By Lory Diaz
The LCBO currently has a Holiday Pop-up at 600 King Street West in Toronto filled with gift ideas, hosting tips, and cocktail inspirations for this festive season! If you didn’t make it to their November Whiskey month, you still have time to check out their temporary take-over at the corner of King and Portland. They have multiple stations where guests can practice making the perfect martini, learn about scotch and food pairings, and even make a fun and flirty cocktail with champagne!
The main space is sorted out into different themes with various gift ideas for even the pickiest of names on your list. Whether you have someone who enjoys wines, spirits, or seasonal beers, the LCBO team has hand-picked only the best items for the holidays and at a variety of price points.
I started my visit learning to make the perfect classic martini with Grey Goose and cocktail specialist Chris, who had previously helped us at the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo make custom gin and tonics! He taught me that the classic martini is stirred – as shaking introduces oxygen to mix, and can dilute the flavours – and mixes five parts vodka to one part vermouth. A small orange rind accentuates the citrus notes in grey goose, where olives bring out the drier notes in the vermouth. Both equally delicious!
I then moved to the Johnnie Walker station and met Dante, who was introducing guests to the many complex flavours of scotch by exploring their black, gold, and blue labels. I learned that dark and milk chocolate can soften the sharper flavours in scotch, and enhance the warmer notes. I sampled the Blue Label Johnnie Walker with a brie cheese and discovered how deliciously creamy that pairing tastes. Possibly a new favourite combination!
Take an inspiring visit to Etobicoke’s Cheese Boutique after visiting the LCBO Pop-up, and learn about some delicious cheeses that pair perfectly with your favourite cocktails!
LCBO was also presenting a special release by Moet & Chandon: Ice Imperial champagne, the first champagne that can be served on ice and features a slightly sweeter profile. This makes it the perfect base for delicately sweet cocktails featuring vibrant fruit flavors, like mint, raspberry, and strawberry. The champagne isn’t just for cocktails though, as its’ subtle sweetness can be enjoyed chilled, or on ice!
If cocktails and stronger spirits aren’t the right choice for your guests, or you’re interested in a light beer that pairs well with a variety of foods consider grabbing Estrella from Spain. At the event it was paired with a swordfish ceviche: tomato, rocoto agua chile, sweet potato puree, chulpes, and cilantro. The combination of sweet and spicy with the lemon-lime base made for surprising and ever-changing bites, with Estrella cleansing the palette and allowing for a refreshing take on each new mouthful.
Other delicious appetizers at the event were the smoked salmon with capers on a toasted pumpernickel base. Serving these with any chive, garlic, or herb flavoured creamy base is a great way to keep guests snacking while consuming alcoholic beverages.
Responsible hosting during the holiday season does include plenty of food and non-alcoholic drinks, but doesn’t necessarily mean having a large sit-down meal for a lot of guests. You can keep favourite flavours from the holidays circulating as appetizers, like this honey ham with apple and cranberry sauce.
You could also include your favourite flavours with new or interesting combinations; at the event, the classic cranberry sauce was paired with a spiced duck sausage.
Don’t forget to include vegetarian or vegan options for other guests, like easy rice paper wraps with a sweet and spicy dip (peanuts optional based on allergies)!
Even if you aren’t hosting a holiday party this season, and just looking for some new and interesting flavours to add to your wine or liquor cabinet, make sure to check out the LCBO Holiday Pop-up on King Street! The space lends itself to exploration and discovery, making it an ideal way to start an evening out with friends, or a fun way to try a tasting flight with experts and specialists to guide the adventure. Whatever your plans this holiday season, make sure everyone has responsible options for getting home, and have a safe and memorable end of year!