Harmony Arts Festival mixes a great Night On The Pier

Sebastian & Co. Fine Meats
(and vegetables)

A sunny, summer evening on the waterfront, cocktails, nibbles and a few hundred revellers roaming Ambleside Pier, is the recipe for another great Night On The Pier. Part of West Vancouver’s Harmony Arts Festival, Night On The Pier brought together seven of Vancouver’s top bartenders and mixologists to complete with each other for the superior sip.

Visitors were able to stroll Ambleside Pier and sample each of the libations created with a featured spirit. Amongst the cocktail stations were light bites from Sebastian & Co. Fine Meats, Las Margaritas, Cocoa Progressive Latin Restaurant.

Scroll through the participating bartenders’ beautiful cocktails to find the #1:

Skye Hanuel Kim from Ambersand Bistro & Bar
Cocktail: Sassy Secret
Featured Spirit: Cascadian Dry Gin
Souhail Rostainajad from Pourhouse
Cocktail: Amble Breeze
Featured Spirit: Bulldog Gin
Gareth Jones from Juniper Kitchen & Bar
Cocktail: Surely Seaside
Featured Spirit: Sheringham Distillery Seaside Gin
Katie Ingram from Elisa Wood-Fired Grill
Cocktail: Wannabe
Featured Spirit: Tanquery No. Ten Gin + Bittered Sling Clingstone Peach
Sabrine Dhaliwal from Pourhouse
Cocktail: Summer Sunsets
Featured Spirit: Belvedere Vodka

And voted number 1 cocktail for the 4th Annual Night On The Pier…

Robyn Gray from Rosewood Hotel Georgia
Cocktail: Ambleside Punch
Featured Spirit: Santa Teresa Rum

If you missed out on sipping these cocktails at Night On The Pier, you can see what these bartenders are mixing by visiting their bars.

Friday Find: Victoria Distillers Tours

Saturday June 11th, 2016 is #WorldGinDay, so it was coincidental to hear about the new Victoria Distillers location in Sidney, BC and their distillery tours and tastings.

vicdistillerVictoria Gin has been a favourite since it was introduced in 2008, new owners expanded the distiller to the Sidney, BC waterfront and have introduced daily tours and tastings.  Visitors get a look at what goes on behind the scenes at one of Canada’s first artisan distillers. Learn about the distillation process, at what goes into and comes from the copper pot stills.  From the botanicals, blending to bottling and hand numbering each bottle guests see it all.  Then, after the tour, get a taste of the finished products. It’s the perfect way to celebrate #WorldGinDay!

Victoria Distillers Tours & Tastings are just $7 / person (children under 19-Free) and take approximately 45 minutes. Book online or by phone 250-544-8217

Watch for Victoria Distiller’s lounge to open soon, offering a change to watch bartenders make use of what the distillery calls their “Liquid Bar Tools”; Victoria Gin, Oaken Gin, Left Oak Hemp Vodka, Craigdarroch Whiskey.

Victoria Distillers is located at 9891 Seaport Place, Sidney, BC

BC Distilled Festival 2016

Tomorrow, the third annual BC Distilled Festival gets underway celebrating British Columbia’s craft and micro-distilleries.

Victoria SpiritsThe festival starts Friday night with a sold-out first of its kind Cask Strength Whiskey Tasting Preview, at the Westin Bayshore,  nine distilleries will be sampling straight from the barrel, under 3 year old (save for one) that are not yet for sale. This your chance to taste the future of BC’s burgeoning distilled industry,

Photo 2014-11-20, 18 42 38Saturday  evening, The Main Tasting Room at the Croatian Cultural Centre brings out 30 plus distilleries and restaurants.  Unlike other food and beverage festivals, BC Distilled samples are not ticketed so guests are free to taste anything that strikes their fancy.  Gin, aged Gin, Vodka, Brandy, Liqueurs and more, the distilleries will be sampling straight spirits and some cocktails.  The Legacy Liquor Store pop-up shop is on location if you want to take home anything you’ve sampled.

