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: 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

Review:Toronto:Entertainment District:Beverley Hotel (Part 2)

A second visit to the Beverley Hotel was warranted since the first time I went it was quite early in the restaurant’s existence.  Since then the menu has expanded but continues  to mix modern food trends with some old style go-to dishes.

Last time I dropped by for a late lunch, sat in the front and did the burger and kale ceasar salad.  Both are still available although slightly modified, likely based on seasonal availability (for example watermelon has diappeared from the burger likely since it is a little more palatable in later summer vs late autumn). This time I dropped by for dinner and a couple of cocktails and was seated in the back.  I really like the Beverley’s ambiance.  There is ample seating and table space within a classy yet trendy ambiance. I was quickly greeted by a pixie of a waitress; a friendly lass who buzzed around the room like a colourful hummingbird.   As the night went on there were a few times I thought she flew away though because she was a bit absent. She offered a cocktail from a list ranging from $12-14.  Since gin is usually my poison of choice and I can’t turn anything with any part of an egg in it, the “Jane Doe, I loved you so”seemed the obvious choice with gin,  brûléed pear, honey-ginger num-num, fresh lemon juice,egg white and orange bitters. It sounded fancier than it tasted but still hit the spot.

Jane Doe, I Loved you So $12
Jane Doe, I Loved you So $12

Perhaps the waitress had put me in the mood to luau because I was partial to the seared ahi tuna poke.  It was quite the Hawaiian adventure from the coconut cream to the pineapple to the taro chips.   The only thing missing was a lei and a witty line from Scott Caan. For $12, it was a nice snack. The tuna had a good sear and the supporting ingredients provided a blend of heat and acid and an array of textures.

Seared Ahi Tuna Poke $12
Seared Ahi Tuna Poke $12

The week before I went here I was in Montreal indulging on Chuck Hughes’ iron chef winning lobster poutine so I couldn’t help but be intrigued by Beverley’s surf and turf offering.  It violated the standard rules of poutine; hollandaise instead of gravy and the normally gooey cheese curd was fried to a crisp amongst the mound of potatoes.  There was lots of surf and even more turf in the form of chunky lobster claw and tender beef short rib respectively.   It was a mess…..a yummy, tasty mess.  The fries, often overlooked in favour of the supporting ingredients may have been dug out of a magic garden (watered daily by my waitress no doubt) because they were golden delicious.

Surf and Turf Poutine $16
Surf and Turf Poutine $16

I love pork,I love beans,I love fried eggs and I love sausage so the pork and beans were an easy choice.  Pork and beans are one of those dishes that can be so simple but so easy to screw up. The pork belly was terrific…check.  The beans were tender…check.  The egg, although a little crispy around the edges, had a soft, runny yolk which just makes magic. The sausage was decent although not really necessary.  The sauce passed the test although it seemed a bit heavy on the cumin (a fact I don’t really mind).

Pork and Beans $20
Pork and Beans $20

The big pasta was…well…a big bowl of pasta.  I’ll be the first to admit I would fail an aptitude test involving matching pasta shapes to their names and couldn’t get the image of a smurf hunting wizard out of my head when I read garganelle.   So, I did what every other self-righteous blogger would do and googled it while pretending to check the weather forecast for the walk back to the hotel (hey..admitting it is the first step). Anyway, garganelle look like huge penne.  Visually, the big pasta was a big mess. Taste wise, it was decent.  The meatball was tasty and the Sunday gravy (an Italian chunky tomato sauce not to be mistaken with my British Isles understanding of Sunday gravy as being lumps of flour mixed with what little liquid is left after a horribly overcooked cut of roast) was a little sweet.  The pasta flirted with being overdone but passed the test.  In the end, it was tasty but just a little limp.

The Big Pasta $19
The Big Pasta $19

During the meal I had to succumb to rather dapper barkeep’s power of persuasion. Stout, cognac and egg white have no business being combined in the same drink. No wonder it’s called Weird Dreams.  Although I can’t say it lived up to it’s promise, it was an oddly tasty concoction.

Weird Dreams $14
Weird Dreams $14

I finished the night doing something I rarely do…sip an ounce of gin. The waitress had asked if I’ve tried Dillon’s gin which is the product of a small distillery in the Niagara region.  I hadn’t heard of it but was curious to see how it would stack up against the gin makers from the same country that scarred my love for Sunday gravy.  It was an incredibly smooth gin. Last year there was a bottle of Bombay under the tree for me…this year I’m hoping for Dillon’s.  Perhaps I can speak to my waitress because I’m pretty sure she works at Santa’s workshop on her day off.

My Take

The Beverley hotel promises to fill the void between the wild, wild Queen Street West and the stuffy confines of the Yonge Street strip and for the most part it succeeds.  Like the decor, it has a menu that’s classy but trendy. I still remain fascinated by the staff who have all the attributes to star in a good sitcom.  On this particular night, the Phoebe Buffay of the cast was more than happy to make sure my water glass was full.  She was sweet but a bit scattered….kind of like the big pasta doused in Sunday gravy.

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