Cocktails; “Made with Love”

Made with Love event

Made with Love, Dolce Social Ballroom

This Spring the Toronto social scene is fawning all over the cocktail. Now Magazine featured the subject on their cover with their rendition of the city’s top 10 recently; the LCBO designated a sub-site to the traditional recipes and appreciation of early cocktail culture (notably influenced by the success of the Manhattan-friendly “Mad Men”); and then there was the recent Made with Love event at the Dolce Social Ballroom that featured bartenders from the GTA – and a couple special guests from Montreal – like the lovely Fanny Gauthier of Ateliers et Saveurs – mixing it up on a Monday under the direction of host, Kevin Brauch (formerly the Thirsty Traveler – and now found on Iron Chef).

Certainly, the success of this – and previous events – speaks to the trending status and resurrection of the cocktail for Ontario and Quebec in 2011; for, even on a night that is traditionally reserved for Industry employees that miss out on weekend romps, the Made with Love event was also packed with family; friends; and thirsty 9-to-5 locals early on. At 6:03pm, as the event doors opened, I received a text from a Sous Chef from a notable downtown restaurant that was familiar with my usual tardiness for events. It read: “It’s rammed. Get here, quick”.

Atelier et Saveurs, Fanny Gauthier of Montreal

Me & Fanny Gauthier of Montreal

By the time I did arrive, the expected lineups were still swelling around the bartenders, while lounge beats washed over the colourful room. By 9:00pm the crowds started to dwindle as the swirl of conversation began in an effort to decide whom one should give their drinking allegiance to – literally in the form of a dog tag to be draped around the neck of the bartender that concocted your chosen beverage.

My friend, Wes Galloway came in a very close second in the category of People’s Choice. His creation, “My Pear Lady”; sung Spring and featured Hendricks Gin; spiced honey syrup; and pear puree – to name key items. There was also a bacon and maple infused Caesar; a smoked espresso-laden sipper; one silky coconut and white chocolate creation; and winners Nishantha Nepulongoda’s “Caribou Crossing” (featuring Vice – a very Canadian mixture of ice wine and vodka; and Michelle Tham’s “Appleton V/X with original recipe Cola syrup”that attested to every competitor’s dedication to artistry; technical skill; and use of trending sustainable/organic and local ingredients.

Made with Love, Dolce Social Ballroom

The "F&B" cocktail

Of particular note was the “F&B” from the Montreal duo of Brynley Leach and Fanny Gauthier; as I could see myself drinking it regularly, and with extreme ease. Featuring Scotch Whiskey; white cranberry juice; basil; orange peel; lemon juice; and the extremely sexy Cohiba Maduro 5 cigar syrup – it also included the use of an electric smoker!

With the craft movement in beer and wine gaining ground, via nods to talented brewers and winemakers alike, who are refining the Industry; providing the consumer with the new insights; and using exciting local products – it seems that we should remember our old friend the bartender; the mixologist; the cocktail folks that share these qualities; and perhaps hold even an elevated attention to detail as the demand for consistency is perhaps harder by the glass than by the bottle or keg – plus without a doubt, they throw the best parties.

Check out the: Made with Love Blog for recipes, winners, and videos!


Blowfish bartender takes People's Choice

Nishantha Nepulongoda wins People's Choice!


From Toronto, Ontario

I was born in Oakville, Ontario; but moved three hours north to the Bruce Peninsula at a young age where my parents still farm beef cattle in the rolling hills - off the Lake Huron shoreline – today. Always a ‘self-starter’, my first job was as a rabbit farmer, an enterprise began with my father at age ten to supplement my weakness for Archie comic books.

Later, while working toward my degree in History and English Literature at Wilfrid Laurier University, I discovered my passionate quest to inform on my regional agriculture. Coupled with a natural affinity for conversation – these qualities developed into a part-time career in the hospitality industry. Following graduation, I traveled to Western Europe and spent an entire summer soaking in the food, wine, beer, and lifestyle of the Continent. It was in Epernay, France – the heart of the Champagne region - that my obsession with history and gastronomy peaked - standing in the caves of Moet & Chandon recalling Winston Churchill’s World War I era quote: “Remember gentlemen, it's not just France we are fighting for, it's Champagne”.
Upon returning to Canada, I wanted to foster such recognition of quality and passion in our own domestic food and beverage industry. So I, first, began by managing a bistro in the heart of Toronto’s Entertainment District. Along with the responsibilities of beverage management, I also took on staff development. Frustrated by my young staff’s general lack of confidence and knowledge in wine and premium beverage, I started hosting tastings and wine tours to Niagara for my employees – as well as other connections in the industry.

The tours to Niagara’s appellations were a hit - and two years later I launched WineNot Ontario; a blog and wine tour company based on the needs of the restaurant industry with respect to our local Ontario product. Recently, I have returned for graduate education at the University of Toronto for web marketing and e-commerce where I refined my previous skills to now offer content creation and management; social media strategy, and communications for the hospitality and lifestyle industry.

My interest in Canada’s burgeoning beer, food, and wine culture, therefore, brings my love of agriculture, gastronomy, web content and social media together, here, on

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7 Responses

  1. Anton Ajon says:

    The drinks are making my mouth water. Yummm

  2. Jay Gammy says:

    Great post. Didn’t know about the LCBO recipe site.

  3. These cocktails will sure fill my love cravings. And there are lots who keep on drinking it, I hope I can there and taste all the love made for cocktails. Thanks for sharing it in here.

  4. Christel Leach says:

    I had never tasted one of my son’s drinks which, he lies awake dreaming up, he lives in montreal and we live in Ontario. I enjoyed most drinks at the Mixology competition in Toronto, but, I must say, my son’s drink was fabulous, using a $60 cigar to make a syrup, wow, he must have stayed awake many nights for this one. And yes, I am a proud mother. If you ever get a chance to be in Montreal, you must try his other mixes.

  5. Chriszim51 says:

    Well folks, here I am again, made with love mixologie Quebec featured my son Brynley Leach again, and once again he won over the crowd with his wonderful concoction. Watch out for him in the future , he will be a big name in the mixology world. Check him out at SAN LORENZO restaurant in Montreal.

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