My Hip Cocktails: Silver Jet

Some cocktails are classics and have stood the test of time. The negroni, for example, was first mixed in 1919 and is the number 2 cocktail in global popularity. The whisky sour (# 4 on the list) supposedly goes back to the 1870s. Others have gained popularity over the last few decades but show no sign of fizzing out like many fads have. Take the paper plane for example. This official IBA cocktail, made with equal parts of bourbon, aperol, amaro nonino and lemon was not introduced to the masses until 2007.

The great thing about cocktails is a simple change or two results in a completely different experience. For example, by simply adding chocolate bitters to a boulevardier, you turn it into the Left Hand. Taking such creative liberties allows you to do things like…well…name cocktails after Tragically Hip songs. I thought the Paper Plane would be an ideal candidate for substitution because there are a lot of variations of amaro available. Nonino is a bit of a gateway amaro which seems fitting for something called a Paper Plane. I figured if I were to elevate it to a Silver Jet, a more potent amaro was necessary and that Fernet-Branca fit the bill. This spirit has a strong menthol character which I thought would still blend nicely with the remaining ingredients ( bourbon and aperol hold their own although after the fact I thought campari would work as well)…although some may argue it might taste a bit like jet fuel (full disclosure…this is coming from a guy who likes the taste of cough syrup).

Silver Jet

0.75 oz bourbon

0.75 oz aperol

0.75 oz lemon juice

0.75 oz Fernet-Branca

Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake for 10-15 seconds and strain into a coupe glass.

Silver Jet

With so many amaro options available (eg. Montenegro, Averno and Cynar) simple substitutions will often work for many popular cocktails without a lot of thought required. Every combination may not be perfect but it allows one to get better acquainted with various flavour profiles in an effort to find that ideal combination you can boast about. Who knows…you might end up becoming the Brian Flanagan of Canada and subsequently recognized as a Canadian hero all the way from Clayquot Sound to Cape Speer.

Silver jet way overhead
Silver jet evergladed grey sheers
Silver jet so far off already
Silver jet Clayquot Sound to Cape Spear

Silver Jet- In Violet Light- The Tragically Hip.

My Hip Cocktails: At the Hundredth Meridian

With about a 140 Hip songs to choose from, some are easier to assign to cocktail names than others. Some are certainly a stretch. When thinking of At the Hundredth Meridian, I was hoping that Crown Royal would fit. Gimli, Manitoba was put on the map in 2016 as the producer of Crown Royal’s Northern Harvest which was named the whisky of the year in Jim Murray’s 2016 Whisky Bible. Using my “Who’s Smarter than a 5th Grader?” skills, I deducted that a small town in Manitoba should be somewhere around the 100th meridian. Google confirmed that it is in fact at 96.9887 degrees west so using the same fifth grade skills I rounded to the nearest hundredth and we had a winner.

At the Hundredth Meridian is a song from the 1992 Fully Completely album which many consider to be the Hip’s quintessential album. It became an instant staple in my university CD rotation. As a Hip fan, I think it was a rite of passage if you could flawlessly recite Gord’s famous mid-song soliloquy if I die of Vanity, promise me, promise me that if they bury me some place I don’t want to be that you’ll dig me up and transport me unceremoniously away from the swollen city breeze garbage bag trees, whispers of disease and acts of enormity
and lower me slowly, sadly, and properly get Ry Cooder to sing my eulogy
while under the influence. To this day I can recite it in my sleep.

For the cocktail, I did a simple variation on an old fashioned. I really like triple sec and find it very versatile, even beyond a margarita. I was still trying to bust through a big jar of maraschino cherries from Costco so I thought the juice (almost a simple syrup in itself) would nicely replace the sugar cube. As usual, Angostura bitters are always a good call but I find Dillon’s DSB bitters do just as well.

At the Hundredth Meridian

1.5 oz Crown Royal

0.5 oz Triple Sec

0.25 oz of Maraschino cherry juice

2-3 drops Angostura or Dillon’s DSB bitters

Mix all ingredients together and garnish with an orange peel and a maraschino cherry.

