"Canada fell even more in love with Gord, even as he was dying."
Never heard of the Tragically Hip? Unless you're Canadian, that's probably to be expected.
The Hip are the iconic Canadian musical act of the past quarter century. They are arguably the greatest Canadian band of all time. Their success and popularity has never been matched in Canada. But in the United States, and the rest of the world, they are virtual unknowns. The universal recognition they achieved in Canada never translated south of the border or overseas.
But that is kind of what makes the Tragically Hip so collectively loved. In a world where success in America is very often a measuring stick for Canadian entertainers, the Hip never sold out - think Drake, Justin Bieber and Nickelback. Satisfaction with success in Canada endeared the band to all Canadians. Their catchy tunes and homegrown lyrics are the soundtrack to an entire generation.
And The Tragically Hip were led by enigmatic frontman Gord Downie. He was the face and personality of the band. Known for his spastic gyrations on stage, he was a mystery off stage. Like many geniuses, he was hard to figure out, and often misunderstood. That is if you know anything about him at all. He was a bit of a recluse who rarely appeared or spoke publicly other than on stage.
To Canadians he was simply Gord, or Gordie.
After he was diagnosed with brain cancer in the spring of 2016, Canadians began to learn more about Gord. Instead of riding off into the sunset, the Hip announced a final tour to say goodbye to their fans from coast to coast. And Gord began speaking more often in public. Behind the mystery was a thoughtful, sensitive and profoundly enlightened man. His message was love, understanding and positivity.
Canada fell even more in love with Gord, even as he was dying.
Gord died on 17 October 2017, just two months after the final performance of the Hip's farewell tour - a sold out show in the band's hometown of Kingston that was also watched by nearly 12 million people on national television. Condolences and tributes poured in from all around.
Despite not normally being a sentimental type, I felt compelled to pay a tribute of my own. I was never the biggest Tragically Hip fan but, like most Canadians my age, I grew up to their music and know the lyrics to many songs by heart. Their songs are the background music to many high school and college memories. So, how does the owner of a home Tiki bar pay tribute to a Canadian icon? With a cocktail of course.
The Gord Downie Daiquiri is a riff on the most famous of rum drinks. The daiquiri is about as simple as it gets - rum, lime and sugar. Strong, sour and sweet. My creation combines the principles of the daiquiri with the Canadianity that Gord stood for. That means local products and ingredients.
- 1 and 1/2oz Nova Scotia Spirit Co. Fisherman's Helper rum
- 1/2oz Nova Scotia Spirit Co. Solera rum
- 3/4oz housemate cranberry/maple shrub
- 1/2oz lemon juice
Combine all ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with maple syrup soaked cranberries.
Then, to add a little French twist and because I love rhum agricole so much, I came up with the Lil' Gordie - my Canadian version of the Ti Punch, the equivalent of the daiquiri on the French Caribbean islands. In French, 'Ti' is short for 'petit', which means little. It's a slang term much like 'lil' in English. 'Ti Punch' means 'Little Punch', or even more accurately 'Lil' Punch'. The Lil' Gordie is my Canadianized take on the French classic. Canada is a bilingual country after all.
- 2oz Saint James Royal Ambré rhum agricole
- 1/2oz housemade cranberry shrub
- 1/4oz Demerara syrup
Combine all ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon zest/cranberry flower.