Posts tagged specialty liquor saskatchewan
Don't Be Sour: Understanding The World Of Bitters

Don’t be bitter, be better.

That’s an old saying that is often used in the world of sports, business and in life in general.

When it comes to our business, bitter is actually better, and for once I’m not talking about a big hoppy, bitter IPA. I’m talking about real bitters. 

Bitters are an ingredient used in many different cocktails, but have you ever wondered why bitters make a cocktail better?

Simply put, bitters are like seasoning for cocktails. Just like salt and pepper gives your food an extra kick, bitters do the same for many different cocktails. Their flavour is usually bitter (as the name suggests), sour, or bittersweet.

The history of bitters isn’t known for sure, but the earliest records of them can be traced back to as far as ancient Egyptians who are said to have made wine infused with medicinal herbs.

Bitters as we know them today were originally developed as medicine, but eventually the use of them as medicinal herbs wasn’t such a popular idea and they began to be sold as digestifs with herbal properties and cocktail flavouring. 

Bitters are typically made with cascarilla, cassia, gentian, orange peel and cinchona bark and historically have been know for their aromatic herbs, bark, root and fruit flavours. 

Bitters can be both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Bitters that have alcohol aren’t used for the effects alcohol creates but rather as an agent to dissolve botanical extracts and as a preservative. For example, in Europe and South America, bitters can often be served after a meal as a digestive, usually enjoyed on the rocks or neat. 

In North America, we tend to use bitters more in cocktails, most notably the famous cocktail, The Old Fashioned that’s made by mixing bourbon, ice, orange peel, and bitters.

At Happy Hour, we stock bitters from a variety of companies including Angostura. This particular bitter was originally developed in Venezula in 1830 but is now made in Trinidad and Tobago. Angostura is made up of herbs and spices in the gentian family of plant. We’ll never know what it’s actually made of as the recipe is a close family secret with only one person knowing per generation. Agnostura is often used in whisky or gin based cocktails. 

If you’re looking for something citrusy, we also carry Dashfire Orange, Lemon and Grapefruit Bitters in our mixology section. These bitters will add a nice fruity touch to any cocktail.

Finally, we also have a selection of bitters from Lucky Bastard Distillers out of Saskatoon. Lacey’s Betta Bitters is made using 11 different botanicals and are great in a Manhattan or Sazerac. Or if you want to get a little wild, try Bowman’s Bacon Bettah Bitters. Lucky Bastard used a single malt whisky base with bacon, Canadian maple syrup, and black peppercorns among other botanicals for a unique taste that is great in Caesars. 

So, now that you know a little more about bitters, how will you give them a try?

Happy Hour's First Birthday

I can’t really wrap my head around the fact that it’s almost been one year since we opened the doors here at Happy Hour.

It honestly feels like yesterday that Allen, Denise, Lyndsey and I (Joel) gathered for the first time in late April last year and started stocking the shelves in the store. It was an exhausting exercise that took a few days to get done. The wine, my goodness, I’ll never forget how long it took to stock the store with the best selection of different wines from around the world. In the end, it’s certainly been more than worth it. 

Thursday, May 11th, 2017 was the day the doors officially opened. Were we ready? In all honesty, probably not. That being said, what we learned that day and over the next few days couldn’t have been replicated in training, it was time to jump in feet first and kind of figure this thing out as we go. 

Being the small business that we are meant that we had no system to plug into.  We didn’t have research teams that knew exactly what we should stock right away, many things we stocked when we opened have left and will never return. With products, it's still a bit of an experimentation game, see what works and what doesn't so that we can provide something that everyone loves. 

Our family has expanded and continues to grow from humble beginnings continues into something we could never have imagined a year ago. Some of us have stepped up into new roles and others have taken the lead in providing a memorable customer service experience. We even have a sister store, A&D Fresh Market, that has been an overwhelming success in a short period of time. 

As much as things have changed over our first year, there are certain values we won’t waver on. First and foremost, we want to make sure that you have the best experience possible every time you step through our doors, whether you’re looking for a case of beer or need advice on what to buy for a special occasion.

No customer is more important than another. We will always be working hard to bring in the newest and best products that you can't find anywhere else. Lastly, we will never forget where we started from. We will continue to support Pilot Butte and area in any way that we can. We want to be a part of the community, not just a business in town. 

Cheers to one year and cheers to what’s next! 

The Mysterious Story of the Margarita

At some point this weekend, there's a good chance you’re going to sit down with a tasty margarita to celebrate one of our favourite booze-related holidays. 

Historically, Cinco de Mayo is a day in Mexico to celebrate the day their military unexpectedly beat the French in 1862, but for most of us, it's become an excuse for us to indulge in amazing food and partake in few celebratory drinks. 

The celebratory drink of choice for this holiday is the margarita. 

The history of the margarita is actually an interesting one as it’s origin seems to be one of those “depends on who you talk to” scenarios. The earliest sign of the drink dates back to 1937 when similar ingredients appeared in the Cafe Royal Cocktail Book but it was known as a Picador. 

One year later, a restaurant owner by the name of Carlos “Danny” Herrara claims to have invented the drink at his place called Rancho La Gloria. The story goes that the drink was created for a customer and a famous dancer known as Marjorie King. King was apparently allergic to mostly every spirit except tequila. 

Another bartender, Don Carolis Orozco also claims to have invented the drink in 1941. He claims that the daughter of the then German ambassador visited his bar that year in October. He had been experimenting with the drink recipe and she was allegedly the first to try and so it was named after her.

By all accounts, it appears the drink made it’s way to the United States in 1947 or 1948 in San Diego and Dallas. 

There are many more stories that have been told about the history of this drink and none have yet to be claimed as the real story leaving the creation of this cocktail still a complete mystery. 

So this weekend, let's raise our glasses to the mysterious margarita and enjoy it whatever way you'd like, on the rocks, iced, or as a punchy mix of fruits and juices because no matter who invented it and when we're sure glad that they did. 

Happy Cinco De Mayo!