DINER | Behind The Scenes At “L’Abattoir” From Its Construction Dust To Opening Day

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It was four years ago today that Lee Cooper, Paul Grunberg, and Nin Rai opened their critically acclaimed Gastown eatery L’Abattoir at 217 Carrall Street (the original Irish Heather location). Take a look below for behind the scenes images taken during construction, training, and on opening day…

ALL ANTICIPATED OPENINGS

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS | “L’Abattoir” In Gastown On Hunt For Front Of House Staff

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L’Abattoir is located at 217 Carrall St in Vancouver’s Gastown neighbourhood | 604-568-1701 | www.labattoir.ca

The GOODS from L’Abattoir

Vancouver, BC | The award-winning L’Abattoir restaurant is hiring servers, server’s assistants, and a maitre’d. The successful candidates can expect a positive and professional working environment, competitive wages and tips. Apply in confidence via email with resume attached to paul [at] labattoir.ca. Learn more about the restaurant after the jump…… Read more

DRINKER | On “Amer Picon”, The Very Rare Bottle That Every Cocktail Aficionado Wants

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by Shaun Layton | Ask the majority of North American bartenders if you can bring them back a liquid gift from Europe and the unanimous response will likely be a bottle of Amer Picon. It’s a french bitter (“amer” means “bitter” in French, as does “amaro” in Italian) that is pretty exclusive to its own country. You may be able to find it beyond France, like at Gerry’s in London’s Soho, but it’s really tough to get (Gerry’s is the mecca of booze stores, and you should go there regardless). In France, a bottle will set you back around 10-14 euros.

Gaetan Picon, a soldier for France in the 19th century, was very talented when it came to creating different types of bitters for him and his countrymen. He crafted them not for intoxicating purposes but rather too help fight off diseases like malaria when he was stationed in Algeria in the late 183o’s. It was around this time that he came up with his best recipe yet, one that would still be beneficial to one’s health, but more importantly was delicious! It took some time, but in 1862 this recipe won a bronze medal at the Universal Exhibition of London. He then built a distillery, The House of Picon, in Marseille, where it still stands today.

The process for Picon starts with dried orange peels macerating in a neutral spirit. That mixture is then redistilled and the distillate is infused with bittering agents such as gentian root and quinquina. Sugar and caramels are also added. Picon was originally sold at 39% alc, but these days they have two versions: Picon Club and Picon Biere. For whatever reasons, over time the strength has been drastically dropped. This has happened to a lot of classic liqueurs (see also Galliano). So while Amer Picon remains a fantastic product, it’s a shadow of its former self when it comes to power. Keep that in mind when you’re mixing it into the classic recipes that call for it, as you will need to adjust the quantities.

Picon Biere is made for exactly what it sounds like, Picon and beer! Go to France, hit a patio, have a croque madame, and order a Picon Biere — a nice cold Kronenbourg (or any other other French lager) finished with a generous dose of Picon. It’s a fantastic way to lubricate any lunch, or remedy a hangover. On this side of the pond, go to Wildebeest in Gastown for brunch, and if you can convince Josh (sorry in advance, Josh) to part with some of the bar’s precious Picon, you might enjoy the best croque madame you’ve ever had outside of France with a very appropriate drink.

As for the Picon Club, which is darker and higher in alcohol, try it in cocktails such as the Picon Punch, created by Basques who migrated to northern California and Nevada from France and Spain. It is said to have been created at Bakersfield’s famed Noriega, where you can still find it today, apparently served in cheesy beer mugs.

So why is Picon such a sought after product that has bartenders going out if their way to get it like it’s some first edition Superman comic? Well, everyone wants what they can’t get, and it’s pretty damn tasty! For me, it’s the perfect balance of citrus and bitter. Lots of people have tried making alternatives, such as the American-made Torani Amer, which is high proofed just like the old stuff. The best substitution that I’ve ever tried was made by ex-Vancouverite Jamie Boudreau. The recipe for his homemade version, aptly dubbed Amer Boudreau, can be found here.

So when you see a bottle of Picon hiding on a back-bar near you, ask very, very nicely for a cocktail that calls for it. I doubt you will get a Picon Punch that calls for 2 ounces of the great elixir, so ask for a Brooklyn (Rye, dry vermouth, Maraschino, Picon) or a Liberal (rye, sweet vermouth, Picon, orange bitters) at places like Wildebeest, Notturno, or L’Abattoir. And please remember to grab me a bottle the next time you’re in Europe. It’ll make me really happy!

