Classic Cocktails – The Blinker

Four years ago was my first foray into mixology. While in Toronto for a CaRMS interview, I had a few nights to check out the city, and decided one night to visit Ame, the recently opened restaurant of Michael and Guy Rubino. For Canadian fans of Food Network, you’ll remember them from their TV show “Made to Order”, which chronicled their experience at their previous restaurant, Rain. You may also recall that Michael was the suave front of house manager and every episode he made a cocktail to pair with Guy’s eclectic, Asian inspired dishes.

I expected the food to be excellent at Ame, but what I didn’t see coming we’re the fantastic cocktails made at the restaurant’s bar. Having been immersed in the world of wine for about 5 years already, I knew scents and flavors, but was unfamiliar with spirits. I barely knew the basics. The only thing I knew was that I generally liked “girly drinks”, but I also liked cognac.  Weird combo, I know.

After having a good, but not great, meal at Ame, I strolled over to the bar to have a few drinks. It was a happening place, with the trendy Torontonians out in force. The bartender, err “mixologist”, was named Moses Malone.  He handed me a cocktail list and I really had no idea where to begin. One side said “classic cocktails”, so I decided to start there. The Sidecar caught my eye as the sole cognac based drink on the menu; given my affinity for the spirit, I decided to have one of those. Moses went into his ritual, carving ice from a large block, deftly measuring out the ingredients, and flaming a lemon for garnish. It all looked pretty cool, but would the final product be worthy of the show?

Walking down the pop aisle at the supermarket today, I passed Grenadine for the thousandth time in my life.  I continued on to grab some club soda, but for some reason, decided that I should go back for the Grenadine.  The only cocktail I know that uses Grenadine is a Shirley Temple, but I’d been coming across the ingredient fairly regularly of late.  After making dinner, I decided to put the Grenadine to use, but where to begin?  I thought I’d seen it used in a recipe from The Violet Hour in Chicago, so I checked through my bank of their recipes.  Nope, not a single cocktail made with Grenadine.  Crap, where had I seen it?  Maybe I’d end up making a Shirley Temple after all.

Hell no!

I don’t have the ingredients for a Shirley Temple, let alone want to drink one.  In reality, I ended up just making the drink for Camille, as I wasn’t feeling all that great.  The alcohol of the year for us is Bourbon by a landslide, so I decided to make a Blinker.  The Blinker’s origins are in the 1930s, and as with any cocktail, there are a myriad variations on the theme.  Generally, it is made using Rye or Bourbon whiskey, grapefruit juice and grenadine or thick raspberry syrup.  A twist of lemon is used to finish the drink.   The bonus here is that Camille has grapefruit-o-philia, so this was an easy decision once I spotted it.

The Blinker

2 parts Bourbon (Maker’s Mark today)

1 part grapefruit juice

1/4-1/2 part GrenadineGarnish: Lemon twist

Shake Bourbon, juice and Grenadine over ice.  Strain.  Rim coupe or martini glass with lemon and serve with lemon twist.

BlinkerIngredients Blinker

I started with 1/4 part Grenadine, which made a pretty stiff Blinker.  Upping the Grenadine to a 1/2 part sweetens it up and makes it a very suitable Bourbon-based drink for beginners.

The Sidecar made by Moses was spectacular.  But I liked cognac, and as a true test, I asked Moses to make a cocktail using my least favorite alcohol, Gin.  The Aviation caught my eye because it also contained Maraschino (pronounced Mar-a-ski-no, not Mar-a-she-no) liqueur, which tastes nothing like the insanely sweet bottled cherries made in North America. But we’ll discuss this liqueur’s origin another time.  Suffice to say, the Aviation was as amazing as the Sidecar, and I was hooked.  It has only been the last year in which I’ve really been into cocktails, many of which I’ll try to chronicle throughout the blog.



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