Ingredients should be local, seasonal



Jennifer Yang photo


Mixologist Jamie Walker shakes up some cocktails using seasonal and Canadian ingredients.


For some people, the phrase “cocktail party” has this stale, ‘80s whiff about it, evoking images of tiki parties, paper umbrellas and Ray-Ban Wayfarers.

“Cocktails were very naff,” says Jamie Walker, a London-based mixologist and Bombay Sapphire spokesman (“naff” being Brit-speak for tacky). “Coconuts, sparklers, umbrellas ... you know, people who wear far too much Brute aftershave while drinking ridiculous looking cocktails.”

Cocktails are finally shaking off their ’80s hangover, however. “There’s a resurgence and renaissance happening when it comes to cocktails,” says Walker, who also mixes drinks for celebs like Madonna and Elton John. Partly fuelling this renaissance, Walker explains, is the fact that people have grown more appreciative of ingredients, both in entrées and beverages. “People are a lot more savvy about ingredients and seasonality now,” Walker says. “They’re really looking into exactly what makes things taste a certain way.”

For Walker, seasonality has always been important and he’s adamant about only using fruit that are in season. When shaking up cocktails, he also likes to incorporate local ingredients. “It makes it much more personable to that area,” he explains, “and it really boosts the local mixology or bar culture.”

Here in Canada, berries are currently having their day in the sun and Walker is touring the country with some tips for throwing a Canuck-inspired cocktail party, just in time for Canada Day.

When infusing cocktails with some Canadiana flavour, Walker’s favourite ingredient to use is the Saskatoon berry, which he says is very high in demand across the pond. “I think they’re fantastic,” he says. “They’re huge in Scotland.” He suggests muddling the Saskatoon berry with some fresh basil and double straining it with gin and cranberry juice. “You can even add a crack of black pepper,” he says. “It will taste almost like a pinot noir.”

Mixing together homegrown berries, like strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, also make for a tasty little patio drink, especially refreshing with a dash of chilled green tea. And while lemonade isn’t local to Canada, it is always in season, says Walker, and makes for a quick and easy summer cocktail when mixed in with some gin and mint leaf.

Easy on flavours, garnish ...

  • Restraint is a virtue, Walker says. “The most important thing is the spirit itself. You don’t want to add too many ingredients and mask the flavour ... Don’t use garnish for the sake of using garnish. Remember, less is more.”

Sapphire Blossom


  • 1-1/2 oz. Bombay Sapphire gin

  • 1 oz. chilled green tea

  • 1-1/2 oz. fresh raspberries, strawberries and blueberries

  • A whisper of Chambord

  • Dash of cranberry juice

  • Sugar syrup


  1. Muddle together the fresh raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and Chambord.

  2. Add gin, green tea, cranberry juice and some sugar syrup.

  3. Add lots of ice, shake and double strain.

The Bombay Berry


  • 7-10 Saskatoon berries

  • 2 basil leaves

  • 1 oz. Bombay Sapphire gin

  • Squeeze of fresh lime

  • Dash of cranberry juice


  1. Muddle the Saskatoon berry and basil.

  2. Add the remainder of ingredients./

  3. Shake and strain.

Sapphire Squeeze


  • 1 oz. Bombay Sapphire gin

  • 2 oz. lemonade

  • Sprig of mint


  1. In a glass filled with ice, add gin and lemonade.

  2. Before placing the sprig of mint into the glass, slap it between the palm of your hand to release the full aroma.

  3. All recipes courtesy of Jamie Walker for Bombay Sapphire