Picon Punch

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60 ml Amer Picon
5 ml Grenadine
top with Club Soda
15 ml Cognac

Build Amer Picon, grenadine, and soda over ice. Stir, float cognac on top, garnish with lemon twist.

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS | “L’Abattoir” To Staff Up In The Kitchen As Expansion Nears

L'Abattoir is located at 217 Carrall St in Vancouver's Gastown neighbourhood | 604-568-1701 | www.labattoir.ca

L’Abattoir is located at 217 Carrall St in Vancouver’s Gastown neighbourhood | 604-568-1701 | www.labattoir.ca

The GOODS from L’Abattoir

Vancouver, BC | L’Abattoir Restaurant is growing and has vacancies for the following kitchen positions starting in June: sous chef, chef de partie, pastry sous chef, pastry cook, and entry level cooks. Successful candidates will be hard-working, driven, and capable of working as part of a team. Attitude is valued over experience. Please apply in confidence in person at 217 Carrall St. between 11am and 4pm or via email info [at] labattoir.ca. Read more

DRINKER | How To Build An Excellent Home Bar, One Drink (And Five Bottles) At A Time

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by Shaun Layton | Customers often ask me for guidance on building a home bar. My answers invariably depend on how much they drink at home, or how many deadbeat roommates they have, but the truth of it is that it can either take a long time to build or be done in a few trips to the liquor store. Basically, what I tell people is this: build your bar one or two drinks at a time.

This is the second in a series of posts on building a home bar (read the first here), so you might remember that the brands I choose aren’t necessarily the best in their respective categories. I’m just trying to use unique and readily available cost-efficient bottles. So here we go…

6. Buffalo Trace Bourbon | A great whiskey for “strong and stirred” drinks. It has enough of a backbone at 45% alcohol, yet it’s still elegant enough to enjoy on its own. It’s also priced decently at $41.99. Try it in a Boulevardier.

7. Punt E Mes Vermouth | An Italian sweet vermouth that has a bitter finish. The name translates as “point and a half”, which could refer to the fact that it’s one point sweet and a half point bitter. In my opinion, it’s the best bang for your buck sweet vermouth out there. You can easily find a bottle at private stores for around $30.

8. Luxardo Maraschino liqueur | I recently wrote about this great buy and it is now a LISTED product at the LDB! I’m taking full credit for that. Buy a bottle for $26.99. It will last you a while, as most recipes only call for tiny amounts.

9. Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao | This triple sec is made primarily from orange peels and Ferrand Cognac. It won “Spirit of the year” at the 2013 Berlin Bar show and is by far the best in show on the market. It’s great on its own, but even better in a Sidecar. Pick one up for around $48 the next time you’re in a private liquor store like Legacy or 16th Street.

10. Peychaud’s Bitters | Essential for one of my favourite cocktails, The Sazerac. Originally made in New Orleans, they are now made at Kentucky’s Buffalo Trace Distillery, where they make a lot of other magical things, too. It’s not easy to find here, but you’ll likely find success at the Modern Bartender in Chinatown. If you can’t any there, some barkeeps buy them in the US, get them shipped to Point Roberts P.O. boxes, or buy them off Amazon through private sellers…did I mention they are essential? If stuck, Bitter Truth Creole is the closest match and can be had for $8 to $14.

With your home bar now expanded, it’s time to make a drink… Read more

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: “L’Abattoir” In Gastown On Hunt For Experienced Server

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L’Abattoir is located at 217 Carrall St in Vancouver’s Gastown neighbourhood | 604-568-1701 | www.labattoir.ca

The GOODS from L’Abattoir

Vancouver, BC | L’Abattoir is hiring for its front of house team. The service position starts at 2-3 shifts per week without any “I can’t work on Sundays cause I watch football” restrictions. The successful applicant will have a minimum of 5 years fine dining experience with appropriate wine and food knowledge. Apply to paul [at] labattoir.ca. Learn more about the restaurant after the jump… Read more

DRINKER | On Wild Kentucky Pilgrimages And Making The Classic Seelbach Cocktail

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by Shaun Layton | When most of the people I know are asked if they like bourbon and Champagne, I know that their answer is going to include a mention of the Seelbach cocktail. The legendary Kentucky hotel that gave the drink its name has a special place in my heart. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit the historic beauty a few times in the past, one of which was with Scout’s editor and some fellow barkeeps four years ago (watch the evidenceo). My head nearly exploded when I first saw the selection of American rye and bourbon inside the main floor bar!

