What’s on your bar cart?

This weekend we’ve got some friends coming over. So naturally I raided our non-existent liquor cabinet (I say non-existent because we don’t have a bar in our home or dark mysterious wine cellar) to see what wine we had to go along with dinner. Then I thought how it was interesting how we all have what I affectionately call our “house wines” and beers that we always have in stock at our homes. Everyone does this. Those several favourite brands that are always replenished. I’m not necessarily talking about Award Winners (though some are) but your household favourites.

And after seeing a ton of upcycled bar carts this past season on blogs, I thought I’d share my favourite ‘house’ drinks of choice.

What? What’s this talk about liquor and beer? This is a respectable blog. I came here to read about IKEA and how to do crafts with my children. We don’t talk about alcohol. How inappropriate.

Right. And you’re all out there keeping those martini and shot glasses staged and empty on those bar carts for your blog entries.

Let me just clarify, this is not a post to encourage you to go out and binge drink. I’d like to believe we’re all responsible adults. These are just some tales of what it’s like spending the majority of your life being a non-beer & red wine drinking person, discovering them for the first time. We all like to having company over and choosing an appropriate wine or alcoholic beverage to compliment a meal is always nice. Especially if you’re not the greatest cook and need the wine more than you need a good recipe. Who could that be? Hmmm…

The craft beer industry has exploded with independent companies showing off their newest products so I am always interested in discovering new wines and beers.

So in no particular order, here are my (our) Top 5 “House” Liquors, Wine and Beers.

1) Wiser’s Special Blend Whisky

wisers special blend

I was at a family BBQ. You need to drink at a family BBQ. If you have to ask why, please adopt me. Years ago at said BBQ when James’ Aunt asked me what I wanted to drink I instantly replied with “Do you have any whisky?” I love whisky. My favourite bar drink of choice has always been a Rye & Ginger.

If that sounds like morse code to our fellow Americans who may not have access to Canadian Rye Whisky – this guy explains that situation better than I ever could as does Wikipedia – Rye & Ginger just means Rye Whisky and Ginger Ale. His Aunt said “Oh yeah I have a bottle over in the cabinet” and she goes to get this small mickey (another fun Canadiana lesson – it’s a 12 oz bottle) of Wiser’s Special Blend. She says help yourself to as much as you want. There was only half a bottle left so I poured myself a drink. Paradise ensued. Where was this Rye Whisky the entire time I was drinking cheap Rye Whisky at clubs and bars in my younger years?

All was great. Until I heard “So I see you like my whisky” from a very stern looking Grandma (James’ Aunts mother) who was obviously unhappy that her daughter gave away her stash of alcohol that she bought to the BBQ and hid away. I pleaded ignorance. Do you know what it’s like to get the death stare from someones Grandma? Oh man. Good thing the discovery of the whisky made it bearable.

To this day it is my favourite whisky. My husband and I affectionately call the best nights, Wiser’s nights.

2) Fuzion Shiraz Malbec Wine

Fuzion Shiraz

Fuzion Shiraz (2)

This was the first red wine I ever tried that I actually liked. I was a long time white wine drinker and really wanted to change my palate as the white wines weren’t tasting as good as they used to. I asked my then local LCBO (that’s the Liquor Control Board of Ontario – yes we Ontario, Canada folks can’t buy our alcohol in corner stores) employee for a recommendation for a novice red wine drinker. He led me to the last case of this new Shiraz that they couldn’t keep in stock. I thought for $7.95 a bottle, sure I’ll try it.

Divine didn’t even cover the hype of this wine. It sold out fast and they couldn’t keep it in stock. Great for the company but terrible for me and the rest of the people that had discovered this and demanded to get their hands on a bottle. This was back in 2009 and things have calmed down since then. But the price and taste hasn’t changed and therefore this has officially become my go to house wine. It’s rare that I will actually reach for a bottle of anything else to drink with dinner and bbq’s etc. I may give other high end bottles as gifts but for everyday meals, this is it for me.

3) Panama Jack’s Original Cream Liquor

Panama Jack's

Bailey’s Irish Cream is a staple cream liquor in everyone’s household. It’s a well known taste, mandatory at Christmas and mixes well with everything from coffee to milk to straight on ice. You know the one downfall of Baileys? The price. A 750 ml bottle will run you $29.95.

Then one day as I was staring at the all the varieties of Bailey’s on the shelf, I got into a conversation with another fellow LCBO clerk about this very issue. She asked me if I had ever tried the Panama Jack’s version. I said “There’s a Panama Jack’s version?” Not only was there an alternate version to the alternate versions, it was $18.95 (regularly on sale for $15.95) for 750 ml. The only difference was that the Panama Jack’s is a wine based liquor and not a cream based liquor so it was nowhere near the other cream liquors. If you’re an ardent drinker (that’s about the only polite way I can say that without saying if you know your booze), you will taste the difference the first time you compare them.

