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Sip Some Sunshine 

Cocktails Anyone?
by Sheila Swerling-Puritt

With the Loonie at par with the American Eagle, Canadians can finally afford a holiday abroad this year. For some, that means a trip to slopes. For others, it means satisfying a thirst for foreign countries.

Wherever you may find yourself, you're likely to run into Grand Marnier, the Cognac based liqueur infused with delicious dried orange rind from the Caribbean, "Citrus Bigaradia." This venerable product is sold every 2 seconds around the world. Its biggest fans are Icelanders, who consume 4 glasses per person per year! I wonder if that applies as well in Gimli, Manitoba, home to the largest Icelandic population outside of Iceland.

Even if you stay home this year, holiday gatherings are a great opportunity to warm your friends and family with the sunny orange or smoky character in delicious mixed drinks like these:

Red Dragon

  1. Fill shaker with ice.
  2. Add
    • 1½ oz. Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge Liqueur
    • ½ oz. Pravda vodka
    • ½ oz. Grenadine
    • 1 oz. red fruit coulis or syrup
  3. Add 2½ oz. iced tea.
  4. Shake well. Serve in tall glass

Grand Sun

  1. Fill shaker with ice.
  2. Add
    • 1½ oz. Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge Liqueur
    • ½ oz. Sake
    • 2½ oz. freshly squeezed orange juice
    • ½ oz. Soho Lychee Liqueur
    • Splash of Grenadine
  3. Shake well and serve in tall glass over ice.
  4. Garnish with a fresh or canned lychee.


Destination Mexico?

I have been rediscoving Mezcal, the spirit with the worm in the bottle which I knew from my stint studying in Mexico. I had a few serious complaints about it back then, but today's Mezcal is a revelation. For starters, forget the worm. It was used as a marketing gimmick, to mask the chemical taste of poorly produced Mezcal. The new versions of this spirit, just starting to appear in Canada, are soft, elegant, and a worthy competitor for Tequila.

Mezcal, "Tequila's forefather," has been made by indigenous Mexican peoples in and around Oaxaca since the Spaniards arrived with distillation technology in the 16th Century. The base can be any of 11 types of agave native to Mexico. (Tequila is distilled from only one variety of agave, the Agave Tequiliana Weber Azul or Blue Agave found in Jalisco.) Mezcal must contain 100% Agave spirits and be bottled at source.

Aficionados love Mezcal (especially the Del Maguey Single Village Mezcals) on its own served in a Scotch glass or Brandy snifter. Mezcal also mixes well in cocktails like these:

Fire God #3 (similar to a Bloody Mary)

  1. Place 2 oz. Mezcal in a blender.
  2. Add 1 jalapeno pepper (remove seeds if you want a milder drink).
  3. Add ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro leaves. Blend well.
  4. Strain into 4 oz. seasoned tomato or Clamato juice, Mix.
  5. Pour over ice into a highball.
  6. Garnish with a lime wedge.

If you can get your hands on a fresh watermelon, here is a wonderful refreshing drink:

Watermelon Margarita

  1. Find a ripe watermelon and cut it into ¾" cubes. Remove the seeds. Place in freezer bags and freeze (Don't crowd the bag, so the cubes won't lump together).
  2. Into a blender, place 4 fresh mint leaves and scrape in some vanilla bean (to your taste).
  3. Add the juice of 1 medium lemon and ½ a lime.
  4. Add 4 oz. Mezcal.
  5. Add ¾ oz Grand Marnier.
  6. Add 2 cups of the frozen watermelon cubes. (This way you don't need ice cubes to dilute your drink.
  7. Blend.
  8. Pour into large margarita glasses (or large martini glasses).
  9. Garnish with sprigs of fresh mint.


For more information, you can contact Sheila at




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