Whistler warmers

Après ski is a cozy affair at Fairmont Chateau Whistler’s The Mallard Lounge

Photo courtesy of Fairmont Chateau Whistler

Whistler is synonymous with winter. Temperatures fall and, in short order, so too does the snow and a barrage of tourists eager to take to the slopes.

And when those tourists have had their fill of the great outdoors, many of them descend upon Fairmont Chateau Whistler’s The Mallard Lounge.

Photo courtesy of Fairmont Chateau Whistler

A fixture of the sprawling hotel since its opening in 1989, the Mallard Lounge aspires to—and delivers—a five-star experience consistent with Fairmont’s global reputation. Guillaume Noel, manager of The Mallard since 2014, knows as well as anyone why the room is so attractive to those either seeking respite from the cold or simply wanting to spoil themselves in a flawlessly comforting environment.

“The Mallard is like a giant living room,” says Noel. “There’s so much space—the kind of space you could never have in a standalone bar. There are couches everywhere, a fireplace, a huge bar in the middle. It’s something I’ve never seen at other properties: You get the feel of luxury, but that luxury resonates with casualness and laughter, having a good time and taking it easy. It’s really special.”

Of course, The Mallard’s aesthetic appointments would count for little if its refreshments didn’t achieve similar standards. Fortunately, Noel and his staff of seven bartenders spend months developing seasonal cocktail programs that make the most of top-shelf spirits and the best natural ingredients the region produces—many of them acquired from the hotel’s own rooftop organic garden.

Case in point: the lounge’s recently unveiled winter cocktail menu began taking shape in August. Alongside The Mallard classics that “we can’t get rid of,” Noel says, due to customer demand—including a barrel-aged Old Fashioned, and a signature gin and tonic that incorporates grapefruit and Grand Marnier—this season sees the debut of the Late Harvest Raspberry Gimlet (made with a preserve incorporating raspberries picked by Noel and his crew) and the Run of the Day, a clever “play on the Manhattan” in which Gentleman Jack whiskey makes good friends with Averno amaro and 10-year-old tawny port.      

While The Mallard’s bar staff happily accommodates off-menu requests (“People come in and ask for cocktails we were making during the 2010 Olympics,” Noel notes), you should partake of the lounge’s winter concoctions while the weather best suits them. Before too long, Noel and co. will be starting from scratch again. “We’ll start again in April—shooting around ideas, making bitters and syrups—for the summer menu that comes out sometime in May or June.”

Fairmont Chateau Whistler
4599 Chateau Boulevard, Whistler • 604-938-8000

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