April 25, 2013

proof vodka, sakagura, Vol. 130

This week, we are touring North America’s only east coast sake brewery at the Distillery District. For today’s Thursty Thursday cocktail, we borrowed the saketini recipe from the Ontario Spring Water Sake Company. For more information on proof brands please visit www.proofbrands.com

the izumi saketini 2 oz Izumi Genshu sake • 1 oz proof vodka • cucumber slice for garnish
Add sake and proof vodka to an ice-filled shaker. Shake and pour into a martini glass. Garnish with a cucumber slice.

Our sake’s fresh and delightful flavour is enhanced by using a special spring water chosen among the abundant water resources of northern Ontario. All of our sake is prepared in the “Junmai” (pure rice) style in several varieties for sale at the Distillery location brewery store and tasting counter.

A unique offering at our brewery is its freshly pressed, unpasteurized and unfiltered sake, a style which is currently not available anywhere in Ontario or the eastern seaboard, making the new brewery in the Distillery a fascinating and delicious experience for sake, Japanese food and fine wine lovers alike.  Other unique items available in the dramatic high stone-walled retail area of the brewery include a variety of sake serving accessories and decorative items imported from Japan.  Many available items are labeled with the “IZUMI” brand (which means “spring water” in Japanese).

Pop by the Izumi distillery. Not only can you sit at the bar and sample a flight of three sakes, you can purchase Izumi sake by the bottle, Izumi-branded Sake ceramicware, glassware, branded t-shirts, bottle bags, Sake Kasu, Sake Kasu Dressings (Sesame and Wasabi flavours), Ice Cream (Lemon, Red Bean, Black Sesame), Sake Kasu Soap.

Check out their website for a schedule of brewery tasting tours. (http://ontariosake.com)


If you want to discover more about Sake, come taste over 100 premium sakes at the 2nd Annual Kampai Toronto, Canada's largest sake festival at the Distillery, May 30 2013. An incredible array of traditional & contemporary appetizers will be presented by 12 of Toronto's top restaurants. (http://kampaitoronto.com)


While on the topic of Japanese cocktails, we came across this great Japanese Cocktail book by Yuri Kato. It’s available at all of the large book outlets, like Chapters.

In the city's back alleys, subbasements, and skyscrapers, Japan's bartenders have perfected the fine art of mixology. If you are thinking of travelling to Tokyo, you may be interested in reading Hugh Garvey’s Tokyo cocktailfeature in Bon Appétit. You can also navigate Japan's mixology epicenter—as tipsily traversed by writer Hugh Garvey in "Tokyo, Cocktail Capital of the World" — with this helpful map. Although written a few years back, it may still be quite relevant.

Weekend Forecast
Saturday: Isolated showers and a high of 15 degrees
Sunday: Cloudy periods and a high of 16 degrees

April 18, 2013

proof vodka, put a ring on it, Vol. 129

You’ve thrown hundreds of house parties. You are the master. So now, your BFF has chosen you, out of all his/her friends to throw the most kick-ass (bachelorette, bachelor, bridal shower, engagement party) of the Century. Do not fear – we are here to help – at least with the bar. Wedding season is fast approaching, you better get on it. For more information on proof brands, visit www.proofbrands.com

the wedding bouquet 4 oz fresh red grapefruit juice • 3 oz St. Germain liqueur • 2 oz proof vodka • prosecco • edible flowers

Add red grapefruit juice, St. Germain, proof vodka, and ice to a shaker. Shake and strain into 2 chilled glasses. Top each with Prosecco. Garnish with a few edible flowers. (for flowers)

 Now, let’s get down to planning your bar. Depending on the space that you rent, you may need to do a lot of the legwork yourself. Here are a few things that you will definitely need to take care of.

1 special occasion permit An SOP is required if you are planning to sell or serve alcohol at special occasions, such as weddings, charity fundraisers and receptions. An SOP is needed any time alcohol is offered for sale or served anywhere other than in a licensed establishment or a private place (for example, a private office or a residence). (www.agco.on.ca)

2 rentals Chair-man Mills Inc. rents everything from glasses to tents. Offering the best rates in town, they are really your one-stop shop for rentals. (www.chairmanmills.com) For a more unique approach to your décor try Lounger Rentals (www.loungerentalsinc.com)


3 venues Chairman Mills offers an extensive list of party venues. If you are having it in Toronto, look into one of the great Toronto Parks locations. The hourly rates are super cheap. Legions, restaurants and church basements are also good options.