The hotel itself is a lot more famous than the cocktail. The Seelbach was opened in 1905 by brothers Otto and Louis Seelbach. They had a vision of old world European hotels, importing materials from all over; marbles from France, linens from Ireland, and rugs from Turkey. The hotel sits on Muhammad Ali Way, about a block from the museum honouring the pugilist hero from Louisville.

Many notables frequented the hotel, including American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. He adored the place, not to mention its bourbon and selection of cigars. His experiences and run-ins with prohibition bootleggers like Cincinnati mobster George Remus inspired characters and scenes for his masterpiece, “The Great Gatsby”.

The Seelbach has a network of hidden tunnels and rooms, and it was a major hangout for Al Capone and his crew during Prohibition. A cool story on the hotel’s website claims Capone had a large mirror from Chicago sent in so he could watch his back during high stakes poker games.

Until 1995, when a hotel manager rediscovered the recipe, The Seelbach cocktail was all but forgotten. It was created in 1917, and lost some time during Prohibition. The hotel was reluctant to release the recipe until bar legend Gary Regan convinced them to let him publish it in his book, New Classic Cocktails.

The Seelbach
1 oz Bourbon (I use Buffalo Trace)
1/2 oz Triple Sec (I use Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao)
7 Dashes Angostura Bitters
7 Dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
5 oz Champagne
orange twist garnish

Method | Briefly chill the first four ingredients by stirring on ice, add to a chilled champagne flute, top with Champagne (or a dry sparkling wine), garnish with an orange twist.

The recipe doesn’t call for chilling the ingredients, but I think this is necessary for a cold and balanced cocktail. I really enjoy serving this as a “gateway” cocktail for drinkers who claim they don’t like bourbon. It works like a charm every time. Don’t be alarmed (as I first was) at the amount of bitters; somehow everything magically comes together. Although Peychaud’s can be hard to find, there is no substitute (Bitter Truth Creole is close), so get some while travelling in the US or at The Modern Bartender in Chinatown.

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: “L’Abattoir” In Gastown On The Lookout For An Expediter

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L'Abattoir is located at 217 Carrall St in Vancouver's Gastown neighbourhood | 604-568-1701 | www.labattoir.ca

The GOODS from L’Abattoir

Vancouver, BC | Gastown’s L’Abattoir restaurant is looking for a competent busser/expediter to work 3 to 5 shifts a week on a flexible schedule. The restaurant will prove to be a great training ground for those looking to move up in the trade. Minimum restaurant experience unnecessary, but desired. The lucky candidate will really only need to be intelligent with a great attitude, a driven sensibility, and a yen for learning from some of the best in town. Apply to paul [at] labattoir.ca. Learn more after the jump… Read more

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: “L’Abattoir” In Gastown On Hunt For Experienced Server

February 28, 2014 

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L’Abattoir is located at 217 Carrall St in Vancouver’s Gastown neighbourhood | 604-568-1701 | www.labattoir.ca

The GOODS from L’Abattoir

Vancouver, BC | L’Abattoir is hiring for its front of house team. The service position starts at 2-3 shifts per week without any “I can’t work on Sundays cause I watch football” restrictions. The successful applicant will have a minimum of 5 years fine dining experience with appropriate wine and food knowledge. Apply to paul [at] labattoir.ca. Learn more about the restaurant after the jump… Read more

GOODS | “Maison Publique” Chef Derek Dammann Cooking At L’Abattoir Feb. 20th

January 28, 2014 

L'Abattoir is located at 217 Carrall St in Vancouver's Gastown neighbourhood | 604-568-1701 | www.labattoir.ca

L’Abattoir is located at 217 Carrall St in Vancouver’s Gastown neighbourhood | 604-568-1701 | www.labattoir.ca

The GOODS from L’Abattoir

Vancouver, BC | On Thursday, February 20 2014 L’Abattoir will be host to a unique collaboration of two celebrated chefs. Montreal’s Chef Derek Dammann will work with Chef Lee Cooper and the L’Abattoir culinary team to create a seven-course dinner paired with wines and cocktails. Dammann is one of Montreal’s top chefs. He opened his current venture, Maison Publique, a year ago in partnership with Chef Jamie Oliver and has garnered rave reviews.

