I have been again hard at work writing up an article for quarterly release The Publican Magazine, this time – with a spotlight on Bitters. Some notable themes come up – forgotten ingredient makes a comeback, overindulgence by craftsmen, boutique styles from local favourites. Have a read and don’t hesitate to let me know your thoughts!
A couple of weeks ago I was able to spend some money on a block of ice for one of our weekly meetings. We’ve all seen these blocks before, over-sized ice cubes that artists use to carve sculptures or luges or even create ice bars. The plan was to take this block (20 x 40 x 10) and carve off smaller, more manageable blocks to teach our management team the basics of hand carving ice spheres. What follows is a synopsis of what is being called “the best meeting of all time.”
But first, a little background on ice. Hand carved ice is a relatively new take on an extremely old tradition. In Japanese bar culture, many bars don’t have ice machines, they simply bring in blocks of ice daily and chip fresh. Their reason: the ice is colder and clearer than commercial machine ice.
The purpose of this clear ice is to add a visual element to the spirit or cocktail. Hidetsugu Ueno seems to be the pioneer bringing this concept back to the mainstream. His ice carving skills are top among many who are using this process in their bars. His goal is not to add a gimmick to his drink program, only to elevate his liquids by adding the clearest and coldest ice he can access.
How to get clear ice
A few options:
1) Buy an ice block machine ($4000+)
2) Many studies have been conducted on this project. For the best, www.alcademics.com is recommended (Camper English goes into great depths of various methods of how to obtain the best ice at home). Good water is key, temperature control, some investment in equipment (molds etc) and time. To make a large clear ice block in Camper’s cooler method, you’re looking at 13+ hours and a huge possibility of some clouding.
3) Buy it. Local distributors sell large block ice (www.ontherocksice.com) and ice sculpture companies (www.cool-creations.com) may also sell blocks that they are unable to use for decent prices. Unusable blocks tend to be those that have cracks or clouds and cannot be used for scultptures. (this method requires a lot of communication)
4) If size doesn’t matter, many commercial machines now produce 1.5-2″ cubes that work. Tough to carve, but they are produced en masse, with very little effort (these machines tend to be extremely finnicky – not good for high volume bars, but great for cocktail lounges etc)
How to Take ice from block size to usable ‘chunks’
Ice arrives in a 20”x40”x10” 300lb block. It is difficult to move, awkward and slippery. (blanket not included)
For greatest ease – invest in an electric chainsaw to make your cuts. It is a fast and easy way to get a nice straight cut, and you can catch the ‘slush’ to use in other ways.
If you don’t have a chainsaw, I recommend investing in some simple tools:
-6” (or more) kitchen knife (strong blade – good luck persuading Chef on this one)
-ice pick(s) (this is easier and a lot more fun with 2+ people)
-level (moreso for the chainsaw method)
-ruler (measure twice, cut once – pretty much the only thing I retained from wood shop)
First, use the knife to etch a line when you want to separate the ice along one side. Using the hammer and the knife perpendicular to the ice, chip along the line to make a small ditch from corner to corner. Rotate the block 90deg and continue the ditch along the new side (use a ruler and knife to extend the ditch in a straight line). Continue for all four sides. Now, holding the knife straight up and down on the wider side of the block, poke the knife into the center of the ditch to make a small pit. Use the hammer to make a few big taps and the ice should fall off in a straight cut. Use the same method to turn that small cut into even smaller, more manageable pieces.
Once you have oversized cubes roughly the sice of half a brick you are ready to go. Use the ice picks to carve away the edges and corners of the block until you have the size and the shape you require. Some have turned this into an art form and can cut and shape ice into diamond-like pieces that reflect light.
Be extremely careful when using this method. You can substitute the icepick for a knife in this step as well. Once you’ve carved the ice to an appropriate size, you’re left with an absolutely stunning ice cube to chill your drink and wow your customers.
Although we aspire to be forward thinking in our modern pub culture, there are some customary pub related traditions that we still hold dear.
One is football. English football. Yes, we love our NHL & NFL, but, in classic pub culture there will always be a soft spot for a sport that really exemplifies the true nature of a public house.
For generations, pubs and bars have been places for fans to go to celebrate (or lament) the results of their local club. The idea of a “Canucks bar” or a “Patriots bar” finds it roots in the London neighborhoods hundreds of years ago, where football clubs were not located apart in expansive, large metropolitan areas, but crammed together within regions or towns a mere miles apart. Where one could simply walk a few blocks and find themselves in the midst of a rival’s supporter fanbase. Ultimately, fans gathered close, and Pubs became a home away from home for like-minded sport fans to share stories.
In this longstanding tradition, we are elated to announce a new partnership with LFC Vancouver.
