Busy tinkering with cocktail recipes for my upcoming spirited dinner on Sept. 13 at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. Five gourmet courses, each paired with a cocktail, some classic, some creative, only $75. Serious good deal – you should see the menu the school has come up with! Just working on the recipe for the Pomme Pomme, made with Schramm potato vodka, apple juice, lemon, honey and rosemary. Delicate but complex. Could be delicious. Have to have another one to be sure . . .
Archive for the 'Spirited City — Vancouver' Category
Betcha didn’t even know Vancouver had a signature cocktail that dates back to the 1950s. Well, the word’s getting out. Read my In Good Spirits column in Saturday’s Vancouver Sun to learn how some of the city’s best barkeeps took the Vancouver Cocktail on the road to Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans.
If you love cocktails and you live in or near Vancouver and you haven’t bought your tickets to Tales of the Cocktail on Tour yet, what the heck are you waiting for? The fab New Orleans cocktail fest is coming to Vancouver March 13 to 15 and will feature parties, seminars, demonstrations, celebrity bartenders, a bar crawl and more cocktails than you can shake a Hawthorn strainer at. Tickets are only $155 for everything – that’s an amazing bargain. Go learn more at the Tales of the Cocktail website. And see you for the opening round at the Fairmont Pacific Rim on March 13!
L’Abattoir‘s bar manager sums up his new barrel-aged Martinez in one, succinct word: “It’s elegant,” says Shaun Layton. It’s also pretty darn delicious. The oak cask where the gin, vermouth, bitters and maraschino have lain for the past few weeks has rounded out all the cocktail’s hard edges. It’s also added a faint hint of vanilla and an even fainter whiff of smoke from the scotch the barrel contained before this. This is one fine cocktail.
Barrel-aging cocktails is the hottest new thing to happen to drink. The trend started in London (as so many boozy trends do), with bartender Tony Conigliaro of 69 Colebrooke Row. The idea is to take a spirits-only cocktail like, say, the Manhattan or the Negroni, and age it in either oak or glass for several weeks to add new depths of flavour. Shawn Soole at Clive’s in Victoria has been doing it for a while, Jacob Sweetapple at the Fairmont Pacific Rim has some cocktails in bottles and Layton has just uncorked his first batch at L’Abattoir.
He’s working on some other drinks – I for one will be back for the barrel-aged Hanky Panky – but in the meantime you should head down there and get your aged Martinez before they’re all gone. With only 200 drinks at $15 a pop, they won’t last long.
Take that, Toronto! And you, too, Montreal! Absolut, the stylish Swedish vodka, has just launched its first ever Canadian-city-inspired bottle: Absolut Vancouver, a limited edition bottle that not only evokes the West Coast city, but also supports the local arts.
The bottle, which retails for $25.95 exclusively in B.C., was designed by local illustrator and graphic artist Douglas Fraser and features a bold yellow and blue sea plane soaring above Vancouver’s skyline.
“It is an honour to partner with Absolut to create something special for Vancouver,” Fraser said in a press release. “This city is unique and contemporary and I designed the bottle to reflect that.”
Vancouver joins Absolut’s long-running “Cities” campaign, which already includes Absolut New Orleans (2007), Absolut Los Angeles (2008) and Absolut Boston (2009). And the folks at Absolut are pretty jazzed about adding us to that list. They describe Vancouver as “exciting, cosmopolitan and naturally stunning” as well as “a hotbed of cultural and creative talent.” Aw, shucks.
And that’s why they’re encouraging local artists: Up to $120,000 from the bottle’s proceeds will go towards a new Vancouver arts project, which will be decided depending on what actual artists have to say. They’ve been asked to submit proposals describing how they would support Vancouver art with that kind of money. The top proposals will be posted online at www.absolutvancouver.ca, where Vancouverites can vote for their fave. The winner will be announced in 2010.
Hey, we’ll drink to that!
I love my city, but it does have just a tiny little rep for being a bit of a no-fun town. I think it dates back to the ’60s when all those earnest Birkenstock-shod hippies arrived here, saw the mountains and trees and beaches, decided they were good, then recoiled at the glitzy neon of the city’s clubs and caberets, tsk-tsk’d, and pulled the plug on all that electric fun stuff. Really, how else did we go from being the neon capital of the world to granola-ville in such a few short years?
Anyway. I digress. Probably because of far too many 20th Century Cocktails at Pourhouse earlier tonight. (As Christopher Hitchens liked to say of martinis before he himself got far too earnest, they’re like breasts — one is too few and three are far too many.)
The point is, as of today, those of us who might be seeking a martini after a show or a late night deadline are finally being treated like the grownups we actually are. City council has just approved uniform liquor hours for restaurants that would mean later last calls in 80 per cent of the city’s eateries. The new liquor licences, which should go into effect in about two weeks, mean all Vancouver restaurants will be able to serve alcohol until 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. True, about a fifth of restaurants will actually have to cut their hours back slightly, because of the mashup of bylaws, rules and regulations out there, but in general, this is a good thing for everyone.
I think we can all drink to that.
Even those of us who drink for a living (not much of a living, mind you, but still) occasionally have to go to a social occasion and actually not consume alcohol. I know, I know, but there are plenty of reasons why you may choose to go dry — you’re the designated driver, perhaps, or you’re on a diet, trying to save money or hoping to stay sober for an important meeting. And there are plenty of people who never drink, for health or religious reasons, or, like my friend Sam Geer, director of public relations at the Four Seasons hotel in Vancouver, because they’re pregnant.
