Up on the roof

A rooftop garden brings fresh flavours and new ideas to ARC bar in the Fairmont Waterfront

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Kissed by a Bee, Sage Paloma, Raspberry Thyme Collins… The cocktail menu at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel’s ARC Bar, pays proper tribute to the 2,100-square foot garden perched on its roof.

ARC’s general manager Roman Vondal describes the garden, which also includes four bee hives, as a treasure coveted by both the hotel’s chefs and bartenders.

“They’re always pushing for fresh ingredients,” says Vondal. “And it doesn’t get any fresher than growing our own. It also makes for a great story and they’re telling it really well.”

The Fairmont chain is famous for celebrating classic cocktails, delivering a perfect Manhattan or Martini, but its bars are also gaining a reputation for creating exciting new versions of those much-loved libations. And that’s where the Fairmont Waterfront’s rooftop garden and beehives help take ARC’s cocktails to the next level.

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Popular herbs grown in the garden include rosemary, lavender, basil, bay leaves and tarragon, so it was only a matter of time before ARC’s bartenders began infusing those flavours into classic recipes, producing a list that includes the Lavender ‘75 and the Flaming Rosemary Gimlet.

“The bartenders take real pride in this,” Vondal notes. “They are really hands on.”

He says the reaction from guests to ARC’s cocktail menu has been one of pure pleasure.

“They’re amazed to find out that the basil in their drink is not only local, it’s also from the roof—and that they can look up and see the garden from the bar. Visitors are always surprised to find out there’s a garden like this in the middle of Vancouver.”

And, he says, that surprise should extend to what’s in their glass. “It’s a fresh take on cocktails,” he smiles. “We start with the right procedures and right recipes and then encourage our bartenders be open and flexible with new techniques and ingredients.”

Looking forward, he plans to expand ARC’s wine program and introduce a selection of high-quality, loose-leaf teas. And, in keeping with its dedication to environmental sustainability, ARC wants to expand its digital services and move away from paper, including paper menus.

“But that’s our next project,” he says. “Right now, I want to ensure my colleagues enjoy what they’re doing every day.”

Since taking on the GM position in March, Vondal has also been working to take the high quality of service customers value at the Fairmont up a few more notches.

“Everyone is fighting for customers and beer and cocktails are easy to come by,” he says. “But, if we can offer our clientele the best experience in every way and our staff can put a smile on someone’s face after a tough day, their problems will disappear. That’s the business we’re in.”

ARC Restaurant & Bar,
900 Canada Place, Vancouver, 604-691-1818

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