I am a cocktail-making enthusiast, and this is my season!  So many opportunities to gather!  So many delicious ways to enjoy a winter cocktail!  We’ve had a chance to try all kinds of new offerings, from St. Remy’s new Signature brandy to an alcohol-free amaro from Kickass 89.  New and old, innovation and tradition: these cocktail recipes have it all.

St Remy Paper Plane

St. Remy Paper Plane

A paper plane is traditionally made with bourbon, but when we went to the launch for St. Remy’s Signature Brandy, we loved their brandy version.  St. Remy’s Signature brandy is double matured, first in new oak casks, then in traditional brandy casks.  The result is a very smooth brandy, which suits this boozy cocktail very well.

3/4 oz Amaro Nonino

3/4 oz Aperol

3/4 oz St. Remy Signature Brandy

3/4 oz fresh lemon juice

lemon twist

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.  Serve in a coupe or martini glass with a lemon twist.

Sherry Negroni

Sherry Negroni

You’ve probably heard the term session ale, which describes a lower alcohol beer, but have you heard of session cocktails?  This low-proof riff on the Negroni exemplifies the ethos: swap out the gin with sherry, and you have a sophisticated but not as boozy cocktail.  Sherry appears in a lot of session cocktails because it has the flavourful body of a spirit without the proof.  We’ve paired Harvey’s Bristol Cream with Select Bitter Aperitivo, and the result is rich and layered and oh so good!

1 1/2 oz Harvey’s Bristol Cream

1 oz sweet red vermouth

3/4 oz Select Bitter Aperitivo

orange twist

Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice and stir until well-chilled.  Strain into a rocks glass with a king cube.  Express the oil from the orange twist over the drink.

Villa One Winter Paloma

Villa One Winter Paloma

Even though the Paloma is a classic warm-weather cocktail, I find it especially well-suited to colder months.  It’s fresh and bright and has just the right amount of sweetness to take the pucker out of the grapefruit.  This is an easy-breezy drink that punches above its weight with its flavour.

1 1/2 oz Villa One Tequila

1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon of sugar

soda water

salt or tajine for rim

Rim a highball glass with salt or tajine.  Combine juices and sugar in the glass and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Stir in the tequila, add ice and top with club soda.  Garnish with a grapefruit wedge.

Kickass 89 Ginger Beer Moscow Mule

Kickass 89 Ginger Beer Moscow Mule

I am loving the trend of alcohol-free spirits, and this Kickass 89 Amaro made by local Chef Luke Hayes is a delicious reason why.  89 botanicals make this complex and interesting and will elevate your AF or low alcohol cocktail game.  Use Fever Tree ginger beer for maximum gingery zing.

1 oz Kickass 89

1/2 oz fresh lime juice

ginger beer

mint sprig

Combine Kickass 89 and lime juice in a glass with ice, stir to mix and dilute.  Top with ginger beer and garnish with a mint sprig or citrus wheel.

Creme de Marron (lead photo)

True story: I went to Paris and came home with so much chestnut jam that it made my suitcase too heavy, so I had to remove some of the jam out of my suitcase and put it into my carry on. When I got to security they confiscated it because it was more than 100ml of liquid, and no amount of polite Canadian persuasion could get them to agree that jam is not liquid. I went home a bit sad, but not really because I went to Paris.

I love chestnut jam, and this cocktail turns it into dessert in a glass.  (But first you have to turn definitely not liquid jam into liquid.)  Singleton single malt whisky and Maple Cream Liquor make this so smooth that you will be making multiple servings.  Honestly, this is one of the best cocktails I have ever created.

But are the chocolate bitters essential, Nathalie?

Yes and no.  If you can get them, I highly recommend having them for all of your creamy or coffee-based cocktails.  Chocolate bitters are the icing on the cake, but this will be delicious without.

1 1/2 oz Singleton Single Malt Whisky

3/4 oz Wayne Gretzky Maple Cream Liquor

barspoon of Bonne Maman chestnut jam

2 oz milk

dash chocolate bitters

Dry shake the ingredients in a cocktail shaker to mix them, and dissolve the jam into the other liquids.  Add ice and shake until well-chilled.  Serve in a rocks glass over a king cube.

All images by Libby Roach. Drink responsibly- know your limit- and never, ever drink and drive.