Spring into Whisky | Blog #121

What an amazingly nice Winter we have had here in Alberta and it feels like we are in for an early Spring this year. My thoughts always start turning to time on the deck and some delicious drams paired with a great cigar. Almost time for me to put away the Islay for a few months and reach for those dreamy drams that promise floral, honey and sweet spices.

I truly love all the diversity that whisky brings and am constantly on a bit of a crusade to help others experience all that whisky/ey is.

“I wanted to talk about a home grown Alberta distillery but will hold off until I can have a sample in front of me to review.”

This week, I want to delve a little into what a versatile drink whisky is and why you should have it around your back bar not just for drinking straight but also for mixing and especially for Cocktails.

A lot of whisky friends I know shy away from Cocktails but having experienced how mind boggling they can be, I am always experimenting with ways that I can incorporate good whisky into something new.

I had a recent trip down to One18 Empire at the Calgary Marriott Hotel. They are on a quest to be one of the best whisky bars in Calgary and their Bartender Mike is shaking up a storm when it comes to whisky based cocktails.

One such cocktail that has become a favorite of my wife, he calls the Brilliant Basil. It captures all that is great about more herbaceous and floral whisky and then compliments it in a drink that screams springtime.

Take a couple of ounces of your favorite Rye, preferably Canadian and 100%. Canadian Rye even at 100% tends to be lower on the spice scale than the Southern styles. Add 2 to 3 ounces of simple syrup that has been infused with fresh ginger and pour them both into a cocktail shaker.

“Easy way to make ginger simple syrup is as follows:

8 oz fresh organic ginger root (2 pieces, each about 10 inches long)

2 cups organic sugar – raw sugar is fine although your simple syrup will be darker

2 cups water


Peel the ginger root with a vegetable peeler, and cut into thin rounds.
Bring the sugar and water to a boil over medium high heat.
Add the sliced ginger and bring the mixture back up to a simmer.
Remove from heat and allow to steep for at least 30 minutes.
Strain syrup through fine mesh. Keep ginger in a container for adding later.
Keep the syrup for a month refrigerated in an airtight container.
After adding the simple syrup fill half of the shaker with ice and then add an ounce and a half of fresh lime juice (can be 2 ounces if you want it a bit more zesty)

Now add 3 stalks of organic basil leaves to the shaker and 3 or 4 of the ginger rounds.

Shake the crap out of it as you are effectively muddling the basil using the ice. The more shaking the more basil infusion.

You can now either loosely strain using just the shaker and have small basil bits as part of it (yummier this way) or use a fine strainer for a cleaner looking drink.”

Cindy drinks her Brilliant Basil out of a Samaroli Whisky glass but any long stemmed cocktail glass will work.

Garnish with one basil leaf and away you go.

Just the ticket for that first day outside enjoying the fresh Spring air.

Whisky is truly a versatile drink and I love it in so many forms.

Until next week let me know if you tried a Brilliant Basil and how you liked it.


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