occasionally. Strain the infusion through a cheese-cloth into a clean container. Wash out whisky bottle and poor infusion back into the original bottle. NOTE: You can save the whisky-soaked figs in an airtight container for other recipes or as garnish. The whisky can be kept at room temperature for a few months. The figs should be refrigerated and consumed immediately. 
TIP: You can add figs directly to your proof whisky bottle or infuse it in a larger jar. If you do it in the bottle, you will need to pour out some of the whisky in order to make room for figs. Once figs are added, you will pour extra whisky on top to cover figs. You can also experiment with this recipe by adding anise seed, cloves or other spices. We picked up our fresh figs at Sun Valley on the Danforth.

Infusions The most popular infusions are normally sweet and fruit-based, however you can use your imagination to create many savoury combinations. Experiment with garlic, liquid smoke, basil, or oregano for some zesty Bloody Mary bases. Use your creativity to personalize your creations. For best results, use fresh ingredients with flavour combinations you know you like and use seasonal foods as much as possible.

Because we are focusing on proof whisky today, we recommend that you pick up on some of proof's natural tasting notes and use ingredients that will extract and highlight these. We have used figs for our recipe, but you can use orange peel, anise, cloves, cinnamon, vanilla bean, raisins, apricots, ginger, peaches, apples, blueberries, pears, apricots – you name it!

To infuse proof whisky, choose a clean, air-tight jar. Using smaller jars will allow you to create small batches of a variety of flavors at once. Wash the ingredients, place them inside the jar and fill it with proof whisky. Shake a few times and cover tightly with a lid.

Infusion Time You will want to store your infusion in a cool, dark place or refrigerator and shake it 3-5 times a day for the duration of the infusion. On average the ingredients should stay in the liquor for 3-5 days. Some of your more intense flavors will only need 3 days, less intense flavors should stay in the jar for a full week or more (see the infusion times list below). You will want to do a taste test every few days to see if the flavors are sufficient. Once your infusion is complete, use cheese-cloth or paper coffee filter to strain the whisky into another clean jar or back into its original bottle. Store the finished infusion in fridge.


Here is a time chart for infusing various ingredients
4 days Intense flavors such as vanilla beans, lemons, oranges, grapefruit, limes, mint, garlic, tarragon, basil, oregano, dill, thyme and peppers
1 week Moderate flavors such as cantaloupes, strawberries, peaches, mangoes, pitted cherries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.
2 weeks Mild flavors such as pineapple, ginger and lemon grass.

Homemade infusions can be a great gift. Customize the flavours for your friends and dress up the bottle with a handmade label. Include a recipe card or necktag. On one side you can list the infusion ingredients and on the other side, recipes that would go well with this infusion.

Because Halloween lands on a Monday this year, we are keeping things very low-key  – making a fire and shelling out candy with friends. Here are a couple great seasonal recipes to enjoy on this spooky Hallow’s Eve.

Fig Preserves • 5 cups black mission figs, stemmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3/4 cup sugar
 • zest and juice of 1 large lemon • 2/3 cup proof whisky
 • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary minced • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
In a large saucepan, toss the fig pieces with the sugar and let stand, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until the sugar is mostly dissolved and the figs are juicy.  Add the lemon, rosemary, salt, and whisky and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Simmer the fig jam over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is soft and the liquid runs off the side of a spoon in thick, heavy drops, about 20 minutes. 

Let cool and refrigerate for up to two weeks. Serve with sharp cheeses, prosciutto and crackers.

Pumpkin Seed Pesto 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil • 2 cups unsalted hulled pumpkin seeds • 3 garlic cloves, minced • 1/2 cup water • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro • 4 scallions, chopped • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat until hot, but not smoking. Cook pumpkin seeds with salt and pepper to taste, stirring constantly, until seeds are puffed and beginning to pop, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring for about 1 minute. Transfer to a tray and cool completely. Pulse seed mixture in a food processor with water, cilantro, scallions, and remaining 4 tbsp oil until mixture forms a coarse paste. Transfer to a bowl and stir in lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.


Visit Dry Ice and Gases Co. for your smoky cauldron effect. (http://dryiceandgases.com)

Proof proprietor, Michael Riley will be doing special proof rum and whisky tastings at the following LCBO stores this weekend. Come out and have a drink with him – he’s pretty darn friendly! And remember to pick up your Whisky Live tickets! It's next weekend!!


Happy Halloween!

