Vodka and gin have enjoyed their share of the cocktail limelight over the last 20 years, but now bartenders and cocktail aficionados are looking to the origins of cocktail culture for inspiration. Many of North America’s first cocktail recipes included whisky, as for much of the 19th and early 20th century, it was the most popular spirit. We’ve asked some of Canada’s best bartenders and whisky experts to provide us cocktail recipes made with classic whisky brands.
Salted Maple Syrup: Combine 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1 tablespoon butter and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt in a pot. Warm until butter is melted and flavours combined. Let cool until ready to use.
By Mark Bradbury, The Bicycle Thief
Mark Bradbury heads up the bartending team at Halifax’s celebrated The Bicycle Thief. According to Bradbury, his “personal style is about finding creative ways to achieve balance. It’s about trying to find the perfect combination of sweet, sour, bitter or salt to make an amazing cocktail.” This past May, Bradbury competed on the national stage, representing Nova Scotia, at the Made With Love National Finals.
- 1 1/2 oz Glynnevan Double
- Barrelled Rye Whisky
- 1/2 oz salted maple syrup
- 4 Dashes Angostura Bitters
- Orange zest to garnish
Directions: Add all ingredients to mixing glass and stir until ice cold, strain and add orange zest
- 6 Servings
- Prep time: Less than 1 hour
- Total time: More than 3 hours
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3 tbsp water
- 1/4 cup corn syrup
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp coarse sea salt
Directions: Lightly oil a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Cut butter into 8 pieces and place in a microwave safe bowl along with heavy cream. Heat in microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, until hot and butter is melted. Place water, corn syrup and sugar in a pot. Place a candy thermometer in pot. Heat over medium-heat until sugar reaches 320°F.
Pour one sixth of cream and butter mixture into the sugar and stir. Be careful as it will bubble violently. Repeat until all the cream and butter is incorporated into the sugar.
When the sugar returns to 250°F, carefully pour into the prepared pan. After 20 minutes, sprinkle sea salt over the caramel. Let cool for another 2 to 3 hours before serving.
Glynnevan Double Barrelled Rye Whisky, 750 ml, $44.99
By Matt Jones, Beam Suntory’s Whisk(e)y Ambassador
Matt Jones is both a bartending and whisk(e)y geek. Matt has been working within the beverage alcohol industry for 17 years. He has trained bartenders around the world in product knowledge and bar technique for over a decade.
Known on social media as @Whisky_Chef, Matt continues to share his love of classic cocktails and culinary applications of whisk(e)y. In 2010 he accepted his favourite role to date: Beam Suntory’s Whisk(e)y Ambassador to Canada and Bourbon Specialist. In this role, he travels the country coast to coast promoting Bourbon Whiskey. In 2016, Matt was officially commended by Whisky Magazine’s Icons of Whisky as American Whiskey Ambassador of the Year, & World Whisky Ambassador of the Year.
- Orange peel
- 1 1/2 fl oz Jim Beam Devil’s
- Cut Bourbon Whiskey
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- Ginger beer
Directions: Twist orange peel to express oils into a rocks glass. Add the bitters and whisky and then fill the glass with ice. Top with ginger beer.
Jim Beam Devil’s Cut Bourbon Whiskey, 750 ml, $29.99
Recipe adapted by Dave Mitton, Global Canadian Whisky Ambassador, Corby Spirit & Wine, Pernod Ricard
Original recipe created by Larry Dennis, Seignory Club, the Log Chateau, Quebec, 1951
Dave Mitton grew up in rural Albert County, New Brunswick but his path to becoming Global Canadian Whisky Ambassador for J.P Wiser’s, Lot No. 40, Pike Creek and Godderham & Worts has seen him traverse the world. Mitton has 20 years of bartending experience including stints in Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand and even Halifax. He is the co-owner of Toronto’s celebrated The Harbord Room and was inaugural President of The Canadian Professional Bartenders Association, Ontario Chapter for its first three years. He travels throughout Canada, America, Europe, and Australia educating bartenders and consumers alike about the history, the process, production and, of course, the making of cocktails with Canadian Whisky.
- 1 1/2 fl oz J.P. Wiser’s
- Double Still Rye
- 1/2 fl oz fresh lemon
- 1/2 fl oz maple syrup
- 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters*
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add hard ice and shake until well-blended for about 5 to 6 seconds. Fine strain into a chilled coupe glass.
* The original New Orleans bitters classically used to season the Sazerac; one of the most beloved American cocktails. Peychaud’s can be found for sale online or substitute Angostura bitters in its place.
J.P. Wiser’s Double Still Rye, 750 ml, $29.99
Recipe by Joanna Scandella, Master Blender, Crown Royal
Joanna Scandella is the Master Blender dedicated to Crown Royal, part of the Blending Quality Team behind Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye, the 2016 World Whiskey of the Year. Her duties as Master Blender include all things whisky, with the focus on blending, sensory and innovation, as well as guiding the development of the next generation of Whisky Blenders. Joanna began her career of over 25 years in the spirits industry in new product development, and currently lives in the Montreal area.
Joanna continued to gain knowledge in many aspects of the industry including sensory science, blending, quality assurance, planning and packaging. She was responsible for implementing a North American sensory accreditation program required for anyone appraising quality at any stage of production, whether it be the distillate, the mature whiskies, or the bottled blend. Joanna is passionate about her role and is very proud to be part of the team that creates the Crown Royal family of whiskies, recognizing it is a privilege to work with great people and great whiskies.
- 1 1/2 fl oz Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye
- 3/4 fl oz fresh lime Juice
- 3 fl oz ginger beer
- Lime wheel
- 2 dashes bitters
Directions: Combine Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye and lime juice in a shaker; add ice. Shake well and strain into a highball glass over fresh ice. Top with ginger beer, bitters and garnish with a lime wheel.
Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye, 750 ml, $34.99
Recipe by Sam Dalcourt, Reserve Brands Ambassador, Wirtz Beverage Canada
Sam Dalcourt is a veteran in the bar industry with over 15 years’ experience. Little did he know that his interest in a local bartending course would later bring him to work internationally as a trainer and consultant for spirits companies and bar establishments, ranging from Mexico to Japan to Guadeloupe to Dubai. Sam is the co-founder of one of the first craft cocktail bars in Montreal, and now works towards spreading the good word as Reserve Brands Ambassador at Wirtz Beverage Canada; whether it is by creating new cocktails or supporting the local whisky events.
- 1 1/2 fl oz Bulleit Bourbon
- 1/3 fl oz simple syrup
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- Orange peel
Directions: Build the cocktail in an old-fashioned glass one ounce at a time, adding ice and stirring as you go. Garnish with a flamed orange peel expressed over the cocktail, rubbed on the rim and dropped in the glass.
Bulleit Bourbon, 750 ml, $38.99