Cocktail of the Week: Northern Nights

We’re the type of people who believe that cocktail hour should be an event in itself. The art of mixology is a craft we come well-dressed and thirsty for, and this week’s cocktail is a real treat. Replete with a champagne caviar, edible glitter and finished with a flame, Fine Print’s Northern Nights is the celestial dark skies show stopper we have all been dreaming of.

Northern Lights cocktail flamed by bartender

Amongst Calgary’s newly thriving food and beverage scene, Fine Print plays homage to its printing press roots; the historic 1893 building used to be home to the Calgary Herald, the city’s oldest running newspaper. While the printing press may now be defunct, the spot is making headlines with its delectable refreshments. Oh, and there’s a secret champagne basement with a Moët vending machine. Big swoon.

northern nights cocktail recipe

Evoking the spirit of spooky season and beyond, this sip will see you from Halloween straight on through to New Year with its glitzy, night-sky serve. Inspired by the Northern Alberta landscape, the locally distilled gin is spruce and fir needle forward, with woody citrus tones that echo in the black tea vermouth infusion. Fresh and crisp like a true Canadian winter, the Raspberry and Moët caviar brings forward the opulence of feasting season and, baby, we love it.

Look, the edible glitter is cheeky, but this cocktail sparkles just like a clear night sky in the wilderness, and we’re here for the theatrical folklore of it. Gosh, and let’s not forget the dash of fire the sip comes sizzling with. This is, truly, why we love a bar seat: beverage director Logan Cox brings some drama behind the stick.

inside the Northern Lights restaurant in Calgary

Let’s have a little garnish chat, shall we? While sometimes simple is beautiful (think perfectly round lemon peel dots in bone dry martinis), we have got a lot of love for the more experience-driven serve. So, where does the (often-not-so) humble garnish come from? God, if I had a dollar for every time I have mentioned Jerry Thomas and his seminal 1862 Bartender’s Guide I’d have enough expendable cash to drink Northern Lights all night long and then some. Unsurprisingly, good old Jerry also appears to have first mentioned garnished drinks in his seminal publication, detailing a cocktails served with citrus twists.

However, rather outlandishly, lore suggests some of the first cocktails were garnished with feathers. These days, most bartenders will agree that garnishes either need to serve a flavour purpose — although Tiki enthusiasts, beholden to cocktail umbrellas, will beg to differ.  When visual joy and flavour components come together, it is a holy union for we imbibers, and that’s very much the case with the bold, busy and bustling Northern Nights. Can we have a second please? Or, failing that, a full glass of the raspberry and Moët & Chandon rose caviar? Cheers!

Moet & Chandon vending machine in Calgary

Okay, now we’re done at the bar (for now), shall we take a trip downstairs to the Moët champagne vending machine? Serious question: how can we get one of these installed in our house? Calgary, we love to see it. Just when we thought Stephen Avenue was iconic enough — the stretch already contains Major Tom and Barbarella, two of Aberta’s finest offerings — we find a restaurant with an immersive cocktail bar and a secret Champagne playhouse. Adore.