Botanist Bar in the Fairmont Pacific Rim has a holiday gift for cocktail lovers: an avant garde, off-menu cocktail and food pairing experience that celebrates the flavours of the Pacific Northwest.
It’s a collaboration between head bartender Jeff Savage, Canada’s Bartender of the Year 2020, and executive chef Hector Laguna. Together, this talented team will take guests on a wild flavour journey. “This one is very specific to what I love about the Pacific Northwest; it’s five savoury courses and one dessert course,” says Savage. “My cocktails are a love letter to Canada—
a love letter to the beautiful nature around us.”
There is always an element of theatre in a good bar, the dazzle of lights bouncing off a mixing glass, the rows of bottles lining the back bar like so many punters, the deft drama of the barkeep shaking a cocktail to his own overture. But the Beaufort Bar actually is a theatre, or was, back when it was the renowned cabaret stage at The Savoy, where the composer George Gershwin was known to strike up the band from time to time. When the hotel was renovated and reopened a decade ago, it was transformed into this glamorous Art Deco bar, all darkly gleaming in black and gold, perhaps the most romantic saloon in all of London.
A sparkling goblet filled with golden elixir revolves lazily in mid-air, twirling a couple of inches above the vapours of dry ice billowing from a wooden platform. It looks like magic, and it is, sort of.
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.
Before the team at Botanist installed the bar top, creative beverage director Grant Sceney “bought a drink for the next generation of bartenders” by embedding a bottled cocktail, a handwritten note and a copy of the first bar menu inside the bar itself. This is the cocktail they left for the future: an updated version of the classic Vancouver cocktail. “We’ve made the Vancouver Cocktail as Vancouver as we can,” says Sceney.