But not enough to warrant to the extra $11 a bottle for your casual desert drink around your house. I have literally promoted this one to all my Bailey’s loving friends and they agree. Once it’s in your drink, you won’t care.

4) Sleeman Honey Brown Lager

Sleeman Honey Brown (2)

I have spent my entire life hating beer. Back in high school, er, I mean back in my younger days (because drinking when you’re a teenager is wrong) whenever my friends went out and brought their 24’s and 6 packs, I would always be the one they’d leave their cases with because they knew I’d guard them and not drink any because I was repulsed by it. It tasted like crap, bitter and dry and just all kinds of awful. So it was a funny thing that when I was pregnant with Little C, my second child, I craved beer like it was water. I seriously would have killed someone at some point just to get in a sip. And because I obviously couldn’t do that, after I was no longer pregnant I went on a beer tasting adventure trying to find something to satisfy that craving. Nothing seem to fit what my craving thought a good beer should taste like.

That is until Sleeman Honey Brown was introduced to me at yet another BBQ for a friends son’s birthday and then I introduced it to my Guinness and Rickard’s Red (which is so good on draft) loving husband. This was the first beer I had ever enjoyed in my entire life and has since become our house beer. With an honourable mention to Moosehead (due in part to their special 28 pack of beer for the price of 24 promotion they’ve had for a long time now).

5) Innis and Gunn Original

Innis and Gunn (2)

Ok ladies and gentleman, this is the product that I am going to tell you about, that you wish you had never heard about or tried. Because once you do, you will wind up cursing the fact that it is by far one of the best beers currently out there.

And that one 330 ml bottle will cost you $3.15.

And it doesn’t come in a 6 pack, a 12 pack or a 24. So you have to buy them individually (though based on me stalking them on Twitter they do have plans for it to come out in a 6 pack very soon).

We discovered Innis and Gunn this past Fall when we were out for dinner for our Anniversary and the waiter suggested it to my husband. It’s been like an IV in his arm ever since. This is his end of the work week beer treat. To give you an example of how much we like it, this is my Instagram image I tweeted Innis and Gunn the day we brought the empties back to Beer Store:

Innis and Gunn

The beer was born by accident. Innis and Gunn were trying to make a scotch whisky with ale flavours, so they stored special ale in whisky barrels. After the ale had ‘flavoured’ the barrels, it was supposed to be discarded and replaced with whisky. The happy accident was that the ale tasted phenomenal instead. And so after 77 days in oak barrels, you get original Innis and Gunn beer. It’s no surprise I like it, given my affection for Whisky.

But James is beyond taken by it. So much so that when our local LCBO was sold out of it for millionth time we checked, I sent them a tweet on our behalf showing the empty shelves. Innis and Gunn graciously replied they would get in contact with the store to ensure it would be refilled. They can’t get this in 6 pack soon enough for us. Everyone that James has gotten to try it falls in love with it.

Just don’t blame us for the price per bottle. But one try and you won’t care.

Innis and Gunn

Remember, always drink responsibly.

And please note, that if you are visiting my blog for the first time, a lot of the above was written tongue in cheek. So don’t send hate mail. Send me your bottle caps instead for my kids craft projects.

I leave you with this little bit – it’s a tad early for Mother’s Day but this way you won’t forget:

via: someecards

Now tell me about your favourites…


  • Reply
    March 14, 2013 at 8:48 am

    Great post – you’ve introduced me to some new ones! I’m not a beer drinker but my hubby is and his so I’m going to get him some Innis & Gunn to try. We just tried something new : Sortilege – it’s a Canadian whiskey and maple syrup liqueur. I’m not a whiskey fan but this stuff tastes like dessert 🙂
    In the summer I make watermelon mint mojitos which are fab-u-lous. And my fave wine is a Sauvignon blanc by Kim Crawford. Which I can hardly ever find at the LCBO because it seems to be everyone’s fave so when it’s there, I buy a lot!!

    • Reply
      March 15, 2013 at 11:49 am

      Innis & Gunn is always sold out at our local stores (mind you we live in a small community) but it really attests to how good the stuff is. Because over $3 per bottle for a take home beer…man.

      Canadian whiskey and maple syrup…hmmm…must put this on the list to go try. I say this as someone who loves Maple Dip Donuts from Tim Horton’s. Canadian Maples even better!

  • Reply
    March 14, 2013 at 10:21 am

    You make me laugh. Every. Time.

