DINER: Local Bartenders To Be Tested For Knowledge At “The Diamond” This Monday

The written exam component of our bartending tournament goes down at The Diamond in Gastown this Monday, June 4th at noon. Many of our top barkeeps will sit for the 50 question, multiple choice test. Among their number will be the four most recent recipients of Vancouver Magazine’s prestigious Bartender of the Year award (Dani Tatarin, Simon Kaulback, Shaun Layton, Josh Pape), and heavy hitters like Steve Da Cruz, Ron Oliver, and Trevor Kallies. Several Vancouver Island bartenders will also be taking the test, albeit at a different venue in Victoria (many thanks to Shawn Soole and Simon Ogden for setting that up!). Though the tournament is a serious one – designed by bartenders for bartenders with much glory and bragging rights up for grabs – it is first and foremost a means for fun and fellowship within the trade. Everyone is invited to compete, so if you feel that you know your booze and your restaurant/bar scene pretty well, take the test! The one hour exam should prove to be the easiest part of the tournament, and if you ace it, you’ll find yourself among the elite 16 who will advance to the finals at The Keefer Bar on July 2nd. Email Keenan Hood at keenanhood@thekeeferbar.com to let him know you’re coming.

NOTE: This is a BYOP exam, so bring your own pen!

VANCOUVER SPECIALS: Robyn Gray Of The Hotel Georgia Makes Us “The Jazz Singer”

by David Greig | Welcome to the second sipper in the Scout series we call Vancouver Specials, wherein we take a close look at original cocktails of note that have been homegrown by our better bartenders.

“The Jazz Singer” | by Robyn Gray | 1927 Bar | Rosewood Hotel Georgia

10ml Plymouth Gin
15ml Lemon Juice
10ml Simple Syrup
5ml Maraschino Liqueur
5 Black Cherries
100ml Prosecco

Muddle 4 cherries and add the rest of ingredients except Prosecco
Shake hard and strain into a champagne flute
Top with Prosecco
Garnish with a cherry on the rim

The Deal

Inspiration? This drink takes its name from the very first movie to have an audio track, The Jazz Singer, released in the same year as the original opening of the Hotel Georgia, 1927. Where and when would you drink this? At the 1927 bar, as would be appropriate. Maybe at dusk, to the strains of a finely played saxophone. And with what? A dozen locally grown Ocean Wise oysters. Elegance and simplicity combined.

BOOZER: Shattering Pigeon Holes While Drinking Whisky And Gin At “The Shebeen”

by David Greig | Every bartender has a favourite spirit. In the name of entertainment and at the risk of massive generalisation, their choice reflects their personality and drinks style. Gin lovers tend to be refined, classically-inspired types, while bourbon fanatics are more rugged, carnivorous characters. A tequila-imbiber leans towards the more hedonistic way of life, while rum drinkers enjoy sunshine and smiles. The less said about vodka enthusiasts the better.

What of Scotch, though, my favourite spirit, and traditionally the tipple of choice for those of a more, shall we say, wizened  character? A romantic at heart, the (slightly patronising) connotations of salt-of-the-earth types sitting around a blazing hearth dispensing nuggets of wisdom appeals to my heightened sense of sentimentality, while the rough and tumble terroir-like variety of regions keep the category as a whole continually fresh and interesting. And on Monday, Jim McEwan, Master Distiller of Islay distillery Bruichladdich (meaning ‘brae by the shore’, or ‘slope by the shore’), one of the most innovative distilleries in the UK, was holding court at The Shebeen to shed more light on some of his fine single malts along with an intriguing new gin produced on the island as well. Here was an opportunity to shatter some pigeon-holes and try a little liquor cross-dressing… Read more

BOOZER: 16 Brave Competitors Named For “Bar-ate Kid Invitational” Bar Competition


by David Greig | The final line up of bartenders for the Bar-ate Kid Invitational has now been confirmed. A total of 16 barkeeps will ready for battle at The Keefer Bar on July 4th at 1pm. The brave, representing competitors are as follows:

