That Time YVR’s Best Bartenders Battled With Bourbon At The Original Boneta

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Back in June 0f 2009 I had the honour of judging a Maker’s Mark bourbon cocktail competition at the original Boneta location in Gastown with drinks writer Joanne Sasvari, Angie Belise of Beam Global Canada, and Kentucky’s own legendary Bill Samuels Jr. (esteemed former president of Maker’s Mark).

Competing that day were Danielle Tatarin of DB Bistro (now The Keefer), Keenan Hood of George (now The Keefer), Lauren Mote of The Refinery (now Uva), Simon Kaulback of Boneta (now Mamie Taylor’s), Trevor Kallies of The Granville Room, Kyle Lane of DB Bistro (where is he now?), Kate MacDonald of the Terminal City Club (I think she’s at Clive’s in Victoria now), Bobbi K. of Boneta (now Pauly Saal in Berlin), Justin Tisdall of Market (now Juke), Jon Smolensky of Brix (now Brix & Mortar), Charles Ainsbury of The Diamond (now This Must Be The Place in Sydney, Aus), Heather Perkins of The Irish Heather (now Grit & Grace in Pittsburgh), Jason Kelly of Cobre, and Shaun Layton of George (now Juniper).

The final results were very close. We were tasked with awarding a maximum of 20 points each for Balance, Creativity, Presentation, and the Showcasing of Maker’s Mark, making for a possible total of 80 points. In third place with 72.5 points was JT of Market with his watermelon and rhubarb driven “Marksman’s Target”. With 74 points in second place, pouring his Loretto Process, was Shaun Layton of George.

The winner was Lauren Mote of The Refinery with her 74.5 point Charred Bourbon Sour, a drink that came complete with its on molecular deconstruction on the side (bourbon meringue, bitters and bourbon gelee, charred oak brittle, etc). While not particularly a fan of side dishes with my drinks, there was no denying the achievement in the glass here. Her cocktail, a summery thing that I’d have again and again, was deliciously without fault. Here it is, should you want to make it at home…

Results aside, it was an amazing crew of competitors, and I remember the day very well as an especially good one. The list of bartenders above might give the impression that their community is nomadic and often torn apart as people come and go, but it’s really not. It’s a reality they’re used to, and it makes them even more tight-knit. Only one of that day’s competitors has stuck with the same company in the 5+ years since (hat tip to Trevor Kallies and the Donnelly Group). Hell, even the event’s host bar – the original Boneta – is just a memory (now Bauhaus). But it’s the memories that do the bonding, and I suppose it’s the bonds that make days like these memorable. Well, that and host Mark Brand’s shaved head…

  • The crowd gathers at Boneta
  • Bill Samuels Jr, dean of Maker's Mark, mesmerises Heather Perkins of the Irish Heather
  • Branding legwork
  • My list of competitors
  • My scoresheet
  • That stands for Kentucky...
  • Bitters
  • Afterwards...
  • Mark Brand, co-proprietor of Boneta and master of the sincere guffaw
  • Josh Pape and Bill Samuels Jr. confer
  • Bill Samuels Jr
  • Kyle Lane from DB Bistro makes his My Sweet Manhamttan
  • Kyle Lane from DB Bistro finishes his My Sweet Manhamttan
  • My Sweet Manhampton with double smoked bacon infused makers and English pea foam
  • Keenan Hood from George preps his Di Moda
  • Keenan Hood from George on the clock
  • Kate McDonald of the Terminal City Club makes her drink, Polishing the Barrister
  • JT from Market measuring his Marksmen's Target
  • JT's "Marksmen's Target" with vanilla, watermelon, rhubarb and pink peppercorn soda
  • Jason Kelly of Cobre about to shake his Maker's Marg
  • Kate McDonald's Polishing the Barrister made with lemon balm, Hangar One Citron “Bhudda's Hand”, and lemongrass simple syrup
  • Danielle Tatarin of DB Bistro makes her Marjorie's Flip
  • Ginger of the Indies liqueur for Danielle Tatarin's Marjorie's Flip
  • Danielle Tatarin of DB Bistro pours her Marjorie's Flip
  • Simon Kaulback of Boneta pours for his Kentucky High Kick
  • Shaun Layton's outstanding Loretto Process made with toasted oak vapour, beer syrup, MM white dog, and a Laphroaig rinse
  • Jon Smolensky of Brix muddles for his Home Stretch
  • Charlie Ainsbury from The Diamond adds bitters to his bowl of Downtown Eastside Punch Up
  • Heather Perkins of the Irish Heather finishes her gently floral Tallulah's Mark
  • Bobbi K of Boneta tastes her Maker's Bark
  • Mark Brand, always learning...
  • Trevor Kallies of The Granville Room and Bobbi K of Boneta face off
  • Trevor Kallies of The Granville Room doles his superb Showdown at Star Hill
  • Showdown at Star Hill: 2oz Maker's, 1/2oz Gunpowder tea syrup, 3 Cognac-cured cherries, peach bitters
  • Lauren Mote of The Refinery measures for her winning drink, the Charred Bourbon Sour
  • Lauren Mote's 1st place Charred Bourbon Sour made with charred American oak/caramelized coconut syrup, MM, house bitters, lemon, egg white, brandy/kirsch macerated cherries
  • Charred Bourbon Sour accompaniments
  • The crowd
  • Competitors lining up to dip their own bottles
  • Kyle from DB dips as Canadian Maker's Mark ambassador Ron Oliver looks on, stoked.
  • Trevor Kallies bottle, just dipped
  • The end...

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