    • Reply
      March 15, 2013 at 11:52 am

      Me? Funny? You should see me what text messages I send my friends. They’re trying to encourage me to publish them but I fear I will hoards of angry bloggers pounding on my door.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2013 at 11:23 am

    i love this post. and i don’t believe i’ve ever tried an innis & gunn. i must fix that prontito! it’s only 8:22 am and it already sounds divine 😉

    • Reply
      March 15, 2013 at 11:53 am

      What time zone are you in? Maybe I can justify it by using my time? 8:22 may become lunch time!

  • Reply
    March 14, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    Haha, you are such an entertaining writer! I loved this post – Since Jon and I both work for the #1 premium wine and spirits producer (Constellation Brands Inc.), it’s safe to say we have a LOT of alcohol in our apartment. It doesn’t help that Jon brews his own beer besides haha. I swear we’re not even big drinkers!

    I’m definitely interested in trying out the Panana Jack’s after reading your recommendation – There are so many recipes I want to try that use Bailey’s but I can’t justify spending that much for a dessert I’m probably going to end up giving away. Also, the Innis and Gunn sounds awesome – I can’t wait to tell Jon. We’ll have to see if that sell that in the US. 🙂

    Here are a few of our favs: Blackstone Merlot (light fruity red), Franciscan Magnificat (expensive but if you’ve got a special occassion this is definitely worth the splurge – it’s a red blend that’s a bit more full bodied but it’s SO smooth and drinkable), Kim Crawford (fun citrusy sauvignon blanc, super popular), The Dreaming Tree Crush (red blend – it’s a joint venture by Simi Winery and Dave from Dave Matthews Band… I absolutely cannot stand DMB music but I can’t stop buying this wine and supporting him anyways haha), and Black Velvet Toasted Caramel (I’m sure you’re familiar with BV in Canada but have you tried the flavored one? It’s soooo good especially with apple cider!)

    • Reply
      March 15, 2013 at 12:00 pm

      Jackson Triggs is a house brand at one of my friends homes. Seriously I’ve lost count of the bottles I have seen them go through.

      That’s just it with the Bailey’s. We all love it. We all know it. I give it as gifts and for good occasions it’s here. But for everyday little things and pouring on ice cream I need something a tad more budget friendly.

      I hope they sell it in the US. They’re originally from the UK so if we have it here in Canada it’s got to be in the US somewhere.

      I see this Kim Crawford is coming up more and more. Adding that one on the list. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Lauren @ The Thinking Closet
    March 14, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    We don’t usually keep liquor in the house (mostly because we’re uneducated in the land of mixed drinks) but Bailey’s is one exception. I’m really glad to know of Panama Jack’s – – I’m always looking for a thriftier alternative. Thanks for sharing. (And I cracked up at that e card…did you create that one yourself? I wouldn’t put it past you.)

    • Reply
      March 15, 2013 at 12:05 pm

      I did not but I totally would have! There are so many brutally great ones out there.

  • Reply
    Victoria • Restoring our Victorian
    March 14, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    I am trying to decide if Canadian beer is weirdly orange, or if American bottlers put it in colored bottles, so you don’t see that it is weirdly orange?

    One time Paul and I were at a place in Philadelphia, that has all kinds of obnoxious, pretentious beer on tap. I am not really a beer person, but I had something there that was literally the most delicious thing I have ever tasted.

    Of course, I have no idea what it was… We went back there over a year later. And I tried to order it again. Basically by telling them – I had the most delicious thing here ever. Can I have that again?

    Apparently, that is not how beer connoisseurs describe things… And they had no idea what it was. Next time I am at the beer store (we have state stores here too). I will see if they have this… Just in case it’s the same thing I had.

    • Reply
      March 15, 2013 at 12:08 pm

      It’s probably the super sunny lighting in my kitchen where I took the pics. We have tons of yellowish and super dark beers here too. But it’s probably a lot to do with the types of beers I like. They all seem to have similar qualities and colors. Maybe a color taste test needs to be done to prove this completely made up theory that I am writing out in this sentence.

      I do that a lot. Forget to take down the names of beers and alcohols or even good food. Then half the time I get mad that we can’t get it up here. I have James Aunt and Uncle bring my sulfate free shampoo from Atlanta b/c we can’t buy it at the Costco in Canada. I am like come on now. And we *just* got Target.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    Right, if we lived closer, we could so be friends : ). Why? 1. Your whiskey bottle is half empty. 2. You drink whiskey 3. You have all my favourite alcoholic beverages in stock at your house…makes for good “pop-over” visits LOL. 4. You stole whiskey from an old lady!! That cracks me up.


    PS I promise I’m not a creepy stalker!

