Introducing my new booze blog

Ladies and gentlemen, it brings me great pleasure to announce my new booze blog, That Sweet Burn.

Some of you may have noticed my links to the site via Twitter, Facebook and so on already, and have asked what it’s all about. This post explains it.

The name is of course a reference to the tickle and sting that accompanies a swig of the finest hooch.

I’m not sure the interweb necessarily needed a whole new booze site, as there were plenty of fine ones to begin with (check out the blogroll over there). But I just had so many thoughts about beer and cocktails and liquor, and only one chance a week to share them at The Appetizer over at the National Post. And whereas the Post is written for a general audience, TSB can delve into the geekier aspects of liquorology when I feel so inclined.

So there we are. I hope you enjoy.

P.S. I would be much obliged if you would do me the honour of following me on Twitter at @ThatSweetBurn.

P.P.S. I’ll be launching yet another blog here soon.


Hey Starbucks, make 5 p.m. taste like it does in Milan

The ideal Friday afternoon, including a glass of Lillet Rouge and an Americano (the cocktail, not the coffee)

I’m not a big fan of chain coffee shops generally, and I don’t normally dole out free advice to companies charging more than $3 for a fancy cup of joe. But with the news last week that Starbucks is expanding its list of stores serving alcohol, I feel compelled. If they do this thing right, the experiment could change North American after-work culture for the better.

Forgive the cynicism, but I had feared critter plonk, bland lagers and Skinnygirl Margaritas. But the reality is that Starbucks appears to be getting this right so far.
Continue reading “Hey Starbucks, make 5 p.m. taste like it does in Milan”

‘Bring a thirst to Nova Scotia and it will be slaked’: Update

Have you ever noticed how many microbreweries and wineries there seem to be in Nova Scotia these days? Not to mention a couple of small distilleries. Back in October, I went to the province to check out the booze scene, with an eye to writing a travel piece about drinking one’s way through Nova Scotia. Fun to do, fun to write.

Cool water seeps into my boots as Ben Swetnam guides me through the fine mist that lingers over the vineyard. It is an October morning, the height of harvest season at Avondale Sky Winery. Ben plucks a cluster of L’Acadie blanc grapes off the vine and hands them to me for a nibble.

Read about the trip here …

[UPDATE] … and about Ironworks Distillery here.

(Both photos by yours truly.)

Updates! Sailing, Scotch, shilling T.O., and Screaming Lord Sutch

So! Interesting couple of weeks.

I was off to Key West, Fla., for a few days this week to go sailing as a guest of Mount Gay rum, which HAVE I MENTIONED I ENJOY VERY MUCH?

(Actually, I have endorsed it on more than one occasion. So I don’t really feel bad about accepting a junket from Mount Gay. It’s only payola if you don’t like the product – right?)

Key West is a pretty cool place: soaked in sunshine, littered with Ernest Hemingway memorabilia and populated with crusty-looking sun-dried barflies who probably don’t give the first shit about anything. I guess the most laid-back/burnt out Americans end up at the bottom of the country like so many played-out pinballs. One day soon I will write more about Key West, Florida’s spic-and-span, SpongeBob SquarePants-esque old-timer’s answer to New Orleans.

Also, they let me pilot a $3-million boat.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of what I’ve been …


I thought I’d get more flak for calling Toronto the most exciting city in Canada while also making the point that it should learn some self-promotion mojo from New York.

Continue reading “Updates! Sailing, Scotch, shilling T.O., and Screaming Lord Sutch”