Many highlights of my road trip on the Nova Scotia Joy Ride involve indulging in fine food and spirits. No surprise — it was a culinary tour. But a pleasant surprise was having a chance to create my own cocktail concoction in a challenge with my three road trip rally mates — Kelsy Chauvin, Michele Sponagle, and Karen Schaler.
On our fifth day of exploring Lunenburg, Wolfville, the Annapolis Valley, and other parts of Nova Scotia, we returned to the starting point of our journey, the capital city of Halifax. Our guides from Taste of Nova Scotia, Emily Haynes and Christine White, arranged our challenge venue at the popular urban bar and restaurant, 2 Doors Down. Social Chemist, Steve Cross (respectfully known as “Crusher” among the clientele) graciously let our group of novices (to making cocktails, not drinking them) take over his bar while we went about creating our drinks.
Nova Scotia Cocktail Challenge
The only requirement was that Nova Scotia products be prominent in the recipes. With the abundance of fine wine and spirits we’d discovered on the tour, that was not a problem at all.
As we set to our mixology project, we were treated to tasty appetizers, such as the lobster bruschetta above, by Andrew Farrell, chef of 2 Doors Down who is fondly known in the kitchen as “Cookie”.
It was a lot of fun to work side by side and share a few laughs with my new friends as we went about our “work”. In very distinct ways, I think that each of the cocktails reflected each mixologist’s personality, perspectives of Nova Scotia spirits, and personal tastes. I hope you’ll enjoy my recipe below. Of course, you might have to make substitutions for certain Nova Scotia products if they’re not available where you live.
Nova Scotia Surprise
My recipe for Nova Scotia Surprise was inspired by the many surprises I found in Nova Scotia, including the fine wine and spirits produced here (in this case, Blomidon and Ironworks). I was also surprised by the wonderful blueberries grown in the province and the number of creative dishes and products that incorporate them. Van Dyk’s Wild Blueberry Juice is purely delicious and a first of its kind for me. My inspiration to choose fresh mint as a garnish came after tasting a Boozy Pop with mint at Tangled Garden. The fresh blueberry that bobs around in the flute before settling at the bottom is a bit of a surprise for the cocktail drinker, too.
1 oz Ironworks Apple Brandy
.5 oz Van Dyk’s 100% Pure Wild Blueberry Juice
4 – 5 oz Dry or Off-Dry Sparkling Wine (Blomidon Crémant used in competition)
1 Fresh Blueberry
Fresh Mint Sprig
Mix brandy and blueberry juice and pour into a champagne flute (could be mixed with ice and strained, if you like)
Add sparkling wine
Drop in fresh blueberry
Top with sprig of mint
Suggest sipping through a straw as the mint slides into the flute
Our judges, Christine, Emily, Crusher, and Michael Stack (the photographer who provided all of these photos), were kind in recognizing each of our cocktails with special commendations. I was honored that they felt that my Nova Scotia Surprise was “beautifully presented” and “tasted fantastic”. The overall winning cocktail was created by Michele Sponagle. Watch for her recipe and all of those in the competition on the Taste of Nova Scotia website over the next several weeks.
What’s your favorite cocktail?
The cocktail sounds delicious but that lobster bruschetta has my mouth watering! Sounds like you had an amazing time in Nova Scotia!!
The bruschetta was delicious, as were the other appetizers. Great menu at 2 Doors Down.
Your cocktail sounds sooo yummy – I love blueberries! And that flavour combination sounds lovely!
Nova Scotia is definitely a place for blueberry lovers. The juice (100% pure, no added sugar) really added just the right touch. I originally thought of different ingredients, but glad I settled on the blueberry.
Your cocktail looks amazing Cathy. When I was a kid I have very fond memories of going out blueberry picking – though they all went into pies and not drinks. Sounds like a fun trip.
I spent a summer living in Blomidon House though it wasn’t quite as fancy back in those days.
You’ve really gotten around in your life! How cool that you spent time in Blomidon House. I’ve never picked blueberries, but I used to pick blackberries behind our house when I was a kid. Very fond memories.
