Classic Mojito


Finally we have some amazing weather in Vancouver. It was so nice I had to run over to the local grocery store and pick up some ingredients for this awesome summer drink.

Classic Mojito


  • 10-12 mint leaves (Save the top leaves for the garnish)
  • 1-2 oz of Rum (I prefer amber as it has a bit more flavour than the white rum)
  • 0.5 or 1 oz Simple Syrup (or use Cane Syrup if you’re going high-end)
  • 1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • Top with Soda Water

This is a build on ice cocktail. First place the mint leaves into your highball class, add the simple syrup and do some muddling. You want to press gently to release the oils from the leaves and not actually break them apart. Then add your rum and lime juice. Fill the highball glass with ice and top off with soda water. Give it a quick stir and you’re ready to chill on a patio or illegally drink on the beach!


Cherry Garnishes


When making quality cocktails they often come with a cherry garnish. There are many types of preserved cherries and these Griottines/Luxardo Maraschino are the main types used to garnish a drink at a respectable bar.

Remember those bright red maraschino (Marr-a-skee-noh) cherries used in cakes and in low-end tiki drinks? Those are typically made from Royal Ann, Rainier, or Gold varieties. They are soaked in a brine containing sulfur dioxide and calcium chloride to remove its natural colour and flavouring. Then they are pitted and soaked in a sweetener for about a month. After that, they are dipped red dye to produce that bright red colour. Originally, Maraschino Cherries were actually made with Marasca cherries from Croatia; which are also used to produce Maraschino Liqueurs.


Now onto the main feature.

Luxardo Maraschino Cherries – These are gourmet cherries. Each jar is 50% Candied Cherries and 50% syrup. There are no thickening agents or preservatives used.
A 400g bottle will typically cost you around $25 in Vancouver. I believe you can buy them from The Modern Bartender(28 East Pender).

Griottines – These are brandied cherries. Made from Morello cherries grown in the Balkans. Handpicked and soaked in Kirsch (Cherry Brandy) and Sugar. A 1 litre jar as pictured above will cost you about $35-40. I picked mine up from The Gourmet Warehouse on Hastings.

Amarena – I have no clue where to purchase these in Vancouver. However, I have tried them before and they are amazing. I’d probably favour these over the Griottines. They are slightly larger than the Griottines and are a little more tart. From what I know, they are made in Italy. From Wikipedia, I learned that it’s an Italian cherry grown in Bolgona and Modena regions of Italy.


Remember to use quality cherries in your drinks. Use real cherries if you have to. Just make sure to keep those crappy bright red Maraschino cherries out of your delicious drink!



Bar Gear and Ingredients

One of the toughest things about starting a bartending set is collecting your barware. I’m going to simplify your search by sharing the places where I go to purchase gear.

Bar Gear

List of Items: Boston Shaker Set, Yarai Mixing Glass, Tovolo Giant Ice Tray, Strainer, Citrus squeezer, Shot Glass (for measuring pours, or you could purchase a jigger), Julep strainer, 2x Hawthorne strainers, Muddler, Paring knife, Metal picks, Barspoon.

The Modern Bartender ( 28 East Pender, Vancouver BC)
This is probably your #1 go to place for gear and ingredients. They have pretty much everything you need from glassware, bar gears, bartending books and an amazing (emphasis on amazing) selection of bitters. They often have seminars which are great for building knowledge and meeting people in the industry. Prices are pretty reasonable. People gotta make a buck to survive! I highly recommend this local shop.

Legacy Liquor Store (1633 Manitoba St. In the Olympic Village)
If you can’t find a certain liquor from the BCLB, Legacy will probably have it. For example your Martin Miller Gin or Luxardo’s Maraschno Liqueur. They also carry a wide selection of bitters on the left side of the wall when you walk in. Prices are usually a few dollars more than your BCLB as they are a private liquor store. Great thing is that they are open 7 days a week, 10 am to 11 pm. Also, they occasionally host a variety of events for wines, beers, and cocktails.

Gourmet Warehouse (1340 E Hastings St, Vancouver)
This is where I bought my Griottines. They are more food based and it’s a great place for people who love cooking. They sell shaker sets, ingredients, and some nice picks for holding your garnishes. I bought a set of metal picks and those weren’t cheap. Great investment though…

Atkinsons (1501 West 6th Ave, Adjacent to Granville St.)
If you like to ball out of quality crystals like me, Atkinsons is great. They have a huge selection of crystal glassware on the second floor. They also sell some quality bartending gear such as Japanese Yarai Mixing Glasses and barspoons.

Ming Wo (Many Locations)
Spouts. This is probably your cheapest place to pick them up other than ordering a set online.

Homesense (Many Locations)
For a bartender on a budget this is a great place to purchase discounted glassware and random items. This is where I picked up my citrus squeezer, strainer, and Tovolo Ice trays.