And when you’re not drinking it comes as a bit of a shock to realize just how grim the choice of beverages can be. Grownup, beverages, that is — of course, you could always have a Sprite or a glass of milk if you really had to. But if you want something serious, your choices seem to boil down to Pellegrino or cranberry-soda. Yawn.
Luckily for Sam, the restaurant manager at the hotels’ Yew Restaurant + Bar, Jeff Hanson, decided to do something about it. And so he challenged his bar staff to come up with non-alcoholic cocktails that grownups could order without getting pitying looks from their dining companions.
They came up with six great, refreshing drinks including the Cinnamon Girl (Giffard cinnamon syrup, Giffard apple syrup, lemon juice and soda), the Peach Pie (peach puree, lemon juice, cinnamon syrup, peach bitters and soda) and the Guava Mist (guava juice, lemon juice, iced tea). Not only are they delicious and food-friendly, they’re also cheap — about $5 each — and you order them off the wine/cocktail list just like any proper drink.
Definitely well worth checking out. Besides, you don’t actually have to enjoy them sans alcohol — each drink description also includes a suggested shot of something stronger to spice it up.
Am thrilled to learn that at last we have a decent wine, cheese, charcuterie and small plates joint here in North Vancouver. The place is called LoLo — short for Lower Lonsdale, how cute is that? — which is a much, much nicer name than its last incarnation, Smiles, or even before that, when it was Fiction.
It’s not much on decor, with terracotta walls, pretty basic furniture and a minimalistic patio. On the other hand, there is a piano, and live music every night, and it’s bright and cheery and fun.
More importantly, the food and wine are not only good, but cheap, especially right now that they have a deal on where guests can try three small plates for only $15. The menu features artisanal cheeses as well as charcuterie from Mocchia Meats and JN&Z and spreads such as the spicy spinach and white bean & artichoke. And then there are the yummy flatbreads — love the ’Zola (radicchio, gorgonzola, figs, honey and truffle oil) and the blow-your-diet-to-bits Tarti, with mashed potatoes, bacon lardons and melted cheese.
And best of all, there’s the wine. Stems start at $6, and the most expensive glass is the $9.95 Valdespino Pedro Ximenez El Candado Sherry. Take that, Brown’s and Deuce! These are interesting wines, too, not the typical Penfolds and Yellowtail you get everywhere else. There is, for istance, a Tokaji Late Harvest Muscat, a Balthasar Ress Riesling from germany, a Primula Nero d’Avola and the Pascual Toso Malbec from Argentina. All more than decent wines, but deliciously affordable, too.
LoLo is right near the SeaBus terminal and Lonsdale Quay, so who knows, some downtowners may even make the arduous trip across the water. Until then, it’s the hood’s newest hangout. If you’re looking for it, it’s located at 100 East 2nd St., North Vancouver, 778-340-6655, www.lolonorthvan.com. Note that it’s only open 4:30 to 10 pm (10:30 Fridays and Saturdays) and closed Mondays.
It’s been a couple of weeks now since The Diamond opened, and I think it’s safe to say that it’s the hottest place on the menu right for Vancouver’s roving bands of connoisseurs, or at least those of us who aren’t dedicated to spending every waking moment possible on a patio somewhere.
The team of Mark Brand, Josh Pape and Sophie Taverner have created a really great room in one of Vancouver’s oldest (and most scandalous) buildings. (No. 6 Powell St. was not only the city’s first brothel, but also its first speakeasy and a series of notorious nightclubs. Can’t imagine why they had so much trouble getting licensing approved . . . ) Somehow, they’ve managed to preserve the past without being weighed down by it; the place feels fresh and funky, not at all like a museum.
The petite menu features great Asian snack foods including the best gyoza I’ve tasted, as well as noodle dishes, Vietnamese subs and these truly addictive spicy peanuts. The food is fresh, flavourful and made with high-quality local ingredients like Sloping Hill pork. And it’s cheap — everything is around 10 bucks.
But the best thing here is the drinks, which are certainly among the best in the city. The drinks list features a few well-though-out classics like the Penicillin, Pegu Club and a proper Daiquiri, but most of the drinks were created by the Brad-Pape-Taverner team. This is an awesome team behind the bar, and the cocktails sure show it. I personally loved something called the Box Trifecta (brandy, amaro and kirsch) though the Kingston Daisy (amber rum, raspberry syrup and lemon juice) was also pretty fine.
Yep, I’m loving The Diamond, and also loving that it’s just one more delicious reason to visit Gastown, which is pretty much the only really authentic part of Vancouver left.
It’s always exciting to see a new joint come to life. It’s even more exciting if you get to play a part in it, however small. And that’s what about 30 of us got to do yesterday, as we — literally — lowered the bar at Pourhouse, Jay Jones’ promising new venture in Gastown.
He’d scored a massive hunk of 100-year-old fir at a barn on the Vista d’Oro property and after cleaning, planning and sanding it it to a velvety finish, transformed it into a 38-foot-long bar. But when it came time to put it in place, he and his partners knew they couldn’t do it themselves, so they called on about 30 friends and colleagues to help out.
The massive hunk of wood was propped up with a network of supports; what we had to so was lift it slightly as a couple of guys removed the supports, then place it very, very gently onto the base of the bar. Well, clearly, many hands make light work even of heavy objects, since it only took a couple of minutes. And then Jay poured us shots of Maker’s Mark bourbon to celebrate. Sweet!
It was a promising beginning to this newest Gastown project. Pourhouse located at 162 Water St., in the old Flux location. There are still a few remnants of the old Flux generic club hideousness hanging around, but those will all be replaced by dark wood, burgundy leather, natural brick and a mood that promises to pay homage to the past without copying it in a kitschy sort of way. Look for Pourhouse to open late summer.