All signs are pointing north this February, and our expedition into Canadian territory requires just two things: a bottle of the country’s rye whisky, and a thirst for creative, inspired cocktails. Oh, and don’t forget your heaviest coat and scarf, too!
Rye has been an essential component of Canada’s whisky-making tradition since the mid-1800s, when the country’s burgeoning industry got a huge boost from helping to replenish the supply of a US in the throes of a Civil War. And their next great exporting opportunity occurred more than 50 years later during (whispers very carefully) Prohibition. Over those decades and all the way up to today’s resurgence (Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye shocked many in 2016 by claiming Jim Murray’s World Whisky of the Year title!), Canada has developed a strong individual identity with countless flavor possibilities and unique methods of production.
Rye is a go-to grain for the many different blends made in Canada. In fact, it’s been said that the clause in the country’s lawbook stating that a product must, in order to be officially recognized, “possess the aroma, taste, and character generally attributed to Canadian whisky” tacitly designates rye as the national emblem of the spirit in essence and flavor. But at the same time, it remains vague enough that it’s led to an incredibly diverse range of Canadian whiskys and, in turn, a frontier ripe for exploration.
So join us on this quest for warmth and delicious drinks as we ask: Rye Not Canada? Subscribe now through February 1st to get this box—it’ll ship the week of February 4th.
Maple taffy—a traditional Canadian treat—is made by boiling maple syrup and letting it harden after pouring onto clean snow. And speaking of maple-infused delights, Joel Carleton has really Let It Snow!, but he’s concocted a creamy white base for maple that’s a lot more flavorful than any ol’ pile of the plain frozen stuff. Our very first flip features a whole egg in the shake (the main characteristic of this category of cocktails), providing a lush and frothy texture within which the rye can shine, along with an irresistible medley of maple, chocolate, and winter spices.
Utilized properly, raw eggs give cocktails a texture and body you can’t get any other way (though the egg won’t be included in the box—we can’t ship those!). They’re an important component of traditional cocktail categories and have been used in classics for centuries. (Learn more in this egg-cellent blog post.)
Joel’s love of whiskey has spurred him to travel, tour, and study across North America, and compete in craft cocktail competitions all throughout Canada. He’s owner of the Bee’s Knees Bar Services, a hospitality consulting firm and private bar service in central Canada.
For some behind-the-scenes tidbits from Joel on his work, Canadian rye whisky, and all about his cocktail, check out our interview.
Home Is Canada for Evelyn Chick, and in her corner of the country, lively peach and citrus mix and mingle over a deep foundation of rye, cold brew, and nuttiness. She developed this recipe to evoke a wintry daytime stroll in the park, where there’s a chill in the air but the sun’s comforting rays cut right through it. And this refreshingly bright cocktail, with its robust body and eye-opening combination of flavors, is just as perfect an accompaniment for a night in at your own home.
Evelyn’s bartending career started in Vancouver and has led to her running the bar program at PrettyUgly Bar in Toronto. She is also the coordinator of Speed Rack Canada and the bar and beverage curator for Restaurants Canada Show, and has traveled around the world promoting Canadian cocktail culture.
For some behind-the-scenes tidbits from Evelyn on her work, Canadian drinking culture, and all about her cocktail, check out our interview.
Christopher Sinclair is here with an old-fashioned reminder not to let the cold distract from what should be February’s warmest time: Valentine’s Day. His Leather & Lace is a great showcase for rye’s woody, spicy qualities, and it’s a veritable lovefest when those complex notes find their complement in this unique syrup of earthy and floral poblano, tamarind, and cardamom. Cinnamon smoke sets the mood, and of course there has to be at least a hint of chocolate!
Chris has been a bartender in Sacramento for over 17 years and a strong supporter of those who push the craft forward. He was the founding president of the Sacramento chapter of the USBG and lead instructor at the San Francisco School of Bartending and can currently be found behind the bar at Sacramento’s Kasbah Lounge.
For some behind-the-scenes tidbits from Chris on his work, the Sacramento scene, and all about his cocktail, check out our interview.
With so many beaches and tropical spots to choose from, planning the right winter getaway gets tricky sometimes—especially when there’s also the option to swap your suit from swim- to snow-! This month’s cocktails offer a glimpse into our neighbor’s assertive national spirit and thriving cocktail scene, and will have you doing a double take and asking yourself, why not mix up the February formula? Rye not . . . Canada?
The Shaker & Spoon Team
*not vegan: honey for the Home Is Canada, plus you’ll need to add a whole raw egg to mix up the Let it Snow!