A Toast to Thee for ’23

New Year's

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who stay at home New Year’s Eve—and those who go out.

New Year’s Eve is in your hands—it’s whatever you make it. If you’re alone, why not invite a few friends or neighbours to drop in, either on the Eve or the afternoon of New Year’s Day. Here are my suggestions for, whatever. Let’s say goodbye, so long, farewell, good riddance to 2022 and raise a glass to an excellent 2023. Happy New Year!

Zirkova Unity, Ukrainian Vodka

Zirkova Vodka

When the bombs began to fall in Ukraine, Zirkova moved their distillery and their Master Distiller to Ontario. Now it’s made from Canadian rye and wheat, and distilled four times to create a refined taste. The Vodka Master selects only the centre spirits, or “Tsar’s Cut”, and removes both the lighter spirts and the heavier spirits. The result is smooth sipping Vodka. Zirkova Unity is about creating a home for Zirkova in Canada, where people have come together and united to support and stand with Ukraine. Having Master Distiller Svitlana Vellinga, with her thirty years of experience, join them in the process of making Unity was the final touch in honouring Ukrainian vodka-making traditions and bringing them to life in Canada. “It starts with the best spirits from the heart of the Prairies,” Vellinga explains. “Grain is really important to us, as the best vodkas in Ukraine are made from grain spirits. For Zirkova Unity, we selected grain spirits that had a connection to Ukraine, that were extraordinary quality, non-GMO, grown by generations of Ukrainian and Canadian farmers, gluten-free, kosher, and grown within 100km of the spirits distillery.”

Strengthening the connection between Canada and Ukraine, the Unity Collection features six limited-edition unique works of art on the bottles, crafted by artists from Ukraine and Canada who are contributing not only their unique gifts and talents, but also their stories. 100% of profits from Unity Vodka are sent to Ukraine and its people. Raise your glass and say, “Budmo!”

Bottega SpA

Botega Wine

A few bottles of Bottega Gold and Bottega Rose Gold on your festive table are all you need to tell your guests that this is a party. Bottega Gold is a fresh crisp Prosecco with floral and fruity notes of citrus and peach. Bottega Rose Gold is a Brut Rose sparkling wine with hints of mixed berries, currants and wild strawberries. They are my favorite wines of the season, with the added plus that the bottles themselves make a great fashion statement.

La Presserie Makes Perfect Cocktails!

la presserie
Mix cocktails like a pro. Fresh fruit juice boosts your physical well-being, but shake it up with ice, add some Tequila, Rum or Vodka and it will certainly boost your social well-being. La Presserie has packed an instant cocktail party for you that will make your crowd think you’ve been taking lessons in Mixology. Here is the Drinks Menu crafted with raw, cold pressed fruits, vegetables and herbs made with natural Agave Syrup. There is no water added. Vegan. No preservatives. Frozen to seal in taste and nutrition. Will it be a Cosmo, Paloma, Margarita, Bloody Mary, Mojito or Daiquiri? Defrost the pretty bottle in the fridge, fill two glasses with ice, pour half the mixer into each glass. Add 1.5 white rum, vodka or tequila to each glass and top with club soda. They come six to a case, and will make a dozen gorgeous drinks. Made in Canada—from farm to bottle. And that, darlings, is instant cocktail cachet.

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Gina Godfrey

Shangri-La Nutcracker Afternoon Tea

Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto
Step into the lobby of the Shangri La Hotel for the Nutcracker Afternoon Tea in partnership with the National Ballet, and you are immediately part of a truly sophisticated ambience. At the beautiful hand carved piano, the repertoire of the pianist suites the occasion. In one corner, a Christmas tree made entirely of pink ballet slippers sets the tone. The fireplace flickers, the tables are set with tea things and hand-carved Nutcracker soldiers. A glass of bubbly is offered. An intriguing menu that includes a premium selection of exotic teas and fancy edibles is fun to read: Truffled egg sandwich and Rosemary Arancini for example, followed by classic tea scones and more. But it’s the hand-sculpted Trompe L’Oeil fruit collection fashioned in the appearance of their flavours, nestled on a bouquet of greens that will draw your applause. When the server ignites the dry ice with a bit of water, smoke pours out and covers the table. It’s the grand finale.

Four Seasons Festive Afternoon Tea

Four Seasons Hotel, Toronto
Bouquets of fresh roses greet us as we enter the Four Seasons—what could be more luxurious than flowers in winter. We’re going to have the Festive Afternoon Tea at d|bar, but first, we pass through the cozy Scandinavian Hygge styled front rooms, where super comfortable chairs are draped with fur throws. No matter the time of day, d|bar always has an ambience of conviviality. First, a glass of Perrier Jouet Champagne is poured, and the menu is presented. Oh my! They’re serving my favorite things! Savoury sandwiches that include Brie cheese and pepper bacon; roast beef; fire roasted pepper and Swiss cheese, and my favourite, smoked salmon with herbed sheep’s cheese and cucumber. It’s just not a proper tea without a cucumber sandwich. The kitchen knows how to make Scones that sing: one has candied orange nubbins and nutmeg and the other is the perfect classic, both still warm from the oven. Winter jam, Pear Chutney and cream are not necessary, but they are lovely additions. Four petite sculptured desserts defy description, except that each one is like a delicious little gift. My Cream of Earl Grey is refilled several times by an attentive server. A closing gesture, linking us with all the Daniel Boulud restaurants in the world, is his signature serving of warm Madeleines. There is nowhere I’d rather be on a wintry afternoon in Toronto.

The Cat Who Played Guitar by Liona Boyd

Liona Boyd
Five-time Juno Award winner and an Officer of the Order of Canada, Liona Boyd has written a book that you will love reading to the children in the family. It begins, “This is the story told wide and told far/ Of a beautiful cat who could play the guitar.” The illustrations by renowned artists and illustrators Laura Fernandez and Rick Jacobson are simply gorgeous. The little ones will be asking you to read it again and again. It’s not too long and not too short. And if you’ve ever loved a cat, you will want a copy for yourself. Available everywhere through Amazon.

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