Mixin' It Up with Whistler's Top Mixologists
Classic cocktails never go out of style, but Whistler’s best mixologists are constantly innovating and challenging themselves with bold new ingredients, techniques and presentations to delight and surprise. Here are just a few of their latest and greatest creations conjured for the winter season.
604-932-3433 | bearfootbistro.com
THE INNER CIRCLE
Goat-cheese salad? Sure. Goat-cheese-infused tequila? “No way!” said Scott Barber, the bar manager at Bearfoot Bistro, when Bartender Marco Perego first approached him with the avant-garde mixer. Perego created the funky infusion when a customer asked him to pair a tasting menu with original cocktails. “The goat-cheese semifreddo really stumped me,” says Perego, who simply stirred a spoonful of triple-cream Capriny from Quebec into a cup of Tequila El Espolòn and strained it through a cheesecloth.
“Even when I first saw it, I wasn’t sure,” Barber says of the frothy yet surprisingly well-balanced drink shaken with Green Chartreuse, anise-flavoured honey, lemon juice, house-made bitters and egg white. The herbal notes in the Chartreuse pair well with the milky tequila’s earthy tang, while the citrus adds brightness, so it doesn’t taste too, uh, cheesy. “Now I kind of crave it,” Barber concedes. Oddly enough, it grew on us too.
604-932-4442 | ilcaminetto.ca
A classic Negroni — simple, balanced and bitter — is a perfect apéritif to arouse the appetite. When mixed with slightly richer ingredients and served neat, as Bar Manager Peter Johanson does with this smooth, chocolaty version, it also makes an excellent digestif for bringing the evening to a sweet close.
Johanson, who has created an entire “vault” of seasonally changing Negronis for this modern Italian restaurant with a swish lounge, uses equal parts coffee-infused Campari, Mount Gay Eclipse Rum and Punt e Mes for his mahogany-hued After Hours.
“If you try to make it too complicated, you’re going to ruin what is essentially an amazing cocktail,” he explains. While garnishes are too often treated as superfluous decoration, a dehydrated orange wheel becomes an integral component, adding a bright finish that continues to bloom the longer you leave it.
“It’s one of those cocktails I’m super proud of,” he says, grinning modestly. “Kind of relatable, but totally different.”
Mallard Lounge at Fairmont Chateau Whistler
604-938-8000 | fairmont.com/whistler
Sumptuous yet casual, the Mallard Lounge has always been an inviting spot to sink into an armchair next to the roaring fireplace (or live band) with a dram of house-infused whisky.
Recently, however, a new management team has elevated the cocktail program to the next level. You can see the difference in crystal-clear Glacier Margaritas mixed with citric acid in place of lime juice and smell the ambition wafting from herbaceous absinthe spritzed over silky Sazeracs washed with duck fat. You can even reach out and touch wispy puffs of smoke emanating from Fire and Spice, a full-bodied sour made with barrel-aged Hennessy.
But the drink that is sure to capture imaginations — and become an Instagram sensation — is 1977, a contemporary take on the classic New York Sour. Inspired by the New York City blackout, the opaque bourbon base is infused with activated charcoal. The ruby top layer is tart, sweet-vermouth foam. Plush and boozy, the two-part deconstruction “plays with your mind,” says Beverage Manager Max Lambert, who hails from the legendary Oak Long Bar in Boston’s Fairmont Copley Plaza. We hope he sticks around.
Cure Lounge and Patio
at Nita Lake Lodge
604-966-5700 | nitalakelodge.com
BATHING IN DIAMONDS
We can’t all be Taylor Swift, lounging around in a soaker tub filled with diamond chokers and rings, as the pop star does in the eye-catching video for Look What You Made Me Do. But thanks to Rhiannon Csordas, head bartender at the always-innovative Cure Lounge at Nita Lake Lodge, we can simulate the dazzling experience in a martini glass.
Shimmering with edible gold dust normally used for cake decorating, the dainty drink looks light and harmless. Yet much like Swift’s vengeful vixen, it packs a stiff punch with equal parts Sip Smith VJOP (Very Juniper Over Proof) gin, La Stella Moscato (an effervescent, off-dry wine from B.C.’s Okanagan Valley) and Martini Bianco Vermouth. Four dashes of orange flower water soften the spirits with delicate aroma.
“We’re always trying to break the barrier of what’s new and exciting,” Csordas says. “Cocktails need to be aesthetically pleasing. This, to me, is stunning.”
Basalt Wine + Salumeria
604-962-9011 | basaltwhistler.com
The name Red Menace is slightly ironic, Bartender Alex Muir explains. Although he is typically partial to making stiff-tasting drinks — “It must be because I’m half-Irish, half-Scottish” — this beet-juice session cocktail contains only one ounce of Seagrams V.O. Canadian Whisky and won’t pose too much danger. Fresh-pressed apple juice is added for a touch of natural sweetness and a splash of lemon juice for balance. In fact, some might feel downright virtuous after imbibing so much wholesome goodness.
Casual and contemporary, Basalt is an Italian salumeria that specializes in charcuterie, cheese and small boards for sharing. But both the bar and the kitchen place a strong emphasis on local products (the wine list is almost entirely from B.C.). The beets for this juicy cocktail come from nearby Pemberton, a local farming region with sandy soil rich in mineral deposits that is exceptionally good for growing underground vegetables.
Muir rims the glass with green-matcha sugar (to complement the earthy profile) and adds a small splash of red vermouth (to keep it somewhat Italian).
Sidecut Bar at the Four Seasons Resort & Residences Whistler
604-966-5280 | sidecutwhistler.com
FIERY HOT CHOCOLATE
Everyone loves hot chocolate, especially after a long, cold day on the slopes. But most bars spike it with the usual ingredients — Baileys, Kahlua, Frangelico and whatnot. At Sidecut Bar, where a cute, retro camper is parked next to the fire pit in the outdoor courtyard, they wanted to create a winter warmer that lived up to the Four Seasons standards of luxury, but was “a little outside the box,” explains Senior Bartender Rob Kharazmi.
After much trial and error, coconut tequila, Green Chartreuse and lavender bitters proved the perfect trifecta. “It’s a little tropical, a little herbaceous and a little floral,” he says of the creamy concoction. “Go ahead and crack it,” he says, pointing to the garnish, a chocolate-coated tuille bedecked with a fresh sprig of thyme. The chocolate melts and the slightly minty evergreen amplifies the coconut. It tastes like a snowy Christmas on the beach — definitely outside the sandbox, but playing (and tasting) nicely.