Time to bring out the patio glasses and refresh your cocktail list for the new season! It’s fun to set aside the single malts of colder days past and to reach for the lighter splashes of spirits such as grapefruit vodka, banana caramel vodka and apple caramel whisky, all of which we recently found at Wolfhead Distillery in Amherstburg, near Windsor. Nick Connoy, front of house manager and bartender, shared some tips on making refreshing seasonal cocktails at home.
Celebrities such as Madonna and Sarah Jessica Parker, portraying Carrie Bradshaw in Sex in the City, helped to bring the pink Cosmopolitan to every bar menu in North America in the 1990s. Served in a martini glass, this vodka, cranberry and citrus mix was a stylish and often sweet concoction that carried a sparkle and Hollywood-to-New-York panache. The Cosmo is still a mainstay today. Connoy has made it “less of a sugar bomb” by using not only grapefruit vodka but also muddled grapefruit for an added texture and zing. The sweetness in this drink is citrus driven.
Connoy warns new mixologists not to mask the flavours when making cocktails with small batch infused spirits. “Adding fresh citrus makes the flavour of the vodka pop,” he says. For example, he likes to use banana caramel vodka in a daiquiri, and fresh orange in his version of the very popular Old Fashioned. Wolfhead’s Banana Caramel Vodka carries a lot of sweetness, making it a good mix in a cocktail, needing a minimal touch. The Coffee Whisky Liquor has less sweetness, as it is steeped in Costa Rican espresso. These two make for a natural pairing for those who like banana flavours countered with strong coffee, without the sickly sweetness of some coffee-based cocktails. The Apple Caramel Whisky is more on the sweet side, but with a burn. It could go well with ginger ale and ice.
1 oz Wolfhead Banana Caramel Vodka
1 oz Wolfhead Coffee Whisky Liqueur
2½ oz milk
Shake with ice until metal part of mixer starts to frost.
Strain into low ball martini glass.
Garnish with grated Belgian chocolate.
Wolfhead Old Fashioned
1 orange slice muddled with angostura bitters
a splash of cherry simple syrup
1½ oz ginger ale
2 oz Wolfhead Premium Whisky
Pour into rocks glass. Top with ice and orange slice.
Muddle a wedge of grapefruit with two wedges lime to create a fresh juice.
Splash of orange simple syrup
2 oz Wolfhead Grapefruit Flavoured Vodka
Splash of cranberry juice
Shake with ice.
Double strain into chilled martini glass which has been rimmed with lemon and sugar.
Garnish with a slice of lemon.