In High Spirits

Homebound cocktail parties have been a popular form of entertaining since, well, receiving people into your home became in vogue so very l...

Homebound cocktail parties have been a popular form of entertaining since, well, receiving people into your home became in vogue so very long ago. Fast forward to 2015, and today’s modern version calls for a kitchen island or dedicated bar cart, expertly outfitted with the requisite tools - mixers, strainers, and glasses to name but the basics. Of course, most of the result depends on the ingredients (i.e. quality of the 'booze you use'), and so we're glad to report that never before has there been such a focus on the premium alcohols that make up today's savvy professional's 'bar-pertoire', and which are used to concoct an assortment of bespoke beverages that pair great with socializing.

For gatherings of your own, here are our top three essential spirits that perfectly reflect the times: small batch, umpteen-times distilled to achieve optimum purity, and infused with a cornucopia of fragrant, organic ingredients that result in a greater depth of flavour than the standard fare. With each one are also some tried, tested, and About MTL-approved cocktails to keep on file and inspire you even more. Mix, shake, pour, sample, and critique at your leisure. But leave the wine on the rack for this one - right now it's all about polishing out your speed rail.


Created using ESKA water, itself coming from a subterranean reservoir formed by a receding glacier in northern Quebec more than 8000 years ago (an esker), Quartz Vodka is naturally filtered by quartz and unmistakably packaged in a chiselled, crystal-shaped bottle that perfectly reflects its origins. Reasons to love it are as pure and simple as the process: it’s made with a selection of superior-quality grains and undergoes a 5-time micro distilling for an exceptionally smooth taste and silky finesse. By now we hope that you've stopped using low-grade vodka for your mixed drinks, and are enjoying the same high calibre brand BOTH on its own and as the basis for a bevy of simple and creative cocktails like these:

The Montrealer
1 ½ oz. Quartz Vodka
4 oz. ginger ale
½ oz. lemon juice
Lemon zest
Crushed ice

Fill a jar with crushed ice
Pour in the vodka, ginger ale and lemon juice (in that order)
Garnish with lemon zest

Sparkle Jar
1 oz. Quartz Vodka
3 oz. sparkling wine
½ oz. lemon juice
½ oz. strawberry jam
Ice cubes

Place the vodka, lemon juice and ice cubes in a shaker.
Shake then double-strain and pour into a glass.
Garnish with the strawberry jam.
Finish with the sparkling wine.

Facebook: Quartz Vodka
SAQ code: 12392451


Made from 3- to 8- year-old rum this amber-coloured, herbal nectar both surprises and delights as the first ever spiced rum infused with an assembly of indigenous spices from the Chic-Choc Mountain region in northern Quebec. For the record, these are peppery green alder, pine forest spikenard, witherod berries, lovage root, sweet gale seeds, and wild angelica, but no worries if you haven’t heard of them as the proof is in how they conspire for a fragrant, nordic bouquet with hints of sugar cane, cinnamon, and pepper.  In the mouth it has a round, balanced texture with notes of orange peel and ginger that gives way to a long, warm finish. 

2 oz. Chic Choc Spiced Rum
1/3 oz. orange liqueur
1/3 oz. white vermouth
1 oz. soda water
2 strawberries
4 raspberries (or other berry)
Crushed ice

Pour the alcoholic ingredients into an old-fashioned glass.  Add the fruits.
Fill the glass with crushed ice.
Finish with the soda.

Rebel’s Hot Punch
2 oz. Chic Choc Spiced Rum
1 oz. ruby port
1 oz. Lillet Blanc
4 oz. Domaine Pinnacle’s apple cider
2 star anise
1 piece orange zest

Place the first four ingredients in a saucepan.
Heat until the liquid is simmering.
Garnish with the orange zest and star anise.

Facebook: Chic Choc Spiced Rum

Rum and coke fans will love this homegrown version combining Chic Choc and soft drink 'du moment' Cola 1642. The dream and vision of French expat-turned-local-entrepreneur Bastien Poulain is a 100% Montreal soda, named after the year of the city's founding, and crafted from an artisanal recipe with a light maple syrup flavour. He's clearly hit on something big as the beverage garnered a 6-figure investment from 3 out the 5 investors on the hit TV program, Dans l'oeil du dragon (Quebec's version of Dragon's Den), and is currently distributed to 450 points of sale across the province.

Aptly labeled Sapphire East, Bombay Sapphire's just-released variant on their world-renowned gin adds a nuanced dimension to the botanical spirit derived from juniper berries with the addition of lemon grass from Thailand and black peppercorn from Vietnam. We were introduced to the new flavour at a recent press event hosted by Kevin Demers, Montreal's Bombay Sapphire ambassador, where we experienced it in the 2 cocktails below, and learned a bit more about the storied alcohol: popular when India was part of the British Empire, it was commonly drunk chilled alongside tonic water, itself a quinine-containing remedy used to combat malaria, to render the tonic more refreshing and taste better. While warding off disease may not be one of the reasons we indulge in a 'G-T' on the rocks today, we're glad to see the classic duo alive and thriving thanks to this highly versatile liquor.

Eastern Crush
1 1/2 oz. Bombay Sapphire East
Fresh watermelon juice
Fresh lime juice
Freshly-cracked black pepper
Simple syrup (dissolved sugar in water that is then boiled and simmered for 3 minutes.)

In a shaker combine watermelon juice, coriander, and black pepper.
Add the gin, lemon juice, and syrup.  Add ice cubes.
Shake and strain into an old-fashioned glass.
Add ice and garnish with a coriander branch.

Let Loose
1 oz. Bombay Sapphire East
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup
2 oz. Prosecco
1 tblsp. lemon/ginger sorbet

In a cocktail glass add gin, simple syrup, lemon juice, and ice.
Stir and filter into a champagne flute.
Add Prosecco and garnish with sorbet.

Facebook: Bombay Sapphire  


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