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Cocktails

Perfect 10: Savour Food and Wine Festival Celebrates a Decade

The Savour Food & Wine Festival marks a decade of delighting palates and bringing foodies, chefs and winemakers closer together. Photo: Mike Tompkins

Even at the most open of restaurants, you’re getting few chances to really talk with the chefs while they work. You may see them for a quick greeting when you order, or perhaps a brief thank-you at the end of the meal. But odds are good you’re talking to them while they’re really in action, as they’re cooking and plating your food. They’re probably not literally pointing you to the best glass of wine to pair with it.

Unless, of course, you’re at the Savour Food & Wine Festival. Running throughout February, the month-long festival brings diners together with chefs, restaurateurs, vintners, brewers and suppliers from across the province. It all begins on February 1 when the Dine Around program, which runs throughout the month, kicks off. Dine Around gives restaurants a chance to showcase a local project on a three-course prix fixe menu (for either $25, $35 or $45). Participating restaurants weren’t finalized at press time, but you can find all the latest updates at edining.ca.

Throughout the month, Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street in Halifax is hosting several Festival events. Next is Decadence on February 7. The tasting pairs artisanal cheeses, succulent chocolates and wines from around the world. Held in the Schooner Showroom, Decadence is an intimate event, explains Gordon Stewart, executive director of the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, which organizes Savour. “We expanded Decadence to 225 tickets this year, and that’s really as big as we want it to get,” he says. This year, organizers have also invited a few local restaurants to Decadence, to share food pairings that complement the theme ingredients.

Next on the calendar is the Rare & Fine Wine Tasting in the Casino’s Compass Room on February 15. It’s another intimate event, with attendance capped at 125 people. “These are wines that are unavailable in Nova Scotia,” Stewart says, “wines we wouldn’t normally afford.”

The Savour Food & Wine Festival runs through February, celebrating Nova Scotian cuisine. Photo: Mike Tompkins

Following that, it’s back to the Casino’s Schooner Showroom for Imbibe on February 21. Savour’s newest event, Imbibe debuts this year. “Imbibe is our biggest new change this year,” Stewart says. “There are some restaurants
and bars in Nova Scotia that do a lot of fine cocktails, and they don’t get the attention they deserve. The idea is to celebrate the art of mixology, with 15 booths showcasing specialty brands and demonstrating their signature drinks. Finally, February concludes with the Savour Food & Wine Show on February 28. This year, the event moves to the spacious Cunard Centre on Marginal Road. The flagship event brings 65 exhibitors—restaurants, wineries, bakeries, cheese makers, brewers and suppliers of all sorts—together to celebrate the best of Nova Scotia’s culinary scene. Dozens of chefs are on site, preparing artful little dishes, all included in the ticket price. “It’s the 10th anniversary of Savour,” says Stewart. “And we’re quite happy with how it’s gone. It’s all about bringing restaurants and people together, and getting diners excited about what we do here in Nova Scotia.”

Geir Simensen is head chef with Saege Bistro on Spring Garden Road and Scanway Catering in Halifax. He’s been there for each Savour. “It’s important to me to take part and support our local industry,” he says. “It’s one thing to talk to a table when people are in the restaurant, but it’s different to be at an event like Savour and talk to people who are really there to meet you, and want to talk. It puts a face to the restaurant.”

Figuring out his Savour menu is a highlight of the year, for Simensen. He’s already given it a lot of thought for 2013. “We use the year before as a benchmark,” he says. “I like to think each year is a little better… Now I like to get a little more simple, use the natural seasonal flavours. I guess that’s something chefs learn as they get older. I’ve been doing this for 27 years, but I still feel like I’m learning.” This year, he’s thinking he’ll offer a comforting winter menu, with some sort of braised meat and root vegetables. “I really want to show off those local ingredients.”

Fall Sipping: 2 Must-Try Drinks at National Beer Hall

The Pimm’s Cup and St. Ambroise Pumpkin Beer at National. Photo: Adele Brunnhofer.

While the weather in Calgary sticks to the 20 Celsius mark, it certainly feels like fall has arrived. Though the season just started last Saturday, the trees are turning gold and amber, and an autumnal spirit fills the air. What better way to celebrate continued warm weather and the changing season than grabbing a drink on the patio at National Beer Hall on 17th Avenue SW. (more…)

Summer Cocktail Recipe: The Avalon

So long, sweet summer. Our cocktail feature from proof brands has come to an end, but you still have one opportunity to win their ultimate summer prize pack. Enter for your chance to win one of four ultimate summer prize packs from proof!