At the Hundredth Meridian

Although “At the Hundredth Meridian” is one of the most recognizable Hip songs, Ry Cooder is surprisingly unknown. In 2003, he was named the number 8th guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone magazine (and 31 by the same magazine in 2015). He has played with numerous comparable and recognized guitarists over his long and illustrious career. In addition to Kingston’s own Tragically Hip recognizing him in the aforementioned song, Queen’s university also awarded him an Honorary doctorate in 2000 leading me to believe that he would be really popular at funerals in the Limestone City.

At the hundredth meridian
At the hundredth meridian
At the hundredth meridian
Where the great plains begin

At the Hundredth Meridian- Fully Completely, The Tragically Hip

My Hip Cocktails: The Last Recluse

The whole covid-19 nonsense has certainly brought out the good and the bad in many. It has also led to an exaggeration of a lot of the behaviors people already displayed before the world changed. The extroverts have taken to social media reminding us of the dangers of not staying home or the perils of experimental vaccines while the introverts have used the time to hide behind their walls and use these platforms to remind us all how introverted they are. I’ve been called an extroverted introvert by my friends and colleagues so I guess that entitles me to a wider spectrum of behavior, one of which is feeling rather recluse for extended periods of time.

The Last Recluse is a song from the Hip’s We are The Same album. This is arguably one of the Hip’s more somber collections, containing songs like The Depression Suite, Coffee Girl and Now the Struggle Has a Name and the Last Recluse. Although written well before Covid-19 and the explosion of social media, the lyrics of the latter track could lead one to credit the band with a clairvoyant look into 2020. It’s a tale of abandonment and diminished hope which is a feeling a lot of us have had at times given the ongoing indications that things won’t change anytime soon despite one’s efforts. This reality has made me a bit reclusive at times, so I can certainly relate.

Since there are numerous references to the Canada goose in the song’s lyrics, it seemed a fitting name for a cocktail made with gooseberries. There are numerous variations of this fruit but in this case, I used the readily available cape gooseberry (aka. goldenberry or ground cherry) as inspiration. They have a rather sour but complex flavour which makes for an excellent base for almost any spirit. I was in a mezcal mood so I thought a take on a margarita would fit the fruit’s profile nicely. I also wanted to add a little heat to compliment the sourness so I threw in some jalapeno for extra punch.

The Last Recluse

0.5 oz mezcal

1 oz tequila blanco

0.5 oz triple sec

0.5 oz lime juice

0.5 oz simple sugar

6-8 cape gooseberries

5-7 slices of jalapeno

Muddle the gooseberries and 3-5 slices (depending on your preference). Add all other ingredients to an shaker filled with ice. Shake for 10 seconds or so. Fine strain into a cocktail glass with or without ice and garnish with remaining jalapeno slices.

The Last Recluse

Whatever 2021 brings, I can’t see myself going an extended period of time without reverting to transient reclusive tendencies (especially if the covid conspiracy morons continue to spew nonsense). Ironically, if this me the “last of the immune” then so be it…I’ll stay safe and take my chances because I won’t have to social distance from Jack Daniels or Tom Collins anytime soon.

Who are you?
The last recluse?
Who are you?
The last of the immune?

The Last Recluse- We are the Same, The Tragically Hip

My Hip Cocktails: The Completists

Earlier in the year I wanted to do something with a bottle of Mezcal Agua Santa which was recommended to me by a friend of mine over the often more expensive and celebrity endorsed options in the LCBO . What made the story even better is that the founder of this Mezcal, Carmen Marron, lives in Toronto and tells a great story of moving to Canada from Mexico and the perseverance needed to get such a difficult business off the ground. It’s a stellar example of a female immigrant’s passionate entrepreneur spirit and you can taste her Mexican pride with every sip. For a cocktail, my mind wandered to some take on a margarita. To me, Mezcal is the scotch of the white spirits, offering a unique smoky flare to a drink similar to what a peaty single malt might do in a something like a “penicillin”.

