Zesty Zero-Proof Cocktails
By Nikki Bayley / Images By Joern Rohde
The innovative cocktail scene in Whistler, with its beautiful glassware, thoughtful garnishes and on-trend complex flavours, may have once invited serious feelings of FOMO (fear of missing out) for non-alcohol imbibers yearning for a range of choices beyond boring water, juice or pop.
Nowadays, zero-proof drinks are no longer an afterthought, primarily because of the launch of non-alcoholic distilled spirits such as Seedlip and Lumette! Zero-per cent creations are now one of the hottest drink trends around. These four smart bartenders are crafting delicious no-liquor creations for those of us who don’t want to drink alcohol. We can re-tox, if and when we so desire, but for now, let’s celebrate these mouth-watering, zero-proof cocktails.
604-932-3433 | bearfootbistro.com
The Bearfoot Bistro’s cocktail list is a byword for creative innovation with a mischievous touch: You can always rely on it to be packed with puns and playful names. Their latest zero-proof creation is a tribute to Netflix’s COVID-quarantine must-watch sensation, “Tiger King.” “I couldn’t resist!” Bearfoot Bar Manager Luc Trottier says with a laugh. “It’s inspired by the flavour profile of a Peruvian ceviche recipe called ‘Leche de Tigre’ (milk of the tiger). Tiger milk … tiger king — it was a short step to ‘Rey Tigre,’ which means Tiger King in Spanish.”
A world away from sugary “Shirley Temples” and fruity mocktails, Trottier believes that guests are looking for a more sophisticated, food-friendly approach to zero-proof drinks. “As an industry, we need to invest [more] thought into alcohol-free cocktails. I believe that if we take a more savoury approach and give guests something different to what they can have at home, they’ll be excited to try something new.”
The “Rey Tigre” blends fresh pineapple juice, cilantro, jalapeño, ginger, and lime. “We use the Vitamix to make a very fine, silky blend; the pineapple takes a back seat, with the cilantro- jalapeño notes being dominant. Spicy, savoury: It’s got a kick, for sure! You certainly don’t have to drink alcohol to have a good time, and the days of people feeling like there’s a [negative] stigma if you’re not drinking are hopefully long gone. Thoughtfully created zero-proof drinks are gaining in popularity; it’s all about the philosophy behind the drinks, and we are here to give guests the best possible experience,” Trottier says.
THE RAVEN ROOM
604-962-0311 | theravenroom.ca
“I come here on my days off,” Emily Matthews, The Raven Room’s bartender, says with a laugh. “I love being in this room! We get so much local support. There are always a few familiar faces, and then there are the folks who find us for the first time too. We have such beautiful late daylight; you can sit on the patio and watch the alpenglow looking out over Blackcomb and Rainbow mountains.”
A view like that doesn’t need alcohol to enhance it (although we’re certainly partial to a creative cocktail or two!), and The Raven Room’s welcoming vibe is open to all, explains Matthews. “It’s about the atmosphere and the experience; we’ll make you a classic cocktail, but without the alcohol, [though] since we’ve started to keep Lumette (a distilled zero-per-cent, alcohol, ‘gin alt-spirit’) on the back bar, people are coming in and [specifically] ordering Lumette Sours. If you’re the “DD” [designated driver] or just not drinking alcohol, you don’t want to spend the night drinking pop. You can have a low- or no-alcohol cocktail with the same glass and garnish, and it feels just like any other cocktail.”
The challenge for Matthews is balance. Lumette has a grassy, herbaceous botanical flavour profile with a fresh scent and bright mouthfeel. “It’s easy to work with and brings out other flavours well,” she says. “I balanced the Lumette out with a sage syrup using our friend Samantha’s herbs from [nearby] Pemberton, just a little lemon juice for acidity, then I smoke the glass with a sage leaf and rub the rim with sage too. The aromatics hit your nose when you take that first sip; it’s inspired by a Southside with gin, lime, sugar and mint, but I use lemon juice instead. You get the summery freshness of sage and the sensation of a gin cocktail — but without the gin!”
CURE LOUNGE & PATIO AT NITA LAKE LODGE
604-966-5700 | nitalakelodge.com
“You can’t get [a drink] like it anywhere else,” Head Bartender Hazel Love says with a grin, enthusing over the tranquil lake and mountain views from the Cure Lounge at Nita Lake Lodge. “We’re a warm and welcoming space, overlooking the gorgeous natural environment; even when it rains, it’s lovely here with our fireplace and comfy sofas.” An inviting welcome is what it’s all about at the Cure Lounge, whether you’re drinking alcohol or keeping it zero-proof. “For me, if I have a guest who doesn’t want to drink alcohol, I want them to feel included with their peers who order fancy cocktails, so it’s important to have interesting zero-proof options on the menu. We need to do better than just a diet cola or fruit juice,” Love says.
The Cure Lounge’s Golden Dreams (named after one of Whistler’s most beloved rivers) cocktail is the most popular drink on the menu. Well-balanced with an eye-catching bright yellow colour, it’s an instant head-turner in the bar. “It’s such a fresh and zingy drink. I use a lemon-ginger kombucha with muddled fresh ginger root, a pinch of turmeric, lemon juice and agave syrup to sweeten it. It’s good to make health-conscious decisions when you’re [dining] out, and whenever I see anything with turmeric in it, I always want it! Kombucha has many probiotic benefits, and turmeric is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties, while fresh ginger gives your immune system a boost. I think people are looking for a drink like this right now,” says Love. And while this particular drink is only available in the warmer months, you will always find a selection of new, seasonal, mocktails at Cure Lounge.
MALLARD LOUNGE AND TERRACE AT FAIRMONT CHATEAU WHISTLER
604-938-8000 | fairmont.com/whistler/dining
At the Fairmont Chateau Whistler’s Mallard Lounge, Bartender Ross Watson is getting used to the “new normal” with service in masks and physical distancing in place. “It’s a big adjustment for everyone, but it’s becoming second nature now and great to welcome the guests back,” he says. The Mallard Lounge has always offered an excellent selection of zero-proof drinks, and the team makes good use of Seedlip, produced in the U.K. (like Ross!) and the first-ever distilled, no-alcohol spirit.
“Seedlip comes in three flavour profiles: garden, citrus and spiced. You can use them as a great substitute for any alcohol,” Ross explains. “I think when it comes to no-alcohol drinks, it’s all about the presentation; that means using the same glassware, and the same garnishes as our spirited cocktails. When you see a zero-proof drink, it should still look sexy!”
“My ‘Beached Botanics’ is a reference to the botanicals used in the Seedlip’s ‘Grove 42,’ and also the beach for the flavour profile of a piña colada! It’s [really] a simple drink; I use coconut syrup, lime juice, the citrus variety of Seedlip, which is distilled with three types of orange and spices, and a dash of soda water, which gives it the beautiful foamy top.
“More places in the world are moving to zero tolerance when it comes to drinking and driving, so it’s great that we can offer elevated alternatives to the designated driver as well as others, who just don’t want alcohol,” says Watson.