Ingredients
2 oz (60 ml) proof rum
4 oz (120 ml) apple cider
1 oz (30 ml) maple syrup
1 oz (30 ml) fresh lemon juice

Directions
In an ice-filled shaker, add proof rum, apple cider, maple syrup and lemon juice. Shake and strain into a Collins glass filled with ice and garnish with apple slices.

Pitcher size: To a pitcher add 8 oz (240 ml) proof rum, 16 oz (475 ml) apple cider, 4 oz (120 ml) maple syrup and 4 oz (120 ml) lemon juice. Stir well to mix and pour into ice filled glasses. Makes 4 drinks.

For more great recipe ideas, visit www.proofbrands.net.

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Summer Cocktail Recipe: The Urban


Check back every other Wednesday this summer for a new cocktail recipe and enter for your chance to win one of four ultimate summer prize packs from proof!

Ingredients
1½ oz proof whisky
4 oz Ceres pear juice
¼ oz fresh lemon juice

Directions
Pour proof whisky, Ceres pear juice and lemon juice into a shaker filled with ice. Shake and pour into a glass filled with ice.

Pitcher size: To a pitcher add 9 oz proof whisky, ¾ litre Ceres pear juice and 2½ oz lemon juice. Stir well to mix and pour into ice filled glasses. Makes 6 drinks.

For more great recipe ideas, visit www.proofbrands.net.

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Summer Cocktail Recipe: The Seared Caesar

Check back every other Wednesday this summer for a new cocktail recipe and enter for your chance to win one of four ultimate summer prize packs from proof!

Ingredients
1½ oz proof whisky
2 tsp Bull’s-Eye BBQ sauce
¼ oz fresh lime juice
4 oz Mott’s Original Clamato juice
1 beef pepperette
celery salt

Directions
Rim a tall glass with fresh lime and celery salt. Fill the glass with ice and add proof whisky, barbecue sauce, fresh lime juice and Mott’s Original Clamato juice. Stir to mix. Garnish with a beef pepperette.

Pitcher size: To a pitcher, add 1½ cups proof whisky, 2 tbsp barbecue sauce, ¼ cup lime juice and 4 cups Mott’s Original Clamato juice. Stir to mix. Makes 6–8 drinks.

For more great recipe ideas, visit www.proofbrands.net.

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Summer Cocktail Recipe: Watermelon Punch

Check back every other Wednesday this summer for a new cocktail recipe and enter for your chance to win one of four ultimate summer prize packs from proof!

Ingredients
lots of mint
4 oz proof rum
4 oz fresh lime juice (3-4 limes)
4 oz watermelon juice*
2 oz simple syrup**
8 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes of watermelon, frozen

Directions
Place a mint sprig in each of your 4 glasses and muddle by crushing the mint against the side of the glass with a wooden spoon. Stir together proof rum, lime juice, watermelon juice and simple syrup in a large pitcher, then add watermelon cubes and remaining mint sprigs. Pour rum mixture into glasses. Serve immediately.

*To prepare watermelon juice, process peeled watermelon in a blender and strain.

**To make simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and boiling water. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Pour into a jar or bottle with a lid, let cool and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

For more great recipe ideas, visit www.proofbrands.net.

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Summer Cocktail Recipe: The Blue Heron

Check back every other Wednesday this summer for a new cocktail recipe and enter for your chance to win one of four ultimate summer prize packs from proof!

Ingredients
4 basil leaves
2 tsp cane sugar
1 oz  sparkling water
3 tbsp frozen blueberries
1 oz fresh lime juice
1½ oz proof rum
1 basil branch
2 wild blueberries and small skewer for garnish

Directions
Combine basil leaves and cane sugar into an old-fashioned glass and add sparkling water. Mix ingredients lightly with pestle. Add frozen blueberries, crush and mix for a second time. Fill the glass two-thirds full with crushed ice. Add lime juice and proof rum and stir well. Thread wild blueberries onto skewer. Garnish glass with wild blueberry skewer and basil branch. Makes 1 cocktail.

Pitcher size: To a pitcher, add ½ cup basil leaves, ⅓ cup cane sugar and 6 oz sparkling water. Muddle with the back of a wooden spoon. Add 1½ cups frozen blueberries and muddle again. Finally add 6 oz lime juice and 9 oz proof rum, stir well to mix. Pour into glasses filled with crushed ice. Makes 6 drinks.

