What: Sharp Left
With: Steph’s Cheese Dip
Who: The friends you lie on the couch with
When: All day long
It was the case that if you walked into the Embassy, a bar in Toronto’s Kensington Market, and ordered a “lefty on the rocks” you’d either get a knowing nod and smile from the bartender or a blank stare. A friend and I first sat at the bar years ago, soon after it had opened and we decided to order shots to celebrate an occasion that I wish I could remember now. We left it to the owner/bartender to choose a drink for us and he came back with a pale yellow shot with a pretty red pool of something at the bottom. It was attractive, delicious and punchy and we were only expecting the latter. We were told it was a house special of sorts, a “lefty”: a small splash of creme de cassis with Zubrowka vodka (bison grass vodka) poured slowly over top to keep the parts distinct. Another time we ordered a “lefty on the rocks” from their menu board: the shot over ice, topped with ginger ale. I don’t have anything against vodka, but it’s definitely not my favourite spirit. Zubrowka doesn’t taste like other vodkas. It’s herbaceous, slightly earthy and sweet, and worth procuring. Especially since trying to get a lefty at the bar has turned out to be a pain.
I saw many rounds of leftys ordered that night both off the chalkboard menu and straight from the owner. But any time after that we went in and asked for either the lefty straight up or on the rocks, no bartender knew what the hell we were talking about. A lot of pointing and explaining eventually gets you the drink, there or anywhere else. Or you could simply make the drink at home as I’ve described, or make the variation here. The citrus and bitters in my take round the drink out nicely. It scales well for a pitcher too, and it’s the perfect drink for when you’re pigging out with your friends.
A Sharp Left
Inspired by the Lefty, created at the Embassy in Toronto’s Kensington Market
1/2 teaspoon cassis
1 oz Zubrowka vodka (bison grass vodka), chilled
1 oz lime juice
5 oz ginger ale, chilled
3 dashes citrus bitters
Pour cassis into the bottom of any lowball glass, then add the vodka and lime juice, and add the ginger ale last. Top with bitters and serve.
Makes 1 drink.