4 bartenders The professionally trained Martini Club  mixologists are available for exclusive parties, from corporate functions to gatherings in private dwellings. Selecting from over one hundred specialized martinis including several dozen gourmet infusions made fresh at The Martini Club studio, and hundreds of specialty cocktails, each celebration boasts its own customized menu, with the cocktails titled after the party’s theme. 


5 mix Chasers can make any fresh juice (like the red grapefruit juice), simple syrup and bar mix you want. www.chasersjuice.com

6 ice If you run out of ice mid-party, the ice man will come to the rescue.

 7 general bar planning tips Reduce the risks of alcohol-related problems when entertaining and help ensure guests arrive home safely by following these 10 tips for responsible hosting:


If you need some wedding inspiration, visit Toronto’s most thrilling and rewarding Bridal Show at Direct Energy Centre, Hall D
April 19 - 21, 2013 (www.torontobridalshow.com) 

Last year, for our wedding blog we featured fancy jello shooters. Here is the link.


Do something nice for Mother Nature – Monday, April 22nd!

Weekend Forecast
Saturday: Variable cloudiness and a high of 6 degrees
Sunday: Sunny and a high of 8 degrees

April 11, 2013

proof vodka, yum tum, Vol. 128

Last year, proof was one of the first vendors to sell drinks at the Toronto Underground Market. Last weekend, we were not serving drinks, but we were fortunate enough to help out at this year’s first TUM foodie event. It seemed like the hottest food items were made on the barbeque – both Southern & asian BBQ. So we came up with this cilantro cocktail that would compliment either one.

the yum tum 1 1/2 oz proof vodka • 1 oz fresh lime juice • 1 oz lemon simple syrup • 2 small pieces of celery • 1/3 cup cilantro, lightly packet

In a shaker muddle together celery and cilantro. Add ice and the remaining ingredients. Shake well. Strain into a glass filled with ice. Garnish with celery and cilantro.


lemon simple syrup Add 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar to a saucepan. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and let cool. Add lemon zest from one lemon. Keep in refrigerator for up to two weeks.


The Toronto Underground Market (TUM) is a social food market for the community to sample the food of Toronto home cooks. It is a venue for budding entrepreneurs to showcase their products. These vendors are not necessarily chefs, although some will be. This is a new kind of community market; not a farmer's market, or a food festival, but something completely unique and new to Toronto. (http://yumtum.ca)

Yum Tum was a blast. Check out some of the great up-and-coming people and restaurants:


Union Up and coming chef, Mazen Mansour offered the Palestinian side of Union, and Eric Bernhard, the Israeli flavour. The two came together with their country’s most authentic dishes – both delivered with a modern twist. Mazen was serving his version of M’jadarah (an Arabic basmati rice dish). Eric was serving Cholent (a traditional jewish stew). The complimentary flavours proved to make the perfect Union. Stay tuned for lots more from Mazen Mansour.

Babi&co re-creates traditional Indonesian street foods by using fresh and local ingredients, while still keeping the intense and traditional flavours that Indonesian cuisine has to offer. Though they don’t have their own restaurant, they share their  food at different pop-up events around Toronto. (http://babiandco.com)

From the Kitchen A Beretta Production At the foundation of their catering and meals-to-go is their support of local farming, commitment to organic and all natural ingredients. They provide clients with the highest quality foods, along with a great experience. From the Kitchen will work with you to customize meals to your every need. (www.fromthekitchen.ca)

Soul Smokin’was serving up pulled pork sandwiches from their on-premise smoker, along with delicious southern spicy shrimp skewers. Like them on FB (http://www.facebook.com/pages/SOUL-Smokin/132448480235723)

Sugar Tooth Fairy All of our delicious cupcakes and are made fresh to order and from scratch with only the highest quality ingredients free of chemicals or preservatives. Customers also have the option of completely customizing their cupcake and we also do our best to accommodate dietary requests by providing a selection of cupcakes that are sugar free, gluten free, nut free and vegan.

Hot Bunzz a light bun stuffed with braised bison and topped with a caramelized pear slice. (https://twitter.com/HotBunzzTO)

TUM has partnered with Arts & Crafts to help celebrate their 10th anniversary and to guide the unique culinary experience at Field Trip Music Arts Festival. (http://blog.yumtum.ca)

Weekend Forecast
Saturday: Variable cloudiness and a high of 6 degrees
Sunday: Isolated showers and a high of 8 degrees