David Bain (Uva)
Josh Pape (Diamond)
Shaun Layton (L’Abattoir)
Trevor Kallies (Donnelly Group)
Simon Kaulback (Boneta)
Jess Nichol (Boneta)
Dani Tatarin (The Keefer)
Jason Browne (Calabash)
Steve Da Cruz (Waldorf)
Jacob Sweetapple (Fairmont Pacific Rim)
Robyn Gray (Hotel Georgia)
Brad Stanton (Hawksworth)
Ron Oliver (Diamond)
Robin Holl-Allen (Jules)
Gez McAlpine (The Keefer)
Brian Grant (Pourhouse)

A mighty fine line up if ever there was one! Also, the three judges who will be calling proceedings will be Andrew Morrison (Scout Magazine), David Wolowidnyk (West Restaurant) and yours truly (L’Abattoir, Scout Magazine).

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United Kingdom import David Greig is the Cocktail Editor at Scout Magazine. He can usually be found working the wood and well at Gastown’s popular L’Abattoir restaurant when he’s not typing at home or sipping his way around town.

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BOOZER: “Bar-ate Kid” Barkeep Contest To Determine Our Ass-Kickingest Drinkslinger

by David Greig | On July 4th, a bartending contest will take place at The Keefer Bar in order to determine who rules the roost as the deadliest sensei of Vancouver’s cocktail scene. The Bar-ate Kid Invitational – with support from Havana Club, Beefeater and Jameson – will determine who has the all-round skills to be declared the Mr. or Ms. Miyagi of Mixology.

Themed on the 80’s movie Karate Kid, we foresee a fast and furious fight to the death with head-to-head knockout competitions based on three criteria: speed, style and drink quality. There’ll be no foams, jellies, smoke or mirrors permitted, and the only rapid infusing will be between a can of beer and every loser’s tears.

This is just 16 of the best guns this town has to offer, duking it out for nothing more than pride, bragging rights among peers, and the small matter of a $600 cash prize.

Head to Chinatown at 1pm to see it all go down. Again, that’s 1pm at The Keefer Bar on July 4th.

Strike First. Strike Hard. No Mercy.

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United Kingdom import David Greig is the Cocktail Editor at Scout Magazine. He can usually be found working the wood and well at Gastown’s popular L’Abattoir restaurant when he’s not typing at home or sipping his way around town.

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BOOZER: So What Is The Deal With Fernet Branca, Your Bartender’s Secret Sauce?

by David Greig | First produced by self-taught apothecary Bernandino Branca in 1845, Fernet Branca is an Italian amaro, specifically a fernet.  It is a type of potable bitters made by infusing a base spirit with a number of herbs and spices, thereby creating a secret, proprietary recipe. In this case, the blend includes saffron, gentian, rhubarb, chamomile, myrrh and up to 40 others. It is then aged for 12 months in Slovenian oak.

Yes, but what is it really…

Fernet was (and still is) prized for its medicinal qualities, particularly in aiding the digestive system in times of need. It was also, oddly, the inspiration behind the Booker Prize-listed novel Cooking with Fernet Branca by James Hamilton-Paterson in 2004. Some refer to it as the Thinking Man’s Jagermeister – making it pretty much the very definition of an “acquired taste”. Most recoil at their first sip, but learn to cherish it as one would an endearingly abusive lover. It serves a modern purpose as a bartender’s secret handshake, garnering a knowing look, nod and wink from any self-respecting barkeep upon order. Setting its stall staunchly in the so-bad-it’s-good category, it’s as close a thing as there is to drinking with irony. In other words, it’s “Snakes On A Plane” for bar geeks.

And How Should I Use It?

“Hanky Panky” (created by Ada Coleman in the American Bar at The Savoy in 1925)

1.5 oz Gin
1.5oz Sweet Vermouth
2 dash Fernet Branca

Stir with ice in a mixing glass. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with orange twist. Enjoy.

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U.K. import David Greig is the Cocktail Editor at Scout Magazine and can usually be found working the wood and well at Gastown’s popular L’Abattoir restaurant when he’s not typing at home or sipping around town.

