Gin, Elderflower, Mint Spritz


Guys, my neighbourhood is the best. I don’t want to rub it in or anything, but it is. There is no where else in Vancouver I would rather live. In a city famous for being cold and shiny, Commercial Drive is surprisingly warm. It is full of old Italian coffee shops, parks full of drum circles, and the best butchers in the city. I know all my neighbours, all the people who work at my local green grocers. It is full of the kind of warmth I associate with small towns, but I can still bike downtown in 10 minutes. It is the best. It completely amazes me when I meet people who live anywhere else. Honestly.

The best part about Commercial Drive though, is the summer time. And the best part of the summertime on Commercial Drive, are Drive Days. It’s when nearly 20 blocks are shut down and hundreds of thousands of people flood the streets to eat grilled sardines, drink fabulous coffee, and much to much beer.

It is totally overwhelming, but the best part about our apartment is that is directly on The Drive, which means we can watch the excitement from the fire escape when it gets overwhelming. It also means, that our house is full of people coming and going, and that means, we need lots of drinks on hand.

Jordan, my resident bartender, made these super simple cocktails this time, and I’ve been drinking them every weekend since. They take almost no time to make, easily scale up so you can make them for however many people show up on your door step, and are the perfect refreshing cocktail after eating oysters and getting pushed around in the crowd.


Gin, Mint, and Elderflower Spritz

Per Drink you Need:

1 1/2 oz Gin

3/4 oz Elderflower Syrup

1/2 oz Lemon Juice

3 Mint Leaves

1 dash Lemon Bitters

Soda to Top up Glass

If you are making just a couple drinks:

At the bottom of the glass muddle 2 of the mint leaves. (Press them down with the back of a wooden spoon to release their oils)

Add in the gin, lemon, and elderflower syrup and some ice. Stir until the liquid is very cold.

Top with soda and the bitters.

If you are making these for a crowd (as we often are):

The easiest way to do it it so mix the gin, syrup, lemon, and mint with ice in a martini shaker and shake for a minute or so. Pour them into the glasses top with soda, fresh ice, and the bitters.


Cherry Infused Bourbon Mint Juleps

It’s a funny thing, but in the winter time, I don’t really drink much. I don’t have much of a desire to. People always talk about glasses of red wine and books, and sometimes I agree with them, but mostly I drink tea. Or sometimes hot chocolate. That’s about as crazy as I get.

Summertime though is different. It’s so hot out all the time, and I just always want a cold beer, or a crisp glass of white in my hand. Perhaps too much. Which is why, as I write this, I’m on a cleanse.

Nothing crazy- just 5 days of no booze, no sugar, no flour and no caffeine. Oh, and no dairy.

I’m just feeling like perhaps a bit of a reboot to the system might not be a bad idea. I think my body needs a recharge.

However, on Friday, that will be done. And a long weekend full of long weekend parties will be waiting for me, and I think it will feel good to go into it with my body at full strength. You, however, should go into this weekend with one of these in your hands.

These are Jordan’s creation, and a great one at that. They’re a play off a drink we had at a fabulous bar in Portland a few years ago- the simplest old fashioned with one little twist- the bourbon was infused with perfect summer cherries.

The result was a drink so well balanced and sweet without hardly any added sugar. It was a thing of beauty. So we started playing around with cherry infused bourbon a while back, and this is what we learnt- to do this the proper way, you need to infuse the bourbon for over a month. If you cheat a little and slowly warm the bourbon, while keeping it airtight, you can be drinking these tomorrow.

This was one of the cocktails for Jordans parents big 40th wedding anniversary (lots of pictures to come from that soon!), he played around with it and went away from the super boozy old fashioned into something a bit easier for most to sip- a mint julep with cherry infused bourbon.

He also, being the clever man that he is, omitted the muddling step tradition to a julep and just made a mint simple syrup, but you can do it up proper if you prefer.

Cherry Bourbon Mint Juleps

1lb Fresh Cherries

1 750mL bottle Bourbon

1 cup Sugar

1 cup Water

10 stems of Fresh Mint

Soda Water

Lemon Juice

Remove the stems from the cherries and wash them carefully. Split them into 2 1 litre mason jars.

Pour the bourbon over top, filling until just under the lip.

Close the jars and put them in the bottom of a large pot.

Fill the pot up with water until just below the lids, and put the pot on a burner with medium heat.

Slowly bring the pot to a simmer, let it stay, barely bubbling for 10 minutes, and then allow to cool in the water. The jars should seal.

Wait until they are completely cooled before removing.

