Yum, yum: Fortuna Mezcal

“Champagne is for the rich. Fortuna is for the wise.” 

These words greet you on the Fortuna Mezcal website, and we quite agree. We had the chance to try Fortuna Mezcal during Fortuna Week a few weeks ago, at a tasting held by the creator of the brand, Don Ignacio. We sat rapt as he walked us through the making, distilling and tasting process of this alcohol and explained the differences between tequila and his sustainable, artisanal mezcal, and also the taste differences between the various types (white, dorado, reposado and añejo) and proofs of mezcal. 

Basically, most mezcal comes from the Oaxaca region of Mexico, and is created using a specific type of agave plant – the maguey, vs. the blue agave that tequila is made with. It has a strong, smooth, smokey flavour and is typically taken just straight up. We were a bit concerned about this form of tasting at first (bad university memories of cheap Jose Cuervo flooding back) but were surprised by just how smoothly and easily it went down. 

What we especially liked about Fortuna is their commitment to sustainability, responsible growing and harvesting practices, and giving back to the Oaxaca region of Mexico, in order to preserve the longstanding tradition of mezcal making in the community. More details here.

We also discovered that you can use this spirit to make delicious cocktails and in honour of it being Friday, thought we’d share one of our favourite mezcal recipes with you. As they say, “para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien también” – “for everything bad, mezcal, and for everything good, as well.” So whether you’re celebrating the end of a great week or drowning your sorrows, kick off your weekend with a Fresco de Fortuna


All images courtesy of Fortuna Mezcal.

Yum, Yum: Sangria in the City

If you’re like us, there are certain types of drinks that are enjoyed during weekend brunch. Sangria is one of them. While weekend brunching with girlfriends, a fruity sangria option often jumps off the menu as the thirst-quencher of choice, especially on a hot day. And since summer weather showed up a little earlier this year, our patio season and summery refreshment tour has been in full force since, well, March if we’re honest.

As the hunt continues, here are three establishments who have seemed to perfect the boozy punch:

Milagro (Three locations: 5 Mercer St., 3187 Yonge St. and 783 Queen W.)

Juicy and refreshing.

With a broad selection of sangria to please even the pickiest of taste buds, Milagro has six blends, including their ‘American’ blend that’ll put a little hair on your chest, complete with bourbon AND peach schnapps. Why not, huh? Summer suggestion: Sangria de Mango…in a pitcher. 

Psst: They have special deals on sangria on Thursdays. What better day to end the week than a delicious glass or two of this cocktail, for less?

Follow @Milagro_cantina on Twitter.
School (70 Fraser Ave.)

School sticks to the basics: red and white. I mean, sure, you could mix them if you want a rose. School creatively serves their wine concoction by glass and by flask. Suggestion: try both! Sangria white is slightly more innocent, combing pinot grigio with green grapes and apples, while the red is a little more daring, mixing rioja (Spanish wine) with orange and cinnamon. Again, enjoy them in a flask.

If you give their Sangria an A+, tell them @schoolville.
Café Nervosa (75 Yorkville Ave.)

Enjoy a frosty glass of sangria and keep an eye out for celebs on this beautiful patio.

This Yorkville spot comes up on a lot of people’s “fave” lists and yes, their pizza is fantastic. But they’ve mastered their sangria as well. When we’re feeling like some solid people-watching and enjoying the quiet buzz of Yorkville, this is our go-to spot. You feel rather posh sipping on their cute patio, and you never know when you might catch a glimpse of a Jonas brother at the table next to you. Their sangria is strong and fruity, with fruit juice as well as the regular wine and spirits.

Drake Hotel (1144 Queen St. W.)
Ok, so we might be a bit biased about this one, but we can’t help but love every cocktail that comes from the Drake’s skilled bar team. Their sangria lives up to their high standards, and the Sky Yard is one of the best spots in Toronto to enjoy a summer cocktail. They’ve got some other tasty concoctions this summer as well (Rum + Raspberry Lemonade, anyone?) but we often stop by after work for a relaxing glass of wine, fruit juice and fruit chunks, complete with art, indie rock and some eye candy.

