I’ve always been a diehard beer drinker. I’d never tried a martini until a few years ago when friends introduced me to a variety of classic cocktails, most of which sparked an immediate liking. There are essentially hundreds of different types of cocktails, and this new wave of mixology has bartenders and mixologists reinventing old classics and creating new and innovative drinks with class.

Milestones on the Falls in the Marriott Hotel has a drink menu consisting of classic cocktails with an eclectic flare. “Milestones, in general, likes to put a twist in all the things they do,” states Robert W. Paul, Assistant Manager of Food and Beverage. Shaken or stirred, Milestones cocktails aim to please with their creative spin on the following classic cocktails.

COSMOPOLITAN

Strong and sweet are words that can be used to describe a Cosmopolitan. A typical Cosmopolitan consists of citron vodka, Cointreau, cranberry juice, and fresh lime, Milestone’s take on the classic drink is missing one key ingredient: cranberry juice. “It is a very untraditional cosmo,” states Stephanie Brown, bartender at Milestones. “I start by mixing Smirnoff Vodka and the Alizé Red Passion fruit liqueur, cut up strawberries, margarita mix, two ounces of pomegranate juice, and one ounce passion fruit. Then, I add ice and shake it,” explains Brown who has worked behind the stick for seven years. “The drink is finished off with an apple garnish.” Milestone’s version of the Cosmo has a more distinct fruit flavour than the traditional recipe. “Ours has a pink colour,” adds Brown.

TOM COLLINS

Although it may be named after the Great Tom Collins hoax of 1874, this tall and refreshing drink is no joke. “The Cucumber and Elderflower Collins is a nice summer drink,” says Brown. “First I take three fresh cucumber slices and put them in the glass with enough margarita to cover the cucumber. Then I mash it.” Next, Brown adds the Bombay Sapphire Gin and the St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur. “Then comes the ice. It is stirred not shaken, so you can see the cucumber go through the whole glass,” says Brown. The drink is topped off with revitalizing soda water and a cucumber wheel garnish.

WALTER’S ORIGINAL CAESAR

Invented in 1969 by Walter Chell from the Calgary Inn Italian Restaurant, the Caesar is frequently ordered for any occasion. “Our Caesar is very popular,” says Paul. The secret ingredient that makes a Milestone Caesar stand out among the rest is horseradish. “The horseradish in it gives it a zing,” says Paul. Although prepared the same as a traditional Caesar, Brown knows exactly when to add the secret ingredient. “I rim the Caesar and add ice, tabasco, Worcestershire sauce and lastly a teaspoon of horseradish then I finish the drink off with Motts Clamato.” says Brown. The garnish goes above and beyond a regular stick of celery. “Our garnish is a sweet pepper, an olive, and half a pickle,” concludes Brown.  

MOJITO

Originating in the 1930s, the mojito is often a bartender’s nemesis, yet not at Milestones. “It’s one of our most popular drinks,” says Brown. The Traditional Lime Mojito on the menu is mixed with house made cane syrup and amber rum as opposed to the customary white rum resulting in a unique flavour. “The cane syrup blends well with the amber rum, giving it a taste that is simply indescribable,” says Brown. “We use three limes and 8-10 mint leaves, depending on the size.”

“Watch how the bartender slaps the mint leaves before they put them in the glass to activate them,” says Paul. Next, Brown adds the cane syrup and mashes it in the serving glass. “I add the rum, ice and top with soda. The lime wheel is the garnish,” says Brown who often has customers tell her it is the best mojito they have ever tasted. “I like to control the sweetness and tartness in the mojito,” says Brown who understands the drink requires the perfect harmony between these two flavours. The Raspberry Pomegranate Mojito is a sweeter version of the traditional masterpiece. “We don’t use cane syrup, we use raspberry puree, pomegranate juice, and Captain Morgan’s White Rum,” says Brown. This version of the drink requires less soda water then the lime Mojito giving it a bolder taste. 

MOSCOW MULE

When lime, ginger beer and vodka are mixed together a simple yet dynamic flavour is created. Known as the drink that launched Smirnoff Vodka into popularity, the Moscow Mule dates back to the 1940s when a bartender in Manhattan, New York, was trying to create a drink that would use up the vodka and ginger beer he had kicking around in the bar. To his luck a woman came into the establishment with 2000 copper mugs she had brought with her from Russia. The bartender combined the ingredients and served them in the copper cups. As the saying goes, the rest is history. “The Marriott version uses passion fruit and pomegranate ginger syrup to make it come alive,” says Paul.

THE BELLINI

Milestone’s signature drink, the Bellini, was originally invented in Venice, Italy by the founder of Harry’s Bar. This famous drink consists of sparkling wine and Peach Schnapps “Ours is different. It is more of an adult slushie,” says Paul. “It has the consistency of a slushie, but within that there is vodka and Peach Schnapps and topped with sangria to give it the red stripe.” Popular in the late afternoon, the Bellini is decorated with a plastic animal. Those needing an extra kick can order the Bellini Bowl, a larger version of the drink. 

NEW CREATIONS AND NON-ALCOHOLIC CHOICES

BLACKBERRY VANILLA BOURBON SOUR

Milestones is also serving up its own creations such as the Blackberry Vanilla Bourbon Sour. “The Bourbon Sour is a different drink,” exclaims Brown. “You can taste the bourbon, the vanilla and the blackberry flavours.” Brown admits she enjoys the taste of the sour creation. “It’s a very new drink I have never had before,” she says. “I start with Jim Beam and then I add the Galliano and Creme de cassis (blackcurrant liquor), blackberry puree, and margarita mix. I add the egg white last. I put the egg white and ice in a silver shaker. When you shake it, the foam is created. This is the first drink I’ve made where I use an egg white. It is really fun to make.”

MIAMI ICE

“Our best mocktail is the Miami Ice,” explains Brown, who calls a non-alcoholic drink a mocktail. “It is really refreshing. You get the taste of the fruit and the tea as it is made with mango puree, fresh mint, and iced tea.”

by Jill Tham