November 17, 2011

proof rum, punch rum no punch-backs, Vol. 60

While at the grocery store the other day, we spotted a familiar pile of little wooden crates in the produce section. Yes! Spanish clementines are here for the holidays. This week we are making the first of a series of rum punches prepared just in time for the holiday season. 
Our focus today is on oranges.
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The smashed orange 6 clementines, cut in quarters • 1/4 cup sugar • 1 tablespoon grated peeled ginger • 
12 oz fresh orange juice • 6 oz proof rum
Wash oranges really well. Drop quartered and unpeeled oranges into pitcher. Add 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tbsp grated peeled ginger. Muddle the ingredients in the bottom of the pitcher. Add orange juice and proof rum. Serve in ice-filled glasses. (serves 6)

TIP: This drink is on the stronger side, so you can lighten it up by topping it with 500 ml of ginger ale.

With party season well on its way, we have decided to begin stocking up on supplies. When serving cocktails, it’s always convenient to have a store of go-to garnishes that can take an average drink to another level. One of our favourite garnishes is the candied citrus peel. These take about an hour to make and can be stored for a week. It’s fun to experiment with different types of oranges and different cuts – anything from julienned to zest. You can use these zesty garnishes in a lot of the classic cocktails – we’re talking cosmos, sidecars, daiquiris and more.

Candied orange zest 3 navel oranges • 2 cups sugar • ½ cup water • orange zester or super sharp knife
Method: Wash and dry the oranges. Using a zesting tool, remove the orange part of the rind in long, thin strips starting at the top of the orange and with even pressure continue all the way to the bottom. Rinse well in cool water and set aside. Bring to boil one cup of sugar and half cup of water and add in the orange zest. Reduce heat until it is very gently boiling and continue to cook until the orange zest starts to look translucent. Drain well in a fine mesh sieve and immediately transfer to the dish with the sugar. Toss and separate each strand of zested orange rind so that each strip is completely coated with sugar. Let set for a few minutes and continue tossing. Gently remove from the sugar and store in a tightly covered container.

You can use the same recipe with orange peel. Instead of zesting an orange, peel an orange (leaving behind as much of the pith as possible to avoid bitterness) Cut is into thin strips or julienne.

TIP: This recipe also works with lemons, limes, blood oranges and grapefruit.

Candied ginger 1 cup fresh ginger, peeled
 • 1 cup sugar, plus additional sugar for coating • 
2 cups water • pinch of salt
Slice the ginger as thinly as possible. Place ginger slices in pot, add enough water to cover the ginger, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let ginger simmer for ten minutes, then drain. Add the sugar and water and salt to another pot. Add the ginger slices and cook for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for at least an hour. (if you want to coat the slices with sugar, drain very well while the ginger is hot) Store ginger slices in its syrup, or toss the drained slices in granulated sugar. Storage: The ginger, packed in its syrup, can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one year. If tossed in sugar, the pieces can be stored at room temperature for a few months.

A few years back, we had the privilege of visiting the Cointreau distillery in Angers, France. It was a very interesting tour in general, but what we recall the most was the wonderful sweet and citrusy perfume throughout the plant. Cointreau houses an elegant bar, boutique and tour. If you are able to visit this region, we highly recommend the tour. ( This classic and stylish orange liqueur can be enjoyed on the rocks or in many classic cocktails.

Great product Alert!!! If you have not yet discovered the President’s Choice black label line, we are here to tell you about it. Our greatest find was The Bacon Marmalade. Yes, you heard me right – bacon! It's so deliciously decadent that you will want to serve it on everything and we mean E-V-E-R-Y-thing!!

This Saturday, November 19th, Michael Riley will be serving proof whisky at the Club Monaco Bloor Street re-opening. (from 2pm-6pm) It’s open to the public, so check out the details on their FB page (


And if you are already out on the town and haven’t seen enough of Michael, stop into the Brickworks because Michael will be serving two delicious cocktails at TUM from 6pm - 11pm (Toronto Underground Market) (

And there's more!!! Sample proof rum and proof whisky at the Gourmet Food & WIne Expo this weekend (November 17th - 20th) proof will be located at the Diamond Estates booth.

Weekend Forecast:
Saturday: Variable cloudiness and a high of 10 degrees.
Sunday: Isolated showers and a high of 11 degrees.

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