By Nita Balani
TORONTO: Dale Degroff, the legendary cocktail king, inventor of the high-end Cosmopolitan Cocktail which is every woman’s favourite, is currently in Toronto for the inaugural Toronto cocktail week that runs from October 1-7.
At The Spoke Club on King Street, a 21st century variation of his celebrated Cosmo cocktail was offered to the female dominated capacity crowd as a welcome drink.
In a corner, all by his lonesome, the behemoth bartender, Dale, was in rehearsal, mixing his famous Cosmo, perfecting it before he put on the show. At the other end of the room, beautiful Sarah Parniak, mixologist of the Cold Tea lounge, was offering her millennium concoction of her pear- nectar based Cosmo and next to her young Joe Howell, bartender of The Spoke Club offered his version of the Cosmo with cracked basil leaves!
The special moment arrived as small groups of patrons one after the other were led to the bar where the mighty Dale was centred, so as to get a clear view of him and how he made his fabled pink libation. We were in the 2nd group and as we took our seats at the bar, he recounted his story of how the Cosmo came to be.
“I came to New York and saw people actually ‘lived’ in bars, not in their cubicle apartments. Like, the City (as New York is referred to) came alive in the evenings and in the bars where people congregated. Being a bartender and serving martinis, which were the popular cocktails of the 70s, I wanted to create an avant-garde drink that would represent the modern times and yet stand the test of time. Most cocktails at that time were created in the 19th century except for the martini.”
He was quick to point out that the Cosmo was not his original. “There was a vodka based drink that used cheap triple sec as an ingredient. I took it to new heights by using Ketel One Vodka, cranberry juice, lemon juice and substituted triple sec with the sublime orange based liqueur Cointreau,” he smiled as he put all the ingredients into the cocktail shaker and gave it the good ol’ hippy hippy shake shake with all his might!
“Then I blew everybody’s mind.” He reached down to take a zest of orange.”You see this,” he continued, as he took a light and set the orange rind aflame, “I actually flambéed it and threw it into the glass and hey presto, the classy Cosmo was born!” With a grand flourish Mr. Charm himself poured the stylish pink nectar fit for a Goddess into several glasses as the spectators ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’!
As he served the patrons his acclaimed cocktail with his distinguished killer smile drawing close to all the ladies visibly flooring them, he continued, “once, at an after party for Madonna, I served it to her and she and her troupe and roadies enjoyed it so much we had to make it by the gallons! She really popularized it! Then came the TV series ‘Sex and the City’ where the four lady protagonists used to have it regularly, which gave the drink its own celebrity status!” By now the ladies in the crowd were all gaga!
The rest as we all know is history! Dale’s upscale Cosmopolitan has gained a place as one of the most innovative drinks of the 20th century!
1 ½ oz of Ketel One Citroen Vodka
¾ oz Cointreau
1 ½ oz Cranberry Juice
¼ oz lemon juice
Zest of orange
A few cubes of ice.
Put ice cubes and pour vodka, cointreau, cranberry juice and lemon juice into a cocktail shaker and give it several good hard shakes. Rest the shaker on the table. Take zest of orange and set it aflame and flip it into a cocktail glass. Finely strain the heavenly pink potion from the cocktail shaker into the same cocktail glass as the orange gist.
Et voila! A drink fit for Aphrodite! And Adonis!