Thursday, 17 May 2012

New Drinking Hole: Bar le Jockey//Being Introduced to the Negroni

So, if you know me at all - you'll know Ines doesn't do the whole sweet drink with the umbrella/crazy colors/fancy glassware. 99% of the time, if we're out at our favorite watering-hole (my pick: the Claremont, on Sherbrooke O. & Grey in Westmount, next to the Pharmaprix, for their extensive bar and consistently good food), you can see me clutching an extra-dry (and I mean DRY AS A BONE) gin martini with extra olives (MUST be made with Hendrick's); a Stolichnaya (or Belvedere, sometimes I like that fancy Polish vodka) on the rocks with a lemon twist; or a Macallan's 12 year scotch, double, served neat. If it's too hot for any of these (although there is no time of the year where it's too hot for a nice martini), I might venture out for some sangria or gin and tonic (but with the gin doubled and just a splash of tonic for effervescence).

I have a certain condescension when it comes to drinkers who drink their stuff mixed with a lot of things, to make it not taste like alcohol - it seems kind of like, going out to buy a Lamborghini, only to replace the engine with one from a Prius, or taking the claws out of a puma or something - so you could guess my skepticism as my beer- and rum-and-coke-drinking boyfriend lugged me out to Rosemont/Petite Patrie to Bar le Jockey (on St Zotique somewhere; I don't remember exactly), promising an extensive bar.

A flair show at Bar le Jockey; image courtesy of

Upon entering, I was greeted by good music (not too loud for once) - Red Hot Chili Peppers (from their BloodSugarSexMagik days), the White Stripes, Jimi Hendrix and other good stuff that actually does not resemble techno or wailing/screaming (major points!) - and a bartender that actually understood what I meant when I rapidly barked out "martini, sec, vraiement sec, fait avec Hendrick's et avec beaucoup d'olives, s'il vous plait." The martini had the proper legs on the sides of the glass, the bartender used the proper technique of RINSING THE GLASS WITH DRY VERMOUTH (not just haphazardly throwing it in the shaker), and didn't shake the gin for too long, resulting in a nice, smooth, dry martini, accompanied by the good kind of olives (garlic marinated queen olives in this instance - more points!). Like a good bartender, he asked me to taste the martini, so that he could remake it for me if it wasn't for my liking (big, fat, gold star at this point!). He didn't quite make it as well as the Claremont (which I have been frequenting for years, therefore they know exactly what I want - this guy almost nailed it - it might take a few visits before we solve this problem) , but he knew what he was doing and what I loved the most was that he didn't water down the martini because I'm a girl.

I have this mini-rant every time I walk into a bar and I ask the bartender to create me a drink, he makes me this pink-sugar-fruit-amaretto explosion thingy served in a pineapple or something - so preparing for a mini-b*tchfit, I asked him to make me something that I would like, that wouldn't be pink or blue or garnished with  cherries and umbrellas. He asked if I was very partial to Hendrick's, and I said I was, so he told me he would make me a traditional Italian cocktail, using Hendrick's and sweet vermouth, instead of the dry variety.

He made me a negroni - delightfully bitter, not sweet, and refreshingly citrusy. 1 part gin, 1 part sweet vermouth, and 1 part campari (or orange bitters), served on the rocks in an old fashioned (or lowball) glass wiped down at first with a burnt orange (yes, you get to set an orange peel on fire!), then garnished with a burnt orange twist, this traditional apertif has become a welcome addition to my very limited repertoire of "acceptable" drinks. It's a cocktail I feel is a bit neglected alongside the ever-multiplying explosion of appletinis, lychee martinis, screaming orgasms and other sugary-sweet drinks posing as grown-up cocktails, but is so much more complex and interesting in its portrayal of a single, unpopular flavor: bitterness (don't knock on bitterness - it's a very useful flavor aspect that can enhance other flavors placed alongside it).

All in all, the capable bartender at Bar le Jockey made my experience there very enjoyable, and I should think when I'm in the east end of town I will visit more frequently. For those of you who don't drink cocktails, the bar has a very nice selection of beers, rums and scotches as far as I could see (they have an extensive bar and I couldn't make out all the bottles), and for those of you who prefer the cocktail variety that makes me cringe like a vampire in sunlight, there are some house creations that are, for example, garnished with pink cotton candy and other sugary manners of garnishes (a gaggle of girls were going bonkers over that whole situation). My only caveat is that this bar has no food - and we know Ines likes food with her drinks - but they do have little nibbles that are pretty decent (cabanossi/mini pepperoni, pickled eggs, chips & salsa etc.). They also have flair shows (I got too tired to stay late for the shows... Ines is clearly getting old and decrepit), and a DJ that will spin your requests nightly. The pricing was a welcome change from bars in more popular areas; a cocktail will set you back around $9-12, depending on what's in it - I was used to some bars robbing me blind for a watery martini.

Conclusion: if you're in that neck of the woods - go to Bar le Jockey. You might end up hungry, but you will be very happily drunk, and you WILL have a lot of fun trying out new drinks.

Happy drinking, and wishing an awesome long weekend to all!

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