Photo 11-27-2013, 20 41 51While the Whiskey Tasting Preview is sold out, Tickets for the Main Tasting Room as available online for $59.99 or $79.99 for VIP Tasting.

Christmas Shopping for the Libation Lover

Vancouver’s cocktail and bar scene has had a great boost in the last few years with the opening of a wide variety of local distilleries.  Along with the distilleries has come a renewed cocktail culture, and side enterprises like locally blended bitters and creative bartenders creating their own spin on classic cocktails.

If Photo 2014-11-20, 18 42 38you have someone on your Christmas Shopping list who’s a fan of a good libation, create a custom cocktail kit of their own filled with Holiday cheer.

Family run, Long Table Distillery is Vancouver’s first micro-distillery and help launch the current spirit revival.  Long Table Distillery offers a selection of gin, vodka and seasonal spirits that make a great gift for the home bartender. Package the bottle in one of their handcrafted pine gift boxers for a terrific Christmas gift.Photo 2014-11-20, 18 25 02
To see the possibilities of what can be created, stop by the Hornby Street distillery & tasting room on Fridays for Gin & Tonic Fridays or Thursdays and Saturdays for their Cocktail Laboratory in partnership with Vancouver Apothecary Bitters, which also make a great gift for a budding bartender.

Photo 2014-11-20, 18 25 21Long Table also offers a great selection of bar tools, mixes and other equipment needed to make the spirits bright all year long.



Vodka Mixology with Long Table Distillery & Grain Tasting Bar

Mitchell (left) & Jamie welcome us

Recently, a group of us were privileged to get an inside look behind the scenes at what goes into creating some of the cocktails at GRAIN Tasting Bar, one of my favourite newer spots in the city. Brian (@br_webb) won the chance for 5 of us to take part in the experience so Billy (@billyforce), Mary (@maryinvancity), Josh (@joshrimer) and I spent the afternoon learning how to make 4 cocktails and sampling some of GRAIN’s fine foods.

Mitchell Kerr, Bar Manager at GRAIN, who created most of the cocktails on their extensive menu, welcomed us and would be our guide for the afternoon.  Mitchell, and GRAIN itself, has a philosophy of keeping it local when it comes to the ingredients in his drinks, luckily Vancouver has fast become a mecca for locally produced spirits.  Long Table Distillery is one of these great new local producers and would be the key ingredient in the 4 cocktails we were mixing:


Grain_UrbanFarmerUrban Farmer: created by Mark Saxauer,  blends the tastes of fresh, muddled tomatoes, basil, a hint of spice and Long Table Gin to create a fresher, cleaner take on a classic Caesar or Bloody Mary.







Grain_SeatoSkySea To Sky: like a lot of Mitchell’s cocktails is named after a local landmark, a martini using Long Table Gin, St Germaine, basil and citrus flavours it evokes the crisp, fresh feeling one would get as they drove the Sea To Sky Highway.








Zen Martini: named after the Zen Tea that infuses the Vodka used in the cocktail, also combines Drambuie and fruit juices to create a sweet, wholesome feeling martini.








Vancouver Vesper: a local modification on the classic James Bond created Vesper, using Long Table Vodka and Gin with a hint of citrus bitters to make it a local and unique sip.



Each of our cocktails was intermingled with course of GRAIN Tasting Bar‘s great bites. Charcuterie with cheeses and house-made spreads and breads, pulled pork sliders and GRAIN’s renowned pizzas all topped off our afternoon to make it a great experience in a great location.

While you may not have the chance to get the behind the scenes experience that we did, you are guaranteed that whichever drinks and bites you choose you’ll be getting beautiful, creative and locally-sourced tastes.

GRAIN Tasting Lounge is located at 655 Burrard Street, within the Hyatt Regency Vancouver lobby.
Find them online, on Twitter @GRAIN_Bar, or on Facebook
Phone: 604.639.4768

La Soirée ONE DROP In Vancouver

This evening, the big top of Cirque du Soleil`s Amaluna in Vancouver was home to La Soirée ONE DROP, a spectacular fundraiser in support of water for all.  ONE DROP is a Montreal based initiative created by Guy Laliberté, Founder of Cirque du Soleil, with a goal to develop access-to-water and sanitation projects in countries where access to this vital resource is lacking.