You two have the most awesome fun times, Catherine! That Lobster Bruschetta looks absolutely amazing and just made my tummy growl with wanting! My fav cocktail is a Manhattan 🙂
I’m often tempted to order a Manhattan when I’m out for dinner or drinks, but never do it. Next time, I think I’ll finally order one! They always look so good.
Looks delicious 🙂
Indeed, it was. Wish I could offer you a sample right now.
The cocktail looks delicious! Blueberry with mint in more fruity flavors sounds like dessert with a kick. My eye is on that bruschetta as well! Didn’t know about Nova Scotian spirits!
The fine quality of wine and spirits of Nova Scotia were a pleasant surprise for me. I’ll have more coming up about them.
The cocktail challenge would be a lot of fun. And your entry – Nova Scotia Surprise – sounds delicious.
I’m typically a wine drinker, so no expert on cocktails, but …… I have to admit that the Nova Scotia Surprise was really delicious.
Your cocktail looks and sounds fantastic. Blueberries are so big in Nova Scotia. When I was a kid I would often go picking with my Dad. Did you get to the restaurant “Between the Bushes”? It’s in Canning, just outside of Wolfville. They do a blueberry u-pick, and their restaurant is fabulous.
I hate to say that I didn’t get to Between the Bushes, but Karen from our group did . She absolutely loved the blueberry pie.
I am not much of a cocktail girl, but do love mojitos (sometimes with berries), but would love those Lobster Bruschetta.
I think that a mojito should be the next cocktail I try as I broaden my alcohol horizons.
What a fun trip that must have been, Catherine. I know Michele thru TMAC and I have Karen Schaler’s book, Travel Therapy. It actually inspired me to write Chocolatour!
Yes, the Nova Scotia region is a culinary delight. Lobster bruschetta! Count me in. And yes, the NS wines are a true delight. Thx for sharing …
You had me at “cocktail.” I like M & M’s = Martinis and Margaritas!
Our daughter lives in the beautiful Annapolis Valley and we have visited many times. Great looking cocktail…should have won for presentation alone!
Hanging out with friends and mixing cocktails sounds like a great way to spend some time. And that Lobster Bruschetta has my mouth watering!
This looks like such a fun experience! I’m currently stuck on kir royales!
The lobster bruschetta looks scrumptious and the cocktails refreshing. What a fun experience!
This looks like such a fabulous trip to Nova Scotia. It looks like you had such a great time. That first photo shows it and is wonderful! I love how beautiful the “Nova Scotia Surprise” cocktail is!
I was just in Nova Scotia, as part of a cruise itinerary, and only wish I would have had time to sample wine and cocktails while there! We did make it to Lunenburg and Peggy’s Cove, while the ship was in port at Halifax, just long enough to make us wish we had much more time there! I agree with the others who commented on the lobster bruschetta. Looks amazing! Would also love to taste your cocktail!
Hmm. My go to adult beverages are gin and tonic and mojitos (no surprise there for those who are my FB friends 😉 I’d certainly give your concoction a try. It is also news to me that Nova Scotia is a blueberry mecca. We tend to get our blueberries from New Jersey although as a child, I used to pick wild blueberries in the Blue Mountains of Pennsylvania. Not too many of them made it home.
How fun, Cathy! I never would have thought of putting wine and brandy together – very creative. Love the fresh mint as well. Wish I could taste your creation. Have you made it again?
Love lobster so I’d have devoured that bruschetta…yum.my!
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That Nova Scotia surprise looks really delicious!
That looks like it was a lot of fun. I definitely will try out your cocktail and wow that lobster bruschetta looks absolutely amazing.
Oh my, that cocktail recipe sounds delicious! And since blueberries are full of antioxidants and very healthy for you, this makes this a healthy cocktail, right?
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Looks pretty good … mixology can be a fun pursuit … getting buzzed off your hard work is pretty sweet! 😛
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These cocktails looks refreshing and delicious. I would love to take this cocktail challenge.