February 28, 2013

proof whisky, another favourite five, Vol. 122

Last year at this time, for our 75th Thursty Thursday newsletter, we posted your favourite Top Five proof whisky recipes
from 2010-11. Today, we are featuring your favourite five from 2012. If you did not download a copy of our proof recipe book - here's your chance. Enjoy!

the maple leaf ¼ cup cranberries • ½ oz lemon juice • ½ oz maple syrup • 2 oz proof whisky • lots of ice

To a cocktail shaker, add ¼ cup cranberries, ½ oz lemon juice and ½ oz maple syrup. Muddle all ingredients with a spoon or muddler. Fill the shaker with ice and 2 oz proof whisky. Shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with lemon twist. (TIP: Since it is not cranberry season, we used frozen. Make sure to let the berries thaw before using, reserving a few of the frozen ones for garnish and/or for chilling your drink.)

the victoria 4 mint leaves  • ½ oz maple syrup • 1 1/2 oz proof whisky • lemon wedge

Place mint and maple syrup in a glass and muddle. Fill glass with crushed ice and add proof whisky. Give it a squeeze of lemon and garnish with mint leaf.


the tiny blue 6 mint leaves • ¼ cup blueberries • 4 oz sweet & sour mix* • 1 ½ oz proof whisky • soda water

In a cocktail shaker, muddle mint leaves, blueberries and sweet & sour mix. Add ice and proof whisky. Shake and pour into an ice-filled glass. Top with soda water and garnish with mint leaves and fresh blueberries.


*sweet & sour mix 1 1/2 cup water • 1 1/2 cup sugar • 1 cup fresh lemon juice • 1 cup fresh lime juice

Combine water and sugar in large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to boil. Cool syrup. Mix syrup, lemon juice and lime juice in pitcher. Chill until cold. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover; keep chilled)


the old bay 1 ½ oz proof whisky • 4 oz Mott’s clamato juice • ½ tsp seafood sauce • 1 dash Tabasco • 1 dash Worcester • Old Bay Seasoning • lemon wedges

Coat the rim of a glass with lemon juice and then rim it with Old Bay Seasoning. Add ice to glass. Top with proof whisky, clamato juice, seafood sauce, Tabasco and Worcester. Stir and garnish with a cooked shrimp.


the peppered apricot This peppery autumnal drink offers a perfect balance of sweet and zippy. It works beautifully as both an aperitif to your thanksgiving meal, and as a delicious afternoon sipper on your backyard stoop. We find that it is best enjoyed with peppery-aged cheeses, smoky nuts, caramelized onions and lamb dishes.

single size 1 ½ oz proof whisky • 1/8 fresh lemon • ½ oz vanilla syrup* • 4 oz Ceres apricot juice (available at most major grocery chains) • crushed peppercorns • LOTS of ice

In a rocks glass filled with ice, add 1 ½ oz. proof whisky, the juice of 1/8 fresh lemon, ½ oz. vanilla syrup and 4 oz. apricot juice. Garnish with a lime wedge.


pitcher or thermos-size 12 oz proof whisky • the juice of 1 lemon • 4 oz vanilla syrup* • 32 oz or 1L of Ceres apricot juice (available at most major grocery chains) Crushed peppercorns (to taste) • LOTS of ice

Combine all ingredients in a pitcher, add 1-2 cups of ice, and stir well.

Weekend Forecast
Saturday: Variable cloudiness and a high of -3 degrees
Sunday: Cloudy periods and a high of -3 degrees

February 21, 2013

proof whisky, and the winner is, Vol. 121

For the 85th Oscars, we are featuring a high end and low end version of the same drink. Today’s drink was submitted to us by Sabrina Greer. And it's a winner! (http://oscar.go.com)

high end - the proof or dare 1 oz proof whisky • ½ oz egg white • 1 oz lime juice • 1 oz vanilla-allspice syrup*
3 dashes Aztec chocolate bitters

To a cocktail shaker, dry shake 1/2 oz egg whites, add ice, 1 oz proof whisky, 1 oz lime juice and 1 oz vanilla-allspice syrup. Shake sharply and strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with 3 dashes Aztec chocolate bitters.