BOOZER: A Sodden, “Tales Of The Cocktail” Post-Script From A Happily Satisfied Barman

by David Greig | For the uninitiated, Tales of the Cocktail (aka “Tales”) is an industry-oriented trade show specialising in the promotion and study of all matters concerning mixed drinks. It is a haven for the geeky bartender and anyone who can sit and discuss barrel charring levels and dilution/temperature ratios without fear of social ostracism, and it is traditionally held at the birthplace of the American cocktail, New Orleans, Louisiana. It is also responsible for several entries into the Annals of the World’s Worst Hangovers.

As most Scout readers are likely aware, Tales recently upped sticks and found its way to Vancouver in its first step toward a life on the road. Tales of the Cocktail On Tour Vancouver was the official moniker of what was in effect a traveling jamboree, and like so many screaming groupies, the city’s bar nerds (noted for their dramatic swoons and hurling of panties) flocked in their hundreds to worship in shrines of their own making.

It’s over now – come and gone through the Ides of March – but it’s not something that I hope to ever forget.

That this city was chosen as the first stop in a presumably long and lucrative line of road shows was a punctuation point that showed how Vancouver had arrived as a destination for drink lovers. It makes solid sense, as the multi-faceted bar scene here runs the gamut of options. Venues like The Refinery push boundaries with textures, homemade bitters and the like; Calabash serves up mainly rum-based Tiki-style libations; the ever busy Diamond plays it straight with the tastiest of old-school classics; and so on (there are to many worthwhile joints to list). That it got to be this way is a testament to the passion and drive of local bartenders and entrepreneurs who, in the face of restrictive liquor laws, decided (not long ago) that their discerning drink disciples deserved not just a handful of top notch watering holes, but many. It’s only natural that the resulting mosaic of bars, restaurants and taverns that we now enjoy captured the attention of the international cocktail community. And thus, Tales. Read more

Chinatown’s “Keefer Bar” To Host Crash Courses In Mixology

January 18, 2011 

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The Keefer Bar is located at 135 Keefer St in Vancouver, BC | 604-688-1961 | www.thekeeferbar.com

News from Scout supporter The Keefer Bar

Vancouver, BC | Starting tonight and running every Tuesday leading up to the Tales of the Cocktail, The Keefer Bar will host Learn it, Drink it!, an informative and interactive crash course in mixology. From 6:30-8:30pm, acclaimed bartender Dani Tatarin will feature four cocktails and walk guests through their history as they mix and taste. Drop in at any time to learn a cocktail or come to experience all four! Cost is $40 to experience all four drinks, which includes cocktails, take home recipe and gift. If coming in for partial class cost is $12/drink including recipe and gift. All featured drinks are on special from 8:30pm-1am for $8. It’s great way to explore new cocktails and learn a bit about the history behind the classics. Read more

Burlesque Beauties To Ring In 2011 At Chinatown’s Keefer Bar

December 20, 2010 

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The Keefer Bar is located at 135 Keefer St in Vancouver, BC | 604-688-1961 | www.thekeeferbar.com

News from Scout supporter The Keefer Bar

Vancouver, BC | Celebrate the New Year at The Keefer Bar!  Burlesque beauties will help ring in the New Year with tipples and tassles, Chinese tapas, Piper Heidsieck Champagne and other delights of the orient!  Get Shanghai’d without having to worry about crimping sailors. Limited tickets ($35) are available at The Keefer Bar. Call 604.688.1961 or email info@thekeeferbar.com for more information. Read more

Barman Shaun Layton To Barrel Age Two Classic Cocktails…

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by Andrew Morrison | What’s the longest you’ve ever waited for a drink in a bar? Ten minutes? Twenty? Yesterday afternoon I learned that Shaun Layton, the 2010 Van Mag Bartender of the Year and Lord of the Wood at Gastown’s L’Abattoir, was about to start making a drink that could take as short as six weeks and as long as four months to adequately construct. In a first for Vancouver, a barman will age a cocktail in a whiskey barrel. It’s been done elsewhere (Montgomery Place in London, as Layton points out, and at Clive’s in Victoria, as reader MR reveals in the comments), and the results have proven especially interesting for drink wonks. For my part, I find the idea of a couple bottles of sweetened gin mutating unpredictably with hardly inert bitters for months on end inside a 3 gallon whiskey barrel to be straight up fascinating. As a fan of both drinks in sum (and of all their delightful parts), I can’t help but be freaky curious as to what they will taste like. Layton will be checking as time goes by, waiting for the perfect time to stop the woody infusion and load the mix into a few carefully considered bottles. Cooler still, he’s secured two barrels from Tuthilltown distillery in New York’s Hudson Valley: a bourbon cask and one that, until recently, contained a Yankee single malt.

