Fifteen Basic, Practical Things Most People Don’t Know about Drinks

1• A martini should contain gin, not vodka, and for a garnish you’ll probably find a lemon twist tastes better than an olive.

2• (Meaning yes, James Bond is wrong to ask for his martinis shaken.)

3• Fancy cocktail bars use such big ice cubes because it melts slower, thanks to a smaller surface­-to-­volume ratio. (That being said, there’s certainly evidence that this nugget of scientific wisdom, common among bartenders, is exaggerated.) 

4• Sherry, vermouth, port and madeira are all varieties of wine. When opened, you keep them in the fridge to preserve flavour. (That crusty old vermouth bottle on your bar? It’s stale. Pitch it.)

9780143111269[Cough] You’ll learn all of these things and more in my book, Drinks: A User’s Guide

Continue reading “Fifteen Basic, Practical Things Most People Don’t Know about Drinks”


A couple of reviews for Drinks: A User’s Guide

My book was released on Tuesday, Sept. 20 and it’s been really gratifying seeing people open up those delivery packages and copies (that’s my friend Lara’s copy above …).

A couple of publications have also weighed in, and here are their reviews (with some tl;dr synopses). 🍸

“While other books offer in-depth guidance on wine or beer or cocktails, [Drinks] provides blunt yet witty comprehensive guide to all … highly recommended.”
— Library Journal Continue reading “A couple of reviews for Drinks: A User’s Guide”

Toronto Star interview, with quick martini lesson!

The Toronto Star‘s Katrina Clarke interviewed me for the Sept. 17 paper, and (fellow former National Postie) Rene Johnston shot the photos and a little video of me demonstrating how to make a martini. Thanks to both of them for making it so fun to do, and to The Harbord Room for lending us their beautiful space.

Check it out here! 🍸👍🍸👍🍸👍🍸

Some easy drinks for New Year’s Eve


With New Year’s approaching, I’m already getting the annual round of requests over social media asking me to suggest drinks to prepare for friends and family (and foes?) over the holidays.

Here are some suggestions from years past, which still works this year … and will work next year, and the year after …

First, a big thingy of champagne cup (pictured) never fails. People love it; I think what grabs them is the beguiling hint of Grand Marnier and maraschino. Here’s the old Savoy Hotel recipe, lightly tweaked and modernized.

Champagne cup is terrific for cheapskates because you end up producing a lot of liquid for not a lot of money. As a general rule, cups (which are light punches) and cocktails are clever ways to stretch sparkling wine. Fix the hordes in your house a round of champagne cocktails, perhaps? Or how about one of these beauties? I’ve tested and proven all of these on actual human guests and they have no idea I’m just being economical.

About a year ago, meanwhile, I did a segment for The Social about holiday punches; while fun overall, the setup was a massive pain in the ass — you should have seen my kitchen at the end of prepping what seemed like 20 litres of punch to lug to the studio. Please do have a look, and make use of the recipes, so that the hassle was not in vain. Making vintage punch is simpler than you think, I promise. (Just don’t repeat my mistake and make four different ones in one day.)

Finally, the best stupidly easy winter cocktail is the powerful and minty-fresh action of a stinger. Official.

Update: Here’s my latest National Post column, which has more tips for entertaining on the cheap, including making a round of sparkling, tasty seelbach cocktails and jugloads of cheap-but-good Italian wine.

See you in 2016. Now leave me alone!

Spring drinks: Chianti, Bacardi, saison

Hey, look! Three recent National Post columns:

Saison beer is delicious, but you’ll never find out unless you run out and grab some. (Well, at least if you live in Canada, where shortages and empty liquor store shelves are a way of life, à la pre-1989 Poland.)

• Congrats to Vancouver bartender Mike Shum, who won some sort of Bacardi-sponsored contest for this lovely creation, the Chan Chan cocktail. It’s a daiquiri twist that’s really worth making for yourself at home.

Chan Chan BacardiSM

• Finally, get yourself some Chianti and cook up some red-sauce Italian and fuhgeddaboutit.

My ebook will tell you how to make cocktails (updated with links to buy)

On Dec. 4, my first e-book will be released.

UPDATE: Here’s where to buy it:

Barnes & Noble

Drink Different: A Refreshing Guide to Home Mixology is based on my columns in the National Post, but I rewrote stuff and added to it so that it functions as a primer on making cocktails at home. That’s fun and easier than you might think.

As a teaser, you can read the first chapter here.

Anyway, if you have a thirst, a thirst for knowledge, and an e-reader …

I told the Americans what to drink in Toronto

Imbibe is a quality magazine about drinks based in Portland, Ore.; in my opinion, it’s the most important publication on the subject of drinks that are not wine. Why? Because if you’re a good bartender or booze geek in North America, it’s how you keep on top of the trends, simple as that.

In the current issue, my Destination Toronto piece talks about the great things that have been happening for cocktail and beer drinkers in this burg over the past couple of years. I’m pretty proud of us, so it was really gratifying to do the story. Pick the issue up if you see it! There’s other great stuff in there, including a DIY spiced rum recipe that I plan to make very soon.

Blogging about booze for The Huffington Post

As of this week, I’ve joined HuffPo as a blogger, specifically on the subject of booze. I’m still not sure about the whole writing for free thing,  but people who think a lot more about branding and self-promotion than I do assure me that raising my profile/traffic/whatever is a good thing. OK then.

This is my page at The Huffington Post.

Only one post so far, but it’s a start … here’s an idea: You could subscribe to the RSS and check regularly.