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Barchef, 472 Queen West, 416-868-4800, barcheftoronto.com
BarChef owner/mixologist Frankie Solarik seems like a strange choice for a DIY home cocktail tutor. He certainly has cred: Food Network appearances, book deals and accolades from at home and beyond, including BarChef's designation as one of world's top seven bars by Food & Wine magazine.
But what about the novice drink-mixer who lacks a showman's knack for blow-torching?
"It works for them, too," says the towering, tattooed Solarik. "As the cocktail craze evolves, people want to put more time and effort into the drinks they're making."
Solarik's recipe for the Bastille teems with spices. Though not as challenging as the bar's molecular offerings, it involves dexterity, particularly in the cocktail's final touch: a slice of orange zest ignited overtop the drink to "layer the surface with a beautiful tone of caramelized orange."
It also uses homemade cherry and vanilla bitters, for which Solarik supplies a recipe below, but store-bought Peychaud's is a decent substitute, and simple syrup (see mixes, page 29) can stand in for lemon rind, star anise and clove syrup.
Solarik has faith in the at-home bartender. "The Bastille involves a bit of work, but it's easy enough to do," he says.
1¾ oz vanilla-infused cognac
¼ oz cherry and vanilla bitter
¼ oz lemon rind, star anise and clove syrup
½ oz sweet vermouth
Place all components in shaker, add ice, stir, strain into chilled coupe glass, garnish with flamed orange zest.
Lemon rind, star anise and clove syrup
Place 1 litre of water and 500 mls of sugar in a pot with 38 grams clove, 25 grams star anise, 20 grams of black peppecorns and the rind from one lemon. Simmer until sugar dissolves. Turn off heat and let syrup cool to room temperature. Serve.
In 60 oz infusion jar, place 6 vanilla beans (sliced lengthwise). Top with cognac. Infuse for one to three months, the longer the better. Strain and serve.
Cherry and vanilla bitter
In 60 oz Mason jar, place 1 litre pitted cherries, 2 bourbon vanilla pods (sliced vertically), 30 grams star anise, 20 grams clove, 20 grams green cardamom pods, 10 grams black pepper corns, 30 grams fennel seed, 4 liquorice root sticks, 3 cinnamon sticks. Top with rye. Infuse for one to three months. Strain and serve.
Krak N' Nog
At County General (936 Queen West, 416-531-4447, thecountygeneral.ca
Eggnog: you either love it or hate it. Some can't resist its frothy, warming goodness. Others see it as a runny, tooth-decaying mess of raw eggs and goo.
Jeff Carroll, manager of beverage development at the County General, credits the bad rap to those who haven't had a good homemade version.
"Premixed eggnogs come in cartons around this time of year," says the cocktail guru, who recently moved from Toronto Temperance Society to take over the drinks program at the County General. "But nothing beats the satisfaction you get from making it yourself with fresh ingredients."
Carroll's single cocktail requires a cocktail shaker, but for those who don't have one, he offers a family-size version made in a blender instead. The drink lasts for a few days refrigerated. Use pasteurized egg white and it'll last a few days longer.
Single cocktail recipe
1 whole raw egg
1 oz Kraken rum
½ oz brandy
¾ oz 2% milk
2 pinches spice mix (fine ground clove, nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon)
½ oz simple syrup (half sugar, half water. See bar mixes, page 29)
Shake hard in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a glass with a little ice.
Recipe for family size
4 whole raw eggs
5 oz rum
2½ oz brandy
4 oz milk
3 teaspoons spice mix (same as above)
2 oz simple syrup
Put in a blender - don't add ice - and blend for 20 seconds. Refrigerate. Serve well chilled with a little ice. Note: you can substitute honey, maple syrup or other sweeteners for the simple syrup.