Healthy, Wealthy and Wise

As many of you know, I spent the better part of last weekend at Art of the Cocktail — a cocktail festival that supports our local Film Festival.  Its been growing by leaps and bounds since it was first conceived three years ago, and this year, they added a Home Bartenders competition to the mix.  Due in part to peer pressure, I submitted an entry, and thus on Saturday, found myself in front of an audience and three judges (Simon Ogden from Veneto Lounge, Darcy O'Neil of, and Peter Hunt from Victoria Spirits).  Five brave souls entered the competition, and more than a couple had some pretty spectacular looking ingredients and barkit!  There were flames, hand-carved ice, foams, and what looked like some serious deliberations by the judges.  In the end, my cocktail, Healthy Wealthy and Wise was deemed the winning concoction! (the recipe is at the end of the post).


The theme for this competition was herbs — a pretty broad category with a lot of possibilities.  I decided to go a bit balls to the wall on the herbal front for this one, and make herbs present in pretty much every element of the drink (save 1!).  I figured it would either work really well, or people would shake their heads in pity.   I also opted to work with sage as the primary herb — something that I find is underused in both food and drink.  (the sage you see in the picture is a variegated sage from my garden, and in addition to looking beautiful, has a slight citrus note.

As I began looking up the health associations of various herbs in the herbal manuals, the drink began to fall together on its own:  Sage for wisdom and longevity; ginger for money and success; and green tea for riches and strength.   The Beefeater 24 provides a great canvas to work with as a base spirit in this drink — its soft, has the addition of green tea and soft citrus notes, and took the sage infusion wonderfully.

To create the drink, I began playing around with punch formulations — being limited to 6 ingredients, meant some of the traditional prep (i.e. macerating citrus in sugar) had to be done in shortcut form with the addition of a ginger-sage syrup.  I also opted to scale back on the citrus by using a 10% citric acid solution — this gives you the sour, without the citrus notes, letting the herbal notes shine through everything.  All in all, I think its a very pleasant drink, with some depth to it.  Despite being a punch, it does have a bit of a kick to it, with the Green Chartreuse providing complexity and depth, and the Fernet Branca giving just the right note of bitter on the finish.  (It also batches very well!)

Healthy, Wealthy and Wise

(created by Janice Mansfield, 2011)

  • 15 ml citric acid – 10% solution (you can find the crystals at most health food stores)
  • 30 ml ginger-sage syrup*
  • 45 ml sage infused Beefeater 24 gin (about 12-15 large sage leaves per 750 ml for 2-3 days)
  • 20 ml Green Chartreuse
  • 5 ml Fernet Branca
  • 45 ml strongly brewed Japanese Sencha tea

Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a small sprig of sage.

*ginger-sage syrup — cut 220 grams (1/2 lb) ginger root into 1" pieces.  Chop fairly fine in a food processor.  Dissolve 3 cups sugar into 2 cups water, bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Put all the ginger into the hot syrup with about 12 large sage leaves.  Let sit overnight to fully infuse.  The next morning, strain.  Keep refrigerated.

The Snowday, a delicious warm cocktail

Today was a snowday here for most folks on the Wet Coast!  To be fair, it only takes a few cms to throw folks into a tailspin, but there are about 15 cms stacked up in the back yard!

What to do on a snow day, but sit back, enjoy some slow food, and have a nice hot toddy to warm up!


I recently made up a huge batch of dark marmalade, and have been craving that delicious sweet/citrus/bitter flavour lately.  I thought it would be translate quite well into a hot toddy concoction….

This is a slight nod to a Boulevardier — the bourbon version of the Negroni.  The orange notes of the marmalade riff quite nicely off the bourbon — I used Bulleit here, but Makers Mark would also work well with the citrus.  A little bit of Campari provides the final herbal/bitter edge to stop this toddy from being too cloying.

The SnowDay Hot Toddy

Janice Mansfield, 2011

  • 1 barspoon orange marmalade (dark and bitter preferably)

Dissolve the marmalade in a splash of hot water in a mug.  Add:

  • 1 oz. Bulleit bourbon (If you like your toddy a bit stronger, increase this to 1.5 oz.)
  • 1 generous barspoon Campari

Top with 3-4 oz. water

Garnish with an orange twist.  If you’re feeling creative, garnish this with an orange twist that goes on for miles and swirls around in the mug!!!

The Jack Rose: an oldie but a goodie!

We had an impromtu photo sho

ot here today at the Shiba Shack!  One of the local media outlets covering Art of the Cocktail came by take some shots of at-home cocktail making, and get the scoop on what prompts someone to enter a cocktail competition instead of leaving it to the pros! 


With a request for something with some camera appeal (think pink!), I decided to whip up an oldie but a goodie: the Jack Rose.  Its a simple sour, with a twist.  Applejack as the base spirit (a decidedly prohibition-era spirit!), made sour with lemon juice, and sweetened with grendadine.  With homemade grenadine, the end-result is a soft Hello Kitty pink, rather than the vibrant pink those accustomed to pre-mixes might be expecting — its definintely tastier!

