The Cascadian Smash Cocktail

It didn’t take long for summer to pack it up. It went from T-Shirts to raincoats practically overnight, the temperature dipped into the long pants zone and no-one is still wearing flip flops in all this muck. *sigh*It’s time for me to stay inside and organize all the late summer fruit ‘n veg harvested from our garden and out in the wild.

The latest bit of foraging I did yielded three large mason jars full of Oregon Grape Syrup, which retains much of the wild berry’s natural sourness tempered with just a hint of cane sugar. It’s very similar in taste to a Blackberry-Balsamic Shrub which is a type of fruit and vinegar syrup or cordial used to give cocktails a sexy sweet ‘n sour kick. (more…)

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Oregon Grape

Nothing makes an amateur forager feel more like a rock star than passing some scrumpy-looking bush in the neighbour’s yard and telling your friends, “See that there… You can eat that.” And you probably have a friend or two who’s down to try anything and immediately pops whatever berry you just pointed out into their mouth.

“Bleeeeaagggh! Why would anyone want to eat this!?” comes the response, followed by the look of betrayal. “This tastes nothing like a ripe blackberry. It’s sour! Why did I listen to you? You’re not a rock star! What if this is poison?” It is a scene we foragers know all too well… I’ve had it happen a couple of times to me and still recall the sting of recrimination and weird looks. *laughs*and it always seems to be thanks to Oregon grape.

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The Psychic Anchor Cocktail

The first time I remember anyone mentioning Dr. Hunter S. Thompson to me was in college. It was an art school so of course every conceivable image of the counterculture from the 60s to the ‘aughts where plastered on every kid’s dorm room walls and sleeves. A curly-haired rave kid who reminded me too much of myself cornered me during a smoke break and demanded to know how much I knew of his idol, the good doctor.

Being a twenty year old freshmen desperate to prove myself as an intellectual worthy of respect and kinship I blindly answered, “Oh, Raoul King right? He’s the guy from the Jonnhy Depp movie. I loved it!” After I got the stoner-cred shit kicked out of me I went back to my dorm room and got reading up on Thompson and his alter-ego “Raoul Duke”. As it turned out the 1998 movie (which I did love) was only the Hollywood tip of the 60s and 70s literary iceberg. (more…)

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New Horizon Cocktail

New Horizon CocktailWell kids, we made it!

Judging from all the puffy eyes, shambling and moans I assume everyone had a great time on New Years and probably toasted the end of 2016 with a variety of libations that they’re now regretting. That’s great! We needed a party to forget last year’s unrelenting weirdness and tragedy.

We lost a lot of great people who filled our lives with music and fantasy and all the things that keep us young. I lost my grandfather, my dog, my house was ravaged twice by floods and my shed collapsed with both bikes inside. It was a hellish year!

But enough doom! Like many others, we mixed up a couple of custom cocktails on New Year’s Eve and celebrated with a loud sigh of relief. Now that we’ve survived I’ve been tinkering with the recipe and figure I’d share it, even though most of us are still nursing a week-long hangover. *laughs* (more…)

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Veneto (Victoria, BC)

Veneto 1It’s 6 ‘o clock on a smoldering afternoon in Victoria and my wife and I are hiking down the main drag, one blistering cobblestone at a time. We’re desperate to get back to our hotel room out of this ocean of people and car exhaust. Sure, we could hang out downtown but our dinner reservation isn’t for another couple hours and I’ll be damned if I’m going to sweat in this hipster inferno any longer, especially with all these MEC bags full of biking gear and cookbooks weighing me down.

I’m ready to start shoving tourists and crusty punks out of my way when I see the Rialto Hotel off in the distance; its grand double doors wide open, inviting me to drop everything and sit at the long marble bar where an angel with wings of cascading vintage glassware is pouring two fingers of Victoria Gin into an icy shaker with a wry grin.

I grab my wife’s hands and drag her inside, bags discarded along the way. We collapse into the tall chairs lining the bar and breathe in the stillness, seemingly miles away from the heat and crowd. The marble is cool to the touch and I can smell mint and lavender bitters on the air… We’ve arrived at Veneto, Victoria’s premier craft cocktail oasis… Thank the Gods! (more…)

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