As always, Drake offers a classic with a twist – the warm Simmering Sangria.
Image courtesy of the Drake Hotel.

Pssst: this past winter, Drake had simmering sangria – a warm version of their summer recipe. It was amazing. Here’s hoping they bring it back next winter!

Tell them you want them to bring back the Simmering Sangria – @thedrakehotel

Victory Cafe (581 Markham St.)

Another fourth floor fave that takes us back to our days of undergrad, but in a good way. They’ve got one of the best patios in the city as well, and in case we haven’t made it clear yet, sangria + patio = summer perfection. Their white sangria is delicious and won’t stain your summer whites should you happen to spill a drop or two.

White sangria on this patio is pretty much perfect.

Keep up with the latest Annex news @victorycafe_TO.

Happy drinking! 

Yum, Yum: ABSOLUT cocktails

In the spirit of the holiday season (and as a result of our recent education at BYOB), we’re mixing up some cocktails to service at our upcoming holiday fiestas. Will you be hosting a few of your girlfriends or close family members this winter? Here are three recipes that are so simple, but are sure to wow and refresh your mom, dad AND your besties.

White Cranberry Cocktail
Mix one ounce of ABSOLUT Vodka with white cranberry juice, top with fresh lemonade to taste and garnish with cranberries and a black straw. The amount of white cranberry juice and lemonade added will depend on your glass size, and how strongly you like to mix your drinks. The simple, not-too-sweet flavour of this cocktail makes it perfect for a family holiday party. Great to prepare a half hour in advance and hand guests a drink as they come in the door. Classy and festive.

Photo credit: JJ Thompson.

Sparking Pink Grapefruit
Mix one ounce of ABSOLUT vodka with sparkling pink grapefruit juice (of your choice) and garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme and fresh raspberries. The combination of the grapefruit with thyme will keep your taste buds guessing, while the fresh raspberries offer a pinch of sweetness. This is a crowd pleaser, especially if you are hosting a girl’s night.

Photo credit: JJ Thompson.
Apple Slice
Mix one ounce of ABSOLUT vodka and soda and garnish with a red apple slice. You can also infuse the apple slices in the soda for about a half hour and let them float in the cocktail. This one goes out to the boys in our life. Served in a short glass, this cocktail reminds us of something Don Draper might sip on at a holiday party. Yummy x2.

Photo credit: JJ Thompson

Yum, yum: The Faye Dunaway

Officially launched last week, the Drake Hotel’s dining room has been transformed into Chinatown circa 1940s’ Los Angeles, just in time for TIFF. Draped from top to bottom in red and gold, with dragon fruit cocktails on the Sky Yard, cabaret performances in the Lounge, cigarette girls out front and a playful Chinese menu to match, the 11-day celebration is not to be missed. Throughout TIFF (now until the 18th), the Drake will be serving until 4 a.m. 

This version of the Drake’s Dining Roadshow will last until Saturday, November 19, so if you’re not able to get there this week, you have lots of time to sample the delicious menu. 

No good menu would be complete without tasty cocktails to go with it, and the Drake has created an amazing cocktail menu inspired by TIFF and Chinatown. We’ve snagged one of the recipes to share with you – the Faye Dunaway, named after the actress best known for her role in Chinatown.

Faye Dunaway
1 1/2 oz Skyy Vodka
1 1/4 oz fresh mango juice
3/4 oz lime juice
1/2 agave syrup
2 jalapeno wheels
2 dashes Reagans’ Orange Bitters
Muddle ingredients, shake and strain into a coupette. Garnish with a jalapeno slice.

We may not have time to recreate this recipe at home, but you best believe we’ll be popping in to the Drake for a late-night Faye Dunaway after the red carpet.

 Enjoy responsibly, and let us know what you thought of this little piece ‘o heaven in a glass: @rockitpromo.