*vanilla-allspice syrup 1 cup sugar • 1 cup boiling water • 1 vanilla pod •  10 allspice berries (dried)

low end - the proof or dare 1 oz proof whisky • 1 oz lime juice • 1 oz vanilla simple syrup*

To a cocktail shaker filled with ice add 1 oz proof whisky, 1 oz lime juice and 1 oz vanilla simple syrup, shake sharply and strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice, garnish with lime wedge

*Vanilla simple syrup 1 cup sugar, 1 cup boiling water and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


Looking for a  high-end treat to enjoy with your cocktail? Pop-up one of these designer snacks

Argo 10 cups freshly popped corn • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar • 1 cup butter • 1/4 cup maple syrup • 1/4 cup corn syrup • 1/4 tsp salt • 1 tsp maple extract

Place popcorn in large shallow greased roasting pan. Break pecans in half lengthwise; add to pan. Set aside. 

In large heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring sugar, butter, maple syrup, corn syrup and salt to boil over medium heat; boil, stirring constantly, until candy thermometer reaches hard-crack stage of 300°F, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in maple extract. 

Pour over popcorn mixture; stir to coat evenly. Let cool. Break into bite-size pieces. Make-ahead: Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.

Life of P(opcorn) 1/3 cup vegetable oil • 4 medium shallots, very thinly sliced • 2 serrano chiles, very thinly sliced • 1 1/2 teaspoons mild curry powder • 1 teaspoon nigella seeds (also sold as black onion seeds) • 3/4 cup popcorn kernels • Kosher salt

In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil. Add the shallots and chiles and fry over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until they are golden, about 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the fried shallots and chiles to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. In the same pot, cook the curry powder and nigella seeds over moderate heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the popcorn kernels and cover. Cook, shaking the pan every 30 seconds, until the kernels have stopped popping, about 8 minutes. Season the popcorn with salt and transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle the popcorn with the shallots and chiles and serve.
Heat oil in a large pot over high heat, then add popcorn, cover, and shake pot often. When popping slows, remove from heat until popping stops. Transfer to a large bowl. Melt butter in pot, then add garam masala, cayenne, and turmeric. Drizzle over popcorn, tossing well. Sprinkle to taste with salt.

Le maïs misérable ¼ cup popcorn • 2 tsp olive oil • 1 tsp Herbes de Provence •  ¼ tsp Fleur de Sel

In a spice grinder combine the Herbes de Provence and Fleur de Sel. Grind into a super-fine powder. Set aside. Heat oil over medium heat in a pot with a lid. Add three popcorn kernels and cover.  Listen for all three to pop then add the rest of the kernels. Cover and shake until the popping stops. Put the popcorn in a serving bowl. Sprinkle with the spice blend while the popcorn is still hot and moist from the steam.

Django corn 1-3 tablespoons oil • 1/2 cup popcorn • 1/4 cup butter • 2 tablespoons • *BBQ Seasoning • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place oil and 3 unpopped kernels in your popper over medium heat. When all three kernels pop, add the rest of your unpopped kernels quickly and proceed with popping. This method ensures that the moisture in the kernels turns to steam quickly instead of heating and escaping slowly. Add popcorn to a large bowl and drizzle with butter. Sprinkle with BBQ seasoning and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

* BBQ Seasoning 1 1/2 cups smoked paprika • 3/4 cup sugar (try brown sugar for its molasses flavor) • 3 3/4 tablespoons onion powder
Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Can be saved in an airtight container for up to 6 months for whenever you have a craving for smokey sweet barbecue popcorn.


On OSCAR SUNDAY, get the ultimate insider’s look with this exclusive Backstage Pass. They have over a dozen LIVE backstage and Red Carpet video streams to give you the best view of the action.  It’s the perfect companion to have when watching the show on ABC. Follow the action in “Watch Mode” as their correspondents guide you through the ultimate Oscar Experience. If you’d prefer to call your own shots, switch to “Direct Mode” to control what cameras to view. Just in time to offer fans everything they need to know about this year’s nominees, the official Oscars App is now available for free on all Android 4.0 devices in Google Play, including Samsung’s Galaxy Note® II, Galaxy Note® 10.1 and Galaxy S® III, as well as the new Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD in the Amazon app store for Android. It will also continue to be available on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch in the App Store®.

