Break out the hockey sticks, bagged milk and mountie hats: July 1st is Canada Day! Celebrate the country’s official 1867 birthday with five cocktails inspired by our neighbors to the north. Rather than pick out a selection of cocktails that simply call for stereotypical Canadian staples like maple syrup, snow or poutine (gravy-tini, anyone?), we curated a menu of drinks that evoke some of the defining qualities of Canada’s five regions. While you can mix up these cocktails with whatever brands you have around, we’ve recommended some spirits from local provincial distillers for added Canadian pride.
Drink Your Way Through Canada with These 5 Cocktails
The Atlantic: The Maritime provinces are crazy for blueberries, with Nova Scotia alone producing enough wild blueberries to supply every resident with 40 pounds of fruit. What better way to celebrate the wild blueberry capital of Canada than by drinking fruity, tart Brambles until Oompa Loompas roll you away? Sure, the Bramble is traditionally made with blackberries, but not on Canada Day. Swap out the blackberries for blueberries, and try Nova Scotian Ironworks Blueberry Liqueur, made with 100 percent wild blueberries, instead of the usual crème de mûre. Mix it all with some award-winning Gin Thuya from Distillerie Fils du Roy in New Brunswick to celebrate the province’s large Francophone community.
Crème de mûre
Central Canada: It doesn’t get Frencher than Central Canada (besides France, obviously). Québec has the largest population of French Canadians, or “Québécois,” in the country, and more than three-quarters of the province speaks the language. Festive and elegant, a French 75 is the perfect cocktail to sip while debating the Québec sovereignty movement and extolling the prowess of Montreal’s bagels and smoked meats. Try mixing Cirka Gin Sauvage from Québec’s Boreal Forest with a sparkling wine from the Niagara region, such as Handsome Brut made from 100 percent Ontario Chardonnay.
The Prairies: In 1969, Alberta’s Calgary Inn needed a new cocktail to celebrate the grand opening of their Italian restaurant. Tasked with the job, bartender Walter Chell looked at a bowl of spaghetti with clam sauce and thought, “Will it cocktail?” Chell added briny clam juice to a traditional Bloody Mary, and the Bloody Caesar was born. It may sound fishy (or clammy), but Canadians immediately adopted the savory drink as a national point of pride. Sample this unlikely phenomenon by swapping out tomato juice for Clamato (a proprietary blend of tomato juice and clam broth) in a Bloody Mary and using Lucky Bastard Vodka from Saskatchewan. You’ll be transported to the Prairies’ fertile lands in no time.
British Columbia: The crisp mountain air, the mossy scent of the forest floor, the recreational marijuana—British Columbia offers mesmerizing, natural beauty. A classic Whiskey Smash evokes the region’s lush landscape with fresh mint, refreshingly chilly crushed ice and earthy whiskey. Plus, you simply cannot celebrate Canada Day without genuine Canadian whisky. We recommend Pemberton Valley Organic Single Malt Whisky, which is distilled from ingredients sourced from the Salmon Arm and Peace River regions of British Columbia, and blended with pristine mountain water. Breathe in, let the coolness of the cocktail fill your lungs, and pretend you’ve just summited the Canadian Rockies and lit one up.
The Far North: The Northern territories make up a third of Canada, but only 100,000 people live there. Much of the “Land of the Midnight Sun” is a vast tundra with unimaginably frigid temperatures. Though the region’s most notorious “cocktail” is the Sourtoe (an actual dehydrated human toe dropped into a shot of whisky), an extra-cold Vesper is a much more palatable way to celebrate the region. It’s as pure and bright as the miles of untouched snow that cover the North and will make you feel like you’ve just struck Yukon gold. Plus, while the Vesper originated in the 1953 James Bond novel Casino Royale, the uber-British Agent 007 was partially based off of real-life Canadian spy Sir William Samuel Stephenson, making every move he made (including ordering a Vesper) partially Canuck. Stir Yukon Shine’s Winter Vodka with AuraGin and the standard Lillet, and enjoy until you start seeing the Northern Lights.