I’ll be honest on this one….I relied on google to try and find a Hip song what would complement my use of mezcal. Even worse is the fact that I did a search by simply typing Mexican and the Hip in the search engine. The top result was “The Completists” which is a rather short and mellow song in the middle of the Music @ Work album. Specifically, there’s a few lines in the song which reference Mexican pot and a desert so that worked for me.

Like scotch, with Mezcal a little goes a long way. Quite often a Mezcal margarita or sour will be paired with its cousin tequila to temper a bit of the smokiness. I also think a pinch of salt is a must for most mezcal cocktails..that smoky salt combination is incredible. I didn’t sway too much from a traditional margarita this time but used orange juice instead of simple/agave syrup and added some Angelica bitters for good measures.

The Completists

1 oz tequila blanco

0.5 oz mezcal

0.5 oz triple sec

0.5 oz fresh orange juice

0.5 oz lime

2-3 drops of angelica or mole bitters (I used Dillon’s)

Dash of salt

The Completists

Add everything except salt into a shaker and shake with ice. Poor into a rocks glass with ice and sprinkle with a dash of salt. Garnish with cucumber or lime.

I’ll admit that this is not my most creative concoction but things like a margarita don’t really need a lot of shake up (pardon the pun). That said, it goes well with my less than creative pairing with a Hip song…but I don’t want to sound defeated.

You lured me with your bad intentions
You lured me with your Mexican pot
You lured me with desert dimensions
You lured me a lot.

The Completists- Music @ Work , The Tragically Hip


My Hip Cocktails: Long Time Running

I’m a firm believer that one of the easiest way to jazz up a cocktail is to use fresh herbs. The taste of even classic drinks like an old fashioned or a whiskey sour can be significantly modified with sprig of thyme or some rosemary simple syrup. When I was thinking about this, my mind wandered to the Hip song “Long Time Running” and the obvious play on words involving one of my favorite herbs. It started as a quiet and misunderstood song from the Road Apples album and eventually became the title of Hip’s critically acclaimed film which documented their final tour following the announcement of Gord Downie’s cancer diagnosis. In this production, the performance of this song was particularly moving, a somber yet satisfyingly reflection of the band’s illustrious career. I equate it to other songs, such as “The One I Love” by R.E.M, in the sense that on the surface it seems to suggest peace or love but a deeper dig uncovers pain and suffering, a fitting theme to a film which some call the band’s visual eulogy.

I initially made this during the summer and is one of the few vodka cocktails I made. That said, I think it would go just as nicely with gin as well. I used green chartreuse for a little spice and some sweet and floral St. Germain to balance it out. I topped it with a splash of Fentiman’s elderflower soda to boost the St. Germain and lighten it up a bit and then finished it with a fresh sprig of thyme.

Long Time Running

1.5 oz Vodka or Gin

0.5 oz St. Germain

0.25-0.5 oz Green Chartreuse

0.5 lemon juice

Fentiman’s Elderflower soda (optional)*

Shake ingredients together in cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a rocks glass and top with elderflower soda.

* If you don’t have elderflower soda, you can replace with 0.5 oz of thyme simple syrup and club soda. Add the simple syrup to the shaker, strain and add club soda (if desired) to taste.

Long Time Running

Drive-in’s rained out
Weatherman wet-fingers the sky
He pokes it out, he pulls it in
He don’t know why
It’s the same mistake

Long Time Running- Road Apples, The Tragically Hip

My recommendation is to drink this while listening to its namesake sitting in a Muskoka chair with a background of loon hollers or cricket chirps. Otherwise, throw on the documentary and toast a glass to one of the most iconic Canadian bands to ever grace this earth. RIP Gord.

My Hip Cocktails: Presidential Election Edition

One of the many debaucheries of 2020 included the presidential election. The first debate could be equated to a playground spat. I haven’t seen two seniors engage in such nonsense since the infamous spat between CFL legends Joe Kapp and Angelo Mosca in 2011. If you recall, that epic fight featured flowers and cane swinging and a sombre reminder us that Canadians are in fact not as polite and we’d like to think.

