Vancouver’s Best Bartenders Let Loose With Beer And Booze


Yesterday, local bartenders were asked to craft cocktails incorporating beers from Whistler Brewing Company in a timed competition. Held at The Refinery, the showdown included efforts from fifteen barkeeps in all, which meant my palate was in for something of a rude ride for over three hours (I was judging). Much fun was had, and some of the drinks were very impressive. Here’s what it looked like from my end, a recap of who made what with which ingredient and how it looked through a blender of tasting notes and photos. Thirsty? Giddy-up…

Solomon Seigel | Solomon’s

A classically clothed Solomon Seigel strains his Lavender Haze...

Solomon Seigel came all the way over from Victoria to participate in this competition, and he scored highly in my books with his Lavender Haze, a mix of 1 part Bulleit bourbon, a bar spoon of lavender jelly, and two parts pale ale. He combined everything in a shaker smoked up with burning hops, and then strained and garnished with a fresh sprig of local lavender…

“Lavender Haze”


Trevor Kallies | Granville Room

Trevor Kallies of The Granville Room caramelizes sugar-covered citrus for his cocktail...

Trevor Kallies began his cocktail – “Citrusly Speaking” – by generously dusting sliced citrus with sugar and then taking the blowtorch to them. Into the mix these went with 2oz of Beefeater 24 gin, 3 dashes of The Bitter Truth’s Beefeater 24 bitters, and 1/4oz of simple syrup. The result, finished with Whistler Brewing Company’s Weissbier, was very refreshing.

“Citrusly Speaking”


Brad Johnson | Pivo/Lux

Brad Johnson of Pivo/Lux pins his chances on simplicity...

Brad Johnson prepared a very basic and fast twist on a Black Russian: 1oz Kahlua and 1oz Van Gogh espresso vodka topped up with Whistler Brewing Company’s Black Tusk Ale…

Black Tuskan


Sam Bawden | Crime Lab

Sam Bawden of Crime Lab readies for his turn...

Sam Bawden went the equally simple route, adding 2oz of orange juice to 1oz of Mandarin vodka before topping it up with Whistler Brewing Company’s Weissbier. It was a lot like Trevor Kallies’ drink, “Citrusly Speaking”, only half as complex. Quite refreshing, nevertheless…

“No Name”


Sarah | Diva at the Met

Sarah from Diva was steady and exacting...

Sarah brought her “A” game and steady hands (plus executive sous chef Jeff Van Geest) to her “Mile High”, a mix of 3/4oz Giffard Ginger of the Indies, 3/4oz Chambord, 3/4oz of Lillet, a significant splash of Whistler Brewing Company’s Weissbier, and a dash of Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6. The result was remarkably smooth and more beery than previous entrants, and her raspberry rim was very different. Top marks.

“Mile High”


Kris Jensen | The Refinery


Kris Jensen impressed with his spicy, nuanced, and easy on the eyes “Taco Bell”. He used 1.5oz of chipotle and ancho chili infused reposado tequila, 1oz of charred American oak syrup, 3/4oz of lime juice, 1 egg white, and roughly 3oz of Black Tusk beer. Chipotle powder and shaved chocolate provided a nose tingling garnish…

“Taco Bell”


Josh Pape | The Diamond


Josh Pape has his drink, “Two Beers, One Cup”, dialed in metric. It was 20ml of Black Tusk ale and Gastown farmer’s market cherry reduction, 45ml of Goslings, 10ml of Orancio, 10ml of fresh orange juice and 1 dash of egg white shaken extra hard and long and then strained and served avec Weissbier…

“Two Beers, One Cup”


Danielle Tatarin | DB Bistro


Danielle Tatarin made her wonderfully complex “Mountain Julep” using 1.5oz of tart cherry-infused bourbon, 1/4oz hand-blended Moroccan mint syrup, 1/4oz of house made maraschino cherry jus, and 4oz of Honey Lager in crushed ice. One of my favourites…

“Mountain Julep”


Kyle Lane | RTL

Kyle Lane strains out his imaginative Bubble Beer...

