Stampede: Let the drinks pour
The Stampede is officially upon us and naturally thereflector. ca is bringing you Stampede coverage from all corners of the city for the next 10 days. Log on each day to find useful tidbits, compelling photo galleries and Reflector-style features from our dedicated reporters on the ground in the heart of cattle country.
First off, as the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth gets underway, it is important to note that beyond the spills and thrills of the rodeo and the pulsating lights of the midway lies another important facet of Stampede: booze. Better yet the excuse to booze and booze . . . and booze yet again. If you choose to spend most of this year’s Stampede parked in the beer gardens or downing expensive shot after expensive shot from scantily nightclub servants than at least add a little western flair to your palette. Here’s a list of treasured drinks to get you started, starting with the two spirits that you can find in the cupboard of any true cowboy: gin and whiskey and then moving into some fun mixtures. Please post your own Stampede concoctions in the comments section below:
How it’s made: It is not exactly to summarize how whiskey is made in just a few lines as there are a number of varients and blends that each encompass different flavours and require specific manufacturing
steps. Basically the three key ingredients are barley, water and yeast. The process to make whiskey generally takes a minimum of three years as grains must remain in an oak cask for at least this amount of time (for whiskey to be considered a single malt the grains are usually stored for roughly eight to 10 years). First, sugar is created through the process of malting — barley is wetted and allowed roughly three weeks to germinate before being dried in a kiln. The product is then grinded into a flour-like substance called grist. The grist is then mixed with hot water and eventually yeast is added to initiate the fermentation process. The alcohol is then distilled and aged in various casks depending on the specific finish desired by the manufacturer.
Alcohol percent: Generally 40-50.
Tastes like: Depends a great deal on the manufacturing process. Scotch generally has a dark, earthy flavour, while Canadian whiskeys generally have a reputation of being lighter and smoother.
Why it’s western: True cowboys have been known to haul whiskey around in jugs and offer it up for communal enjoyment with folks they encounter on western trails.
Advice: Approach with caution, this stuff is lethal to the uncertain stomach. Be prepared for some serious afterburn in the throat, often good to chase with a beer.
How it’s made: Hey, if you don’t want to chase your whiskey shot with a beer why not just add the two together? You can also substitute tequila or vodka if they are more to your liking. Simply drop the shot inside your favourite pint of ale and chug until you can’t chug anymore.
Tastes like: Basically like beer with an extremely intense kick at the bottom.
Advice: Despite being more damaging to your overall level of sobriety, a boilermaker is a much safer method to down whiskey if you don’t have an iron stomach.
How it’s made: Quite possibly the most vile creaiton on Earth. Take two ounces of Yukon Jac (although supposedly sweet, don’t let this Canadian whiskey give you a false sense of security) and add a half-ounce of lime juice to a shot glass.
Tastes like: Pretty much like a quick shot of death, followed by a few minutes of deep-breathing.
Advice: Not for the faint of heart. Only try if you are a whiskey master or so drunk that you can’t tell the difference.
How it’s made: Dry gin is made by taking neutral grain spirit and redistilling it with added flavours, most notably those from juniper berries. Lemon or orange peel, licorice root and nutmeg are a few more of the seemingly hundreds of botanicals that can be added during the manufacturing of gin.
Alcohol percentage: Gin is generally produced in the 45-50 per cent range, at least in North America.
Tastes like: Has an extremely dry, almost nature-like taste to it. Most who see it as their spirit of choice
choose to use mix because it burns violently on the way down.
Why it’s western: Upscale cowboys may opt for gin over whiskey because it carries a certain degree of prestige to it for some reason. The manufacturing process of the liquor can also have an extremely western heritage behind it depending on what ingredients are used during manufacturing.
Advice: While this drink may look much friendlier than the previously mentioned whiskey, it can sneak up on you extremely fast. Don’t let anyone trick you into thinking it’s water!
Alteration: Blue Cowboy
How it’s made: Switching to a lighter concoction momentarily, the Blue Cowboy is all the rage on online drink recipe websites. Simply take 1 1/2 ounces of gin and add in a half-ounce of blue curacao. Pour the mixture onto ice in a cocktail glass and serve well.
Tastes like: A sweet, exotic sample of gin.
Advice: Although many people (especially self-conscious dudes) will feel uncomfortable drinking a shot that is blue, this mix can provide a nice break from the burning sensation in your throat and the constant threat of hurling.
Alteration: Alabama Slammer
How it’s made: Deep in the heartland of America is where this alcoholic sensation comes from (note: there is no actual evidence that the drink was created in Alabama, but we can pretend). Pour a half-ounce of amaretto, Southern Comfort and gin, a splash of orange juice and a splash of sweet and sour mix into a stainless steel shaker with ice and mix it up. Strain into a glass and stir.
Tastes like: Some claim it tastes like bubble gum, others like pure tropical paradise. The bottom line is it will knock you on your ass.
Advice: A slight step up in intensity from the Blue Cowboy, the Alabama Slammer is a cool name and then you and your friends can spend the rest of the night making asses out of yourselves with your slurred accents that supposedly sound Alabaman.