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Celebrate London 2012 with Girlie Gin Cocktails

girlie gin cocktails

girlie gin cocktails
photos: Maxime Juneau for At Home with Kim Vallee

Add style to your closing ceremony get together by serving a bronze, silver and gold metal cocktails. Or be the judge and pick one as your signature drink.

The recipes are from Bombay ambassador, the master mixologist Raj Nagra who made the cocktails for me at the Bombay Sapphire event in Montreal two weeks ago. I already shared the recipe for the Bronze medal cocktail. Now, it is time to share the silver and the gold medal cocktail recipes.

Silver medal: Watermelon and Mint Collins

  • 2 parts (60 ml) Bombay Sapphire
  • 4 Chunks of ripe watermelon chunks
  • 8 mint leaves
  • 1 part fresh lemon juice
  • 1 part simple syrup
  • 2 parts (60 ml) Processo

Glass: Wine glass

Method: Muddle, mint and sugar in your shaker. Add other ingredients and shake with ice. Pour in wine glass and top with the Processo.
Garnish: Long mint tip

Gold medal: Citrus Splash

  • 1 heaped tsp Citrus marmalade
  • 1 part Spiced syrup
  • 1 part Fresh lemon juice
  • 2 parts Bombay Sapphire
  • Fresh Sage
  • 1 Egg white
  • Nutmeg

Glass: Cocktail coup

Method: Shake all ingredients (except nutmeg). Shake again with ice. Strain into cocktail couple.
Garnish: Fresh nutmeg and grapefruit wheel

All three drinks were delicious. If I have to pick a favorite it would be the Watermelon and Mint Collins. To my surprise, I was delighted when I took a sip by the Citrus Splash; I was unsure that I would like it when I saw some of the ingredients. But I did!!! The ingredients remind me of a late late brunch.

Are you planning something special for the Olympics closing ceremony?


Refreshing Summer Cocktails with 3 Ingredients

summer cocktails with 3 ingredients or less

I am always on the look out for tasty summer drinks. The New Times asked mixologists to share a summer cocktail with 3 ingredients or less. Garnishes, sugar, seltzer and simple syrup do not count. Merlin Griffiths, the global ambassador for Bombay Sapphire, told me at a media event that it is best to make a sweeter simple syrup (meaning 2 parts sugar per part of water). You simply put less into your drinks.

I am looking forward to try the Sumo Collins, the Campari Collins, and Guadalajara Sour. Go to The New Times to get 12 easy to make summer cocktails.

In Search for the Perfect Campari Sour

Campari is synonym with summer for me. Therefore, I was sad that The New York Times did not published their version of the Campari Sour. I browsed across the Internet and I found several versions. I even found on the Web site of Campari two recipes. I decided to try my own. Once I mastered it, I will share it with you.

+ Summer Cocktails Made Simpler from The New York Times – photos: Andrew Scrivani
+ Campari sour photo: Yana Paskova for The New York Times


Three Holiday Recipes by Ricardo

Creamy fudge spread by ricardo

Creamy fudge spread by ricardo

Here are three simple Holiday recipes from Ricardo Larrivée, that many of you know from his cooking show Ricardo and Friends at Food Network Canada. For party favors or hostess gifts, you can make several jars of Creamy Fudge Spread. It will also come handy if you host a brunch.

cookie kit by ricardo

No need of having any baking skills to bring a Cookie Kit in the jar to the hostess. Simply write the step-by-step instructions on a nice piece of paper or a gift tag.

clementine-flavored vodka by ricardo

You can bring at a party a bottle of your own Clementine-Flavored Vodka. It is made with freshly squeezed clementine juice, lemon juice, sliced clementines, sliced lemon, sugar and your favorite vodka.


Cocktail Party Essentials

glamorous drink station


Holiday party season is in full swing. Whether you’re hosting family and friends for dinner, neighbours during an afternoon open house or a glamorous New Year’s Eve gathering, consider upgrading your existing bar accessories or invest in these essentials pre-party. A well-appointed bar with all the tools of the trade will help you quench all of your guest’s drink requests.

Stylish Glassware

Even if you’re well-stocked with a variety of glassware styles, these fun and festive options will have your guests lining up to claim their cup. Check department stores for other seasonal options that are likely already on sale.

Cocktail Shaker

Cocktail shakers

A cocktail shaker is essential for creating martinis and other mixed drinks. You can find inexpensive, basic shakers at most kitchen and department stores. Personalize this vintage-inspired shaker from Pottery Barn with a frosted glass monogram. For a statement shaker you’ll want to leave on display, consider this gorgeous, but pricey, stainless steel Bauhaus design by Alessi.

Large Tray or Bar Cart

glamorous drink station

Use a tray, or bar cart to create a serving station and keep bar tools and glassware corralled. You can also re-purpose an existing console table or your dining table for the occasion.

airy modern drink station in white and blue

Style at Home proposed an airy, modern take on the drink station that would be perfect for New Year’s Eve.

