I love hosting friends and stuffing them with cheese and crackers and pickles while they sip some kind of fizzy brightener. It’s what sunny June afternoons were made for.
When I learned about the East Village Resident Ambassador job, I knew I would have to find a way to integrate some social cocktailing into my bid. And a locally inspired, super shareable drink was definitely in order.
I decided early that my drink of choice should aim to live up to the reputation that East Village is building in Calgary. I also wanted to tie into East Village’s “newest, oldest, coolest, warmest” tagline and I wanted to get make sure my friends were in on it.
We enjoyed this process rather a lot.
The “Newest” Part of the Cocktail
When I was concocting the cocktail in my head, I wanted to go with something in season or something with some other local significance. But because I wanted it to be orange, for a not-so-subtle nod to East Village’s branding, “local and in season” didn’t seem like they would be easy to come by.
But then last week The Beltliner diner announced they would be offering free coffee on a Friday morning, and since they happened to be on the newly opened cycle track, we planned to stop in after a brief morning ride.
When we walked inside, there was Cru Juice rep offering (giant) samples of two of their juices. As soon as I sipped on their valencia-blood orange combo, I knew I’d found my mix. On cocktail day, I hopped on my bike and rode to their Bridgeland shop for a couple bottles of the good and very new-to-me stuff.
The “Coolest” Part of the Cocktail
I don’t which came first for me when it comes to Eau Claire Craft Distillery’s Parlour Gin: either I bought some or I was invited to a distillery tour so I could write about the new addition to Alberta’s palate in my blog.
Either way, I ended up hooked on their top-notch spirit. I never questioned that there would be a splash of this Alberta-grown, Alberta-distilled gin in my cocktail. (It doesn’t hurt that the Turner Valley distillery shares a name with Eau Claire, the next-door neighbourhood to East Village.)
The “Warmest” Part of the Cocktail
It’s not hard to gather friends to drink cocktails outside in the sunshine while eating snacks. And it shouldn’t be. I loved how easy it was to bring together good eats (goat brie!) and wonderful people for a couple of hours on a work night. That afternoon I felt very lucky to have such a warm community of friends at my (iMessage-keyboard-tapping) fingertips.
The “Oldest” Part of the Cocktail
When I poured the first sips of my unnamed cocktail for my friends, I told them that I was relying on their wits and minds and good looks to help me come up with a name for it. I told them there were bonus points for them if the name referred to the East Village ‘hood at all.
We reeled off a few: “Not Your Momma’s Mimosa” my mother said. “Orange You Glad You Live Here,” I said, to unambiguous groans. “Time For A Ginmosa,” said Tahiti, who enthusiastically signalled she needed a refill.
Then Bridgeland Mike spoke up. “How about a ‘St. Louis Horse Race’?” he offered. I asked him to explain himself. A St. Louis Horse Race, he said, was an imaginary horse race held in the bar at the St. Louis Hotel. People would place real bets on this completely imaginary horse race and then a real man named George Stevenson called the races. And someone would win the money pot. Mayor Ralph Klein would also hang out there, which often made the Friday afternoon races the place to be for movers and shakers who wanted Ralph’s ear.
Obviously, we had a winner. And it wasn’t an imaginary one. Here’s my recipe, followed by astute reviews from some of my assembled cocktail aficionados for the evening.
St. Louis Horse Race
Serves 5-10, depending on your drinking vessel
1-750 ml bottle chilled sparkling wine or prosecco
3 oz Eau Claire Distillery Parlour Gin
5 dashes orange bitters (we used more of our homemade orange bitters)
350 ml fresh squeezed orange juice (preferably Cru Juice’s The Big O-Valencia & Blood orange)
Small Sprig of fresh thyme
In a pitcher, combine all ingredients except sparkling wine. Pop that cork with some fanfare, either alone in your kitchen or in front of the assembled friends, if you dare. Carefully pour the bubbly into the pitcher. Expect it to fizz up a bit. Now throw another bottle of bubbles in the fridge, because your guests are going to want more.
Serve over ice, in any vessel that makes you feel happy. We used mismatched cocktail glasses for smaller servings. I find refilling a glass at a packed little table to be really satisfyingly homey.
What the Friend-Judges Said
Tahiti: “I could totally drink this at breakfast. In the East Village. Preferably on a patio.”
Jason: “A refreshing kick in the face.”
Eva Pea: “I would use it as my East Village alibi. ‘I had to go to Zoey’s place for a St. Louis Kick in The Face.’ ” (Close enough, Eva Pea!)
Bridgeland Mike: “If there’s one thing to convince me to cross the river from Bridgeland into East Village it would be the St. Louis Horse Race.”
Do you have a cocktail punch that’s your go-to for tricking people into coming over so you can eat a whole round of goat brie? Did you ever attend a St. Louis horse race? Tell me more!
This blog post is part of my bid to become the East Village Resident Ambassador! In that role, I would live in the East Village, an exciting new neighbourhood rising on the banks of the Bow River in the heart of Calgary and tell stories about that life, perhaps over a drink with friends. If you think I’d be good at this gig, you can help by watching my 30-second promo video, sharing it and keeping an eye on my tweets tagged with #EVliving. When you fave, RT and reply to those tweets, you’ll help my chances of becoming the Resident Ambassador.