Bring the sugar and water to a boil. Remove from the heat and put the mint in. Let steep for 20 minutes, and then remove. Transfer to a sealable container and store in the fridge.

When everything is cooled you’re ready to make the drink!


1 1/2 oz Cherry Bourbon

1 oz Mint Simple Syrup

1 oz Lemon Juice

Stir together on ice and top with soda water!

For the party Jordan made a big jar full of the bourbon, simple syrup and lemon combined, and people just poured it on ice and topped with soda themselves!

Stocking Stuffer Sundays- Apple Spiced Bourbon

At the restaurant I work at I recently served a couple who were seeing each other for the first time since they had broken up. It wasn’t going well, and the guy was clearly trying to combat this the way, let’s be honest here, many of us do, by drinking. He wasn’t drunk by any means but he was definitely out pacing the pretty girl across the table, and after one particularly long silence between them he decided he wanted a shot. She said she didn’t want to join him in that, so I did instead, and when he asked what I wanted to drink I said bourbon.

“Oh, uh, okay… bourbon. Man I’m emasculated right now.”

He shuddered but took it down like a champ, albeit an unhappy one.

I love bourbon. Don Draper drinks Old Fashioneds, and you always read about Hemmingway in his pre-Cuban years sitting down with a bottle of the brown stuff. I’ll confess here, I decided I wanted to be the kind of girl that went to a bar and ordered bourbon, so I drank it until I liked it. This stubborn method has also made me like blue cheese and olives, tastes that are a bit harsh to the uninitiated. I now thoroughly enjoy it, it’s what I always order when I go out, and it’s what disappears the fastest from out liquor cabinet.

Good bourbon is very smooth and round and soft , but also very pricey, so here’s the trick to make even Wild Turkey palatable: you spice it. Several years ago this was told to me by a very talented pastry chef, who said if you bought cheap bourbon and stuck a vanilla bean in it for a day, at the end you would get significantly smoother bourbon, and over the years I have learnt that the more you add, the mellower it gets.

Spices cover a magnitude of sins when it comes to bourbon.

It also, with these spices, tastes just like the holidays. The warmth, the cinnamon, the hint of apple, all makes me forget my tiny messy apartment and fills my head with visions of crackling fireplaces, deep voices, and someone else making dinner. Add a little apple cider to the mix, and you’ve just about got Christmas in a glass.

Once again, the amazing Jen Cook has kindly made us some beautiful labels which you can download for free here. She is all kinds of talented, she made my site here, and she sells vintage clothing here

Apple Spiced Bourbon

1x 750mL Bottle of Cheap Bourbon

2 Apples

1 Cinnamon Stick

1 Vanilla Bean 

1 Black Cardamon Pod

1 Clove

Wash the apples thoroughly, I used soap to make sure all the pesticides were off, or you can buy organic. Either way make sure the flavours of the sprays they use aren’t going into your drinks.  

Chop them up and put them in a large jar. Cover with the bourbon, close the jar firmly and let sit for 2 days.

Carefully split the vanilla bean in half, and scrape the seeds out with a small knife. Put the seeds and the pod into the jar with the cinnamon, clove and cardamon. 

Let these meld in there for another 6 hours, and then strain out, pour into jars. Print up the labels, these can be used as stickers, like I did, or you can tie them on with string. 

Stocking Stuffer Sundays- Mulled Wine Kits with FREE downloadable labels

Jordan introduced me to mulled wine many years ago. The slow cooking of red wine with spices and congac that makes any amount of snow dissapate instantly has been a favourite of mine for some time now, but my love of it really cemented a few years ago when I was in France.

I was just puttering about feeling a bit lonely, it was near the end of my trip, when I stumbled across the most incredible Christmas market. They had closed down about ten blocks of the Champs Elysee and had lined both sides with little white cottages filled with the most wonderful little treats. Candy makers, nut roasters, cutting board sanders, and doll sewers all had stands filled with gorgeous things to eat and buy, but all of it was made better by the vendors who sold “vin chaud”. Hot wine, or as we call it here Mulled Wine is all kinds of wonderful, it’s the most soothing thing I can think of it tastes exactly like Christmas.

Jordan makes a great mulled wine, so we thought we would make these little packages of all the spices you need and sew them together with these sweet tags and attach them to wine bottles, which makes a lovely stocking stuffer or a slightly more personal hostess gift.

So with this recipe also comes a free download for the labels, which are double sided, because of the wonderful generosity of a very dear and extremely talented friend, one Miss Jen Cook. Jen is the genius behind my entire website and my logo, and shes is just about the most patient person I know to put up with me as a client. And when I casually mentioned this project to her she jumped at the chance to do some labels for me.