Kyle Lane did a crafty little take on bubble tea, straining a mix of 1.5oz of Tanqueray and 2oz of green tea syrup with lemon juice and Fee Brother’s orange bitters into a Collins glass topped with Weissbier and loaded with Black Tusk beer-flavoured pearls. A very inventive, pretty, and involved drink. Each straw suck brought with it a tasty spheroid or two…

“Bubble Beer”


Colin Turner | CinCin

Colin Turner of CinCin whips it good...

Colin Turner was the first to whip out the foam. His drink, “The Hybrid”, saw 20z of Beniamino Moscato Grappa married to 1oz of Dubonnet, 1/2 a fresh muddled orange, .5oz of a housemade syrup of clove and all spice, and nearly 6oz of Weissbier. On top was a generous lather of beer foam…

“The Hybrid”


Cassidy Crowe | Sip Resto Lounge

Cassidy Crowe concentrates...

Cassidy Crowe crafted her light “Geisha” using 1oz of peach puree, 1/2 of fresh lime, 1/2oz of Cointreau, and muddled ginger topped with Whitler Export Lager…



Jonathan Smolensky | Brix

Jonathan Smolensky of Brix strains his Apres Flip...

Jonathan Smolensky took us back to the turn of the 18th century with his “Apres Flip”, a mix of 4oz of his Whistler Weissbier “secret brew”, 3oz of Havana Club Blanco, 2 dashes of Angostura bitters, 3 tsp of Olorosa sherry, 1 tsp of brown sugar, and 1 egg white. Delicious…

“Apres Flip”


Damon Hanly | Pivo

Damon Hanly of Pivo, just moments before he tossed his shaker at Kyle Lane...

Damon Hanly kept us entertained, at one point nervously throwing out his shaker and glass into the crowd by accident (ably caught by the robotic mega reflexes of RTL’s Kyle Lane, who non-chalantly began to shake it to the bemusement of all assembled). His drink, the “Perfect Storm”, blended 4oz of Whistler Honey Lager with 1oz Mandarin vodka, 3/4 lemon juice, 1/2oz of orange juice, 1/4oz of kafir simple syrup, and 1 barspoon of ginger puree. A very nice, citrusy summer combination, though the wheat sprig garnish went up my nose and stabbed my brain…

“Perfect Storm”


Shaun Layton | George Ultra Lounge


Shaun Layton likes to be meticulous, and today was no exception. He put together his “Apres Fizz” using a laundry list of ingredients, among them 60ml of Rogue Dead Guy Whiskey, 15ml of lemon juice, 15ml of lime juice, 40ml of housemade Black Tusk Ale syrup, 60ml of cream, 60ml of Whistler Honey Lager, 10ml Amer Picon, 1 dash of orange flower water, 1 dash of Jerry Thomas bitter, and 1 egg white. The result stood tall and superb, an exemplary representation of what a beer cocktail should be…

“Apres Fizz”


Andrea Takasaki | Lux


Andrea Takasaki came last but not least. Her drink, “The Demoralizer”, was a heady mix of clove, orange, caramel, vanilla, orange bitters, Buffalo Trace bourbon, and Weissbier. Her drink + patio = awesome.

And the winner is…



Congratulations to Shaun Layton, bar manager of Yaletown’s George Ultra Lounge. His Apres Fizz cocktail scored highest with all of the judges, myself included (I gave it 92 out of a possible 100). Also very high in my notes and on my scorecard were Danielle Tatarin of DB Bistro, Trevor Kallies of The Granville Room, Jonathan Smolensky of Brix, Josh Pape of The Diamond, Kyle Lane of RTL, and especially Solomon Seigel of Victoria, whose delicious Lavender Haze was the first drink of the night – a disadvantage, methinks.But everyone did very well. Kudos to Lauren Mote and the crew at The Refinery for the hospitality and to Whistler Brewing Company for making beer and celebrating it.

All in all, it was a uncommonly liquid Monday afternoon. I had dinner reservations within minutes of the winner being announced, and had to stagger-skidaddle straight away. Accordingly, I hope everyone is all right…

Related Post…

City’s Best Barkeeps Compete With Maker’s Mark At Boneta


There are 4 comments

  1. Way to go Shaun. I knew all that drinking we did when you were a child would pay off. Congrats and lots of love, Mum and dad. Papa Denny is up there smilin down on you. I’m so proud od you.