A World Class Partnership

Hot off another Top 5 win for Canada, the competition teams up with Vancouver Cocktail Week

Previous World Class Canada winners congratulate Massimo Zitti (centre, in the purple shirt), the latest national Bartender of the Year, who placed fifth at the global final. Photos courtesy of World Class Canada

Last month, at the global finals of the Diageo World Class competition in Sydney, Australia, all eyes were on Toronto’s Massimo Zitti. The action was riveting. 

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Focused on hospitality

Meet the talented bar leaders at Wentworth Hospitality Group

Serving fine drinks and a warm welcome, from left: Andrew MacDonald of Homer Street Cafe; Nicola Roland at Maxine’s Café & Bar; and Nich Box at Tableau Bar Bistro. Leila Kwok photos

The restaurants in the Wentworth Hospitality Group are known for their welcoming atmosphere, friendly neighbourhood vibe and excellent food and drink. As the group’s beverage director J-S Dupuis says, “We’re elevated without the elevated price tag.”

He credits much of that to his talented team of bar managers. “When you come into the bar, you are coming into their house and they will treat you as such,” Dupuis says. “We really focus on hospitality with the leaders we have. They really understand that.”

Meet the team leading the bars at Homer Street Cafe, Maxine’s Café & Bar and Tableau Bar Bistro.

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Lyre’s has arrived

Drink your way with the world’s most awarded non-alcoholic spirits

Photo courtesy of Lyre’s

The world’s best bartenders shake and stir with them. Michelin-starred restaurants create inventive drinks with them. And now Lyre’s, the world’s most awarded non-alcoholic spirits, have arrived in Canada. 

Today, no- or low-alcohol riffs on the Negroni, Martini, Daiquiri and other cocktail classics are as on-trend as their spirit-forward counterparts—and every bit as delicious. They can be the star of your next cocktail party or your next Wednesday night in. With sophisticated, complex flavour profiles that pay homage to the spicy, bitter and sharp notes of classic cocktails, Lyre’s gives you the freedom to drink your way. 

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Lyre’s Daiquiri

Photo courtesy of Lyre’s

This classic Daiquiri offers a perfect balance of sweet and sour. In fact, when one achieves the correct combination of white cane spirit to lime, the result is one of the freshest beverages in the known universe.

• 1.5 oz Lyre’s White Cane Spirit

• 0.75 oz simple syrup (1:1)

• 1 oz lime juice

• Pinch salt (optional)

• Garnish: lime zest

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Boom time

Vincent Vanderheide leads a talented bar at Victoria’s Boom + Batten

Beverage director Vincent Vanderheide. Photo courtesy of Boom + Batten

Boom + Batten is a dazzling contemporary hot spot with a prime location on Victoria’s Inner Harbour. It’s also one of the city’s best places to get a well-made cocktail, thanks to the skills of beverage director Vincent Vanderheide and his team. “I always like to say it’s not a bad office,” he says with a laugh. 

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The Stock Room

Freehouse Collective unveils a cosy hidden cocktail bar in Yaletown

Tucked behind Hundy Burger in Yaletown is a swish new speakeasy called The Stock Room. Photos courtesy of Freehouse Collective

Sometimes the best things you find are the ones you have to search a little harder for. 

With a recent rebrand behind us, Donnelly Group’s hospitality business—now Freehouse Collective—opened our doors to our newest creation. The Stock Room is tucked behind Hundy Burger in Yaletown, with no visible street signage. Built on the exemplary heritage bones of brick walls and exposed wood, The Stock Room’s intimate bar offers a drinks program robust with fruit-forward original creations showcased alongside classic cocktails and a thoughtful selection of natural wines and local beers.

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World Class Canada invites the planet

The competition puts on the glitz to attract the global final

Previous winners of World Class Canada celebrate the country’s newest Bartender of the Year, Toronto’s Massimo Zitti. Photos courtesy of World Class Canada

World Class Canada is back,” says Michael Armistead. Is it ever.

After two years of cancelled, postponed and virtual events, competitors and judges gathered in early May at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Montreal for what was more than a festival that crowned Toronto’s Massimo Zitti World Class Canada Bartender of the Year 2022. It was an invitation to the world to make Canada the destination for next year’s global final.

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A new Signature from St-Rémy

Cellar master Cécile Roudaut introduces a brandy that balances quality with versatility

St-Rémy Signature is as enjoyable on its own as it is in a cocktail. Supplied photo

Cécile Roudaut loves her job. “Every day I learn new things and this brings me happiness,” says the master blender for St-Rémy. “I have the opportunity every day to taste very high-quality products. Each day I make something different. My role is to perpetuate tradition, but also to innovate.”

Roudaut was in Vancouver recently to launch St-Rémy Signature, the exciting new blended brandy she has created for Rémy-Cointreau. “I asked for a project: ‘Can I have a budget to buy some casks?’” she says. Of course, they said yes. “And the results were very pleasant.”

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Bartender of the Year 2021 James Grant faces the future

Diageo World Class excited to support the bartending comeback

Diageo World Class Global Bartender of the Year James Grant gets a lift from previous winners of the World Class Canada title. Photos courtesy of World Class Canada

It took James Grant only a decade to go from bartending “to pay the bills” to becoming the Diageo World Class Global Bartender of 2021—a title that recognizes him as the world’s best bartender.

“It’s pretty wild. It’s finally started to sink in,” says the bar manager of Edmonton’s Little Hong Kong. “I’m very humbled and grateful to have done OK representing the Canadian bartending community on the world stage.”

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