Exotic white spirits
A keen interest in gin has brought white spirits back into favour while barrel-aged spirits like whisky fall by the wayside. We’ll be frequently seeing some lesser known liqueurs replacing more traditional bases in classic cocktails, and even in recipes with botanical flavours, Patrice Plante projects: mezcal, a spirit made from Mexican agave, boasting serious aromatic complexity; cachaça, a sugarcane brandy from Brazil that’s not unlike rum; pisco, a grape-based liqueur hailing from Peru that’s also crafted in Chile; and finally, shōchū or Japan’s “poor man’s spirit”, an alcoholic beverage distilled from rice, barley, buckwheat and sweet potato that’s vodka-like in nature, but with more character.
With all the buzz around craft distilleries, restaurants and bars in Québec started seeking out locally sourced alternatives for familiar cocktails, putting goods from QC on the map. Like what, might you ask? Cranberry vinegar instead of classic lemon juice, grain-based orgeat instead of an almond-based syrup, or even made-in-Québec grenadine, sweetgrass tonic, the list goes on… “People are showcasing local products and, at the same time, we’re reducing our ecological footprint,” the mixologist says smilingly.
Big cocktail trend for 2019: sustainable drinking. With #nostraw having taken over the land in 2018, it’s now time for bartenders to go a step further and adopt a zero-waste policy: recycling kilos of pressed citrus to make marmalades or dried fruit to use in cocktails.
The only salty cocktail to have its very own section in the menu of any bar worth its salt, the Bloody Caesar is the perfect testing ground for a creative mind, according to Monsieur Cocktail. It won’t be about slapping a burger or a pickle on it, but elevating it with carrot, beet or butternut squash juice, turmeric, Montreal steak seasoning or even celery foam. “We’re going to find more and more vegetables in cocktails, and Bloody Caesars make for a fabulous playground!”
Another retro beverage that’s having a 2019 comeback: the shandy. This light drink, a mix of beer and juice or syrup, is currently quite popular in Europe, Patrice Plante points out, “New zero-proof beers crafted by microbreweries are opening new doors. Especially for the consumer who wants little or no alcohol in their drink.” Two winning recipes: non-alcoholic cockwhite beer, bourbon, grapefruit and rosemary, OR cream soda, balsamic vinegar, blueberry grenadine and zero-proof blonde beer.
Patrice Plante is the owner of Monsieur Cocktail (French only). He was named 2018 Québec mixologist of the year at the Lauriers de la Gastronomie québécoise awards. In May 2018, his book, l’Aventure de la mixologie, took home Best in the World in the cocktails category at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.