Inspiration: it’s impossible to wax on about it without becoming clichéd, so instead let’s look at examples in the local cocktail world that will provide the illustrations. Just what interesting gems are awaiting you if you throw caution to the wind, abandon the classics and let the bar man, or woman, lead you to their latest dabbling?
At Little Jumbo, bar manager Nate Caudle entices with a Bovine University. I love rye-based cocktails with whimsical names and a spirit forward nature. Also worth a try is a Togarashi Maru. The Maru begins with Hayman’s Old Tom Gin and even manages a miso tincture along with some Sake. Hmm, can someone please pass the sushi?
If you too, are a rye fan, my new favourite house-inspired cocktail is at Bodega, it’s called a Butchertown and mixes rye with sherry, cointreau and bitters. The sherry dries the rye and gives it a deliciously smoky finish.
If sherry is on your mind too (and shouldn’t it be?) then check out The Surrealist at Zambri’s with gin, chartreuse, sherry and four other ingredients. I normally don’t enjoy a cocktail with this many components but to my surprise, this one works and I wonder if it’s because of the pear vinegar which holds it all together.
Finally, the grand dame of them all, the Bengal Lounge at the Fairmont Empress where The Prizefighter rings my bell but not to be overshadowed is the Princess Marguerita, a riff that adds ginger to the Mexican classic.
And there you have some great examples of local inspiration in our gem of a city.