Weekend Forecast:
Saturday: Sunny with cloudy periods and a high of 8 degrees
Sunday: Sunny with variable cloudiness and a high of 9 degrees
Monday: Mainly cloudy and a high of 10 degrees

October 20, 2011

proof rum, Bamboozled, Vol. 56

Traditionally, Vitaminwater (www.vitaminwatercanada.ca) has been consumed as a healthy means of hydration the day after a big drinking night out. Well, last week, to kick off Toronto’s Fashion Week, we were asked to develop cocktails using the hangover elixir as a mixer. Nip it in the bud the night before with these two all-in-one drinks served at the Seven Continents Warehouse party, Bamboozle. Like us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Proof-Brands/181641835185326 and Twitter http://twitter.com/proofbrands to get last minute updates on tastings, parties & events.

Ignite your inner beast with the combination of vitamins c and b in mega c. fuel muscles. encourage health. when it comes to charging for the day, one bottle and you can take on the world.
Vega a shining amalgamation of proof whisky, Ceres Guava and Glaceau Vitamin Water Mega C
1 ½ oz proof whisky • 1 oz Ceres guava juice • 4 oz Vitaminwater Mega C
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add 1 ½ oz proof whisky, 1 oz guava juice and 4 oz vitamin water Mega C. Shake well and strain into a glass filled with ice. Garnish with mint.

With added b vitamins, guarana extract and natural caffeine, this drink will give you that extra spark to accomplish many things.
Shock a shocking mixture of proof rum, lime and Glaceau Vitaminwater Spark
1 ½ oz proof rum • 1 oz simple syrup • 4 oz Glaceau Vitaminwater Spark
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add 1 ½ oz proof rum, 1 oz simple syrup, 1 oz lime juice and 4 oz Vitamin Water Spark. Shake vigorously and strain into a glass filled with ice. Garnish with basil leaf.

When guests entered the warehouse, they were greeted with a Tonica Kombucha welcome drink, which was also created for the event. We also partnered with Tonica Kombucha to come up with these two kombucha cocktails – the Tango and Revival (www.tonicakombucha.com) We used Tonica Mango Passion and Tonica Green Tea Revival. Tonica Kombucha can be found at Noah’s, the Big Carrot and many other health food shops in Toronto.

All of our cocktails were served alongside catered goods from Daniel et Daniel in Toronto. 

 BAMBOOZLE was a "celebration of art and fashion in its many incarnations".
Sharing the 90,000 sq. ft. Seven Continents space with 5 other artists, Jessica Gorlicky’s (www.jessgo.com) “PAINT MY CANDY” exhibited in her 10,000 sq. ft. space displayed: Large scale canvases of original art, Hand-painted floating mannequins, Body painted models, Video installations, Flying “Butterflettes”, Music by Jet Entertainment, proof cocktails, and lots of candy!

The event also featured four "Pop Shops" featuring Cindy Rendely OBJEX for jewellery, Cydelic by Chorin for accessories, Provocative for lingerie, and X-Crated for shoes. The event also celebrated the grand opening of SEVENup Retail as well as the introduction of Indonesian painter and sculptor Andi Ramdani.


Seven Continents is an experienced on and off-shore manufacturing company ‘Driven by Design’.  As an environmentally friendly manufacturing company, they use recycled materials to create upholstered forms, furniture, mannequins, fixtures, and accessories. They are dedicated to a long list of elite clients – multi-locations and passionate retailers. “We are addicted to design – and apply it to everything we do... “ (http://sevencontinents.com)

Join us for drinks this Saturday at the Brickworks for TUM (http://blog.yumtum.ca)

Weekend Forecast:
Saturday: Variable cloudiness and a high of 12 degrees.
Sunday: Variable cloudiness and a high of 12 degrees.

Stay tuned for next week's special Halloween Edition!

October 13, 2011

proof whisky, the return of William, Vol. 55

With the end of apple-picking season already here, we thought it only fair to feature one more apple drink this month. We used William Cider in the William Tell cocktail, strangely enough, at this exact time last year and it was a huge hit. The William Sour is definitely another one to try. Like’ us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Proof-Brands/181641835185326 and Twitter http://twitter.com/proofbrands to get last minute updates on tastings, parties & events.

the william sour 1 ½ oz proof whisky • 1 oz cinnamon simple syrup • 4 oz William Cider
To an ice-filled glass, add all ingredients. Stir and garnish with a cinnamon stick or apple slice.

Cinnamon Simple Syrup: 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 cinnamon stick. Let cool and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.


