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The Vancouver Cocktail

The Vancouver Cocktail

Next in our little trip through Vancouver history is a cocktail with a much more elusive origin — the aptly named "Vancouver." There is no definitive record in print that I could find, no two birthdates that matched, and only one person who claimed to have the actual story behind it. I've only found one establishment in our city that actually has this cocktail on the menu, and the date they list doesn't match the only story I've found. To top it all off, despite this cocktail achieving some popularity and it being one you can order in a lot of craft cocktail bars, nobody seems to make it the same way. Needless to say, this has been an interesting journey in tracking down any information.

To start at my beginning with this drink, I first found it at West Restaurant on South Granville, which is easily one of the best places to eat and drink in the city. Award-winning veteran bar manager, David Wolowidnyk, runs a solid program focusing on an even mix of classic and simple modern cocktails using a very large selection of top-quality spirits. His "Vancouver" is full-bodied, smooth and herbacious akin to a reverse Martinez (i.e. two parts gin to one part vermouth) using Plymouth Gin, Punt e Mes, Angostura orange bitters, a little Benedictine, and a lemon twist. The menu lists the drink "circa 1966," yet no one there could tell me why.

I did a little more hunting and tracked down a story from Steve Da Cruz, one of the minds behind the reimagining of the Waldorf Hotel (home to the oldest still-open Tiki bar in North America) and also the previous bar manager at Boneta and Chill Winston, among others. Da Cruz claims to be the one to bring this drink back to the public, and while his story overall is not without some gray areas, it's the only one I can find. In his words:

"Joe Bates dresses like one of The Dirty Dozen and drinks B&B like he owns stock in the company. He's kind of like Sean Connery and John Wayne rolled into one tough son of a b!tch. His ostrich-skinned boots and ten-gallon hat are as recognizable as Gassy Jack and I've seen many women a third of his age hanging on his every word - not to mention his arm. I had already been good friends with him and one day he asked me if I had ever heard of a "Vancouver Cocktail." I said "No," so he wrote the recipe on the bar napkin for me and claimed that he used to drink them at the Sylvia Hotel when he first arrived in Vancouver in 1955."

When I asked Da Cruz about the validity of the story and if he believes it himself, he replied, "The main reason I believe him is three fold - one, he's a prison minister, two, he worked at the Bowmore distillery and is extremely knowledgeable about spirits, and three, it's too damn good to have been made up on the spot."

The final part to this tale is that actor Errol Flynn consumed two of this particular drink before flinging himself off the roof of The Sylvia in 1959, but unfortunately this is another false Flynn death story (others include him dying in the arms of an underage prostitute at Maxine's Hideaway in the West End, and another features his friends propping up his lifeless body in the lobby of the Hotel Georgia for fans to see). His death certificate simply indicates natural, if premature causes of death, namely a heart attack, but he did die in the West End of downtown Vancouver near the Sylvia Hotel and it is entirely possible he was drinking a Vancouver Cocktail at the time.

The last step of my journey took me to beautiful English Bay in the West End to visit the Sylvia Hotel itself, which, despite its hundred-year history, has fairly little to offer in a display of heritage other than its reputation. I even ended up contacting both the general manager and owner to ask if there is any record or rumour about this drink and neither of them had any idea. The hotel claims to be "Vancouver's first cocktail bar," which again didn't make sense to me because obviously Vancouverites were drinking before 1954 when the Sylvia got its license, and there are many accounts of old establishments such as the Hotel Georgia and The Cave having mixed drinks. But, that is not to say that they were serving them legally, and there is a difference between a liquor license, a liquor and dining license, and a cocktail license. I therefore can't say this is false, but perhaps a more honest wording would be "Vancouver's first legally licensed cocktail bar" - but that doesn't exactly have the same ring to it.

