A Lesson in Marketing (no, not that kind)

The amazing fresh produce at St. Lawrence Market, ripe for the picking.

The amazing fresh produce at St. Lawrence Market, ripe for the picking.


Not all freestyle mixology sessions need to start with a trip to the liquor store! Local markets packed with farm fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and fantastic finds can be your first destination for inspiration.

Here in Toronto we are particularly blessed with access to several excellent open and indoor markets. St. Lawrence Market and the Kensington District both offer fantastic selections of fresh produce, bulk goods, and specialty shops with every imaginable ingredient under the sun. You can almost always track down specific spices and preserves, thanks especially to the diversity of background in our city. However, at least half the fun of a trip to the market is the item you didn’t expect to see! Preserved Marasca Cherries, anyone? A hidden find at one of these well stocked purveyors could spark your next great cocktail idea!

Also, it is now well established in the restaurant industry that fresh, locally grown, seasonal ingredients have a massive impact on the taste of a cocktail. This mentality has extended to the bar for some time now, with Barchefs and Mixologists everywhere taking cues from the kitchen (and vice-versa of course)! Simply put, fresh fruit and vegetables make for better juices, sweeteners, and liqueurs. This means better infusions, bolder flavours, and a more exciting and healthful cocktail experience for your guests. Bars, Bartenders, and Bartending schools whose focus is on fresh ingredients are at the forefront of North America’s cocktail renaissance.

Fresh meats can be used in spirit infusions using fatwashing techniques.

Fresh meats can be used in spirit infusions using fatwashing techniques.

BartenderOne took a trip to the St. Lawrence Market for a little inspiration, hoping to find some specific spices and herbs for a Rum infusion. Spiced Rum typically has a sweeter more mild taste than White Rum, and this usually comes with a reduced alcohol by volume percentage as well (Below recipe estimated at 35% ABV). Most Spiced Rums have a deep caramel base, with strong notes of vanilla at the forefront. Also cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg often make appearances as background characters in these tasty Caribbean concoctions. Below is the recipe to make a dark, rich and nutty caramel syrup, which is then used as the sweetener for a Spiced Rum. So take a trip to your local markets and see what you come up with! You might be surprised at what treasures end up in your basket…

Dark Caramel Syrup
(Note: This is the “wet” method of making caramel, the “dry” method with no initial water requires extreme attention  and monitoring of temperature)
- Add 600ml White or Caster Sugar and 200ml water to a non-reactive stainless steel pot
- Bring to a boil and simmer rapidly over medium heat, stirring frequently. Watch carefully as the syrup under the foam turns to a rich espresso brown, remove from heat well before it gets too dark (mahogany) or it will be burnt and bitter.
- Allow the caramel to cool for 5 minutes
- Stir in 10 ounces additional water to thin into a syrup, reheat to incorporate fully
(Eat any tasty, tacky bits that have developed on the spoon once they are cooled!)
Bottle and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Use in place of simple syrup in cocktail recipes, or in Spiced Rum!

The ingredients for a warm, spicy and delicious home made spiced rum.

The ingredients for a warm, spicy and delicious home made spiced rum.

Spiced Rum
In an airtight, large mason jar, add:
- 2 Cloves, whole
- 3 Allspice berries, whole
- 1/2 petal Star Anise
- 1 whole Vanilla bean, split
- A 3 inch x 1 inch, pithless Orange rind
- A 3 inch x 1 inch, pithless Lemon rind
- 3 Black Peppercorns, whole
- 1 Cinnamon stick, whole
- 1/4 of a nutmeg, lightly crushed
- 3.5 oz of Dark Caramel Syrup (see above)
- 21 oz of White Rum

Leave for between 1 and 30 days, depending on the strength of infusion desired. Fine strain when ready to enjoy. Shake and taste daily to monitor its progress! 

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