Owen Sips Lightly On The Wood At Kitsilano’s New “Maenam”
by Owen Lightly – A few days after the opening of Maenam, I went and hung out with their bar manager Ben de Champlain to check out a couple of the new cocktails.
Like me, Ben comes from the Island. He’s done a lot of traveling and has they eyes of a man who has seen a few things (ask him about his pilgrimage on the “El Camino de Santiago” in Spain).
Ben was a chef for years and only recently got into the bartending racket. His friends Steve (Corner Suite) and JT (Market), who were running the bar at Boneta at the time, knew he was looking to mix things up, so they offered him a shot on the wood there. Now, I’ve seen the bar at Boneta in full swing, and know how crazy it can get, so for him to jump in (and excel) is a testament to his skill and work ethic – all those years behind the line in a hot kitchen must have helped.
Traditional bar programs in higher-end restaurants, like the one at the former Gastropod, run somewhat autonomously from the theme of the restaurant that they are in. They might use flavours and ingredients totally foreign from the ones used in the kitchen. With Maenam, Ben set out to use the same basic Thai flavours that chef Angus An would be using in the back – things like tropical fruits, coconut, ginger, chilies, lime juice and Thai basil. Thai food is a balancing act of strong, assertive flavours and Ben is aiming to do the same with the drinks. All the ingredients are cut and muddled to order, which is something that will surely put them in the shit once in awhile, but Ben thinks it is worth it. “I could make up some chili infused syrup or something to have ready, but it just wouldn’t be the same”, he says.
In a shaker glass, add…
¼ Granny smith apple
1 Tablespoon chopped pineapple
2 Dashes angostura bitters
1 Ounce Falernum (traditional rum cocktail additive)
Muddle with tool of choice (the end of a French rolling pin works well. Anything blunt, really).
Add 5 Thai basil leaves and continue pulverizing.
½ ounce fresh lime juice
1 ½ ounce white Havana rum
1 ½ tsp brown sugar
Top with ice and shake, shake, shake. Shake more. Taste for balance, adjust if necessary, and serve in a rocks glass garnished with a pineapple wedge and lime. Enjoy.
Owen Lightly is a boy from a small island in the Gulf of Georgia. After attending cooking school, he moved to Vancouver in 2002 to start a career in the restaurant “biz”. His website, Butter On the Endive, was created for sharing and caring.
Scout’s Maenam Shots
The night before opening night…