The 1950's marked a shift in alcohol culture in Vancouver, with legislation being passed to allow liquor, beer, and wine to be legally sold with food in restaurants for the first time in 1952, and in 1954 the famed musical venue, The Cave, became the first nightclub to be granted a "dining-lounge liquor license." Before this, Vancouver had sort of a twisted speakeasy-type of nightlife, with cabarets selling ice and soda while allowing customers to bring in their own concealed booze, and some nightclubs selling bootlegged liquor. Police raided establishments regularly, confiscating any visible liquor, which led to patrons pouring the booze into half empty soda bottles, or in Chinatown - teapots. More racially -diverse nightclubs on the East Side didn't get these kinds of licenses until 1969, again drawing out the post-Prohibition transition - a practice that in some ways continues even today. Is this perhaps the reason that it's so difficult to find details on Vancouver's cocktail history aside from law and distribution struggles? Or is it because it seems common practice to remove, "improve," and update all semblances of history that we have here in the city? From our oldest buildings, such as the aforementioned Maxine's Hideaway, which dates back to 1905 and has a colourful history filled with brothels and secret tunnels, to literally towing away our Trader Vic's and giving it to Victoria, it often seems like Vancouver has no real sense of history because we don't let anything get old enough to become historical. This makes our cocktail scene fascinating, as Vancouver is years ahead of any other Canadian city and many American cities and has become a recognized mecca for food and drink, even hosting Tales of the Cocktail for the second straight year (and a third one is already planned). The youngest coast of Canada with the harshest liquor laws and most expensive liquor prices is home to the biggest boom in cocktails and mixology. Strange.

The Vancouver Cocktail

Here is Da Cruz', or rather Bates' Vancouver recipe. As always, particularly with simpler, older drinks, variations are about, so feel free to experiment. A 1:1 Martinez with Benedictine instead of Maraschino gives a sweeter, fuller drink, while the West's version mentioned above is a very balanced and soft pre-dinner sipper, and the one below is much more boozy but light. Da Cruz suggests Cinzano to let it "dance lightly," but should you decide to try a West-style one, use Punt e Mes to avoid the drink becoming too sweet.

2 ounces gin
1/2 ounces sweet vermouth
Dash orange bitters
Dash Benedictine

Combine ingredients with ice, stir, serve up.
"No stupid garnish."
(Though the lemon twist on West's version was a nice addition for balance, so take this as you will).

Spring sips: 8 cocktail recipes to shake up this season

While it may not quite be time to sit out in the sunshine just yet, we’re already dreaming of sweet, sunshine-worthy sips to kickstart the spring season.

Spring sips: 8 cocktail recipes to shake up this season Back to video

With this in mind, we asked a handful of Vancouver’s top bartenders and restaurants to whip up their version of the perfect seasonal sip. From signature sangria to somewhat concoctions, here’s what they came up with.

The Cocoon — Evolution of a Butterfly

By Shannon Boudreau, The Lazy Gourmet

8 to 10 Butterfly Pea Flower Blossoms

15 ml Fresh squeezed lemon juice

3 dashes Marrakech bitters

Place gin and Butterfly Pea Blossoms in clear cocktail mixer, let stand 2-3 minutes until the gin becomes a deep purple. Strain out the flowers into another clear canister.

Add 3-4 Cubes of ice, lemon and Elderflower, stir for 15 seconds, the drink will now be bright pink. Top with Lemon Sour Soda, Stir for 15 seconds. Rim coupe glass with lemon wedge and rim half with lavender sugar. Strain drink into glass.

Seasonal cocktail recipes from Fairmont Hotels

‘Tis the season for cocktails you might not normally sip while lounging by a pool in the summer, which is why some of these specialty drinks are only available for a limited time. Of course, if you decide to make them yourself you can actually sip a Cranberry and Cinnamon Blast poolside. Recipes compliments of Fairmont Hotels.

Fairmont Vancouver Airport

These two cocktails will be featured in Jetside and Globe lounges from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31.

This cocktail celebrates the flavours of the classic After Eight mint chocolate treat.

2 dashes Aztec Chocolate bitters

Pour into rocks glass over one large ice cube.

Top with a Guinness float and foam and garnish with tender mint sprig.

Cranberry & Cinnamon Blast

A bright and fresh cocktail, perfect for celebrating the season.

Pour over ice in tall high ball glass

Top with soda and garnish with a few cranberries and a long sprig of rosemary

Fairmont Pacific Rim: Pac Rim Holiday Punch

Fairmont Pacific Rim

Pac Rim Holiday Punch

.7 oz Ron Zacapa rum or any other aged rum

Dash of Dale De Groff Pimento Bitters

2 oz Lapsang Souchong tea (cold)

Block ice: Fill an empty plastic container with water and freeze

Dilute maple syrup with hot water at two parts syrup to one part water.