As a result, I would be remiss if I didn’t celebrate election night with a couple of hip cocktails which reflected my thoughts on the battle to be the leader of the free world (sic). My thoughts went to trying to capture the essence of the many factors that made this such a shit show. I figure I’d use a couple of swing states as my basis.

Let’s start with Ohio. Although I’m writing this after the fact, the Joe King in me suspected that Ohio would go red and I thought that Chagrin Falls would be an ideal hip song to capture the feelings that many have about the Trump administration. Chagrin Falls is a suburb of Cleveland which is where Donald Trump captured the Republican nomination in 2016. I also thought about their volatile NFL team and wanted a drink which reflected the brown and orange. As a result, my mind naturally went to ‘merican whisky for the brown (not to mention that a good bourbon brings up memoires of Mabel’s…Michael Symon’s Cleveland BBQ and bourbon bar) which I mixed with orange flavoured triple sec (which also paid homage to Trump’s Hallowe’en hue) and finished with DSB bitters to reflect the feelings of many over the past 4 years.

Chagrin Falls

1.5-2 oz of bourbon (I used the aptly named Larceny)

0.75-1 oz triple sec

0.5 oz simple syrup

A few dashes of orange of cherry bitters (I used Dillon’s DSB).

Stir all ingredients together and serve with ice and/or orange and cherry bitters. Serve in a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with orange and/or cherry.

Chagrin Falls

Chagrin falls (in Chagrin Falls, Ohio)
Chagrin Falls (where the unknown don’t even go)
Chagrin falls (in Chagrin Falls, Ohio)
So falls Chagrin Falls (where the unknown don’t even go)
So falls Chagrin Falls
So falls Chagrin Falls

Chagrin Falls- Phantom Power, The Tragically Hip

As for my democratic nominee, I headed a bit east to eventually blue Pennsylvania which was fitting given it’s Biden’s birth state and more specifically his hometown of Scranton. Naturally, that brought me to what the city is best known for (other than the Houdini museum of course)….The Office. Among many of Michael Scott’s antics was the Moroccan Chirstmas party and specifically his drink…the one of everything which he described as “equal parts scotch, absinthe, rum, gin, vermouth, triple sec, and two packs of Splenda“. I did my best to make it a little less fictional to avoid inducing my gag reflex. Since it sounded somewhat like a Long Island Iced tea so I went that route (not to mention the irony that Trump was born in NYC and doesn’t drink). In keeping with the Hip theme, I called this “Fully Completely” given the fact it contains a whole shelf on any bar rail. So, I mixed whisky, vermouth, absinthe, rum, gin and triple sec and topped with coke and added the signature two packages of Splenda. I’ll be honest..it was awful mainly because the absinthe (which you normally use in small quantities like a rinse) took over everything. It was like drinking a coke through a piece of black licorice and the addition of the Splenda added a “diet” flavour that made it worse. Nonetheless, it nicely reflected the mess that was and would continue to be the 2020 US election.

Fully Completely

0.5 ounces of each whisky, vermouth, absinthe, rum, gin and triple sec.

Coke

2 packages of Splenda

Mix the spirits together in a highball glass and top with a generous amount of coke. Sprinkle with 2 package of Splenda. Try to enjoy.

Fully Completely

Exonerate me
Then forget about me
Wait and you’ll see
Just wait and you’ll see

Fully Completely- Fully Completely, The Tragically Hip

Despite early jitters, my clairvoyant cocktails came through..Ohio went red and Pennsylvania eventually went blue. I was also reminded in drink form of how asinine Michael Scott and his antics on “The Office” were. Regardless, a six booze drink was a nice way to take the edge of an otherwise stress filled evening. If and when I travel to the US again, I think I’ll try and invent a Joe King narrated GPS that only directs me through blue counties..it may add a few hours to the trip but it least it means there’s a lesser chance I will have to sip coffee with somebody who’s still sporting a MAGA hat they picked up in a big box discount bin.