Scientifically proven to be one of the most loyal football supporters clubs on the planet (it’s science), The Liverpool FC supporters Vancouver branch brings dozens of loyal…and at times rabid…fans together to watch live matches at The Butcher & Bullock.
In spite of the time of the games (5:30am? Bring it) or who they’re playing we’ll be open, the sound will be on and the room will be filled with Reds supporters.
Jan 30 11:45am Arsenal v Liverpool
Feb 3 8:00am Manchester City v Liverpool
Feb 11 12:00pm Liverpool v West Bromwich Albion
Feb 14 9:00am Zenit St Petersburg v Liverpool
Feb 21 12:05pm Liverpool v Zenit St Petersburg
Feb 24 Postp Liverpool – P – P – Swansea City
Mar 2 9:30am Wigan Athletic v Liverpool
Mar 10 9:00am Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur
Mar 16 8:00am Southampton v Liverpool
Mar 31 5:30am Aston Villa v Liverpool
Apr 6 7:00am Liverpool v West Ham United
Apr 13 7:00am Reading v Liverpool
Apr 20 7:00am Liverpool v Chelsea
Apr 27 7:00am Newcastle United v Liverpool
May 4 7:00am Liverpool v Everton
May 12 7:00am Fulham v Liverpool
May 19 8:00am Liverpool v Queens Park Rangers
Clough Club NYE 2013:
Clough Club will be ringing in the 2013 with a prix-fixe dinner inspired by New Orleans Carnivale.
Classic cocktails and champagne will be sampled throughout the evening with a midnight champagne toast to celebrate the new year. Buy Tickets: http://bit.ly/WjU9CD
Granville Room New Year’s Eve:
Ring in the new year at The Granville Room with a champagne cocktail dinner pairing.
We are offering a three course a la carte dinner, each course paired with a version of a champagne cocktail.
Complimentary champagne toast at midnight. Buy Tickets: http://bit.ly/VMV8cl
This is my favourite time of year to watch television and scan the internet. The end of the year always brings the re-caps and top 10/25/50/100 lists of all walks of life; Sports, Gossip, Music, Movies. Even the best of all-time lists start emerging. Granted there are always only slight changes to these lists (if any at all!)
Once you’re bored of the top 10 re-caps, the prediction lists start coming out. What will next year bring? While most of this garbage doesn’t help develop my brain in any way other than fill a half-hour void watching television, the odd list stands out. What was hot in 2012 for Cocktails? What did the pro’s think was going to be popular? What are the same pro’s saying about 2013?
In December of 2011, Esquire.com published their cocktail trend predictions for 2012. Have you seen any of these show up on the menu in your local? (my notes in parenthesis for elaboration)
1) Vinegar cocktails (this includes both shrub use and chasers eg: Pickleback)
2) Crafty 1970s- and 1980s-era cocktails (think re-makes of Harvey Wallbangers and revitalization of the style of drink popularized by TGI Friday and the like).
3) Pre-Made Cocktails (Batching and punch to ease up on the stress of the bartender)
4) Bottled / Carbonated cocktails (pre-bottling drinks and pre-cabonating with a siphon without diluting)
5) Keg Cocktails (Taking over a beer line to serve a pre-made cocktail)
6) New Uses for Marg Machines (My favourite that I never saw in use. Imagine a slushy Corpse Reviver # 2)
7) Nightclub Cocktails (Night Club atmosphere, craft cocktail drinking)
8 ) Rise of Rum (Wayne Curtis is leading this charge of rum interest)
9) Party booze (The triumphant(?) return of Blue Curacao, Jager & Hpnotiq)
10) Skinny drinks (oh Skinny Girl)
So, were they right? I know for certain that at least 7 of those got play in Vancouver. Now, what are they saying for 2013? Well…
Camper English – Alcademics.com
1) Carbonation (we’ll see an on-going use of siphons and perlini units to change the structure of typically non-fizzy drinks – will this go mainstream?)
2) Molecular Mixology 2.0 (another chapter in the cocktail caviar and molecular game… are we ready?)
3) Meat at the Bar (Don Lee’s Benton’s Old Fashioned was just the beginning. Crossover from Butcher to bartender will grow vast in 2013. Probably due to every bartender’s love of bacon)
4) Low-Impact Liquor (I’ve had an Adonis on my cocktail list for years. In this age of strict Drinking and Driving laws it is essential to offer Mocktails or Zero-proof lists)
5) Slow Drinks, Faster (Old Fashioned cocktails need 6 minutes to be made properly, Fact or Fiction?)