For more great recipe ideas, visit www.proofbrands.net.

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Summer Cocktail Recipe: The Black Fly

Check back every other Wednesday this summer for a new cocktail recipe and enter for your chance to win one of four ultimate summer prize packs from proof!

Ingredients
2 oz proof whisky
2 oz  Chambord black raspberry liqueur
½ oz simple syrup*
1 oz fresh lemon juice
Garnish with blackberries

Directions
Pour proof whisky, Chambord, 2 tsp simple syrup, and lemon juice into an ice-filled shaker. Shake well and strain into a tumbler glass filled with cubed ice. Garnish with blackberries. To make a tall drink, top with 2 oz soda water.

Pitcher size: To a pitcher, add 8 oz proof whisky, 8 oz Chambord, 2 oz simple syrup and 4 oz lemon juice. Stir well to mix and pour into ice filled glasses. Makes 4 drinks.

*To make simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and boiling water. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Pour into a jar or bottle with a lid, let cool and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

For more great recipe ideas, visit www.proofbrands.net.

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Summer Cocktail Recipe: Trout Lake Tea

Check back every other Wednesday this summer for a new cocktail recipe and enter for your chance to win one of four ultimate summer prize packs from proof!

Ingredients
16 oz  boiling water
4+ cups ice
3 black tea bags
2 tbsp sugar
1 cup loosely-packed mint leaves (plus a few more for garnish)
12 oz proof whisky
juice of 1 lime
juice of 1 lemon
1 lime and 1 lemon for garnish

Directions
Boil water and pour over tea bags. Steep for 5 minutes. Pour the hot tea into a large thermos or pitcher, along with the sugar and the ice. As the ice melts, juice one lemon and one lime and then slice the other two for garnish. Loosely muddle the mint leaves in a glass or bowl. Into the pitcher of now-sweetened tea, stir in the proof whisky, lemon and lime juices and mint. When ready to serve, fill pitcher with ice and citrus slices. Serve over ice with extra mint and citrus slices. Adjust sweetness to taste. Makes about 6 drinks.

For more great recipe ideas, visit www.proofbrands.net.

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Summer Recipe: The Georgian Bay Mojito


The languid days of summer are upon us, and this year Where has partnered with proof brands to bring you refreshing recipes perfect for warm nights on the patio, relaxing cottage weekends and all of the festivities in between.

Check back every other Wednesday this summer for a new cocktail recipe and enter for your chance to win one of four ultimate summer prize packs from proof!

Ingredients
2 tbsp sugar
2 oz tonic water
1½ oz fresh lime juice
1 oz proof rum
2 oz strawberry purée (or 3–4 large strawberries, muddled)
6–8 mint leaves

Directions
In a glass, crush mint leaves with sugar, pour in tonic water and mix well. Fill glass with ice and add lime juice, proof rum and strawberry purée and mix well.

For more great recipe ideas, visit www.proofbrands.net.

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Hot Dining: Contemporary Food and a Great Atmosphere at Absinthe

Contemporary Canadian soul food at Absinthe

What to expect from a restaurant named Absinthe? Well, five varieties of this spirit, of course (“Yes, it’s legal, and yes, it does have the real ingredients,” says general manager Thomas McVeigh). You’ll also find seasonal menus and contemporary Canadian soul food to fill your belly, such as the much-loved steak frites and the “Benevolent Burgers” ($1 from which goes to charity). Round out the experience with an extensive wine list, creative cocktails, and a relaxed ambience that lets you laugh loudly with your friends. 1208 Wellington St. W., 613-761-1138.

Hot Dining: Cranberry Bellini Recipe

Cranberry Bellini

Toast the new year with this festive Cranberry Bellini, an updated version of the Italian classic, created by Hendrick’s Gin Brand Champion, Charlotte Voisey. We think it will make the perfect addition to any New Year’s Eve party.

Ingredients
• 1 oz (30 mL) Hendrick’s Gin (which recently won gold for “Best Distilled Gin” at the 2011 International Spirits Challenge)
• 1 oz (30 mL) cranberry juice
• 1 oz (30 mL) simple syrup
• 1/2 oz (15 mL) fresh lemon juice
• 4 oz (120 mL) champagne

Method
• Combine ingredients in a mixing glass (except champagne)
• Shake well
• Strain into a flute glass
• Top with champagne
• Garnish with a sugared cranberry

Serves one

*To make simple syrup: Bring equal parts sugar and water to a boil. Stir to dissolve and then let cool.