Thoughts from behind the wood: Why bartending should be social, not social media
Bartenders are not in the business of making drinks. We are in the business of servicing the needs of human beings. Full stop.
It’s been said that we trained bartenders in the art of mixology and along the way we lost the art of bartending. But in the debate of bartender vs. mixologist, the end goal of both was essentially the same: Be better, be more knowledgeable, provide better experiences, work in better places. I believe both sides would agree that it is unbecoming of a barkeep to seek prestige by any other means than hard work and education.
Meet Cyan Moir, a hard-working, Chihuahua-loving industry veteran who wears all sorts of hats in Vancouver, from established publican to skat master (belated spoiler alert). She brings skill, experience, and mega style to the local scene, but, as a true scion from Quadra Island, she curbs pretension and just wants to host a good time…for humans and Chihuahuas alike.
Canada’s artisan distillers are bringing their own spiced heat to the party
Don’t look now, but Canada’s distillers have been gently plotting to spice things up for all you unsuspecting folks out there.
For instance, did you know that Fireball Cinnamon Whisky—which has taken off in a big way in the U.S.—has replaced Jägermeister as the masochistic shot of choice? It just doesn’t seem to be what you’d expect from a laid-back kind of land like Canada. But it turns out we Canucks were dabbling in pyrotechnic tippling well before its propulsion into pop-shot culture.
In fact, Vancouver’s imbibers can pour one out for the always-popular Keefer Bar, which nabbed the number two spot, behind Toronto’s celebrated Bar Raval in the top rung. This is also the second year The Keefer Bar was ranked in the second spot.
Private-cask whisky sales are a “futures” investment in B.C.’s small-batch distillers. Here’s how and why they do it.
They’re lined up like Papa, Mama and Baby Rye: 20-, 10- and five-litre mini-barrels, their ends embossed with the names of proud owners who, in eight weeks or so, get a crash course in craft spirits aging—and their own one-of-a-kind bottles of Custom Rye.
“We were kind of inspired by beer growlers,” says Brian Grant. He and Resurrection Spirits partner David Wolowidnyk charge customers once for the barrel ($150 to $350 depending on size), which they can pay the distillery to fill with white rye (or even gin) multiple times, at the bargain price of $37.50 a bottle. Vancouver’s Homer Street Grill and Unwind are among bar clients already serving their own private batches.
When Devin McKeigan created her cocktail for the Bacardi Legacy cocktail competition, inspiration shone around her like a bright beam of light.
“Within the industry I’ve met so many people…everybody fuels my light, not just in the hospitality industry, but everyone I’ve met. It’s all of us working together,” says the bartender for the Toptable Group’s newly opened Elisa Steakhouse.
• 2 oz Bacardi Añejo Cuatro rum
• 0.75 oz Martini Bianco vermouth
• 0.25 oz rich apple demerara syrup (see note)
• 2 dashes Scrappy’s Seville Orange Bitters
• 2 to 3 spritzes of salted caraway solution (see note)
Oversize cubes, spheres, sticks, flakes and pebbles: It’s not just frozen water anymore—artisanal ice is a full-fledged cocktail ingredient
The artisanal iceman cometh, and he’s not at all cold. With a short reddish beard, bright blue eyes and a friendly face, Dex James is downright warm, as he performs what looks like a magic trick. In the Dang Good Ice storefront in the Fraserhood, he pours water on a mammoth, crystal-clear, square-sided stick of ice in a highball glass and…it disappears.
Artisan ice can be the nearly invisible ingredient that helps deliver cocktail perfection—including king cubes so beautifully clear, one of the tenders behind the Fairmont Pacific Rim lobby bar tells me that imbibers of its white Lucky Negroni frequently ask, “Where’s the ice?” Juleps with flakes or pebbles from a Scotsman ice machine, rocks drinks over chunky Kold Draft cubes or cocktails crowned with a flawless diamond or sphere are just a few of the signs of the new ice age in B.C. bars.