Globally inspired cocktail program soars at the Westin Bayshore
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.
Sure, you could enjoy cocktails alone in your back yard. Or you could join the crowds having fun at these great events here at home and abroad over the next few months.
Don your fancy chapeaux and hoist your glasses! The ponies hit the track once again on July 21 for the 10th annual Deighton Cup at Hastings Racecourse. Some 5,000 people gather at the track to gamble on the ponies while enjoying swish fashion, buckets of bubbly, fine cigars, gourmet cuisine and, of course, cocktails. The event includes an annual mixology competition, plus sweet summer sippers to enjoy trackside. deightoncup.com
Distillery tasting rooms are some of the hottest cocktail bars in B.C. Here are a few to try in the Vancouver area.
Distillery visits aren’t just for spirits geeks—although staff (even the distillers) are usually keen to tour guests through the production line. Even micro-distilleries now offer flights, cocktails and tastings, some spiked with snacks or entertainment. More reasons to visit: You can buy bottles right from the source, including seasonal and limited releases, only-at-the-distillery products (such as collaborations with local brewers or food producers) and even cocktail accoutrements. Since many distillery tasting rooms are small, family-run affairs, call ahead or check social media for hours, especially if your group is more than a few or would like a tour.
Are you passionate about craft cocktails and craft beer? Are you a super cool person with a positive attitude? Is “fun” generally something you spend every waking moment pursuing?
Perfect, because we want to hire you!
Gin’s dark past comes to light as distillers go back to the drink’s barrel-aged roots
To the superstitious, a black cat is a bad omen. But to underground drinkers during Prohibition, spotting a sign depicting an old tomcat meant you’d hit the gin jackpot.
A precursor to the crisp and clear London dry gin, Old Tom gin was stored and shipped in wooden barrels, so it had a naturally darker hue. Sometimes it was sweeter or more resiny, thanks to the addition of sugar or, yes, turpentine. Swill or not, Old Tom was probably better than no Tom.
FRAGRANCE: Vanilla, cream corn, créme brulée. FLAVOUR: Custard, funky earth notes, white pepper, this IS a potato and corn vodka. FEEL: Slightly viscous, but buttery in a very good way. FINISH: A load of spice stays around for a minute. BEST ENJOYED: Will make a buttery Martini that packs a spicy finish, or a Moscow Mule. THE BOTTOM LINE: Surprisingly ballsy finish after a sweet nose, cool product. —Shaun Layton, February 2017
Hops and Honey Vodka
FRAGRANCE:Malty, resiny, touch of buttery corn. FLAVOUR:Faint coriander spice, danky, dry pepper, honeysuckle. FEEL:Creamy on the palate. FINISH:Nice subtle black pepper, piney, slightly bitter. BEST ENJOYED:Would make a great collins style drink, looking forward to this in a Michelada or a Caesar. THE BOTTOM LINE:I wouldn’t put it in the vodka category, theres a lot going on. A very intriguing spirit. —Shaun Layton, July 2017
FRAGRANCE:Cooked corn and orange. FLAVOUR:Corn comes through with playful citrus notes and a touch of smoke. FEEL:Mild creaminess. FINISH:A little baking spice on the front, a touch of smoke on the back. BEST ENJOYED:Could sub into a sour or Old Fashioned with some ease. THE BOTTOM LINE:An interesting take on a young (soon-to-be) corn whisky.—Trevor Kallies, October 2017
FRAGRANCE:A hint of alcohol on the nose with a small touch of cream. FLAVOUR:Slight bit of grain with white pepper. FEEL:The palate is smooth with a tiny element of alcohol warmth. FINISH:Fairly abrupt. BEST ENJOYED:In your favorite mixed vodka drink. THE BOTTOM LINE:As craft vodkas go it is right up there. Packaging is bartender friendly, with a decent neck to grab onto.—Trevor Kallies, February 2017
FRAGRANCE:Caramel, butterscotch even. FLAVOUR:Toffee, candy corn. FEEL:Light. FINISH:Dryer than the nose suggests. BEST ENJOYED:In a shaken cocktail with fruit or citrus. THE BOTTOM LINE:A New World-style vodka for those who like sweeter drinks.—Josh Pape, October 2017
Truly handmade using a small homebrew mill and a pump, Mad Laboratory’s vodka is triple distilled and carbon filtered from Armstrong barley and Champagne yeast.
119-618 East Kent Ave., Vancouver
• Mad Lab Vodka
• Mad Lab Gin
• Mad Dog Single Malt White Spirit
Mad Lab Vodka
FRAGRANCE:Clean, light fragrance of sweet wheat, vanilla, and hints of doughy bread. FLAVOUR:Very smooth, lightly sweet with notes of black pepper, hint of vanilla. FEEL:Silky and dry. FINISH:Super clean, lightly creamy. BEST ENJOYED:Stirred, straight up with a twist. THE BOTTOM LINE:Brand new distillery, only the 4th batch made; Mad Lab nailed it. —Wendy McGuinness, July 2016
Mad Lab Gin
FRAGRANCE:Sweet and fruity. FLAVOUR:Clean and citrusy. FEEL:Tickling mouth-feel. FINISH:Spicy, biting. BEST ENJOYED:In a White Lady (gin, Cointreau, lemon). THE BOTTOM LINE:A six-botanical cucumber gin that is delicate and nuanced. Very clean tasting.—Robyn Gray, February 2017
Mad Dog Single Malt White Spirit
FRAGRANCE:A brewery in the morning. Lovely. FLAVOUR:Toasted pumpernickel bread. FEEL:Punchy, then round. FINISH:Honey. Long and sweet. BEST ENJOYED:As a sour. Heavy on the angostura, or even with 10 ml of amaro. THE BOTTOM LINE:Not sure about the white whisky trend, but this is a good indicator of the aged spirit Mad Dog will produce.—Josh Pape, October 2017