Happy Hour: The Bartender’s Choice
Change in seasons reflected in cocktail menus
by Caleb Caswell
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Photograph Ryan Girard
With fall nearly upon us, bars and restaurants will start shifting their cocktail menus towards drinks based on brown spirits – your whiskies and bourbons, cognacs and brandies. And no wonder: they’re more complex and carry a pleasant burn that warms the bones. But there’s one that rises above them all, one so classic and timeless that it will be known regardless of its presence on the menu: the Boulevardier.
“You talk to most bartenders,” says Tyler Gushaty, a bartender at North 53 on Edmonton’s 124th Street, “and their favourite drink will either be a Negroni or a Boulevardier.” The two cocktails both include sweet vermouth and the belligerently bitter Campari, but where the Negroni has gin, the Boulevardier includes whiskey or bourbon. Gushaty explains that it’s a bartender staple because of the drink’s complexity. It’s dense with spice, and the flavour profile changes with the drink’s temperature, allowing two different experiences of the same beverage.
North 53 only opened in January, but its combination of fresh Canadian ingredients, inspired dishes and artful plating has already made its mark on Edmonton’s fine dining scene. That creativity expends to its drink menu, too – right down to the ice. For example, even if the Boulevardier is a staple, one of North 53’s cold-pressed coffee ice cubes (which must be requested 24 hours in advance) takes it to a whole other level. “Ice to a bartender is like an oven to a cook,” Gushaty says. And trust us: the oven is working perfectly.
The Home Version
The The Booze
Equal parts sweet vermouth, Campari and whiskey
Shaken, poured over ice
Slice of orange rind