Sticks and Picks

Cocktail picks and coasters

Cocktail picks are great for garnishes and do double-duty as stir sticks. My “pick” for a holiday party? This stainless steel set topped with jingle bells from Crate and Barrel.


Coasters are a must to protect furniture and other valuables from glassware. There are sets to fit every party theme and decor, from glass to ceramic to pretty letterpressed paper.

+ Winter Tree Stemless Glassware $25 USD at West Elm
+ Mr. and Mrs. Highball Glasses by Furbish Studio $18 USD (set of 2)
Bauhaus Cocktail Shaker by Alessi $388 USD at Unica Home
+ Hotel Cocktail Shaker $29 USD at Pottery Barn
+ Drink Station by Lulu Powers for Lonny magazine – December 2010 issue – photo by Patrick Cline
Small Space Cocktail Party Planner by Style at Home – photo by Michael Graydon
+ Jingle Bell Picks $10.95 USD (set of 6) at Crate & Barrel
+ Letterpress Coasters by Red Bird Ink $10 USD (set of 4) on Etsy


Drinking Shochu and the Japanese Ice Ball Machine

a glass of shochu in japan

a glass of shochu in japan

Shochu used to be a second level spirit in Japan. Over the last decade, it emerges as a hip drink and they are now many premium shochu brands available across Japan.

Many things differenciate shochu from sake. First, shochu is a distilled spirit where sake is a brewed rice wine. Shochu is most commonly distilled from barley, sweet potatoes, or rice. The taste of sake is more fruity while shuchu is more nutty or earthy. Shochu typically contains 25% alcohol by volume.

One part of its appeal comes from its low calories. A typical 2-ounce serving of shochu is only 35 calories, which is may less than the 85 calories from sake or the 120 calories from vodka. Shochu is typically served on the rocks or mixed with tea or fruit juice.

japanese ice ball machine

I had mine on the rocks but not your typical ice cubes. It was pour on an ice ball. The Japanese invented the ice ball machine to water less their drinks. Part of the appeal for me was to hear the crisp sound that it produces as you pour the alcohol over it on an old-fashioned glass. It’s customary in Japan restaurants to bring the big bottle of shochu or sake at the table where the waiter will pour your drink.

I invite you to share the sound experience of the ice ball with a small video I filmed at a hip restaurant in Tokyo. As you will see, I did not practice my text.

You can buy an ice machine online but it is a true luxury (over $1,000). Beware of the 30 mm ice ball machine as it produces mini balls, which is not the idea.

+ Ice Ball Machine 55 mm $1,072 USD up to $1,782 for the 80 mm ice ball machine


Easy to Make Cocktail Recipes for Mother’s Day

pink drinks by saq :: strawberry smoothie and cape cod recipes

pink drinks by saq :: strawberry smoothie and sparkling rose recipes

The Escape Cocktails by the SAQ is a good source for cocktail recipes. I select these 6 cocktails, either because they look girlie or should taste great. Select the one that will fit the taste of your mother or will pair the best with your menu.

+ You can start the brunch with a Strawberry smoothie that includes . After all, we need something that has no alcohol to fill up energy and vitamins. It contains apple juice, pineapple juice, strawberries, a banana, rose syrup and honey.
+ Then, you can sip a Sparkling rose made with vodka, cranberry juice, sparkling wine and a dash of vanilla extract.

Cranberry and Vodka Based Drinks

cranberry and vodka drinks :: recipe by saq

+ The Skyy Rosé is a rich, fruity cocktail. Its smooth taste comes from Skyy vodka, litchi juice, cranberry juice, a splash of 35% cream and one strawberry as garnish.
+ Cape Cod is a milder drink that you prepare with vodka, cranberry juice and tonic water. Garnish with 2 lemon wedges.

Dry Gin Cocktail Recipes

gin drink recipes by espace cocktails saq

+ The Mystery Martini refers to the old-fashioned herb liqueur since it is prepared with green Chartreuse. This is the stronger drink on my list. You will probably just serve no more than one per guest.
+ The Cucumber Collins adds style and a refreshing flavor to a classic drink. I like drinks with cucumbers. You start this drink by crushing cucumber slices with a muddler in a highball glass. For the rest, you prepare a classic Tom Collins and garnish with a cucumber spear.


Mistystix for a Fog-like Effect

mistystix for a fog effect in your drinks

mistystix for a fog effect in your drinks

Although they are targeting bars, hotels and caterers, many will care to know about Mistystix. You could buy a pack if you are planning a milestone birthday party or a wedding. You will be able to reuse them for all your Halloween parties.

Mistystix are dryice swizzle sticks that safely create a misty fog effect in beverages. You insert the dry ice inside a capsule, which means that people will not be able to touch the dry ice. In theory, you only have to worry about who do the service; make sure that the servers know how to handle dry ice.

They also thought about functionality. The sticks have a small hook to sit neatly of the glass rim. It seems like a great idea. Watch this video to see a demonstration. Mistystix is sold in a pack of black and white sticks or in an assorted color kit.