William Premium Cider is certified organic and made in Quebec. It is the only single serve can of Canadian cider available at the LCBO. William Premium Cider is an English style cider with a light amber colour and a good balance of sweetness and acidity delivering a crisp clean taste, without any after taste. Made with all-natural ingredients, William has a low sugar level with fewer calories than beers and most mixers. This easy drinking and slightly carbonated cider is best when served cold. For information on where to get your very own William Cider glass, visit: www.williamcider.com

We had an awesome Thanksgiving Sunday thanks to the weather and thanks to our wonderful families. After sipping on make thymes, sage plums and the snacks to match on our forest walk, we went home and mixed up a pitcher of William Sours

Because a lot of our dishes were made with apples, we went into the town of Midland on Saturday to stock up on some cheeses – it's such a natural pairing. André, owner of Ciboulette et Cie (www.cibouletteetcie.ca) helped us in selecting the perfect cheese – he’s so good.

Although we came home with many types, the Mimolette, Salt Spring Chèvre and Blue Ermite alone, can definitely make a perfect cheese trio for any entertaining platter.


Mimolette Creamery, hard, cow's milk cheese produced in Flanders and Normandy. Basically, it is a matured Edam that is allowed to ripen for around six month to nine. The natural rind ranges in color from yellow orange to light brown and is pitted, dry and hard. Intensely fruity, it is popular as a cooking cheese and as a snack to eat with a glass of beer. When young (4 - 6 month), the cheese is firm compact and slightly oily with a subtle fruity aroma and a mellow nutty taste. Most of this cheese is, however, eaten when aged. The bright, deep tangerine color of the cheese is due to the natural dye, annatto. Mimolette is also known as Boule de Lille.


Salt Spring Basil Chèvre This flavoured soft cheese comes with basil layered on top of it. A splash of olive oil helps to infuse the flavour throughout the cheese. It  goes especially well on a cheese plate, not only because of its distinctive look, but also because basil is a mild flavour that almost everybody enjoys. If you are in doubt as to the preferences of your guests or hosts, you can do a lot worse than serving or bringing a soft, fresh basil flavoured goat’s milk cheese. (www.saltspringcheese.com)

Blue Ermite was the first cheese created in 1943 by the Benedictine Monks at the Fromagerie de L’Abbaye Saint-Benoît. It is a sharp, crumbly Canadian blue cheese – excellent for cooking, and salads. It comes wrapped in foil.


We also made a few batches of ‘light’ crisps to take on the walk. These are buttery little pieces of heaven let me tell you. We recommend you serve them to your guests (but tuck a couple away for yourself first – they go really fast!). They go extremely well with our featured cocktails and nicely with ice wines. Here are two great recipes, both from www.epicurious.com:


Herbed parmesan crisps 1 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary or thyme • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients together. On a baking sheet coated lightly with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper, place tablespoonfuls of the mixture with a couple inches between each, and spread them out into ovals about four inches long and two wide. (You should have about 12 crisps.) Bake in the oven until they turn golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. If not shaping them around a spoon handle, cool crisps flat on a metal rack.

Assorted Cheddar Crisps 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened • 3/4 lb sharp Cheddar, coarsely grated (preferably in a food processor) • 1 large egg yolk • 1 cup all-purpose flour • 1 teaspoon dried mustard • 3/4 teaspoon salt • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds • 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
Blend together butter, cheese, and yolk in food processor until smooth. Add flour, dried mustard, and salt and pulse until just combined. Transfer dough to a sheet of wax paper and divide into 3 portions (do not clean processor). Return 1 portion to processor, add pepper, and pulse until combined well, then transfer to another sheet of wax paper. Shape into a 7-inch-long log (1 1/2 inches thick), using paper as an aid, then roll up log in paper and twist ends of paper to close. Make 2 more logs on separate sheets of wax paper in same manner, using caraway seeds for second log and nigella seeds for third log (instead of pepper) and cleaning processor in between batches. Chill logs until firm, about 2 hours. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap 1 log and cut enough thin slices (about 1/8 inch thick) from it to fill baking sheet, arranging slices 1 inch apart. Bake until edges of crackers are golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer on parchment to a rack and cool slightly, about 15 minutes. Make more crackers in batches with remaining dough. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Weekend Forecast:
Saturday: Cloudy with showers and a high of 12 degrees :(
Sunday: Cloudy with showers and a high of 14 degrees :(