Steep tea bags in room temperature water in clean container for 12 hours.

Multiply ingredients by the amount of servings you need

Mix all ingredients into large container or bottle. Add two cinnamon sticks and one star anise and store in the fridge for two hours.

Add block ice to punch bowl, give the bottle(s) with punch an light shake before pouring over ice into punch bowl.

You can add cinnamon sticks, orange wheels and grate nutmeg on top of punch for garnish.

Fairmont Chateau Whistler: Cameron’s Kick

Mallard Lounge at Fairmont Chateau Whistler

Cameron’s Kick

0.5 oz Talisker Storm Scotch Whisky

Angostura Bitters to taste

Shake then strain over fresh ice is a rocks glass.

Add a couple dashes of Angostura Bitters to taste.

Garnish with a dehydrated lemon wheel.

Fairmont Waterfront: Mistletoe martini

Fairmont Waterfront

ARC Restaurant

Mistletoe martini

Garnish the rim of a martini glass with crushed candy cane.

Mix all ingredients into a shaker glass, add a full scoop of ice and shake vigorously for 10 seconds.

Strain into martini glass.

Top off with a dry sparkling wine.

Fairmont Waterfront: Hot buttered rum cocktail

Hot buttered rum cocktail

Premix the brown sugar, butter, clove, nutmeg cinnamon and honey. Add to glass.

Vancouver author's book of cocktail recipes is inspired by influential women

Are you searching for recipes for your next cocktail party?

Check out Jennifer Croll's new book, Free the Tipple, which includes 60 cocktail recipes named after the most influential women of the 20th century.

"Free the Tipple is meant to be a fun (and delicious) way to celebrate women—a toast to their amazing achievements. It's a collection of tribute cocktails that distill different elements of each woman's life, personality, or personal style into a unique drink," says Croll.

Each recipe is crafted to reflect the personality, style and legacy of each woman -- for example The Beyonce is made with lemonade. A biography of each woman accompanies each recipe -- helping readers learn more about their lives and accomplishments.

The 144-page book features 120 illustrations by Kelly Shami of diverse women who have made an impact in entertainment, the arts, politics, fashion, literature, sports and science.

Prominent women featured in the book include: Frida Kahlo, Rihanna, Serena Williams, Naomi Klein, Rupi Kaur, Cher, Tanya Tagaq, Joan Didion, Yayoi Kusama, Peaches and more.

Adios, Motherfucker

It takes a special kind of person to walk up to the bar, look a barkeep squarely in the eyes and order an Adios, Motherfucker. We’re talking about the real deal. Not an AMF or an Adios, Mother F’er, as the drink is called in more squeamish circles. And certainly not the more family-friendly Walk Me Down. You can’t soften the seven-syllable force of a fully articulated Adios, Motherfucker.

The drink is bold, boozy and blue. Featuring five—yes, five—alcoholic components, it’s very similar to the Long Island Iced Tea. But where the LIIT calls for triple sec and cola, this cocktail requires a slug of blue curaçao and a topper of Sprite or 7UP. That curaçao swap results in the vibrant color, while the soda switch gives the drink a lighter, more citrusy flavor.

The recipe specifically calls for sweet-and-sour mix. You can find bottled sweet-and-sours on store shelves, but it’s always a smart practice to stay away from those, as they’re loaded with sugar and additives. Instead, try making your own. That is easily accomplished by making a quick simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water) and infusing it with fresh lime juice. Garnish your drink with a lemon wedge and cherry, if you’d like, and tip back the eye-catching cocktail before you.

Those are your marching orders. But what makes an Adios, Motherfucker a true Adios, Motherfucker is the motherfucker who mixes it: cool, confident, uninhibited. That motherfucker can be you.

The Vancouver Cocktail - Recipes

An earthy cocktail and a refreshing way to cool down after a fruitful morning at the farmers' market.

The Vancouver Cocktail - Recipes

An earthy cocktail and a refreshing way to cool down after a fruitful morning at the farmers' market.