Aviation Cocktail




  • 2 oz Gin (Martin Miller or Tanq 10 are great)
  • 1/2 oz Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 oz Maraschino 
  • 1/4 oz Crème de Violette
  • Garnish with a single Griottine Cherry

Set ingredients into cocktail shaker with ice and shake well so that you end up with a some ice crystals. Double strain (you will want to filter any lemon pulp) into Martini glass and garnish with a single griottine cherry.


“The Aviation was created by Hugo Ensslin, head bartender at the Hotel Wallick in New York, in the early twentieth century. The first published recipe for the drink appeared in Ensslin’s 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks. Ensslin’s recipe called for 1½ oz. El Bart gin, ¾ oz. lemon juice, 2 dashes maraschino liqueur, and 2 dashes crème de violette, a violet liquer which gives the cocktail a pale sky-blue color.” – Wikipedia

The recipe calls for Crème de Violette is quite difficult to locate. Legacy Liquor store in Olympic Village might carry it. Personally I didn’t include it in the drink I made above because I don’t have it. I have tried the drink at West Restaurant on Granville St. and it’s quite tasty. Without the Creme de Violette, I feel that it’s just not as well balanced and makes the drink taste slightly more sour than it should be. Also FYI, Crème de Yvette is not a substitute for the Violette.


Pink Lady / Clover Club

Pink Lady

  • 1 1/2 oz Gin
  • 1/3 oz Grenadine or Raspberry Syrup
  • 1 Egg white (Optional)
  • Garnish with a Cherry

I recommend using a Champagne Saucer glass for this cocktail.

and a variation of the Pink Lady…

Clover Club Cocktail

  • 1 1/2 oz Gin
  • 3/4 oz Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 Raspberry Syrup (or Grenadine)
  • 1 Egg White
  • Garnish with a Cherry

You could use a Champange Saucer or a Martini Glass for this cocktail

For these two cocktails, load up the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Make sure you shake it really well to mix everything together. You could also do a dry shake (without the ice) for a minute to emulsify the egg white and then add the ice and shake for another 20 seconds. Garnish with a cherry. In my case, I tried to fancy it up with 2 lime peels and a cherry.

The original cocktail, the Pink Lady, has many variations for ingredients. The basic recipe calls for Gin, Grenadine, and Egg white.

When I learned to make this drink, sweet cream was also part of the recipe for the Pink Lady. However, I later discovered that the creamy version is known as a Pink Shimmy.


EDIT (Jan 27, 2013): Important discovery. Grenadine is pretty terrible. It’s just flavoured sugar really. Use Okanagan Spirits!
A bit pricey but for a quality drink, you’ll want this. I’m pretty sure this is what most quality bars making this drink will use.

Grown-Up Rootbeer Float


Love a Rootbeer float but it’s just not “fun” enough? Try boozing it up with some Whisky!

  • Root Beer
  • Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Whisky! (Amount is up to you)


P.S. – I’ve been lazy with the updates. Hopefully I’ll have some more posts soon!

Variation of a French Summer Cocktail


Variation of the French Summer Cocktail I created.

  • 2 oz Chambord
  • 1 oz Vodka
  • 1/2 oz Lemon Juice (could probably use up to 1 oz)
  • 1/4 Rich Simple Syrup
  • Shake and Strain into a Collins Glass with Ice
  • Top with Soda Water or 7-Up
  • Garnish with 2-3 Black Raspberries on a pick. 

I think this recipe could use some fine tuning on the balance of ingredients. Also, here’s another idea for a similar drink.

Use a Cocktail glass, take out the Soda Water and Ice. When putting in the finishing touches, add the oils of a lemon. Garnish with 2-3 Black Raspberries on a pick and also a Lemon Spiral.

Crocodile Cooler


Le Crocodile Cooler!

  • 1 oz Melon Liqueur
  • 1 1/2 oz Vodka
  • 2/3 oz Triple Sec
  • 2 oz Sweet and Sour Mix
  • Top with 7-up Soda
  • Garnish with a Lime wheel, Cherry, and a straw

This is a “Build on Ice” cocktail. Meaning put in your ice and pour the ingredients. For this cocktail, you’ll end up with a nice gradient of colour when you finish pouring your ingredients. Before you drink it, you’ll want to stir it up a little bit to mix it together. Depending on how alcoholic you want your drink to be, just vary the Vodka amount.

Tastes: Pretty awesome, I made mine with 1 oz of Vodka and you can barely taste the vodka. Very refreshing and sweet. Great for a patio drink.



Invention: Blue Tulum

The Blue Tulum

  • 1 1/2 oz Vodka
  • 1/2 oz Blue Curacao
  • 1/2 oz Red Sour Puss
  • 1/2 oz Tropicana Orange/Mango/Peach Cocktail
  • Shake and Strain into Martini Glass. Garnish with a small lemon wheel and zest with lemon

Credits for the name go to my sexy friend Abby. Although she probably picked up this name from some corny reality show.

The ladies seem to dig this drink. As Ivy says, “THIS WAS SO YUMMY! ANOTHER!!”