Because I Caribou-t you <3
Sorry, I just couldn’t resist. I’m continuing my Canada-themed week with the perfect cold weather cocktail. In fact, it’s rumored to be so good at making you forget that you’re in below-freezing temperatures that it can be dangerous once you head back inside. True story, or at least that’s what we were told.
So here’s how this belly-warming red wine, whiskey and maple syrup cocktail came to be featured on this here blog: On our trip to Quebec (I know, I know, I keep talking about it, but I promise to have a Travel Diaries post for you next week!) my friend Johanna and I were looking up local food and drinks that we just HAD to try while we were there.
On our last night, we decided to brave the 10 degree temperatures and hit the German Christmas Markets, but we knew we’d need some libations to keep us warm and toasty as we wandered around outside. After a quick Google search we realized that what we’d be looking for is a Canadian drink known as the “Caribou,” because (a) it was served warm and (b) well, it was Canadian.
We found a fun pub just across the street from the Christmas Markets and decided to post up there for a bit to warm up both our bodies and our bellies, and proceeded to ask the bartender for a Caribou. He was a little confused at first (I guess it’s not as popular as we thought? At least not in Quebec) but eventually produced a liquor bottle that claimed it was Caribou. Now, this was pre-mixed stuff, and he served it to us cold, but it was interesting nonetheless and I immediately knew I wanted to try and make a legit, warm version as soon as I got home.
After a bit of further research, we discovered that a Caribou typically contains red wine, whiskey and maple syrup. It sounded easy enough to make on our own! And seeing as we’re heading to Tahoe this weekend with the fam (in 20-degree weather nonetheless) I figured there was no time like the present to perfect this high-octane mulled wine.
And perfect it I did! I strayed slightly from the original recipe in that I added a cinnamon stick, but I feel like any wine served warm (or whiskey for that matter) needs just a touch of spice. This recipe is incredibly easy to make, and as long as you have all of the ingredients on hand, all you have to do is throw them into a saucepan and heat them up.
Although I have not yet consumed enough Caribou in one sitting to worry about it, I feel obliged to tell you a little story we heard from the couple sitting next to us at the pub in Quebec where we enjoyed our Caribou.
After they helped translate what we were looking for to our waiter, this friendly couple visiting from Montreal started giggling a bit at our request. We asked them why they were giggling, and if we should be worried about this “local” drink we were ordering. They told us that Caribou is what everyone drinks during the city’s month-long Winter Carnival celebration…with the goal of drinking enough so that they don’t feel the cold. Hey, that sounded a lot like us!
BUT, they cautioned, the problem with Caribou is that if you drink too much and then go out into the cold weather, you don’t notice how much it’s hit you until you head back inside, at which point you’re apparently a mess and can’t remember anything the next day. Ahhhhhh….that’s why this was so funny. Here we were, just two American blondes, sipping on one stiff pour of ICED Caribou in preparation for our trek through the German Christmas Markets.
So, no, we did not get sick, or even feel the slightest bit of a buzz, but I feel it’s my duty to give you fair forewarning. We are, after all, talking about a cocktail made up of solely red wine AND whiskey.
My message to you is that if you are headed (or live) anywhere frigid, you most definitely must try this unique Canadian cocktail, but sip with caution and know that it can pack a punch. Hopefully you won’t be driving anywhere anyway!
A Canadian classic that's perfect for cold weather drinking - red wine, whiskey and maple syrup served warm with just a touch of cinnamon.
- 8 ounces red wine (I used a red blend)
- 4 ounces whiskey
- 2-3 ounces pure maple syrup (depending on how sweet you want it)
- 1 cinnamon stick
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring every once in a while, and then remove from heat. Pour into mugs and serve immediately.
Who’s building the fire??