H Tasting Lounge takes flight

Globally inspired cocktail program soars at the Westin Bayshore

Chiara Fung and Dylan Williams behind the bar at H Tasting Lounge. Dan Toulgoet photo

Bright, airy and colourful, with a contemporary design that embraces both mid-century and Art Deco motifs, H Tasting Lounge at The Westin Bayshore, Vancouver, is certainly one of the city’s most elegant cocktail spaces.

But its beauty goes far beyond plush pastel furnishings and dramatic crystal chandeliers.

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Bourbon and beyond

In conversation with Buffalo Trace master blender Drew Mayville

Buffalo Trace master blender Drew Mayville loves experimenting with bourbon and whisky. Supplied photo

It’s rare to find someone who describes their job as “fun,” and even less so if they’ve been in the same business for more than 38 years. But then not everyone has Drew Mayville’s job.

Mayville is the master blender at Buffalo Trace, the world’s most award-winning distillery. He was in Vancouver recently to chat about all things whisky and bourbon.

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Shaking up the Fraserhood

At Escobar, small bites, bold flavours and creative cocktails add a taste of something new

Thomas Bullock and Ayur Media photos

In Latin cultures, food and drink are meant for sharing with friends and family. And that’s the whole idea behind the Fraserhood’s newest hotspot, Escobar, and its tapas-and-cocktails menu.

It’s simply the way co-owner Alex Kyriazis and his partners like to dine. In part, they crave the bright, fresh flavours of Latin cuisine. But they also prefer the fun of sharing. After all, says bar director Bobby Kordonis, “You get to taste more when you share.”

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Being on brand

Brand ambassadors have a huge influence on what and how we drink. But who are they, and what do they really do?

“There’s a pretty big spectrum of roles that are called ambassadors,” says Ryan Cheverie, the territory sales manager for Brown-Forman. Supplied photo

On any given day, Kevin Brownlee drops in at local bars and restaurants to visit with his bartender colleagues. In the evening, he’ll hit a nightclub or two, or hang out at an event like Dish ’n Dazzle. Or he’ll jet off to some exotic locale, Puerto Rico, say, or maybe Miami.

And he’s actually paid to do all this.

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KB’s Banana Daiquiri

KB’s Banana Daiquiri. Kevin Brownlee photo

Created by Bacardi portfolio ambassador Kevin Brownlee.

• 1 oz Bacardi Añejo Cuatro rum
• 1 oz Bacardi Banana flavoured rum
• 0.75 oz fresh lime juice
• 0.75 oz cane syrup (2:1; see note)
• 1 bar spoon fresh pineapple juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker tin and add ice. Shake like the trees on a hot, breezy summer afternoon. Double-strain into a cocktail coupe and enjoy! Serves 1.

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Bartender in a bottle

Raise a glass to the supporting cast of B.C.’s cocktail scene—local craft syrups, sodas, tonics and other mixers

Odd Society Spirits joins the craft soda trend with its zingy housemade ginger beer. RD Cane photo

Forget the genie. Professional bartending expertise is captured in each bottle, can and jar of these B.C.-born cocktail mixers, which are often natural and preservative-free, too. To let loose your cocktail creativity, just add craft spirits.

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Two short, one long

Why the highball is our enduring summer cocktail of choice.

The simplicity of a highball such as a classic gin and tonic makes it the perfect thirst-quenching option when the weather is hot and the days are lazy. iStock photo

When it’s hot and sticky out, who’s really up for making fancy cocktails? Not me.

That’s why summer time is highball time. The highball is the quintessential two-ingredient cocktail: spirits and soda, gussied up with ice and maybe a lemon wheel or a sprig of mint if you want to get fancy.

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Dark ‘n’ Stormy

The Dark ‘n’ Stormy, made with dark rum and ginger beer, is a classic variation of a highball. Dan Toulgoet photo

Purists insist on Goslings Black Seal rum, but in fact, any good quality dark rum will work in this satisfyingly spicy drink. Try one of the new made-in-B.C. craft ginger beers for zingy home-grown flavour.

• 2 oz dark rum such as Goslings Black Seal
• 4 oz chilled ginger beer
• Optional: 1 to 2 dashes Angostura bitters
• Lime wedge

In a highball glass filled with cubes of ice, add the rum and top with ginger beer. If you like, add a dash or two of bitters. No need to stir; the bubbles should do the work for you. Garnish with a lime wedge. Serves 1.

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Pip-pip for Pimm’s

The traditional British cocktail to serve at your next garden party or royal wedding do

Istock photo.

The first time I had Pimm’s Cup, I was in the Costwolds, visiting friends of friends, and I was baffled. Why, I wondered, were these nice strangers handing me what appeared to be a glass filled with fruit salad and cola?

Little did I know that Pimm’s is a grand British tradition like double decker buses, cream teas and cricket whites. And as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle head to the altar on May 19 for the first of this year’s two royal weddings (the other is Princess Eugenie’s nuptials on Oct. 12), it seemed like a good time to revisit this classic English cocktail.

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Pimm’s Cup

Justin Taylor’s version of the classic Pimm’s Cup. Jennifer Gauthier photo.

At The Cascade Room, manager and bartender Justin Taylor makes this vibrant version of Pimm’s Cup with added zing from ginger beer rather than traditional sparkling lemonade. You could also use Sprite or ginger ale if you prefer.

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