+ Mistystix $200 CAD for pack of 250
+ via Marianik


Pear Martini Recipe

pear martini :: pearfect times drink from yew restaurant and bar

Known as the Pearfect Times, this is the cocktail of the Year of En Route magazine. It comes from the bar of Yew Restaurant + Bar at Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver. It is a mix of lemon juice, pear purée, cane sugar, Absolut Pear and Beafeater gin. I will try to see if it best my all time favorite.

The best pear martini I tasted was from the bar of Kimonos restaurant and lounge at Walt Disney World Swan. I do not know if they are still making it but it is not on their online menu. I recommend the sushi at Kimonos. We ate there three nights out of seven.

+ photo: André Doyon for En Route


Ginger Basiltini Recipe

Ginger basiltini inspired by recipe at the girl and the fig

I wish I tried that cocktail when we went to The Girl & The Fig in Sonoma last January. Next time! In the meantime, I could ask my husband to fine tune our own Ginger Basiltini based on the recipe adapted by the LA Times. If we improve it, I will share it with you.

+ photo by Glenn Koenig for Los Angeles Times


Summer Cocktails Made with Campari

cocktails made with campari for summer :: campari orange, campari grapefruit, negroni and negroni sbagliato

Let’s revisit my favorite cocktails for summer besides the mojitos. I love Campari on a summer day. I often served Campari to my first friends because it is unexpected and simple to make.

I typically go for tall drink recipes. You save time this way and the alcohol level is typically lower.

A simple way to greet your friends before a BBQ is to prepare a pitcher Campari Orange.

  • In a tall glass (juice glass) filled with ice cubes, pour 1 part Campari
  • 3 parts of orange juice
  • Garnish with an orange slice.

Campari Grapefruit is done the same way. The recipe is 1 part Campari for 3 parts of grapefruit juice. Also garnish with an orange slice.

Negroni Recipe Adaptations

When I do not mind something stronger, I sip a Negroni in an old-fashioned glass.

  • Pour on the rocks,
  • 1 part of gin, you can use Bombay Sapphire Tanqueray or the lighter Plymouth gin
  • 1 part of Campari
  • 1 part of sweet vermouth (red vermouth)
  • Garnish with an orange slice.

If you opt for the Negroni as your signature drink, make sure you get some soda water next by to please everyone. In fact, I usually pour a tiny bit of soda water on my Negroni (not to be mistaken with an Americano, which has no gin). The tall Negroni is less bitter and more refreshing.

Even that may be too much bitter from some people. For them, you could substitute the Campari by a Punt e Mes, an Italian vermouth made by Fratelli Branca with a less bitter component. Use 1/3 gin, 1/3 Punt e Mess and 1/3 red vermouth.

Negroni Sbagliato is another more delicate Negroni version that is supposed to be popular in Italy. You make it with

  • 1 part Campari
  • 1 part red vermouth
  • 1 part Spumante brut (or Pinot Chardonnay sparkling wine)
  • Garnish with a slice of orange.

If you wish to create a more bitter version, replace the red vermouth by the Punt e Mes (1 part gin, 1 part Campari, 1 part Punt e Mess). Personally, I would not try that more intensely bitter version.

+ 24 cocktail recipes made with Campari


How to do the Flaming Orange Zest and the Sapphire Cosmopolitan

sapphire cosmopolitan by merlin griffiths

I could not wait so I am publishing the first cocktail recipe. This is the most complicated cocktail recipe that was demonstrated at the Bombay Sapphire event. The difficulty comes from its garnish. It is easy to do once you know how. This bartender’s trick will put your guests in awe for sure. It infuses the room with an exquisite aroma. You first gently hold the orange zest. you can heat a little the zest, without squeezing the zest. Then you squeeze the orange at the last minute as you lit your lighter. Voilà!

Watch the video where Merlin Griffiths explains the technique. The flamed orange zest is the ultimate garnish for the Cosmopolitan.

Merlin shows us his ultimate gin Cosmopolitan who goes lighter on the cranberry juice.

Recipe of the Sapphire Cosmopolitan

Merlin’s recipe provides a dry, tart and juicy Cosmopolitan. It is different than the drink that we are accustomed to. I will give it a try.

  1. Chill your martini glass by filling it with ice cubes and soda water
  2. In a mixing glass, pour a large measure of  your favorite gin – about 50 ml
  3. A dash of Triple sec or Cointreau – no more than 25 ml
  4. Either squeeze the juice of 3 wedges plus put the wedges in the mixing glass to get the lime oil or squeeze 1/2 a lime
  5. A splash of cranberry juice, put just enough to make the drink blush. The cranberry is there to add color and a little tartness. If you crave for more cranberry, do not go over a large measure
  6. Shake vigorously all the ingredients with ice
  7. Throw the ice from your chilled martini glass
  8. Double strain (use a bar strainer plus a small mesh strainer) to avoid watering your Cosmopolitan
  9. Garnish with a flamed orange peel that you twist.

Watch the video of Sapphire Cosmopolitan here.