Life

White Peaks: The cocktail Evelyn Chick hails as 'an ode to finesse'

The recipe from her book, For the Love of Cocktails, plus advice on the ideal amount of ice for your drinks

The recipe from her book, For the Love of Cocktails, plus advice on the ideal amount of ice for your drinks

A cocktail with a lemon twist in a short glass. It's sitting on a wooden cutting board with a cocktail shaker in the background.
(Photography by Jessica Blaine Smith)

To create cocktails at home that look and taste as stunning as those made by the professionals, you need pro-level advice. So, we reached out to Toronto-based beverage expert Evelyn Chick, who told CBC Life that it’s the little details that really matter. “If you get the small things right,” she said, “the results are undeniably rewarding.”

For instance, you’ll want to use a lot of ice. “The ice needs to fill the glass, past the liquid, plus a bit more. It’s called a proper ‘waistline’ by bartending professionals,” Chick explained. This keeps the drink cold without risking too much dilution, “so the first sip is as excellent as the last.”

Garnishes should also be purposeful, like the lemon twist in her recipe below, and thoughtfully placed. “I always leave a little spot for the cocktail pick to stand tall, so the garnish sits beautifully on top of the ice,” Chick added.

What better way to try out Chick’s tips than by making a beverage that she calls “an ode to finesse”? Here is her recipe for White Peaks from her new book, For the Love of Cocktails: The Everyday Guide to Delightful Drinks for Anyone, Anytime.

White Peaks

By Evelyn Chick 

I once worked at a fine dining restaurant in Vancouver, the Blue Water Cafe, where I truly learned the meaning of “finesse” in food service. White linen, an extensive wine cellar, a massive back bar with a plethora of Scotches, spirits, wines, and sakes, and a team of exacting sushi chefs who created exquisitely assembled dishes. This simple cocktail is an ode to finesse and to Masa, a chef at Blue Water with the sharpest eye for detail and who was only starting to explore cocktails when I left.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ oz nigori sake
  • ¾ oz Plymouth Gin
  • ½ oz Mugicha Rich Syrup (see below)
  • ¾ oz lemon juice
  • Candied ginger, for garnish
  • Lemon twist, for garnish (see below)

Preparation

In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients but the candied ginger and lemon twist. 

Add enough ice to cover the liquid in the shaker, plus a bit more.

Cover and shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds.

Strain through a Hawthorne strainer into an 8-oz coupe glass. 

Garnish with the candied ginger and lemon twist.

Mugicha Rich Syrup 

Mugicha is Japanese barley tea, which is made from roasted un-hulled barley kernels. It is like what is used in beer brewing. Mugicha imparts a toasted, bitter flavour to cocktails. For Mugicha Rich Syrup, toast 1 Tbsp of mugicha in a small saucepan on medium heat until fragrant, about 2–3 minutes. Add 1 cup water, then add 2 cups of granulated white sugar. Continue with the recipe instructions. When done, strain out solids using a fine strainer. Let cool; bottle and refrigerate for up to 2 months. Yields 2 cups.

Lemon Twist

With a potato peeler, take off a wide strip of citrus peel, about 2 inches long. Trim lengthwise down both sides to cut the uneven peel off. You should now have a rectangle with uneven ends. Take an end and cut it on a 30-degree angle, perpendicular to the side. Rotate the peel 180 degrees and cut the other end off on the same 30-degree angle. Hold the peel on its ends and twist it over your drink, making a slight coil. The sweet oils will release into the drink as you twist. Drop it in the drink and serve. 


Excerpted from For the Love of Cocktails: The Everyday Guide to Delightful Drinks for Anyone, Anytime by Evelyn Chick. Photography by Jessica Blaine Smith. Copyright © 2023 by Evelyn Chick. Excerpted with permission from Figure 1 Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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