The upcoming dinner is only one of the exciting things happening at L’Abattoir. The restaurant has also announced that it will open a sleek new private dining space, with bookings starting in late April or early May. Seating for this dinner is limited. Reserve your tickets today by calling 604.568.1701 or emailing info [at] labattoir.ca. Please note this event is not suitable for vegetarians. Details after the jump… Read more

READ IT (AGAIN) | Pair ‘Little Women’ With A Clover Club Refashioned At “L’Abattoir”

December 12, 2013 

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by George Giannakos and Robyn Yager | Slowing down a little and breaking out a good book is never a bad idea. But what to read? You could walk into any bookstore and roll the dice on a recent release, but here’s another option: pick up a book that you last put down 5, 10, or 20 years ago. For the next book in Scout’s Read It (Again) series, we’ve picked Louisa May Alcott’s 1880 classic, Little Women.

Why You Should Read It Again: At first read, the book comes off as a typical coming-of-age book for young girls. It follows young Jo March and her sisters Meg, Beth, and Amy in their journey to womanhood. It’s also about challenging expected societal roles, with Jo aspiring to become a writer (an occupation largely reserved for men at the time) and turning down a proposal for marriage. Little Women is an ode to keep going after what you want despite what others may say about your status in the world.

Pair It With: Although the March sisters were likely not the type to drink beverages of the alcoholic variety, we’re going to go ahead and assume that if any of them were to drink (when they came of age) they would probably go for something along the lines of L’Abattoir’s Clover Club Refashioned. The drink is made of raspberries, sweet vermouth, mint, fresh lemon and gin – sweet and refreshing with a little sass, just like Jo.

OTHER CLASSIC PAIRINGS

DINER | Gastown’s “L’Abattoir” Expanding To Include Lunch Service & Private Dining

December 9, 2013 

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by Andrew Morrison | Gastown’s award-winning L’Abattoir restaurant has secured the building directly at its back (the original Shebeen) with plans to employ its 2,400 sqft as a private dining facility for a seated max of 50 people and 100 standing.

Tucked in what is now being referred to as the Water St. Garage between the rear-end of L’Abattoir and the new but ill-fated Boneta and between Water St. and Blood Alley, it is one of the oldest original brick structures in Vancouver (if not the oldest). Its most recent tenants were the short-loved Apres-Midi Teahouse and a retail outlet for Haven. If you poke your head in or look through the windows, you’ll see that the place is already gutted. The interior is going to be completely redone. Owners Lee Cooper and Paul Grunberg will be building a new second floor, which will be the dining room, and reserving the main floor for their offices and a brand new state of the art kitchen complete with a pastry op that will occupy the lovely wainscotted bay window addition seen in the photo above (bottom left).

So why go through the trouble of expanding like this just for private functions? Why not built it into a completely new restaurant? “We figured that instead of spreading and spending ourselves thin that it would be smarter to extrapolate our brand and reputation into the private realm,” Grunberg explained. “It hurts to have to turn away bookings of 20 and groups of 50 to 100, and we do it all the time at the restaurant. We’re just not equipped to do with the demand. The expansion is about keeping our talent in the same place and not dividing it up so that half the team is in one location and the other somewhere else. That’s a classic move. A lot of restaurateurs do it, but Lee and I are operational types. We’re hands on. So this is really more about maintaining control and very high standards while giving many of our customers what we haven’t yet been able to give them.” Grunberg also says that the design of the new space will be in keeping with the aesthetics of the original L’Abattoir, albeit “a little more refined.”

And what of lunch? Cooper informs me that we can expect three starters, three mains and three desserts to choose from, plus a small a la carte section. It’s too soon, he says, to provide specifics, but he assures me of one thing: “There will be a beef dip. I want a good beef dip.” So do I! The only two places that I know of that do passable beef dips are Pat’s Pub and White Spot, so there’s obviously a lot of room for improvement on that score.

We can expect construction to pick up after the holidays and the finished room to start accepting bookings for the Spring. Lunch service will launch shortly thereafter.

ALL ANTICIPATED OPENINGS

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS | “L’Abattoir” In Gastown Is On The Hunt For A Host/Hostess

November 14, 2013 

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L’Abattoir is located at 217 Carrall St in Vancouver’s Gastown neighbourhood | 604-568-1701 | www.labattoir.ca

The GOODS from L’Abattoir

Vancouver, BC | Gastown’s award-winning L’Abattoir restaurant is looking to hire a part-time host\hostess for 2 to 4 shifts a week. Duties include taking reservations, email communications and the effective management of guest needs. The successful candidate can expect a positive and professional working environment, a competitive wage and tips. Apply in confidence via email with resume attached to paul [at] labattoir.ca. Learn more about the restaurant after the jump… Read more

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