– Story by Tess van Straaten
Sitting at the bar of the Oak Bay Beach Hotel’s Snug Pub on a stormy winter day, I slowly sip a delicious drink that warms me from the inside out. It’s a sazerac, which is a New Orleans version of a whiskey or cognac cocktail. The Snug’s concoction, called a winter sazerac, is made from rye, Fernet-Branca bitters, and spicy cinnamon and clove syrup.
“I’m a big fan of simple, classic cocktails and this is just a more modernized, wintry version,” says Oak Bay Beach Hotel food and beverage manger Christian Sealey. “Rather than the traditional addition of Peychaud’s bitters and a sugar cube, I add Fernet-Branca and the cinnamon/clove syrup. It’s the perfect winter warmer because it warms the soul!”
A short stroll away, at Vis-à-Vis Bouchon & Bar on Oak Bay Avenue, I sample their winter hot toddy offering — a tart and lemony Calvados toddy.
“This cocktail was created by Sylvain Gorron, who used to work for us,” explains Vis-à-Vis and Penning Farthing Pub manager Nancy Stewart. “He’s from Bordeaux and travels the world with his partner. The Calvados adds a lovely sophisticated flavour to our hot toddy.”
Sitting outside on the patio, warmed by the overheat heaters, I sip this distinctly different winter warmer, which is made from apple brandy, lemon juice and syrup. Fortified against the cold, I walk a few blocks to de’lish in South Oak Bay for a non-alcoholic, flu-fighting elixir.
“This is a great flu-buster, which is how it came around for us to serve it in the shop,” explains de’lish co-owner Mark Davies. “Customers coming in with colds and flu actually inspired it and it’s a healthy alternative to apple cider. An elixir a day keeps the doctor away!”
|Christian V. Sealey, Food and Beverage Manager at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, prepares a Winter Sazerac. Don Denton photography|
The Snug Pub’s Winter Sazerac
1 3/4 oz Rittenhouse rye
1/4 oz Fernet-Branca
3/4 oz cinnamon and clove syrup
Absinthe to rinse (1/4 oz)
Combine rye, Fernet-Branca and syrup in a shaker over ice and stir until well chilled. Add absinthe to a coupe glass, swirl around and discard. Strain cocktail into glass and twist orange peel over it to release the oils and use as a garnish
|Calvados Toddy with De Vine Barrel Aged Apple Brandy Pomme at Vis-A-Vis. Don Denton photography|
Vis-à-Vis’ Calvados Toddy
2 oz De Vine Barrel Aged Apple Brandy Pomme or Calvados brandy
1 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz honey syrup
1/2 oz house syrup
Top with hot water
Orange wheel garnish
Combine brandy, lemon juice and syrups in a specialty coffee mug. Top with hot water, stir, and garnish with an orange or lemon slice.
|De’lish server Raissa Souto presents an Elexir, a combination of lemon, honey and ginger and tumeric. Don Denton photography|
The De’lish Elixir
3 litres of water
Juice of 6 lemons
150 grams of peeled and sliced ginger
2 Tsp ground tumeric
(or 50 grams fresh tumeric peeled and sliced)
1 cup of honey (vary to suit your sweetness level)
Bring all ingredients to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Pour into large container and cool overnight. Strain into new container and use as needed. It will keep in the fridge for up to a week. Warm before serving and garnish with a slice of lemon.