The Jack Rose

  • 2 oz. Applejack (I used Laird's bonded, If you don't have Applejack try Calvados)
  • 0.75 oz. lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz. grenadine

Shake with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass

Le Funk d’Ete

Saturday night's alright … alright …

After a long day, it's sometimes time for a cocktail with a bit of spunk — and funk! meaning Rhum agricole comes out for cocktail mixing. This time around, I was inspired by a stash of passion fruit syrup found at the back of the bar fridge. Now passion fruit syrup is used for a few things, but mainly classic Zombies. While its a delicious drink, I was looking for something with a bit more … Funk! To amp up the funk factor, I also used a whisper of Fernet Branca, and a few dashes of House Made Grapefruit bitters.

Passion fruit syrup can be made ahead of time — using fresh passion fruit, cooked into a 2:1 simple syrup. strain the pulp and seeds out using a fine mesh strainer, store in the fridge.


Le Funk d'Ete

(created by Janice Mansfield, 2011)

  • 2 oz. Rhum Agricole
  • 0.75 oz. passion fruit syrup
  • 0.5 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 0.25 oz. lime juice
  • scant tsp. Fernet Branca
  • 3-4 drops House Made grapefruit bitters

Shake well in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Double strain over ice into a highball glass.  Garnish with grapefruit twist and lime wedge.  Serve with a straw.

The Expat

One of the perks of living in a city with one or more barkeeps who live and breathe cocktails, is the educational opportunities that come along with their quest for cocktail supremacy!  Clive’s Classic Lounge here in Victoria, is one such bar, with one such executive barkeep!  Shawn Soole has been bringing a steady stream of cocktail expertise from around the world (about one a month), and inviting local industry and cocktail enthusiasts to sit in on the sessions.  Last week’s session with John Gakuru of Sagatiba cachaca was a timely to start moving away from the brown spirits  (we have been suffering through a bit of a bleak, cool spring here on the West Coast).

Sagatiba is newly available on the market here in BC, and I have to say, I’m excited by the prospect of a neutral spirit that actually has some flavour to it, and just in time for summer sipping!

As an aside, word is Sagatiba only has 64 calories per ounce, making it a great alternative for those folks who feel the calorie count on anything other than vodka is getting them into dangerous territory diet-wise.

So, in the spirit of Sagatiba and all things spring (a gal can hope for good weather even if isn’t forthcoming!), I whipped up this variation on a mule.  I’m calling it the Expat, — a fusion of tropical and English country garden ingredients.  It’s a little sweet, a little sour, and a little spice …  Make up a batch of rhubarb syrup and keep it in the fridge for up to a month for entertaining with cocktails, or just have a splash over ice topped with soda.


The Expat (created by Janice Mansfield, 2011)

  • 1 1/2 ounce Sagatiba
  • 3/4 ounce rhubarb syrup*
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice

Shake with ice in a cocktail shaker, Strain into a highball glass filled with ice, top with

  • 4 ounces Ginger Beer.

Garnish with rhubarb and serve with a straw.

* Rhubarb Syrup

dissolve 3 cups sugar in 1 1/2 cups water.  Bring to the boil and add 6 cups chopped rhubarb.  Lower head and simmer until the rhubarb is soft, about 10 minutes .  Let cool and strain out the rhubarb.  Keep in the fridge for up to 1 month.

Variation on a Bramble

I recently received some Polish vodka to try (Zubrowka being among them), and endeavoured to go in with an open mind — for the vodka that is.  I am a brown spirits afficionado — never met a brown spirit I didn't like — if its got age and funk on it, I'm there!  Cocktails with deep and complex flavours are also my preference, hence the graviation to rums and whiskys.  Thus, when I



 received the vodka to try, I was somewhat skeptical.  The vodkas that typically inhabit my liquor cabinet are in large part, ones with more flavourful and spicy notes, often rye-based.  (my review of the two vodkas will be up soon over at

Anyhow, the short story is that I wanted to try these vodkas in a couple of "non-vodka" cocktail recipes – substituting the vodkas for gin — the Bramble (by Dick Bradsell, 1984) was one of them.   I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised at how well the Zubrowka stood up! 

I did make one major modification to enhance the grassy notes of the Zubrowka vodka — I used agave syrup rather than simple syrup.  Other than that, the proportions were the same as the classic Bramble: 2 oz. Zubrowka, 1 oz. fresh lemon juice, 1/2 oz. agave syrup, over crushed ice, float 1/2 oz. creme de muir.  (According to Angus Winchester, it should look like blood dripping from a finger priced by bramble thorns – I think we came close with this one!)



We’re back!

Thanks to all of you for bearing with us while we experienced technicial difficulties through the busy Xmas catering season!  The good news is, we are back online, and will be getting content and the online store back up over the next few days!


If you have questions about House Made products, please contact us via email form on the Contact Us page.


Thank you all for your continued support of our products!


Janice Mansfield