October 2, 2008
Creativity in the glass: This week, Vancouver's top bartenders are nursing hangovers and resting their aching elbows.
They're recovering from a crazy bout of cocktail competitions -- three in only eight days -- and resting up for the next one a couple of weeks from now.
The liquid marathon started with the Battle of the Bars, hosted by The Cascade Room and Sagatiba on Sept. 21. It continued with the Grey Goose Arbiter of Cool national final Sept. 23 and wrapped up this past Sunday with the Giffard Iron Mixology competition, which featured 24 bartenders vying to compete in the international final next spring in France.
The real winner, though, was this city. Remarkably, for a place that a few years ago didn't even have a cocktail scene, Vancouver now has one of the best in Canada, much of it thanks to competitions like these."In Vancouver you have some really talented people," says Dimitri Lezinska, the London-based global brand ambassador for Grey Goose vodka. "In Toronto and Montreal there is some amazing creativity, but the structure and the balance of the cocktails wasn't as strong as it was here.
"The three competitions featured a phenomenal range of flavours and techniques, from which two trends emerged.First, there were the culinary drinks. For instance, George Ultra Lounge's Shaun Layton won the Giffard competition with a brandy cocktail garnished with a whimsical mini cheese plate: a pear slice topped with blue cheese and walnuts. And at Grey Goose, Toronto's Renata Clingen beat competitors from Calgary, Montreal and Whistler with a classic culinary pairing of balsamic vinegar and figs.Second, there were the molecular mixologists, who used scientific techniques to transform textures into something deliciously different, such as foams, flames, crackles, reductions and caviars.
Winning the Battle of the Bars was a triple molecular whammy from the team of Cameron Bogue, Phil Tapping and Simon Kaulback at the soon-to-open DB Bistro Moderne. They combined smoked syrup, caramelized fruit and carbonated peaches in their triumphant drink.All this crazy creativity will be visiting a bar near you just as soon as the bartenders have had a chance to rest up. Of course, they won't be relaxing for too long -- the Finlandia vodka competition is scheduled for Oct. 20.
Contest: Giffard Iron Mixologist.
Winner: Shaun Layton, George Ultra Lounge.
Essential ingredient: Giffard Poire William (Pear Liqueur).