    • Reply
      March 15, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      Kelli I nearly spit out my coffee laughing! It’s nice to meet another fellow woman Whisky drinker. Every time I see the ads for the Wiserhood, while completely hilarious I often think they need to make some for the ladies. A lot of my girlfriends don’t always just drink the slushie sweet alcohol drinks and cosmos 24/7. Some of them are good ole fashioned beer drinking, vodka chasing on the rocks kind of girls.

  • Reply
    Green Door Hospitality
    March 15, 2013 at 10:38 am

    What a fun post, with some great suggestions! I will now be on the look out for some Innis and Gunn!!

    • Reply
      March 15, 2013 at 12:15 pm

      You can do what I do, stalk them on Twitter. One day I’ll just have to convince them to hire me for their taste testing dept. God knows I am starting to think we are the reason their shelves are sold out here.

  • Reply
    March 15, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    I still really LOVE Alexander Keith’s Apple Cider beer that someone by the name of “James” introduced me to a year ago :)… Now I have to try Innis and Gunn which I am sure I will love because I am a Rum and Beer drinker.. Although these days i’m an “anything” drinker! Not that picky.

    • Reply
      March 17, 2013 at 12:10 pm

      HAHAHA! After last night I think we’re going to have to get you over to the special imported beer area.

  • Reply
    now at home mom
    March 15, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Enjoyed this post! funny quote at the end too! 🙂 Alex, here is something for you; every time I tell this to people; they either laugh at me or don’t believe me, so here it is: I have never drank any alcohol beverages in my life! OK, now you think I’m weird ha!? 🙂 (I still enjoyed your post)

    • Reply
      March 17, 2013 at 12:13 pm

      I believe you and I don’t think it’s weird. One of my best friends in the world has never tried a drop of alcohol in her life and I completely respect it and it hasn’t affected our friendship in the least. If anything it made decided on a designated driver really easy when we all went out with our friends.

      At the risk of enabling every parenting stereotype in the world, we didn’t really drink until after we had kids. This the part where I start whistling and walking away from the computer keyboard…

      • Reply
        now at home mom
        March 18, 2013 at 3:59 pm

        ha!ha! you are too funny! ; “walking away from the computer” that’s why I enjoy reading your posts so much! & glad to know there is someone else other than me who doesn’t drink (all my friends enjoy it! but they don’t mind!) Hubby always jokes around by telling me: I would be more relaxed if I would drink 🙂

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Brave New Home
    March 15, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    Great post! I’ll keep my eyes out for some of these. Thanks for the suggestions! I’d love to have a bar cart but maybe when the little one is a bit older. And we learn some self restraint 😛

    • Reply
      March 17, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      I know!! How people do it with the bar carts and toddlers is a post I would love to read on its own. Half the time I can’t even wrap my head around bookcase decorations. Do you know what would happen to any glass figurines in arms reach of my 2 year old? Forget it.

  • Reply
    March 17, 2013 at 12:04 am

    What a fun post and some great suggestions. I really like Shiraz & Malbec’s so I’ll have to keep an eye out for this one. Cheers!

    • Reply
      March 17, 2013 at 12:16 pm

      I hope they carry this one in the US. I recently came across a photo of woman buying it (like we’re talking a cart full) and I know it wasn’t in ON b/c we have to buy our alcohol at the LCBO stores. So it was either in the US or another province but def not mine.

  • Reply
    April 21, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    I never liked Guiness. Then, I went to Ireland for my honeymoon, and felt that I wouldn’t get the real experience if I didn’t have at least one. I swear they are keeping the good stuff for themselves and exporting the lesser quality beer to the Americas. I am not a big beer drinker, but I couldn’t get enough of it over there. I highly recommend going to Ireland and drinking a Guiness.

  • Reply
    April 23, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    Wow! I just had to write, usually I just read, but the Gunn and Innis has proven too much for me to remain silent. Yes! Yes! Yes! I am on the other side of the pond and had been up to Scotland for a little visit last May. We were sitting in a pub near where they draw the ales and couldn’t believe our ears when the barmaid requested a huge amount after pulling a pint of the stuff. What? Like, 10 dollars Canadian for a pint? What is that stuff? So, the bar-lady gave us a sip and like you were instantly hooked.
    We down here in jolly ‘ole England also have to pay for the bottles individually, so I will take it personally if they start issuing 6packs to you guys ; )

    Also, you may like to know that there are 2 other flavors. One is a rum finish, so instead of the aging process in whisky barrels, it is aged in old rum barrels. The second is a longer aged version of the whisky aged that you currently drink imparting a richer flavor.

    Love your blog!

    All the best from Cornwall!

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