My Hip Cocktails: Hallowe’en and Handwashing Edition

When thinking about Hallowe’een cocktails, a couple the songs from the Tragically Hip’s EP make for great names. Who doesn’t want to prowl the streets at night howling at the moon with I’m a Werewolf, Baby blasting through the headphones. Cemetery sideroad also provides an ideal inspiration for diabolical use of evil spirits. Both concepts are also congruent with the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead, so I was inspired in that sense as well.

For the I’m a Werewolf, Baby, I wanted to use Reposado tequila not only for Mexican flare but also for the gold/brown colour which seems in line with something one might associate with a hairy beast. In addition, I like the smoothness of this tequila and would argue it’s one of the few boozes where the darker version is a bit tamer than the light. Sticking with this hairy Hallowe’een hue, I mixed with Jarrito’s tamarind soda along with some Dillon’s Mole bitters and lime juice for balance. This was also an opportunity to use up a bit of my huge flask of my Dillon’s grenadine which added a seasonal sanguine touch.

I’m a Werewolf, Baby!

1.5-2 oz of Reposado tequila (I used Espolon)

1/2 oz fresh lime juice

2-3 drops of Dillon’s Mole Bitters

Jarritos Tamarind Soda

Grenandine (I used Dillon’s)

Ideally, add tequila, lime and bitters to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for 10-15 sec. Add to a highball class with ice and top with the soda. Garnish with a lime wheel and bloody it up with grenadine. Alternatively, you can add the tequila, lime and bitters to the glass and stir then add the soda and garnish accordingly.

I’m a Werewolf, Baby!

Public Service Announcement – Wash your damn hands!

I found this picture on a reddit feed as part of the washyourlyrics.com platform so make a drink, wash your hands and sing along.

For the cemetery sideroad, I wanted to stick with the Mexican theme put play on the sideroad so figured a spin on a traditional side car worked well. In the end, it might be explained as the love child of a sidecar and a margarita. I also liked the ability to use a little cognac to feel like a French foreign legion tramp. Since I had the Reposado out already, I used it as a base. I added the traditional sidecar ingredients, cognac and triple sec (which is also ideal in a margarita of course) along with some lime juice and a bit of maraschino juice for colour. Once again, grenadine is a great way to bloody things up, especially if you aren’t keen on eating somebody’s mother for dessert.

Cemetery Sideroad

1 oz tequila (I used Reposado Espolon)

0.5 oz Triple Sec

0.5 oz Cognac

0.5 oz lime

2-3 drops mole bitters

splash of maraschino cherry juice (optional)

grenadine

blood orange soda (optional)

Add all alcohol, lime, bitters and cherry juice to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for 15-20 seconds. Pour into a coupe glass. Garnish with a dried lemon or orange wheel and bloody it up with grenadine. Top with a splash of blood orange soda if you want a less boozy taste.

Cemetery Sideroad

I’m looking for a cemetery sideroad
I’m screaming like a lighthouse lamp
I’m chasing after what I think that I’m owed
Like a French foreign legion tramp

Cemetery Sideroad- The Tragically Hip EP

My Hip Cocktails: In Sarnia

When the summer was coming to a close, I decided to mettle with cocktails which used beer as mix. With the re-emergence of countless numbers of craft beer, the possibilities are endless. One of my favorite Ontario microbreweries is Refined Fool in Sarnia, so it was a no-brainer to try and construct a beer based refreshment using their Canatara!, a Berliner Weisse named after one of Lambton county’s more well known beaches. With low bitterness and hints of passionfruit, I thought it would be perfect to finish off a beer cocktail.

The song “in Sarnia” was featured on the Hip’s last album…Man Machine Poem. It’s a bit of a haunting tune, especially when you watch Gord bellow out the lyrics during the farewell tour. Rumour has it the song was initially called “Insomnia” and the name was changed much to the delight of inhabitants of the Imperial City.

