B.C.’s fledgling industry prepares for a bright future
After just five years in business, British Columbia’s distillers have already confronted some mighty challenges. For one, it takes years of practice to make a quality product. Plus, craft liquor is expensive—not only for consumers at the till but for makers at the still.
Justin Taylor has created a series of drinks designed to celebrate Vancouver
For bar manager Justin Taylor, a cocktail list should be, “fun, approachable, and unpretentious.”
After seven years at Yew Restaurant in the Four Seasons, Taylor took a short hop across town to take charge of the bar at Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar in the Sutton Place Hotel—jumping at the chance to build a drinks program from the ground up.
Putting together his signature list, Taylor decided to tell the story of Vancouver through cocktails: from the Lost Lagoon to the Van Dusen Sour, his creations are designed to take his customers on a journey.
“I’m like another concierge in the hotel,” he smiles. “And the conversation around the bar becomes organic. It’s a great way to introduce guests to what the city has to offer, and hopefully entice them to try something new. ”
For him, a new cocktail begins with a good name: “It’s always the name first—does it make sense? Then I hit on the spirit, and from there I build the rest of the components.”
He’s most proud of the Gerard—named after the Sutton Place’s iconic bar—called one of the 101 best new cocktails by world-renowned authority, Gary Regan. With an Islay Scotch base, the Gerard also boasts maraschino liqueur, Fernet-Branca and cherry bitters.
“It was challenging to build,” Taylor admits. “It’s hard to mix Islay whisky because the smokiness is so deep and strong.”
They may offer a way in to the city’s streets, but these are hardly pedestrian drinks: the Chief Skugaid—named for an infamous rum ship that ran out of Vancouver—utilizes forest tea tincture and chai and lavender-infused maple syrup; the savoury Chinook features dill, celery bitters and a toasted caper garnish.
Taylor’s dream is to take his list on the road.
“Imagine if we rented a trolley bus and mixed and served the cocktails as we hit each destination,” he grins. “Now, that would be cool.”
THIS POST IS SPONSORED BY: Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar 845 Burrard Street, Vancouver • 604-642.2900 BoulevardVancouver.ca
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At the grand old age of 11, Okanagan Spirits is the oldest craft distillery in the province. That may make it a relative newbie on the international scene, but it hasn’t stopped the world from paying it serious attention.
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In the mood for a Sazerac? How about a Negroni punch bowl mixed with local gin and vermouth, or a playful spin on Arctic Ungava with a dash of citric acid and spritz of Laphroaig perfume? Whatever your poison, it can be found in Vancouver, home to one of the most vibrant cocktail scenes in North America.