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Late-breaking telexes from the craft spirit front by Wayne Curtis, author of And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in 10 Cocktails, columnist for Imbibe, and designated drinker for The Atlantic magazine.

  • And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails
    And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails
    by Wayne Curtis

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Drink FAIL: The Caribou

Some people think the life of a cocktail writer consists entirely of rare ryes and exquisitely balanced handcrafted drinks. Yet the proportion of bad drinks to good in the world remains remarkably in favor of the bad. I know this from experience. And, because I care about you, I drink the bad ones so you don't have to.

To wit: last week I was at an event in a bar/restaurant in Vancouver that will remain nameless. Some rather good wines were being served, but just one mixed drink. It was called The Caribou. (Very Canadian, eh?)

It's an allegedly popular winter Quebec drink, originally called the Caribou Blood, complete with its own faux lineage. (Vancouver is more pacific in both senses of the world, and so opted for a less violent name.) As the server explained, this was originally a whiskey drink prepared with the fresh blood of a caribou —  I know, yum! — but now it's made with red wine.

To wit again: it's made of red wine, blended Canadian whiskey, and maple syrup. With a lemon slice garnish. On the rocks. Need I say more? I believe this may be the Hurricane of Canada. I took a few sips, and then, through a small tragedy of my own devising, my glass tipped over and its contents fell into the chilly ocean waters surrounding Vancouver.

Or as I prefer to think of it — I participated in the traditional sacrificial offering of good cheer to a most excellent city. A city that, in fact, has many outstanding cocktails. (More to follow.)

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Reader Comments (6)

This cocktail drink is believed to have derived from a drink that hunters and loggers drink when working during the cold season. It consists of a mix of caribou blood and whiskey. The cocktail, however, is now composed of red wine, hard liquor, usually white whiskey, and maple syrup or sugar.

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November 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSpencer

Still: nasty.

November 10, 2011 | Registered CommenterWayne Curtis

Based on your description the "Caribou" would taste nasty. What a waste of red wine.
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December 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

The real reason salmon do not return.

February 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKerry Deane-Cloutier

Either you're a hack, or you never had a proper Caribou Blood. That drink is delicious on the east coast. Unless you're a wine hipster.

June 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterQuebecois

This is so mean-spirited... or mean-spirituous. It's a tasty Québécois specialty.

August 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

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