Don’t fret yet, there are still a few days to go until Father’s Day. But if Sunday rolls around and you find yourself without a gift on your way to meet up with pops, Sean McCoy has you covered with a bottle of rum or whisky, and some craft cocktail recipes.
“You want to be able to pick up a few ingredients quickly and easily, so all ingredients are accessible from the grocery store, which is usually beside an LCBO” says McCoy, father, bartender, and owner of Aperitivo, which serves up small plates and hand-crafted cocktails from their Kanata Centrum hide-out.
Sean McCoy is clearly a dad with an understanding of dads, family dynamics, and making sure family get-togethers are laid back and fun. Cocktails are not only a last-minute life-saver, they’re a lush largesse everyone can enjoy.
If you’re reading this even just a few hours before meeting up with dad, wow him with a home-made syrup. “Doing syrups at home are very easy” says McCoy, who uses this vanilla syrup in his “Perfected Storm” cocktail.
In a small pot, mix 1:1 sugar to water. Bring it to a rolling boil. Once the sugar is dissolved take it off the heat, drop in one or two vanilla beans. Leave the bean in until it comes down to room temperature. Keep the beans for another syrup-making session. McCoy uses his up to six times. Refrigerate. “You can add a splash of vodka to it to keep it fresh longer in the fridge,” says McCoy.
Traditionally done with a spiced rum, the Dark and Stormy cocktail is a classic. For his “Perfected Storm” cocktail, McCoy suggests using a complex rum and adding spice to it. For the “spiced” effect McCoy uses apple cider and vanilla syrup.
“Just by taking a little bit of vanilla syrup, and adding some apple cider, now you’ve got that flavour that is in that spiced rum.”
1 1⁄2 oz. Appleton Estate Signature Blend
1 ounce apple cider
Pour 1 1⁄2 oz. of Appleton Estate Signature Blend into a rocks glass. Ounce of apple cider. Add a small squirt of vanilla syrup and a small squeeze of lemon juice. Add ice and top with ginger beer.
“For anyone who’s going to enjoy a nice stiff drink — but if you don’t like the taste of whisky on its own, this might be a bit challenging.” A good Old Fashioned is sometimes hard to find. “It’s my one drink I get no matter where I go, it’s my way to test the bartender,” says McCoy. McCoy’s recipe is a classic. With nutty aromas of hazulnut and toffee, finished with marmalade and spice on the backend. If dad likes whiskey, he’ll be impressed with this simple cocktail.
1 raw sugar cube
1 blood orange wheel
2 oz. Forty Creek Whisky
Soak raw sugar cube with Angostura bitters, drop into a rocks glass. Add a splash of water and the blood orange wheel (blood oranges are getting harder to find in local grocery stores, so it is easy to substitute more seasonal oranges, like mandarins as these have a similar sweet flavour) and muddle. Pour in 2 oz. of Forty Creek Whisky, add ice and stir until glass is chilled.
Although the food and drink menus have gone through over a dozen iterations, “this cocktail has been on our menu since day one,” says McCoy. It’s a crowd-pleaser because the sweetness can be individually tailored. Hibiscus is the sweet component, with a bit of lime to help with the sour end of it. McCoy gets his wild hibiscus flowers in syrup from Grace in the Kitchen.
Like a sour, mix it up to form that foam layer on top. Unlike a sour, which would normally have an egg white to create the foam layer, this cocktail omits the raw egg. Instead, the properties of the hibiscus combined with the lime have the same effect.
1 1⁄2 oz. Forty Creek Whisky
Juice from 1⁄2 a lime
1 tsp. hibiscus syrup
Candied hibiscus flower for garnish
Pour 1 1⁄2 oz. of Forty Creek Whisky into a cocktail shaker, add in juice from 1⁄2 a lime. 1 tsp. hibiscus syrup and fill with ice. Shake and pour into a rocks glass. Top with pineapple juice. Garnish with candied hibiscus flower.
So, what will Sean be drinking on Father’s Day? “Whisky straight,” he laughs. “Followed by an Innis and Gunn lager.”