I tried a few versions of this cocktail using gin and bourbon and surprisingly felt that it worked best with the latter. I used a bit of peach nectar to complement the passion fruit and balanced it with some fresh lemon juice. Unlike most drinks where the mix is meant to compliment the booze, I would say in this case the booze is there to compliment the beer. Don’t get me wrong…a Canatara! on its own is just fine but I think beer-infused cocktails are an underappreciated art…much like Man Machine Poem album itself.

In Sarnia

1 oz of bourbon

0.5 oz peach nectar

0.5 oz lemon juice

Combine ingredients in a glass with ice and mix. Transfer to a highball glass without the ice and top with chilled Refined Fool’s Canatara! beer. Serve with a lemon slice.

You’re in my heart
And in my pocket and in my eye
In my blood
Sarnia
You’re on my mind

In Sarnia, Man Machine Poem- The Tragically Hip.

My Hip Cocktails: The Darkest One

One might call a traditional Dark ‘N Stormy a seasonless drink. The ginger beer gives enough lightness for the summer and the dark rum can make it’s consumption in the colder months justified. I thought I’d modify the classic to make it even darker and stormier and at the same time pay homage to one of the most iconic tragically hip songs (or at least videos) in their long lineage of musical Canadiana (see below).

“The Darkest One” is a track from the underrated “In Violet Light” album and as mentioned is probably more well known for the video. It’s cast includes the band, a clowder of cats, the trailer park boys, and Don Cherry as a chicken delivery guy years before Uber eats. The boys trade the other boys 2 buckets of chicken (which I will assume was Mary Brown’s) for a car engine only to have the plethora of felines dine feverishly on the delivery. It’s a Canadian tragedy so to speak.

I started with the foundations of the dark n’ stormy…dark rum and ginger beer. In order to up the ante, I added lime and balanced it with a coffee simple syrup I made from Detour coffee roasters out of Hamilton. Finally, I added a little Amaro Sibona, an underated digestif (which has tastes of vanilla and root beer) which collectively made the cocktail both darker and stormier. I was happy with the result..it offered a little more dimension than the traditional drink yet kept its diversity as a year round option.

Although Gord is no longer with us, Don has been shunned and some of the cats may have succumbed by eating too many “little bones”, the Darkest One will forever be an example of all things Canadiana.

The Darkest One

1.5 oz of dark rum

0.5 ounces of Amaro Sibona

0.5 ounces of lime juice

0.5 oz of coffee simple syrup (1/2 brewed coffee, 1/2 sugar)

Mix above ingredients in a Collins or highball glass and top with ginger beer (I used fever tree)

Lime Garnish

Where the wild are strong
And the strong are the darkest ones
And you’re the darkest one
Oh you’re the darkest one
And if that’s what you want
Oh then you’re the darkest one

-The Darkest One, In Violet Light, The Tragically Hip

My Hip Cocktails: Honey, Please

I love honey and I think it goes great in a cocktail. I also wanted to take advantage of some fresh rosemary I had in the fridge so I boiled up an infused simple syrup. Using pear as the foundation (it also helped that I had some Dillon’s pear bitters kicking around), gin as my spirit and Fever Tree ginger beer as the mix, I dreamed up the “Honey, please”. This cocktail is a homage to the song from the 2009 “We are the Same” album. Gord Downie once described the song as being about somebody who makes you realize that everything you mean and feel is on the other side of this feeling. In other words, someone who can change your perspective and get you out of a rut when you need it. I guess you can say that booze does the same thing. It’s a particularly catchy Hip song partly because of Bobby Baker’s use of the mandolin which is reminiscent of an old Zeppelin tune mixed with Losing my Religion by R.E.M.

Honey, Please

1.5-2 ounces gin (depending on strength preference)

0.5 ounce rosemary simple syrup

0.5 ounce fresh lemon juice

1 ounce pear nectar

Few dashes on Dillon’s Pear Bitters (optional)

0.25 ounces honey

Mix all ingredients in a shaker with ice and pour into a high-ball or collins glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a fresh rosemary sprig.

Honey, maybe everything you need
Is on the other side of this feeling
Honey, please

-Honey, Please, We Are the Same