Weekend Forecast
Saturday: Scattered flurries and a high of 2 degrees
Sunday: Variable cloudiness and a high of 0

February 14, 2013

proof vodka, the forbidden fruit, Vol. 120

Happy Valentine’s Day! Turn up the heat this evening with some of these aphrodisiac foods. Eat. Drink. Love.

the Aphrodite (for two) 3 oz proof vodka • 2 oz fresh lime juice • 2 oz vanilla simple syrup • 8 oz POM juice
Add all ingredients to an ice-filled shaker. Shake and pour into two elegant glasses. Garnish with a vanilla bean or pom seeds.

the pomegranate owes its passion power to antioxidants, which protect the lining of blood vessels, allowing more blood to course through them. The upshot? Increased genital sensitivity. Historically, pomegranate was regaled as a culinary symbol of Aphrodite by the ancient Greeks. Some say the forbidden fruit of the Bible was not apple at all, but a pomegranate fruit.

vanilla bean mildly stimulates nerves, making sexual sensations feel even better.

The food you consume can have a direct impact on your sex life, affecting your hormones, brain chemistry, energy and stress levels. Some foods have psychoactive properties, others arouse because they are psychologically suggestive, and some can actually increase blood flow to the genitals. We looked around and found a list of other popular aphrodisiac foods. These super ‘sexy’ foods can get you in the mood and help get your blood flowing.

hot peppers Capsaicin, a chemical found in fiery peppers, increases circulation to get blood pumping and stimulates nerve endings so you'll feel more turned on. (www.cosmopolitain.com)

chocolate the king of natural aphrodisiacs, contains a host of compounds including anandamide, the psyochoactive feel-good chemical, and PEA (phenylethylamine), the "love chemical," which releases dopamine in the pleasure centers of the brain and peaks during orgasm. PEA is said to help induce feelings of excitement, attraction and euphoria. Cacao also contains tryptophan, a key component of the neurotransmitter serotonin known to promote a sense of well-being and relaxation. Try making Cupid's Cup from V-Day 2011

avocado Just by looking at the shape of avocado, you will see the reason why it was associated with sexuality. The Aztecs called the avocado ahuacuatl, or "testicle tree." They thought the fruit hanging in pairs on the tree resembled testicles. The Catholic priests in Spain found this fruit so obscenely sexual that they forbade it. On the other side, avocado is rich with folic acid, vitamin B6 and potassium. They are also said to boost immune system.

figs this sexy fruit has long been thought of as an arousing stimulant, and an open fig is believed to emulate the female sex organs. Figs are steeped in history and are one of the oldest-recorded fruits. They are mentioned in the Bible (Adam and Eve wore fig leaves to cover their private parts), are reported to be Cleopatra’s favorite fruit, and the ancient Greeks held them as sacred and associated them with love and fertility.

asparagus An English herbalist from the 17th century, Nicholas Culpepper, wrote that asparagus "stirs up lust in man and woman." In 19th century France, bridegrooms were served three courses of the sexy spears at their prenuptial dinners. Apparently for a good reason: asparagus is a great source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and thiamin and folic acid. The latter is said to boost histamine production necessary for the ability to reach orgasm in both sexes.

bananas By its shape its connection with sexuality is quite obvious, but you’ll also find that bananas are loaded with potassium, magnesium and B vitamins. It also contains chelating minerals and the bromeliad enzyme, said to enhance the male libido.

basil not only makes the meals smell and taste better, but it also has a lot of beneficial effects on human body. Basil has a fantastic aroma that is said to have an aphrodisiac effect; it is also very stimulating. Using sweet basil in a pasta sauce will be sure to get your heart racing! Maybe this explains why Italians are so romantic!

oysters are probably the food most associated with being an aphrodisiac, and most people are aware of their reputation for increasing sexual desire. Oysters may be thought an aphrodisiac because of their high zinc content, which helps produce sperm and increases libido. Raw oysters are best served with a glass of chilled Champagne for a truly romantic meal!

