BERRIES HAVE THE BEST MOUTHFEEL, the way you can feel each one individually in your mouth—like tapioca, or really well-cooked sushi rice. But people have lost some important berry vibe. These days everybody wants them to be sweet. I think they should be sour. That’s what I liked about saskatoons when I first encountered them in Newfoundland, where they call them serviceberries. I also like how the harvest window is so small. They’re not exactly rare. But commercially, you don’t see them that much. The last thing is that they’re really good for you—rich in anti-oxidants and very healthy. —J.C.
Reed Pettit, bar manager at Miss Thing’s — a Polynesian restaurant in Toronto’s West Queen West — suggests three cocktails for the holidays that offer a warming echo of summer.
Celebrating the holidays doesn’t require cocktails that mimic Canada’s cold winter months.
Instead, consider serving beverages that pair the spirit of the season with memories of summer.
Reed Pettit, bar manager at Miss Thing’s, a Polynesian restaurant in Toronto’s West Queen West, shares three holiday cocktails designed to combine the best of both seasons.
“It’s a way to embrace summer with flavours people are comfortable with in winter,” Pettit says. “Instead of embracing the winter, try to escape from it. Do things a little bit differently.”
The Clear Thyme Collins adds a holiday twist to the Tom Collins. “The Collins is a classic patio drink,” says Petit, “but the thyme ties in with a winter flavour profile.”
The Beachcomber’s Sour combines cinnamon and grapefruit—both evocative and classic tiki flavours. Cinnamon, he notes, is often a go-to ingredient in winter cocktails, as its warmth is a nice reminder of summer in winter.
Meanwhile, The Oldest Fashioned pays homage to the original spirits of the Caribbean, with a boost of molasses. “The Oldest Fashioned is a sit-by-the-fire kind of drink,” he says. “It’s a rum drinker’s drink.”
And rum is especially good when the mercury begins to plummet. While whisky is often a dominant winter spirit, the right rum will always hold its own.
“They have those flavours like gingerbread and molasses,” Pettit says. “You can sip them like whisky. You can sip them like cognac.”
For example, Mount Gay Rum, which is used in the Oldest Fashioned and Beachcomber’s Sour, was founded in 1703, long before ice cubes were invented.
“It was made for sipping on its own, and was never meant to be diluted,” Pettit said.
For the Clear Thyme Collins, The Botanist Islay Dry Gin used in the recipe pairs well with hearty winter meals, as the botanicals—the juniper berry, thyme and mint profile—of the gin easily matches classic holiday cooking.
All three cocktails require little preparation and are relatively easy to make.
“They’re complex, but simple,” Pettit adds. “That’s the best part.”