Yum ,Yum: Black Hoof Cocktail Bar

To say we’re big fans of the Black Hoof would be an understatement. That little stretch of Dundas they occupy is one of the most mouth-watering in the city. 
We still can’t think too much about the void left in our lives after the closing of the Hoof Cafe – aka the best brunch spot in Toronto (providing you aren’t vegetarian, vegan or kosher) – the pain of never having tried the foie gras French toast is still a little too fresh.
We were eager to see what Jen Agg and Grant van Gameran had up their sleeves next. With plans for Black Hoof & Co. delayed, Agg and van Gameran decided to open the Black Hoof Cocktail Bar in the former Cafe space.
Last week we popped in to try a few of Agg’s concoctions. She’s been defying our expectations of what a cocktail should taste like since the Hoof opened, so our hopes were high. Thankfully, these creations did not disappoint.
We sampled a variety of drinks: the Rosy Cheeks, a rose-infused gin with date syrup; the Corpse Reviver, a gin and lillet drink with absinthe rinse; a cumin Mojito, with crushed ice and loads of mint; and the old-standby Gin Martini (with olives for us, but you can have it dressed anyway you like). All of them were amazing, fresh and unique. Though not pictured, each drink comes in a glass appropriate to the flavours and traditions of the cocktail, and with inventive garnishes.
Currently the Black Hoof Cocktail Bar (923 Dundas St. W.) is open Thursdays to Mondays, 5:30 p.m. to last call. There’s none of the Black Hoof’s infamous charcuterie plates available, but you can pick up a cheese plate for snacking. Oh, and one caveat: If you’re looking for vodka, you’re in the wrong place. Jen Agg hates it and doesn’t serve it, so don’t ask.
Twitter: @TheBlackHoof

Yum, Yum: Lazy Days Lemonade

It’s HOT outside (obviously). On the Fourth Floor, we’re always looking for ways to cool down that also include tasty beverages (preferably to be enjoyed outside). Enter Lazy Days Lemonade, which is a perfect summer cocktail made from a refreshing combo of white wine, vodka and lemonade. This light drink is great to sip pool side, on a dock or even just on your apartment front porch.
Image source.
Lazy Days Lemonade

1 750 mL bottle of white wine (we like Pinot Grigio)
1 26 oz. bottle of vodka
1 package of Crystal Light lemonade
A splash of lime cordial
1 bottle of club soda

Mix all together in a large jug or punchbowl. Garnish with a slice of lemon and add ice to each glass before serving.

This recipe works best in a large juice jug for multiple servings and multiple friends. We love this one from Crate and Barrel for $49.95.
Image source.

What’s your favourite summer cocktail? Tweet us @rockitpromo.


Yum, yum: Reposado Old Fashioned

A while back, we visited the Toronto Temperance Society (577A College Street) to taste-test some of their buzzed about drinks. They were extremely gracious hosts, and well, we left a bit buzzed ourselves!

The experience was something to blog home about, and they shared two recipes with us. The first was for one of their signature drinks, The Toronto Temperance.

They’ve shared another yummy concoction with us, called the Reposado Old Fashioned. You’ll only need one or two of these in a night, so sip with care and savour every drop.

Reposado Old Fashioned

½ oz agave syrup

Add all ingredients to a martini shaker.

Shake, and strain ingredients into a rock glass filled with chipped ice. 
Add orange zest, and enjoy!
This drink is simple, and the tastiness comes from the quality of ingredients. Use the highest-quality tequila and agave syrup you can find. You’ll notice the difference!

Yum, yum: the Pumpkin Patch

Throwing an adult Halloween party this weekend? Whip up a delicious, seasonal drink to serve to your guests. Or, drop by Quinn’s Steakhouse & Irish Bar and have them make it for you! 
Pumpkin Patch

1¼ oz. vanilla vodka
2 oz. orange juice
A dollop of canned sweetened pumpkin purée
A dash of nutmeg
Garnish: a small orange pumpkin candy
  • In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add vanilla vodka, orange juice, a dollop of canned sweetened pumpkin purée, and dash of nutmeg.
  • Shake well and strain into a Martini glass.
  • If you wish to add a garnish, take a tube of green icing and place a dab on the lip of the glass. “Glue” a small orange pumpkin candy to the icing.

