My goodness, we love winter drinking. Don’t get us wrong, summer sips are cool and everything, but there is something about rich flavours by a roaring fire that makes us feel extra Bond-villainous. We’re here to indulge our dark sides with moody tipples as the nights draw in.
Today’s romp takes us to Montreal’s Baby, a vinyl bar with a signature cocktail menu based on six best-selling albums from across the musical spectrum. Enter: The Dark Side of the Moon. Let’s face it, Pink Floyd’s seminal album is cool as hell, and that is very much reflected in bartender Daphnee Vary Deshaies’ mix. But like its namesake, it’s also a little mysterious and spooky. Conspiracy theories are rife with the 1973 musical offering (and if nothing else, conspiracy theorists make for memorable drinking buddies!). Something, something, play it backwards and it summons Satan?! (We’re not totally convinced on that one.) However, we are completely sold on Deshaies’ twisted play on the legend, clarifying dark spirits so that they appear light. Genius. Okay, sure, without further ado: baby, let’s get drinking!
Cocktails and vinyls compliment each other just as nicely as spirits and tea, which makes for the backbone of a fine drink. While we’ve recently delved into the history of the ever satisfying milk punch, we have yet to chat about mixologists’ frequent penchant for adding a little leaf to their creations. The Dark Side of the Moon is enriched by its sweet chai component, and the blend of cognac, rum, citrus and tea is a nod back in time to some more historical swills. Now, as you’ve got a drink in your hand (and you look like you’re just about done fraternizing in the conspiratorial corner of the party), it’s a good time for some light learning.
Tea and liquor, especially rum, share quite similar colonial histories; both were transported across the far corners of the world on ships by sailors who famously loved a good swill. Add a little lemon to stave off scurvy, and you’ll understand why seafarers were the forefathers of mixed drinks. Yo ho ho, thanks boys!
As much as I’m sure Brits (like me) would claim any and all tea consumption as their birthright, one of the earliest records of a tea cocktail was the Philadelphia Fish House Punch. The original recipe, dating back to 1732 from Philly’s Schuylkill Fishing Club, called for rum, cognac, peach brandy, sugar, lime, lemon and a maraschino cherry, but it was often noted to have been watered down with tea. Skip to the mid 1800s and across the pond to good old Blighty, as drink-storian David Wondrich notes in his delightful book Punch, exotic green tea cocktail recipes started. One such sip was the Regent’s Punch, created as a delectable delight for none other than King George VI, seeing a blend of green tea, cognac, rum, lemon, lime, pineapple and champagne.
The rise in Tiki culture during the 1950s further compounded tea as a valid cocktail ingredient, with menu items from iconic bars such as Trader Vic’s and Don the Beachcomber frequently mixing rum with tea. These days, the availability of a diverse range of tea has been a godsend to bartenders looking for a quick flavour infusion with a base spirit or syrup. Lapsangsoshong and peated Scotch, anyone? Seriously, try it.
Oh, just a quick and tiny aside, but can Long Island Iced Tea slide on into the chat for a second? Yeah, hi…where’s the tea, mate? Psyche! There is none. What an absolute catfish of a cocktail. Waiter, another Dark Side of The Moon, please! We love that this week’s velvety smooth sip clearly pays homage to its historical tea punch roots. Powerful, complex flavours are rounded out into something deeply palatable, just like the record that inspired it.
Honestly, we’re still vibing hard over the thought of a Quebecois vinyl cocktail bar, and need to order everything from the rest of the menu immediately. See you at Baby, baby!