In Canada we tend to celebrate the end of a busy day with happy hour, a chance to unwind with friends before going home or out to dinner.
But in Europe, dinner is generally later and people linger over aperitifs (from the Latin aperire, meaning ‘to open’) before their meal to celebrate the start of the evening.
It’s a different mind-set but both work for us, so we asked two Alberta mixologists to create French cocktails that we can make at home, to enjoy after the bustle of the day and prepare for relaxation in the evening.
Chef David Omar
Zinc’s French Mystery cocktail is light, bright, and fresh, to stimulate your appetite for dinner. It is made with Grey Goose, a premium, luxury French vodka that is still overseen from field to bottle by its creator, François Thibault.
“For those who have not yet had Grey Goose, this is the drink to have your first experience with,” says Zinc’s chef, David Omar. “They start with their own wheat mill, and it is blended with limestone filtered waters from the Cognac region to give a clean, smooth taste.”
Chef Omar adds St. Germain, an elderberry flower liquor, to his cocktail. “This adds a delicate blend of citrus and pear,” he says. “The combination of the two ingredients is then paired with fresh squeezed grapefruit and rosemary to add more levels of flavour to an already delicate and delicious cocktail.”
1 oz Grey Goose
1 oz St Germain
Splash of fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
Pinch of rosemary
- Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake well to combine the flavours. Strain and pour into a martini glass.
The Wednesday Room, Calgary
“I developed this cocktail originally with inspiration from the classic Sidecar, and it grew from there to incorporate a tea base,” says Wednesday Room Bar Manager, Cody Goss.
Cognac is one of Goss’ preferred spirits to work with as there aren’t yet too many cocktails using it here, but its popularity is rapidly growing amongst young consumers. “What’s more recognisable than Hennessey, bringing that smooth, spiced, and aromatic French spirit to the table,” he says.
Tea is also one of Goss’ favourite ingredients as it enhances the flavour without adding too much sweetness, or distracting from the base spirits. In this recipe he has added lavender and tarragon too.
“They help the chamomile tea blend in with the Cognac while maintaining that spirit-forward Old Fashioned-esque profile that is my personal favourite way to enjoy any premium spirit,” he explains. “And it keeps true to popular French ingredients to maintain authenticity.”
Mercredi Cocktail Number 2
2 oz Hennessey VS
¾ oz French lavender syrup
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 lemon zest
- Combine all ingredients in mixing glass and stir for 10 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass over a single large ice cube to prevent watering down.
- Garnish with a lemon zest expressed (twisted to release the oils) high over the glass and placed in. This coats the whole glass with a thin coat of lemon oil so that the aroma is subtle, but it will also transfer to your hand from the outside of the glass and leave a nice aroma.
French Lavender Syrup
3 cups (750mL) water
200 g white sugar
100 g chamomile tea
12 tarragon leaves
40 g dried lavender
- Bring water to a boil, and add sugar. Turn the heat to low, add tea and steep for 15 minutes. Strain, and let cool before adding tarragon and lavender. Leave the tarragon and lavender to infuse their flavours for 12 to 24 hours.