Well, we didn't expect it so soon or so fiercely, perhaps, but it was inevitable. Winter.
But let's not forget that winter has its benefits - including a chance to focus on indoor pursuits, to create warmth in whatever style suits you. Cocktailing is one such activity (in moderation, of course!) and we have a couple of very special ingredients to mention as we anticipate warm flavours to battle the cold outside.
First, Graeme Foers has a history right here in our neighbourhood but much of his time is spent in the woods handcrafting his Tapped Out Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup. Now, if you ever went to a sugaring off in the bush you might have a memory of taps in the trees and lines running from all around the lot to a tank in the middle. To some people that's quaint and they know that maple syrup operations run the gamut from mom & pop farms to industrial scale evaporation processors. Tapped Out makes even the mom & pops look like a factory floor. He is literally asking each tree for permission to take sap and collecting it individually, keeping the fires burning all season long to make the best maple syrup there is and then aging it in bourbon whiskey barrels brought up from the States.
Nickel 9 Distillery is also very close to home - just a few blocks away in the Junction - and making a mark with a couple of spirits available at LCBO stores. But they've also released this wonderful line of aromatic bitters. Some - like the hibiscus or the lavender citrus or the grapefruit orange - could be used to summon summer in a glass if you're so inclined. But I'm looking at the smoked apple and the cedar cherry bark and the rosemary black peppercorn and thinking I could just lean into winter quite comfortably.