Bar Cart Essential #1- Forty Creek Whisky

I know it's fashionable to drink whisky these days, but that wasn't always the case. Not too long ago, I was often the only lady with one in hand in a room full of guys; ordering a Old Fashioned, Manhattan or Whisky Sour when all my friends were getting vodka sodas; and developing a deep love for "brown liquor" as an American colleague once called it, while everyone else drank them selves silly on Long Island Iced Teas and Vodka 7's.

So how amazing to have whisky  such a popular choice and to have so many be readily available.

It was renowned mixologist and whisky god Dave Mitton I took my cues from way back when. I tried his cocktails at an array of bars across town. A recipe he did for an Old Fashioned, "Fairytale of New York" became a staple for me. Dave used Forty Creek Whisky in his recipe, saying "the notes of spice, vanilla and toffee from the whisky go nicely with the hint orange, which pairs perfectly with the slight sweetness of the apple and pear syrup." He become rather famous for his Old Fashioned at The Harbord Room, one of the best restaurants in the city and home to phenomenal cocktails.

Another favourite bartender of mine, Josh Lindley - co-creator of the outstanding  Bartender Atlas, and also from The Harbord Room (I told you the place was spectacular) - gushed about Forty Creek Copper Pot, which he used in his "Centre of the Universe" cocktail. Calling it "probably the best Canadian Whisky you can buy for under $30 at the LCBO," I realized that I should get this onto my bar cart as quickly as possible.

It's here that I begin my new series - Bar Cart Essentials.

Whiskey is certainly an all year round drink, but it's real time to shine is right now, fall and winter. You don't have to mix up a hot whiskey cocktail - it warms you all on its own without you having to do a thing except pour.

Forty Creek Whisky started back in 1992 by John Hall, a former winemaker. Not only is it Ontario's first whisky distillery since 1939, it has gone on to win many awards. A blend of rye, barley and corn sprits are carefully aged in American bourbon and Canadian oak barrels.

Here's a closer look at three varieties:

- Forty Creek Barrel Select

This premium whisky boasts intriguing and intricate characteristics, with an incredibly long smooth finish. Honey, vanilla and apricot mingle with toasty oak, black walnut and spice. Strong and deep with a creamy caramel and rye nose. the flavour builds from sweet and fruit to a spicy pepperiness that entices and envelopes you. So captivating in fact, I prefer it neat, over mixing it into a cocktail. Why mess with perfection?

That being said, this recipe is so good, so simple to make, I make an exception every now and again:

The Old Pal


1.5 oz. Forty Creek Barrel Select
0.75 oz. Campari
0.75 oz. Dry Vermouth


Stir all ingredients in a mixing jar over ice. Serve straight up in a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

It's no wonder this medium amber whisky has received many accolades and medals (including the 2016 International Whisky Competition). It engages your palate from start to finish. And it's now one of my favourite ways to end the day.

- Forty Creek Copper Pot

John Hall calls this one "amped up" and it sure is, but don't mistake that for over the top or sloppy, as it remains as sophisticated as the original.

Made in a similar fashion to Barrel Select, this spirit delivers a bolder, richer taste, so sip and savour this beauty. It takes you on quite a ride.

The process is extensive: Rye, barley and corn spirits are distilled individually in a copper pot. Each one is then aged in white oak barrels for a minimum of three years. After years of separation, they're all brought together in matrimony to live happily ever after.

Clocking in at a heady 43% alc./vol., this full-bodied beauty begins with toffee, nuts and spice. Followed by dried stone fruits, a hit of spicy hot peppers builds with a hit of chocolate, and then bright, sweet citrus slips in, with a smooth yet still complex finish.

This is one helluva seductive whisky.

Want to mix it up? Get yourself a glass of this straightforward yet inviting cocktail:

The Welder


1.5 oz. Forty Creek Copper Pot Whisky
0.5. oz. Aperol
1 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. chili syrup

Build cocktail in shaker and shake with ice. Serve in chilled rocks glass. Garnish with a chili. 

(Variation: Top with ginger beer for a long drink, serving in a high ball glass.

- Forty Creek Spike Honey Spiced

I have a rule: either when mixing myself a drink or while entertaining, I serve only straight up spirits and never rely on flavoured anything, However, it's not 2003. Things have changed. I have seen the development of flavours grow and grow up, so it was with great interest that I tried the Spike Honey Spiced.

It's a sweet one for sure, but that doesn't make it all bad. It's too sweet for me to enjoy on its own (my absence of a sweet tooth is a source of contention for many), what with all this honey, vanilla, caramel, and dried apricot going on. The signature Forty Creek spiciness that I've come to know and love makes an grand entrance by way of cinnamon, ginger and spicy rye. There's even banana peel thrown into the mix!

Sweet, spicy, bold, and full, it takes you on one sweet ride. Especially when mixed into this cocktail that tempers the sweetness with a delicious melange ginger, citrus and bitters:

The Engineer


2 oz. Forty Creek Spike Honey Spiced Whisky
0.75 oz. lime juice
2 dashes of bitters
Topped with ginger beer


Build cocktails in Collins glass. Add ice and quick stir to mix ingredients. Garnish with lime zest.

p.s. Don't let the recipe making stop there. With Forty Creek, you can also whip up steak, wings, sorbet and ice cream. Drool.


At the end of a long week, you might want to head to your favourite local for a stiff drink. Me? I'm mixing up stellar libations right here in the comfort of my living room, Forty Creek Whisky in hand.

And now you can too.

Stephanie Dickison

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