August 20, 2020, TORONTO – Amidst both fanfare and trepidation, the NHL has returned to play after a four-month shutdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As odd as it will be to have hockey playoff games in August, fans are also starved to see their favourite teams on a quest for the Stanley Cup. Five Canadian teams remain in the mix in an attempt to end a lengthy 27-year drought since a team based north of the 49th parallel has won the NHL championship.
To help fans cheer on their favourites, Corby Spirit and Wine offers some drink ideas and recipes that reflect each of the Canadian cities still in the hunt. Going from east to west:
- Montreal — In keeping with the team’s nickname, try a Habitant. In a cocktail shaker, mix two parts Pike Creek Whisky, ¾ of a part each of fresh lemon juice and maple syrup and two dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters. Add ice, shake and strain into a chilled glass.
- Toronto — Mix up a cocktail named after the city itself, Toronto, made with the city’s original whisky, Gooderham & Worts. In a mixing glass, pour two parts G&W with ¼ part Fernet Branca, ¼ part Demerara Syrup and two dashes of Angostura Bitters. Add ice and stir then strain into a chilled glass. Squeeze zest across drink, give it a twist and place in the drink.
- Winnipeg — Pour the Jets’ jersey into a glass with a Blue, White and Red cocktail. The process of making this drink is key. In a highball glass, pour one ounce of grenadine for the bottom layer, then fill the glass with ice. In a shaker filled with ice, combine a shot of vodka with three ounces of lemonade and shake until chilled. Press the back of a spoon against the inside of the glass just above the grenadine, and carefully pour the vodka-lemonade mixture into the glass. Measure out one ounce of blue curacao, and gently pour it into the glass, also over the back of a spoon.
- Edmonton — Join the Oilers’ Orange Crush with the drink of the same name. To mix a simple Orange Crush, in a shaker with ice, pour a shot of Polar Ice Vodka and three ounces of orange juice (or the juice of one large navel orange). Shake and strain into a chilled glass with ice. Top with lemon-lime soda and enjoy.
- Calgary — Canada’s signature drink, the Caesar, was first crafted in a Calgary hotel more than 50 years ago. For the classic, rim a tall glass with a lime and celery salt. Add ice, a dash of Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce, salt, pepper, a shot of Polar Ice vodka and clamato juice. Garnish with a stalk of celery and lime wedge.
- Vancouver — Named after a slang term for a Canadian, the J.P. Wiser’s Strong and Free is a great match with the Canucks. This bright and bubbly drink is made by combining a shot of J.P. Wiser’s Triple Barrel Rye with a shot each of Aperol and Dubonnet and two shots of sparkling wine in a highball glass with ice. Stir and garnish with an orange slice.
Besides these cocktails, the J.P Wiser’s Alumni Whisky Series honours nine retired greats with their own whisky, each crafted in a way that reflects the player on the bottle — and all of the players have played for Canadian teams in the playoff hunt. Each of these whiskies is a one-time release and therefore may be difficult to find. But if you can, keep an eye open for representatives of Montreal (Larry Robinson, Guy LaFleur or Yvan Cournoyer), Toronto (Darryl Sittler, Wendel Clark, Lanny McDonald, Dave Keon), Edmonton (Mark Messier, Paul Coffey), Calgary (Lanny McDonald) and Vancouver (Mark Messier).