Monday, November 22, 2010

The Wild Wild West Part 1

Last weekend a family engagement took me out to Calgary, and it was an eye-opener for sure. On November 11,  Remembrance Day, we decided to celebrate my cousin Alex’s graduation with a big family dinner and a big bowl of punch from the big silver family bowl. I was recently given Dave Wondrich’s fantastic new book “Punch” and was busting to try out one of the old recipes. The Canadian Punch was fittingly selected partly for its name and partly for its ease of ingredient acquisition: no whale cholesterol in this one (you, laugh but at least one of his receipts calls for it…yum),  so off the The Willow Park Wine Store to round up a few bottles. 
I was also very keen to compare the selection at this, one of Calgary’s premier liquor retailers, (in fact, the largest privately owned liquor store in Canada)  to the old LCBO offerings back home.  This also happened to be the day that Willow Park has its 15th annual Remembrance Day wine sale.  Apart from a minute of silence at 11 am, the rest of the day is filled with wine reps,  and importers shouting as they hawk their wares, by the case where possible. At some point early on they were selling wine at a buck a bottle, but by the time we got there the wines were all in the 6-8 dollar range. Cheapola. Mahem. Sadly there were no deals on premium bourbons or funky rare absinthes but the spectacle of free enterprise happening at a liquor store warmed the cockles of my wee heart nonetheless.  The Alberta Liquor guide led me to believe that there was some Yellow Chartreuse to be had at Willow Park but I could not find it and I probably picked the wrong day to have a customer service issue.  The cocktail ingredient selection was every bit as good as any Ontario LCBO and maybe a tiny bit better but not much.  I selected a bottle of good old Alberta Premium rye and a bottle of 114 proof Guyanese Demerara rum for the punch and we waited 45 minutes to check out.
The Punch was very good  although I don’t know why it’s called “Canadian” when it calls for pineapples, lemons, rum and Wonderich specifies NOT to use Canadian whisky unless it is 100% rye which very few are.  To be continued…

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