So, without further ado, here is the recipe, the methodology and the free printable downloads for Mulled Wine Kits. If you do make it I’d love to hear about it so let me know in the comments!

Mulled Wine Kits

Click here for your FREE downloading label

Per Pouch:

1 Long Cinnamon Stick, broken in half

2 Cloves

1/2 Star Anise

1/2 Vanilla bean

1 Long strip of orange zest


Fold a long thin rectangle of cheesecloth in half, making a shorter rectangle.

Place all the ingredients on top.

Fold the Cheesecloth over the spices creating a pocket.

Sew carefully around the spices in a square.

Tie a piece of twine onto the pouch and tie the other end to your label.

Tie around a bottle of wine and c’est finis!

Key Lime Cordial

I relented and bought a new umbrella today. I thought that I wouldn’t need to replace my last lost one because it was May. Because the sun should be shining, and life should be swell but instead it rained all day. And all yesterday, and the day before that. There are these brief moments where the sun almost shines through the clouds and it’s almost like there isn’t a blanket of white and grey over us. And then the moment passes and the sun is completely invisble again. And I go back to day dreams of summer days and picnics on Wreck Beach and drinks on patios watching the sunset.

This is a recipe in preparation for those times, and it also makes use of one of the last reminants of the citrus season, the key lime. This makes an afternoon G & T into something glorious, this with a splash of vodka and some sparkling water is the perfect post work wind down drink. This means you never have to run out to the store to get lemons and limes before a party, because this is better. This is not the lime cordial you buy at the store with fruit juices from concentrate. This is so fresh you can hardly tell it wasn’t squeezed just for your drink. This you want in your house at all times.

Key Lime Cordial

Adapted from the Lime Cordial recipe by Stephanie Alexander. 

*You can make this with regular limes if you can’t find them of course, but there is a soft sweetness to a key lime that elevates this. I’ll admit that they take work, i had to squeeze 30 key limes but I also got over 2 litres of cordial, so that’s okay by me.

**I bought both citric and tartaric acids at a gourmet shop near me, but you can also buy them both at make your own wine stores.

300ml Key Lime Juice (about 30 key limes)*

2kL Sugar

1L Water

30g Citric Acid**

30g Tartaric Acid**

Bring a large pot of water to a boil

Wash 2x 1L jars or bottles carefully then place them and their lids in the pot of water and sterelize them.

In the meantime bring the water and sugar up to a boil.

When the sugar has totally dissolved add in the acids, and bring back to a boil.

Now add the juice and bring it back to a raging boil.

As soon as it hits that mark, turn off the heat. Take the jars out of the water and set them straight on a clean counter. Pour in the cordial leaving a 1/4 inch of head space and put on the steralized lids. It can be tricky to judge how much to pour in because of the bubbles, if your unsure add a little extra.

Allow to cool slowly at room temperature making sure the lids seal properly.

This will keep for ages, and if you don’t feel like sealing the jars it will last a long time in the fridge with a screw cap.  

Something Warm

I had big dreams when I got off work today friends. Big dreams. I was going to make one of those cakes that are made of layers and layers of crepes, ganache, and poached pears. I had it all planned out. Then as I left work I realized it was pouring rain. And I had a flat tire. And I couldn’t find the bike repair place. And then I walked home without an umbrella. It’s a half hour walk. I was cold. Very very cold, the kind of cold that makes your spine hurt because your hunching over so much. And then, I really didn’t want to make 25 crepes. I didn’t want to peel a dozen pears and poach them. What I wanted was to drink hot chocolate and watch season 2 of “Bored To Death” Jason Schwartmans clincically funny television show. So, heres a wonderful recipe for hot chocolate.

You could easily use all milk chocolate or dark chocolate, but I usually have both on hand, so I usually use both. It’s very chocolaty hot chocolate, but using some cocoa powder I find helps thin it slightly, so it’s not just a drinkable ganache. And it’s exactly what you need on a freezing cold rainey day. I’ll make marshmellows soon, I promise. But not today. Today was for whip cream. And it was glorious.

Hot Chocolate

1 1/4 cup Milk

1tsp Cocoa Powder

1tsp Sugar

1oz Milk Chocolate

1 oz Dark Chocolate

  • Whisk milk, sugar and cocoa powder together and bring to a simmer over medium heat
  • Meanwhile finely chop both chocolates
  • Once milk mixture is barely boiling take it off the heat and mix chocolate in until completely disolved.
  • Pour into your favourite mug and top with whip cream!