To raise awareness and funds to support the cause, over the last four years, ONE DROP has hosted La Soirée ONE DROP in cities around the world and Vancouver is the grand finale of this year’s fundraising activities.  Expected to raise $1million, the event is sure to be one of the most talked about charity events of the year. Guests were treated to a spectacular soiree set under the tent at Concorde Pacific Place, featuring a specially designed food and beverage menu offered by Whistler’s renowned Bearfoot Bistro and friends.

At a sneak preview earlier before the main event, ONE DROP interim Executive Director Catherine B. Bachand introduced Gianni Kovacevic a member of ONE DROP’s Global Leaders Circle and sponsor Kyle Washington, Chairman of Seaspan, the BC association of marine companies. Hearing them speak about their drive to support ONE DROP, people got a sense of how passionate this organization in their quest to ensure safe, clean water is available for everyone.

The Urban Tea Merchant

Tucked away in a sunny courtyard off of Alberni Street, The Urban Tea Merchant is a mecca for tea lovers, half retail tea boutique and half tea salon. As the exclusive North American partner with TWG Tea, shoppers can experience the aroma and sample taste 250 of TWG Tea’s finest luxury blends as well as browse some beautiful and unique accessories, tea-infused edibles, gifts and tea sets.  Like fine wine, TWG Tea is hand blended in Singapore to exacting standards making it a favourite brand of 5 diamond hotels, airlines and first class retailers across the globe. Whether it’s a familiar Earl Grey or herb tea or a top of the line blend which can cost up to $500/100g making the ‘right’ tea selection can easily overwhelm but The Urban Tea Merchant has a tea sommelier, M. Reza Nasooti, on hand to help pick the perfect blend to suit your taste or mood. His knowledge, experience and passion for tea was infectious as he guided me through an array of blends that stimulated all the senses while sitting at the tasting bar in the retail shop.

After shopping or while contemplating your choices, head into The Urban Tea Merchant Tea Salon for a luxurious tea service. Whether for lunch, weekend brunch, afternoon tea or after-work light bites and cocktails the tea salon is a quiet, elegant oasis to savour a hot cup of TWG Tea whilst enjoying beautifully prepared, presented and served tea-infused savoury and sweet treats. Respecting the tea culture of Vancouverite’s diverse backgrounds, their chef puts his own spin on traditional Tea Service with treats that combine traditions from all the cultures and bounty of the West Coast alongside TWG Tea infused items.  The results are truly memorable taste sensations that I had the pleasure of experiencing first hand on a recent afternoon.  If Tea Service doesn’t fit the mood of your day, opt for a charcuterie plate and a tea-infused cocktail, perfect for a warm autumn afternoon. Created by Mixologist Ben Lambie alongside sommelier Nasooti the duo have brought their expertise together to develop a tasty selection of cocktails for Fall including Matcha Sour (bourbon, lime, Matcha), Lapsang Souchong Caesar (vodka, clamato juice, Lapsang Souchong Tea), 1837 Black Tea Mimosa (prosecco, orange juice, 1837 Black Tea) and my personal favourite, Chocolate Earl Grey Martini (gin, lemon, Chocolate Earl Grey Tea).

If you need an added excuse to stop in during the month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month,  The Urban Tea Merchant is donating 10% of the proceeds of every Pink Flamingo Cosmopolitan (vodka, cranberry, lime, Pink Flamingo Tea) towards the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

Being so centrally located The Urban Tea Merchant is near everything, making it a perfect spot to stop during an afternoon of shopping, after a busy day at work or weekend brunch. I look forward to stopping in again try more of their menu in the Tea Salon and the Retail Shop is definitely a going to be a Christmas/Birthday Shopping destination from now on.

The Urban Tea Merchant is located at 1070 West Georgia Street (accessible from both Georgia Street or Alberni Street) phone (604) 692-0071 or reserve and shop online