As the name suggests, this month’s box, INFUSED (w/ Love, Friendship and Collaboration…oh, and rose), explores one of the more important aspects of cocktail bartending; infusion. For a cocktail bartender, infusions are an essential part of the process for creating a cocktail menu, as one has to constantly conceive of all sorts of flavored spirits, syrups, or bitters in order to achieve perfect balance in their creations. Having a grasp on how infusions work is a key component of bartending education, which is why it is an ideal theme for a Crafty’s box. However, the theme of infusion can be examined on a deeper level than strictly ingredients, as many bartenders take inspiration from and are influenced by those around them; their friends, their colleagues, and, most importantly, the people they create drinks for night after night. Because those around them ‘infuse’ a bartender with new concepts and new creative ventures, this box is an expression of how ideas can be made infinitely better when people work together.
This box involves infusion at many different levels, but at its core, this concept started with the simple infusion of rose petals into vodka. An easy way to introduce a floral element into any cocktail, this box features a very simple vodka infusion recipe that you can do at home before making your cocktails, introducing you to basic infusion technique and demonstrating the ease with which you can add this to your bartending skill set. The INFUSED box also features three different flavors of bitters from three different Canadian producers, bitters being among the most important manifestations of infusion with spirits, as their versatility and ability to bring big flavor with minimal use can not be understated. Most importantly, however, this box includes the infusion of ideas from some of the amazing people we’ve had the pleasure to work with over the years.
The Royal Caspian Yacht Club #2 was created by Kevin Tron, the head bartender at Guilt & Co., a live music/cocktail lounge in the heart of downtown Vancouver. Duncan Peck, the head bartender for Crafty Cocktails, created many menus with Kevin during his own stint at this magical bar, constantly collaborating and inspiring each other to push their creative limits. Along with rose vodka, this drink’s prominent floral aroma comes from pungent rose water but is also bolstered by the complimenting presence of cucumber and granny smith apple, while effervescent soda adds an airy feel. Finished with a subtle hit of Moroccan spice from Bittered Sling’s Lem- Marrakech bitters, this drink has influences from all over the Mediterranean basin.
The Calliope is a collaboration with The LOVED Collection’s founder, ImMrFabulous, a Calgary based lifestyle blogger who has been a supporter of Crafty Cocktails from day one. We are inspired by his constant positivity and desire to encourage collaboration, equality, support, and togetherness in everything he does. This rose-infused vodka cocktail draws on those themes, as its vibrant color and eye-catching garnish symbolize the free-spirited nature of Mr. Fabulous himself, while honey sourced from his native Calgary is an example of his passion for community. Add a favorite citrus, fresh grapefruit, and some warming spices from Ms. Better’s No. 42 Aromatic bitters and the result is a drink that's fun, refreshing, and free as a bird.
The Floribunda Lemonade is infused with childhood memories as this classic beverage was a favorite summertime drink of or head bartender, bringing back memories of vacationing by the lake at the family cabin in the mountains of BC over the summer months. This drink is a nod to a simpler time, but also to the important role that life experience, in this case, childhood, plays in the creation of cocktails. Rose is present in many ingredients here, infused vodka, infused sugar and sparkling rose lemonade, but its presence is never overpowering, as the zesty citrus of orange and lemon work with the flavorful herbal profile of Arancia Vespucci bitters from Blackcloud bitters to keep this cocktail in perfect balance.
So as you enjoy this month’s box, INFUSED think about where ‘infusion’ is present in your life and how you can use it to inspire not only your cocktail making, but all other aspects of your daily routine. Collaborate with people, create together, be aware of the many wonderful influences around you and how they affect your creative mind in positive ways.
To a child, a simple and refreshing lemonade is a classic summer beverage to be enjoyed on a warm patio by a lake while on vacation. This is especially true for our head bartender, Duncan Peck, who drank many while at his family cabin in South Eastern BC. But one can do so much more with this simple combination of lemon, sugar, and water, especially now that childhood is over and vodka can be involved. Given that the theme of this month’s box is infusion, we thought we’d infuse a little flavor and fun into this timeless drink. Botanical notes from vodka and sugar infused with rose play with the citrusy combination of fresh orange and lemon juice, a profile which is enhanced by the herbal citrus flavors of Blackcloud Arancia Vespucci bitters. Topped off with a bubbly float of Fentimen’s Rose Lemonade, this refreshing cocktail introduces a new take on traditional summer flavors. In this drink, infusion is found in more than just the ingredients; creativity, imagination, and nostalgia all have their own part to play.
For this special cocktail, we’ve collaborated with The LOVED Collection from Canadian lifestyle blogger, ImMrFabulous, who curates an inspiring collection of products that share the history and stories of the LGBTQ community. The Calliope, a word with origins that denote beauty and voice, was created to emphasize the voice of LGBTQ communities, which we believe should be heard with equality around the world. Featuring rose-infused vodka, zesty grapefruit, locally produced honey, and notes of cinnamon and nutmeg from Ms. Better’s No. 42 Aromatic bitters, the Calliope shows us that, no matter how different, when great things come together, happiness can be found. Currently, there are dozens of countries around the world that still punish people for simply loving one another. The LOVED Collection and Crafty Cocktails oppose such systemic inequality and together we advocate and celebrate harmony, togetherness, and love.
Royal Caspian Yacht Club #2
The combination of rose and cucumber evokes feelings of garden parties and long summer afternoons in the English countryside. Yet one could also easily imagine the shores of the Caspian Sea in Central Asia, where these flavors are as equally celebrated, demonstrating that similar flavors are enjoyed everywhere, regardless of geographical or cultural distance. Rose infused vodka and a spritz of rose water bring floral overtones to this drink, while the addition of a JamGoddess custom green apple jelly (apple being a close relative of rose) and fizzy soda water is reminiscent of sherbets, which have long been imbibed as refreshment against the summer heat. The drink is rounded out by Bittered Sling Lem-Marrakech bitters, adding further cooling qualities in the form of mint, fennel, and black pepper, as well as a hint of cumin and coriander for balance.
Trust your Bartender
Everybody has their favorite spirit, but also have spirits they’re not so crazy about. These opinions are built over a lifetime of experiences; that bartender who made you the most amazing vodka cocktail you’ve ever tried, that one time you drank too much tequila… there are endless factors that may contribute to our own personal opinions towards particular types of alcohol. While these biases are completely understandable, a Crafty Cocktails box subscription is all about education in the world of cocktail creation, and it is very hard to learn new things if you don’t step outside your comfort zone. We strongly encourage you to make your cocktails with the recommended spirit for the month, even if you think you don’t like it. If a recipe is well balanced and acutely aware of the flavor profile of its given base spirit, the result can surprise even the most discerning of palettes. Conversely, an attempt to substitute the recommended alcohol for another simply because of personal preference can result in disaster, as flavor profiles tend to clash rather than compliment each other. The recipes in a Crafty’s curated box are just that, curated to suit a particular base spirit. Trust our bartenders, they know what they’re talking about; let them show how something you thought you disliked, can become something you absolutely love. If you truly can't get down with the featured box of the month, we understand! You can choose one of our past boxes to start a subscription, just send us an email and request the one you want to start with. Cheers!