Yum, yum: The Toronto Temperance Society

You may have heard about the Toronto Temperance Society, but then again, you may not have. Although it’s a private club that’s worked hard to keep their speakeasy-esque location under wraps, The Toronto Temperance Society has become Toronto’s worst-kept secret. The TTS is an exclusive club for people who are serious about cocktails. And no, not a Cosmo or a Chocolate Martini, but good, old-fashioned cocktails, focusing on quality ingredients that allow a drinker to appreciate the subtle flavours of spirits.

We were invited to come and sip a few cocktails at the members-only club, and discover the secret of an amazing mixed beverage.

We tried several cocktails (including the first-ever cocktail, the Sazerac), and got some inside scoop about what sets them apart from your typical bar. Co-owners Bill Sweete and Casey Bee (who also own Negroni and the downstairs resto Sidecar), wanted to bring something unique to Toronto and the TTS was born. They focused on making sure everything is “just right”, rather than having the masses descend upon their cozy, cool bar.

We were blown away.

You don’t realize what a difference good ingredients make until you taste a TTS drink. We tasted a few, and each was spectacular. Flavours of rum, rye, whiskey or gin were not masked by fake sugary juices; rather, they were enhanced by house-made tonic, flamed orange peel, a house-made brandied cherry or a splash of freshly squeezed lime juice.

The TTS also imports hard-to-find liquors and spirits; host beer, Scotch, cognac and wine tastings; have experts available to chat details; and make ice that doesn’t melt as quickly (seriously).

Sure, the $285-annual membership fee might seem a little steep to enjoy some drinks at a bar. But it’s cheaper than the TTC, and infinitely more enjoyable. 

It’s totally worth it. Go. Find a friend who is a member and beg them to take you, or pony up and get a membership (one membership can be shared by a couple, btw). You’ll never want a gin and tonic from anywhere else, we promise.

The Toronto Temperance
*This is an original Toronto cocktail, which, ironically, has not been available here since pre-1920’s. It uses Proof, which is the first spirit ever produced in Toronto.
2 oz. Canadian rye (they used Proof)
1/2 oz. Fernet-Branca
1/2 oz. simple syrup
a dash of angostura bitters

Measure all ingredients into a glass mixing pitcher (or martini shaker) with a few ice cubes. Shake, and strain into cocktail glass.

Finish with a flamed orange garnish: heat a slice of orange peel with a lighter, until the oils emerge from the skin and drop into the drink.

*We were enjoying ourselves so much that we forgot to snap photos. Photo above from Toronto Temperance Society website. 

Yum, yum: Our favourite ways to drink beer

Admittedly, most of us weren’t the biggest beer fans until we became well acquainted with various university beer promos: Toonie-Tuesdays at the campus bar, beer pong tournaments and $25-four-litre pitchers at an infamous Toronto pub. Beer used to be a means to an end, but years of enjoying this beverage have led to true love of that refreshing combination of hops, barley and bubbles.

Here are some of our favourite ways to consume brewskis, with a summer spin:

The Beergarita
A lovely combination of lime, tequila and Mexican beer that is delightful when enjoyed on a patio.

1 can frozen limeade
1 pint tequila
3 to 4 Corona (or other similar beers)

Combine one cup of tequila with three to four beer in a large pitcher. Stir in limeade and serve over ice with a slice of lime and dash of salt. Mmmmm. 

The Beer Float
Josh Rubin of The Toronto Star opened our eyes to the possibility of beer as a dessert beverage. It’s a tasty, sweet snack that’s perfect for a warm evening. 

Vanilla ice cream
Dash of maple syrup
1 bottle Rickard’s Dark (or other flavoured beer – we are keen to try the Nickel Brook Apple Pilsner with a scoop of vanilla and dash of cinnamon, and Mill St. Coffee Porter with a scoop of chocolate).

Toss a scoop (or two) of ice cream in a tall glass. Slowly pour in beer and add maple syrup to taste. Best enjoyed with a spoon. Whipped cream optional.

The Ice Cold Pint

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Head to your favourite pub, patio or bar, grab some pals and down a frothy glass of your favourite brew. Top picks: Alexander Keith‘s, Mill St. Lemon Tea, Steam Whistle and Stella Artois.

Photo courtesy of http://www.guardian.co.uk 

Bonus points for appropriately branded glassware and a smooth pour.

Bottoms up!