The New Ice Age

Oversize cubes, spheres, sticks, flakes and pebbles: It’s not just frozen water anymore—artisanal ice is a full-fledged cocktail ingredient

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The artisanal iceman cometh, and he’s not at all cold. With a short reddish beard, bright blue eyes and a friendly face, Dex James is downright warm, as he performs what looks like a magic trick. In the Dang Good Ice storefront in the Fraserhood, he pours water on a mammoth, crystal-clear, square-sided stick of ice in a highball glass and…it disappears.

Artisan ice can be the nearly invisible ingredient that helps deliver cocktail perfection—including king cubes so beautifully clear, one of the tenders behind the Fairmont Pacific Rim lobby bar tells me that imbibers of its white Lucky Negroni frequently ask, “Where’s the ice?” Juleps with flakes or pebbles from a Scotsman ice machine, rocks drinks over chunky Kold Draft cubes or cocktails crowned with a flawless diamond or sphere are just a few of the signs of the new ice age in B.C. bars.

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Blonde Negroni

Andrew Kong’s version of the Blonde Negroni. H Tasting Lounge photo

There are numerous recipes for a white or blonde Negroni, but this is the variation preferred by Andrew Kong, bartender at H Tasting Lounge. What makes it stand out is the perfectly clear king ice cube.

• 1.25 oz Long Table Distillery Dry Gin
• 1 oz Luxardo Bianco Bitters
• 1 oz Lillet Blanc or Cocchi Americano

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Tropical dreams

Tiki is back in Vancouver. Why did it ever go away?

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Tiki culture is a liquid ticket to an imaginary tropical island where the breeze is always warm, the music sways like the branches of a palm tree, and the rum flows as easily as the waves that wash up on a sandy beach.

Tiki originated in California in 1933, but exploded in popularity after the Second World War. It was inspired by the romance of the South Pacific, the culture of Polynesia, the flavours of Asia and the rum punches of the Caribbean, making it the ultimate fusion cocktail experience, served in a kitschy-cool Hollywood-ready vessel to a market that was weary of war and ready to party.

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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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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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True Lies

Chiara Fung’s True Lies. Dan Toulgoet photo

This award-winning cocktail was created by Chiara Fung, premium bartender at H Tasting Lounge at The Westin Bayshore.

• 2 oz Stolichnaya Premium Vodka
• 1.25 oz fresh lemon juice
• 1 oz charred pineapple cordial (see recipe below)
• 1 oz pineapple jam (see recipe below)
• Garnish: dehydrated pineapple slice, pineapple leaves

Shake ingredients with ice and double-strain into a double rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with dehydrated pineapple slice and two pineapple leaves. Serves 1.

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The Bayshore Inn Cocktail

Dylan Williams’ The Bayshore Inn. Dan Toulgoet photo

This tiki-inspired cocktail created by Dylan Williams, premium bartender at H Tasting Lounge at The Westin Bayshore, offers a nostalgic nod to the days when the Bayshore was home to the tropical Trader Vic’s restaurant.

• 1.5 oz fresh pineapple juice
• 0.5 oz fresh orange juice
• 0.25 oz charred pineapple falernum (see recipe below)
• 1.75 oz pandan coconut syrup (see recipe below)
• Ms Betters Pineapple Star Anise bitters
• 2 oz Flor de Cana 7 Year Old rum
• Garnish: freshly grated nutmeg

Place all ingredients in a tiki mug and fill halfway with shaved ice; swizzle, then fill with more shaved ice. Grate fresh nutmeg over top and serve with a straw. Serves 1.

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