by Shaun Layton | Every year Giffard hosts a Canadian cocktail duel with some of the cities best barkeeps. Annually, two Canadians move on to represent our country at the finals in Angers, France, where they square off in a very formal fixture alongside bartenders from 20+ other countries. So it goes without saying, this was a big deal.
The competition was hosted two Sundays ago at The Keefer Bar in Chinatown. It was coordinated by the CPBA and judged by booze scribe Talia Kleinplatz, host bartender Dani Tatarin, and myself. The ingredient of the day was elderflower; very fitting for Spring. Giffard’s Fleur de Sureau Sauvage is a stunner — think bright floral notes with tropical lychee fruit on the palate. Over fourteen cocktails later and competitors from Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna, and Calgary all throwing down…we had a winner: Florian Rupp, formerly of Pidgin, now on the bar at Bauhaus in Gastown.
This was one of those, you gotta be kidding me moments, when you want to hate something, then you try it and you’re like “This is effin’ ridiculous!” Going in for another sip and glancing to my left, I saw the same look on the other judges’ faces. The first ingredients stirred into the cocktail were some of my favourites: Elderflower, Cocchi Americano Rosa, and Glenlivet 12 year old whisky. The cocktail was strained into a beautiful, chilled Nick and Nora coupe, but then it got weird. Florian pulled out an immersion blender and started making a foam from pickle brine, elderflower, rose water, and lecithin. Foams are a risky business these days in cocktails…
As I sipped through the pillowy top layer I got this briny, floral, umami explosion which was then softened and complimented by a perfectly balanced, whiskey-forward beverage. I haven’t been wowed by a cocktail like it in a long time, so cheers to Florian. And good luck in France!