Yacine Sylla brings a splash of European flair to a Vancouver favourite.
Cocktails have always been serious business at Chambar. The trend-setting French/North African restaurant burst onto the Vancouver scene just over a decade ago, and has been leading the pack ever since.
Last year’s move up the street to expanded premises meant room to build a bartender’s dream: the wood at Chambar is 30 feet long, giving its mixologists plenty of creative freedom to run their distinct section.
“Even though we’re a high volume restaurant, we put out complex, well-presented cocktails that usually only small restaurants can produce,” notes bar manager Yacine Sylla.
Chambar has never been shy and retiring: this is a room that brings the buzz, and its bartenders know how to create a great atmosphere as much as they do a great drink.
Sylla smiles. “We definitely put on a show.”
Originally from Paris, Sylla came to Canada—and Chambar—nine years ago (he was introduced to owners Karri and Nico Schuermans through a colleague in a top London restaurant).
He says his secret is his palate: his work and travels across Europe and South East Asia bring, he says, added nuance to his cocktails.
For years he worked behind the scenes, dealing with suppliers and looking for new products that would work with the Chambar philosophy of fresh and local.
“We love being able to use local products,” he says. “Odd Society Spirits in East Vancouver is a great example of a local distillery producing a product we are happy to support.”
The menu at Chambar is seasonally-driven—and that goes for the cocktails, too. Sylla estimates that at least 75 per cent of the house list is completely redone each quarter.
Innovation is always evident, from coconut ice spheres in a new take on an Old Fashioned, to an Angostura bitters ice cream topping the Siegert Float—a heady mix of rye, Drambuie, cinnamon and ginger beer.
Open all day, Chambar offers additional, lighter cocktails at brunch. “And breakfast, too, if people are so inclined,” Sylla adds.
“I love what we do here,” he grins. “High quality, high energy. And lots of fun.”
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