Quincessential Daquiri

Created by T.J. McWilliam of Como Taperia

1 oz ( 30 mL) Bacardi Cuatro Rum

0.5 oz (15 mL) Wray & Nephew Rum

0.5 oz (15 mL) Oloroso Sherry

0.25 oz (7.39 mL) Giffard Cinnamon Syrup

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake hard to combine.

Strain through a fine strainer into a cold coupe or cocktail glass. For garnish, add fresh grated nutmeg over the top.

Cinnamon Snap

1 oz (30 mL) cinnamon chai tea syrup

.5 oz (15 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice

Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker, add ice, shake and serve.

Grey Goose Seasons Celebrations

1.5 oz ( 45 mL) Grey Goose La Poire Flavoured Vodka

4 oz (115 mL) fresh apple juice

Rosemary sprig and cinnamon for garnish

Add vodka, apple juice and maple syrup ingredients to a rocks glass. Drop in a few equal-sized lemon and apple slices, then add some sprigs of rosemary and cinnamon sticks as garnish.

Bacardi Coquito

1.5 oz ( 45 mL) Bacardi Cuatro

0.75 oz (22 mL) canned coconut milk

0.75 oz (22 mL) canned cream of coconut

1.5 oz ( 45 mL) canned condensed milk

2.5 oz (75 mL) canned evaporated milk

1/2 tsp (2. 5 mL or 1 bar spoon) ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a rocks glass and serve on ice.

By The Hearth

Created by Barnaby Malong of Minami Restaurant

By Rebekah Crowley, still master at Roots and Wings Distillery INGREDIENTS Rebel by Roots and Wings Distillery (2oz) Porter’s Tonic Syrup – Cardamom Orange (1 oz) Lillet (1&hellip

By Chef Dhruv Jhanjee, Tour De Feast INGREDIENTS Chicken livers (1lb) Duck livers (1lb) Heavy cream (1/2 cup) Milk (to soak) Butter, unsalted (250gms) Brandy (1 1/2 cups) Nutmeg&hellip


If you ask me to choose between coffee or tea, I will undoubtedly always say tea. It offers great health benefits and is perfect to calm your soul. There’s a quiet sophistication about tea that brings you back to a very regal time period of early Victorian tea parties with women in fancy dresses. During my visit to the Urban Tea Merchant here in Vancouver, I learned that tea is even more versatile than we think. You don’t have to wait for fall or winter to enjoy the great flavours that tea has to offer. Turns out, tea can also be perfect for summer.

A twist on the traditional ice tea (and for the adults), Urban Tea Merchant shared some of their favorite summer time tea infused cocktails that’s perfect for a garden party or to share with some friends.

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*We recommend TWG tea with all recipes.

The Moroccan Mint Mojito Recipe

The Moroccan Mint Tea is a green tea perfectly blended with suave and strong Sahara mint.

How to make the Moroccam Mint Rum infusion:

Add 30g tea per 750ml rum. Allow 1-2 days to sit and cold infuse.

What you need:

Shake all ingredients till chilled and doubled strain into collins glass.

Add ice to top and fill with soda

Garnish with fresh mint sprig.

Pink Flamingo Cosmopolitan

The pink flamingo tea is a blend of green tea with crimson hibiscus blossoms. This quirky mélange infuses into a rose colored cup with tart, fruity overtones.

How to make the Pink Flamingo Cosmpolitan infusion:

Add 25g tea per 750ml vodka. Allow 2 days to sit and cold infuse.

What you need:

Splash of simple syrup or cointreau

Add all ingredients into a Boston shaker.

Shake vigorously for 20 seconds.

Double strain into a martini glass.

Garnish with a flamed orange cheek.

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Matcha Sour Recipe

The TWG tea matcha is a powdered green tea, traditionally prepared with a bamboo whisk. A thick and slightly astringent green tea, this infusion yields a smooth and grassy taste which finishes with a hint of sweetness.

How to make the Matcha Syrup Infusion:

Bring 750 ml of water to a boil. Remove from heat and add an equal amount of sugar by weight.

Allow sugar to dissolve and while warm, vigorously whisk 1 tbsp of matcha powder. Ensure that there are no clumps and that you have a fine syrup.

Watch the video: The most EXTRA cocktails in Vancouver! (January 2022).