And so, to soak in the bourbon barrel will go a Negroni, the ultimate aperitif of gin, vermouth and campari, whilst the single malt staves will impart mystery unto a Martinez, that maraschino-licked classic of gin, sweet vermouth and bitters (the original Martini, if the lore is to be believed). The experiment begins Wednesday, and we’ve invited Mr. Layton to keep us abreast of how things develop as the drink evolves.

PS. I’ve already called shotgun on the second sip.

Photos: “The Waldorf Hotel” Is Looking Sharp On East Hastings

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by Andrew Morrison | As mentioned last week in a press release, the new and – by the looks of it – much improved Waldorf Hotel is to be christened this weekend. We’re very excited, not least because of the awesome people involved, who were this week joined by former Salt Tasting Room manager and 2010 Sommelier of the Year, Kurtis Kolt (interview). There’s so much going on at this address that it’s hard to fathom fully in its as-yet-unfinished state. But all the pieces seem to be fitting together nicely, down to the analog speakers, rooms, cafe, salon, bar, gift shop and refreshingly left-field tiki vibe. The only hiccup that I know of is that the main restaurant will be delayed until at least Dec. 1st (no worries, as this venue is hardly a one room wonder – food and drink will still be in abundance).

Today, in anticipation of their Halloween opening, I took one of our cameras (not the best, sorry) down for a tour and probably – if only briefly – interrupted a thousand crucial things for which I apologise (much appreciated, Ned and Ernesto). After the photos, check out their late night, room service and cafe menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner… Read more

Grand (Re)Opening Of The Iconic “Waldorf Hotel” This Saturday

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The Waldorf Hotel is located at 1489 East Hastings and will open at the end of October, 2010 | www.waldorfhotel.com

News from Scout supporter The Waldorf Hotel

Vancouver, BC | We are pleased to announce the relaunch of the Waldorf Hotel. To celebrate, we’re throwing a free multi-room Halloween party on Saturday, Oct 30th. The event will showcase the entire complex including our newly renovated hotel rooms and lobby, two dining areas, a freshly restored 1950s tiki bar and both nightclub and banquet spaces (the Cabaret and the Leeteg Room). The night is being produced in collaboration with some of Vancouver’s most interesting artists and musicians. Read the full program listing after the jump… Read more

Waldorf Hotel To Hold Job Fair This Saturday On East Hastings

September 28, 2010 

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The Waldorf Hotel is located at 1489 East Hastings | Opening October 2010 | www.waldorfhotel.com

News from Scout supporter The Waldorf Hotel

Vancouver, BC | The Waldorf Hotel, designed in 1947 by architects Mercer & Mercer, was remarkable from the beginning for its modernist style. In 1955, capitalizing on an emerging interest in Polynesian culture, the complex was transformed into one of North America’s most renowned “tiki” themed bars and hotels. A post-war phenomenon, tiki culture was rooted partially in the nostalgic tropical memories of returned soldiers but also in the erotic fantasies of a middle class fascinated by the exotic and forbidden. The original architects reworked existing interiors, creating a space dedicated to artifice and escapism.

In 2010, Musician Thomas Anselmi (Slow, Copyright, Mirror) and restaurateur Ernesto Gomez (Nuba) took over operations of the Waldorf and are working with architect Scott Cohen (designer of Gastropod, Les Faux Bourgeois) to reimagine the property. Collectively this team has a vision to develop the Waldorf into a creative hub in the heart of East Vancouver where contemporary art, music, food and culture convene under one roof. The programming for the space will be both artistically expansive and thematically inclusive. Read more

Photos: Kris Krug Inside The Upcoming Waldorf Hotel Redux

September 27, 2010 

These gorgeous, vignette shots of The Waldorf Hotel come courtesy of my friend Kris Krug of Static Photography. If you haven’t heard jack shit about this killer re-imagining of this ancient east side joint, here’s the skinny. Press play and enjoy…

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