Occasion: The Birthday of Canada
Date: 1st July, 1867
I am certain that by now every Londoner venturing in the vicinity of Trafalgar Square on the 1st July is well prepared for the plethora of red and white flags, street hockey tournaments and all kinds of wild celebrations but what is the exact reason for all these? Well, a 148 years ago this day was marked by the enactment of the `Constitution Act, 1867 ` which united three British colonies – Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Province of Canada (the latter being divided into Ontario and Quebec) – into one country and hence Canada was born. The celebrations hadn`t been too loud and intense for a long time mainly due to a large segment of the population who considered themselves as British, but slowly- slowly Canadians decided to go for it and fast forward more than a century they put on just as good of a show as any. It may come as a surprise to many that Canada`s FIRST EVER official flag (the Maple Leaf) replaced the Union Jack as late as 1965, whereas the country only got completely independent from the Brits (Canada Act) in 1982. No wonder that the biggest Canada Day (changed from Dominion Day the same year) celebrations began in the late `80s.
So let`s take a look at what these parading, happy Canadians drink to make them even happier! No surprise that beer is the most popular drink around there but the fact that they consume 50% above the world`s average will definitely make the guys at Labatt, Molson and Sleeman happy so they can keep producing quality lagers and ales, not so sure about the doctors though. However if there is a country where you can get free beer like this, it must be a very happy place…
Credit to Molson Brewery for their ever unique ads
Now that we all practiced to say `I am Canadian` in a few foreign languages well enough we have to move on to a product that is unique for Canada and probably is their most distinguishable beverage and yes(!) it is the Canadian Whisky. Folks over there call it Rye Whisky (not whiskey!) not to be confused with the American Rye Whiskey which actually is distilled from at least 51% rye. Canadian Rye on the other hand is called Rye for much more of a historical reason rather than the presence of rye in the production process which is not even a necessity anymore. Canadian Whisky started gaining popularity quickly throughout the American Prohibition (1920-1933) when smuggling liquors from Canada was a way of making huge amounts of money for the mafia. One of the biggest and most popular brands, Canadian Club, has its factory next to the Detroit river (nicknamed `river of booze`), a few miles away from the US and records show that a certain Al Capone used to buy boxes of C. Club for cheap and selling it on the other side. Canadian Whisky in general is made of mostly corn with a little rye therefore having a distinctive flavour with hints of toffee and cinnamon. It is most commonly blended which means distilling each grain separately and then creating the final product via the expertees of the master blender. Canadian Whisky had been the most popular whiskey in the US outselling bourbon up until 2010 and still is the market leader in North America.
Now that we know what to celebrate and what would be an appropriate spirit to celebrate it with all we need is a delicious cocktail to sip along while watching the Canucks go wild. Our choice would be a real classic which was invented in New York but during the prohibition they switched to Canadian whisky as the base spirit and it still works perfect with it. It is indeed the Manhattan!
50ml Canadian Club 12
20ml Antica Formula (sweet vermouth)
Dash of Angostura Bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass.
Stir until you reach perfect dilution.
Fine strain in a Martini glass
and garnish with the cherry.