Stars of the Bar

The inaugural Michelin Guide Vancouver gave eight local chefs the coveted white jacket—but also acknowledged some local bar stars.

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Michelin restaurant inspectors look for high-quality ingredients, personality of the creators on the plate, plus a harmony of flavours and mastery of technique—all consistent over multiple visits. The same ingredients go into a Michelin-quality bar, as Vancouver discovered on October 27 as the Michelin Guide granted world-class honours in the city for the first time.

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Expect some Hanky Panky at Botanist

Hanky Panky bartender and GM Gina Barbachano joins the Fairmont Pacific Rim team for a special Día de los Muertos celebration. Photo courtesy of Hanky Panky

Continuing its thrilling series of guest cocktail bar collabs, this November Botanist Bar’s executive chef Hector Laguna and head bartender Jeff Savage will welcome Mexico City’s acclaimed Hanky Panky cocktail bar (No. 13 on the World’s 50 Best Bars list) for a Día de los Muertos celebration.

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Perfect Pairings

Why cocktails might just make a better partner for food than wine

Vancouver Cocktail Week opened with a perfectly paired brunch at Botanist Restaurant. Here an egg yolk raviolo and crisp serrano ham partner with a cocktail of gin, citrus and a green tea ginger cordial. Jana Bizzarri photo

Move over Pinot, Tempranillo and Albariño. Wine pairings are fine, but cocktails are increasingly gaining recognition for the role they can play in taking a dining experience to the next level.

The growing trend was on full, tantalizing display during Vancouver Cocktail Week 2022, with cocktail-paired brunches and dinners at spots like Botanist, Tableau Bar Bistro and Carlino proving to be particularly popular. 

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Recognition for Vancouver bars

The Keefer ranks No. 25 at the inaugural North America’s 50 Best Bars Awards; Botanist places No. 2 on Canada’s 50 Best Bars

The winners at the 50 Best Bars ceremony in New York City. Supplied photo

We all know what a dynamic cocktail scene Vancouver has, and what a talented group of bartenders we have slinging drinks here.

Now the rest of the world is getting an idea, too. Well, sort of.

Two sets of “best bar” rankings have just been released, with nods to some of our favourite watering holes. But as always, some of our very best cocktail destinations couldn’t make the list because they just don’t qualify as bars. (Because of our licensing rules, they are often technically considered restaurants.) No matter. We know who you are.

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Spirits of the season

Sip, celebrate, share and make merry this winter

Leila Kwok photo

Cocktail collab at Botanist

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.”

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Great world bars we love: Beaufort Bar at The Savoy

The darkly dramatic Beaufort Bar at London’s legendary Savoy Hotel. Photo courtesy of Beaufort Bar at the Savoy

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.

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Garden’s Keeper G&T

Garden’s Keeper G&T, created by Jeff Savage. Dan Toulgoet photo

Spanish-style G&Ts like the one on our cover are the coolest drinks of summer 2019. This one was photographed at Botanist at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, and created by head bartender Jeff Savage.

• 1.5 oz Star of Bombay gin
• 0.5 oz St-Germain elderflower liqueur
• 2 dashes Bittered Sling Haskap Bitters
• Fentiman’s tonic water

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Botanist wins Bols Around the World

The Fairmont Pacific Rim team cleans up at the global competition

The Botanist Bar team was crowned 2019 ‘BOLS AROUND THE WORLD’ World’s Best Bar Team! From left, Grant Sceney, Jeff Savage and Max Curzon-Price. Botanist Bar photo/Facebook

Another day, another global win for Botanist Bar. Bartenders Grant Sceney, Jeff Savage and Max Curzon-Price have just been crowned the “Bols Around the World” bar team of the year.

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In the spirit of cocktails

Into the Aether, created by the Botanist bar team, was selected to represent North America at the Bols Around the World competition in Amsterdam in June 2019. Photo courtesy of Botanist Restaurant

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.

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