Winnipeg's best cocktail concoctions

Winnipeg's finest drink slingers share their recipes for New Year's drinks.
Dylan Wallace is the bartender at Segovia Restaurant in Winnipeg. (Michael Green)

If your holiday drinks are getting as dull as your turkey carving knife, we have some ideas to make your New Year's Eve a little more bubbly.

Your rum and eggnog might be the talk of the block, but you might want to branch out and try a couple suggestions from some of the finest drink slingers this city has on offer. 

Over the past couple of years Segovia, Deer + Almond, and Deseo Bistro have become arguably the three most noteworthy restaurants in town. While a majority of the credit is put toward their plates, they also have fine drink programs filled with cheer.

That’s why I reached out to some of their bartenders for merry holiday libations to be consumed in moderation, of course. 

Dylan Wallace, bartender at Segovia:
Originally from Edmonton, Wallace made his way to Winnipeg after stints in two of Vancouver’s (and indeed Canada’s) finest restaurants, Vij’s and L'Abattoir.

“I don’t really create many drinks at all,” said Wallace. “I prefer to go with tried and true recipes - things that have stood the test of time.”

“For New Year's I like to use classic cocktails and add sparkling wine... so right now it’s a Sazerac Royal," he explained.

Sazeral Royal:

1 oz rye

A pinch of sugar

A couple dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters

Segura Cava (sparkling wine from Spain)

Directions: Rinse a champagne flute with a dash of Absinthe (to give it that licorice note). Add the other ingredients, stir, then and top it off with Segura Cava and some orange zest for garnish.

Josey Krahn, bartender at Deer + Almond restaurant makes a Silver Queen. (Michael Green)
Josey Krahn, bartender at Deer + Almond:
A former Winkler boy who started off as a “rum and coke” kind of bartender, Krahn credits working at Deer + Almond with helping him reveal his more creative side.

“If there is one thing that sets us apart it’s that we are pretty casual. I like to think when I’m behind the bar that it is more of a house party environment than it is a high end restaurant,” said Krahn.

“There is a casualness and freedom that Mandel [Hitzer, chef of Deer + Almond] gives us.”

According to Krahn, this freedom includes doing things like making their own bitters, and infusing simple syrups like he does for this drink, the Silver Queen (whose flavour will instantly remind you of a delicious lemon meringue).

The Silver Queen:

1 oz Bombay Gin

1/2 oz Cointreau

1/2 oz lemon juice

1 egg white

1/4 oz vanilla simple syrup

Directions: To make vanilla simple syrup, follow a standard simple syrup recipe but add one vanilla bean pod, seeds removed and included, and place them in the water as the sugar dissolves over low heat. (Syrup will last for at least one week).

Place the egg white in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously until frothy. Add remaining ingredients with ice and shake again. Strain into a saucer-style champagne glass and garnish with lemon zest.

AK47 cocktail by Erik Thordarson, bartender at Deseo (Erik Thordarson)
Erik Thordarson, bartender at Deseo:
A self-taught bartender, Thordarson collaborates with Deseo chef Scott Bagshaw to create delicious takes on classic cocktails, like a negroni made herbaceous with fresh basil.

Both Wallace and Krahn agree that Thordarson’s drinks are some of the best in the city -- a notion the Deseo bartender doesn’t take for granted.

“I jokingly refer to other bartenders in the city as my good friends-slash-nemeses,” said Thordarson. “We love talking about cocktails with each other but there definitely is a competitiveness about it. It's like everybody is striving to have the best cocktail list.”

For the holidays he recommends a so far unnamed drink, based on the AK47:

4-5 slices of lemon

1 white sugar cube

1 oz St. Germain Elderflower liqueur

3 oz dry sparking wine

Directions: Muddle the St. Germaine along with the sugar cube and 4 lemon slices until sugar is dissolved. Shake hard on ice. After shaking add 3 oz of dry sparkling wine into shaker. Close the gate on a Hawthorne strainer and pour over cracked ice in a Collins glass. Garnish with crushed lemon slice. Sip it and dream.

Stay alive. Don’t drink and drive. Happy New Year!