Urban Legend

How one Okanagan man’s hobby became a serious business

Urban Distilleries photo.

Mike Urban had a booze habit. Making it, that is. After tinkering with homemade beer and wine, he felt that the next logical step could be distilling.

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The Cocktail Concierge

Justin Taylor has created a series of drinks designed to celebrate Vancouver

Lou Lou Childs photo.

For bar manager Justin Taylor, a cocktail list should be, “fun, approachable, and unpretentious.”

After seven years at Yew Restaurant in the Four Seasons, Taylor took a short hop across town to take charge of the bar at Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar in the Sutton Place Hotel—jumping at the chance to build a drinks program from the ground up.

Putting together his signature list, Taylor decided to tell the story of Vancouver through cocktails: from the Lost Lagoon to the Van Dusen Sour, his creations are designed to take his customers on a journey.

“I’m like another concierge in the hotel,” he smiles. “And the conversation around the bar becomes organic. It’s a great way to introduce guests to what the city has to offer, and hopefully entice them to try something new. ”

For him, a new cocktail begins with a good name: “It’s always the name first—does it make sense? Then I hit on the spirit, and from there I build the rest of the components.”

He’s most proud of the Gerard—named after the Sutton Place’s iconic bar—called one of the 101 best new cocktails by world-renowned authority, Gary Regan. With an Islay Scotch base, the Gerard also boasts maraschino liqueur, Fernet-Branca and cherry bitters.

“It was challenging to build,” Taylor admits. “It’s hard to mix Islay whisky because the smokiness is so deep and strong.”

They may offer a way in to the city’s streets, but these are hardly pedestrian drinks: the Chief Skugaid—named for an infamous rum ship that ran out of Vancouver—utilizes forest tea tincture and chai and lavender-infused maple syrup; the savoury Chinook features dill, celery bitters and a toasted caper garnish.

Taylor’s dream is to take his list on the road.

“Imagine if we rented a trolley bus and mixed and served the cocktails as we hit each destination,” he grins. “Now, that would be cool.”


THIS POST IS SPONSORED BY:
Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar
845 Burrard Street, Vancouver • 604-642.2900
BoulevardVancouver.ca