honey Sweet, sticky honey is a great source of boron, a trace mineral that helps the body use and metabolize estrogen, the female sex hormone. Studies have shown that this mineral may also enhance testosterone levels in the blood, the hormone responsible for promoting sex drive and orgasm in both men and women. In addition, honey contains B vitamins needed for testosterone, as well as other nutrients, enzymes and phytochemicals. (www.alternet.org)

Weekend Forecast
Saturday: Cloudy and a high of -6 degrees
Sunday: Cloudy with sunny breaks and a high of -6 degrees

Have a great night!

February 7, 2013

proof whisky, year of the snake, Vol. 119

Sunday marks the first day of the Year of the Snake.
Here are a few suggestions for how you can celebrate Chinese New Year 2013.

the hot & sour 1 1/2 oz proof whisky • 1/2 oz fresh lime juice • 1/2 ginger chili simple syrup* • 4 oz Bistrotea hot lemongrass green tea
Steep tea according to packet directions. Add all other ingredients and stir. Garnish with a lemon grass spear or hot pepper. 
(NOTE This drink can also be chilled over ice)

*ginger chili simple syrup (makes 4 drinks) Combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan. Add 1 tsp freshly grated ginger and 1 dried small chili pepper 
Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes after sugar has dissolved. Strain into glass and is ready to use in hot drink.  To use in cold drink allow to cool and refrigerate up to 2 weeks.


Ancient Chinese Secret: This drink is also perfect for flu season.
lemongrass often is used to flavour foods, but it’s also used medicinally in some cultures. For instance, the herb has gained the name of “fever grass” in some countries because of its traditional reputation as a treatment for fevers and cholera. It can be added to tea or to a foot bath. Lemongrass is used to treat pain related to indigestion, rheumatism and nerve conditions. It’s also said that the herb can alleviate headaches and ward off drowsiness. Sometimes, lemongrass is also used as an antiseptic for skin infections, particularly ringworm and sores.

ginger is probably one of the world’s favorite medicines and cooking ingredients. A perennial herb native to China and India, ginger root has been used for centuries in Asian cooking and for its therapeutic properties. Its many different varieties are cultivated throughout Asia, Australia, South America, Jamaica and the U.S. Its delicate green leaves, resembling baby spinach, can be eaten in salads, but the roots of the plant, called rhizomes, are where the benefits of ginger root lie. 

Aids in Digestion – Ginger is perhaps the best herb for digestion. It helps break down proteins to rid the stomach and intestines of gas. It also aids in the digestion of fatty foods. Alleviates High Blood Pressure – Ginger’s warming quality improves and stimulates circulation and relaxes the muscles surrounding blood vessels, facilitating the flow of blood throughout the body. 

Treats Nausea and Morning Sickness – Ginger has been widely shown to prevent as well as treat motion sickness, relax the stomach and relieve the feeling of nausea. Lowers LDL Cholesterol – Studies demonstrate that ginger can lower cholesterol levels by reducing cholesterol absorption in the blood and liver. Its extract can help reduce the levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the body, reducing the risk of developing heart disease

Why not share a lucky giant deep fried sesame ball at Dragon Pearl Buffet, the largest Chinese Buffet in the GTA.

(http://www.dragonpearlbuffet.com  865 York Mills Rd. Unit 2 North York)


Check out Harbourfront’s Year of the Snake Celebration with Canada's premier presenter of contemporary expression in Asian arts and culture. FREE! (http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/lunarfest)

 The Year of the Snake at Scarborough Town Centre Welcome the Year of the Snake with an exciting lineup of events and cultural activities including: traditional Chinese folk dancing, thunder drums, the God of Fortune, eye dotting ceremony, waking up the lion’s ceremony and a tai chi demonstration. Visitors can also enjoy the free Year of the Snake photo booth from 12 p.m to 6 p.m. (February 9 from 12pm - 6pm)(www.scarboroughtowncentre.com)

Weekend Forecast
Saturday: Sunny and -6 degrees
Sunday: Mainly sunny and -2 degrees