1) Big Garnish (Garnish can cost up to 25% of the drink’s pour cost. It can also turn an $7.50 drink into a $12 proper cocktail. Customer value perception is key here)
2) YouTube (Self promotion of bartenders through a free service. Who needs TV and print media when twitter and facebook get your face on everyone’s laptop, pc and mobile device?)
3) Fun (Bartending is about service and people. Loosen up those bow ties and arm bands and pour yourself a shot. Maybe shave that curled up moustache and smile for a minute while you’re at it)
International Hotel & Restaurant Association
What’s Hot bartender survey – top 10 drink menu trends for 2013:
(This is a survey that was taken by bartending professionals all over the United Sates)
3. Culinary cocktails (e.g. savory, fresh ingredients) (Rosemary is a staple in many drinks. Basil too)
4. Micro-distilled/artisan liquor (Pricey if you live in BC, but craft-made products are the way to go)
5. Locally produced spirits (seems like the same as #4)
6. Locally sourced fruit/berries/produce (Again, the bartender visiting the farmer’s market with chef is no new trend)
7. Beer sommeliers/Cicerones (the next big thing – you heard it here first)
8. Regional signature cocktails (Derek Vanderheide’s Port Authority was on at least 9 cocktail lists in Vancouver, and two in Seattle. Drinks that define cities are how epic drinks like the Manhattan became classics)
10. Locally produced beer (Welcome to Vancouver: Parallel 49, Powell St Brewery, R&B Brewing, Steamworks, Red Truck et al.)
TK’s Predictions – I can’t put together a comprehensive list without putting myself out there. Here are Trevor Kallies’ cocktail trend predictions of 2013. Let’s see how I do:
1. Cask Proof Cocktails (using cask-strength or over-proof spirits in classic recipes)
2. Old/Forgotten Spirit Styles (Old Tom Gin, Sloe gin, long-ou-of-production spirits will make a comeback in 2013)
3. Crossover Drinks (drinks that use kitchen techniques, or new uses for old tools and products)
4. The Death of the Speakeasy (not so much the Death of, but hopefully new bar owners can come up with new ways to describe their design other than “prohibition-themed” or “Chicago circa 1930.” this also goes for theme events, 2010 was Mad Men, but the last 2 years have been Boardwalk Empire)
5. Bitters (More than just homemade or new styles. I predict bitters being used in a whole new light – Full ounces in drinks, shots of, and even using to cook.
So there you have it! The trends of this past year and some predictions of the year to come. Let us know your cocktail trend predictions in the comment section, or if you know of a great bar doing a good job of any of these let us know that also.
Bugging out on gift ideas for that designer guy on your list this year?
Well, with Christmas right around the corner I thought I’d give you guys a quick rundown of my top ten gifts ideas under $100
Stick to this list and you’re a sure win for the best friend award this year.
Here we go in no particular order…
1. Stance socks Designer socks in a must in any guy’s wardrobe. Check out the collection here.
Stance socks are available at Hill’s in Kerrisdale and other fine retailers in the city.
2. A case of winter ale
What guy doesn’t like beer? A winter ale is a definite must for the cold winter weather. Here are a few of my top picks:
Tree Brewing – Vertical Winter Ale (NEW FAVOURITE)
Granville Island – Lions Winter Ale
Kentucky Bourbon Ale
The first two winter ales are available at most BC liquor stores while the
Kentucky bourbon ale is only available online at specific retailers.
3. Empty Memory – Logical Art
Looking for a cool functional flash drive, look no further. These pieces are available here.
4. Camo anything
Jacket, umbrella, belt, snapback, take your pick…. You’ll be doing your friend a favour by picking up a camo piece for them this season.
5. hard graft – ipad mini heritage case
Since you know he’s buying himself a mini for Christmas you might as well beat him to it and get a case to protect the new investment. Smoked grey wool blended with real Italian tanned leather will be a classic compliment to his work day attire. Check out their full collection here.
7. Basic fitted sweatshirt
This is a perfect core piece for any guy’s arsenal. Easy piece to layer, dressed up or down. Sweatshirts are available at your favourite local retailer. Club Monaco, Urban outfitters, etc….
8. Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid m.A.A.d City
If your boy doesn’t have this album yet, this is a must get. An instant classic & a top ten rap album this year for sure. Ya Bish? Cop the album here.
9. Armed Notebook
Trade in his beatup coil bind notepad for one of these bad boys.
With this notebook he’ll be armed and ready for all his daily design meetings. Weapons of choice include: Nunchucks, Grenade, Knife & Gun.
I’ve been writing the cocktail lists for the Donnelly Group for just about 2.5 years. That is only 1/10 of the time that Bar None has been open. 20 years is longer than it takes to reach legal drinking age in British Columbia from birth. 20 years is long enough (and believe me when I tell you this) to serve 1.3million vodka sodas. 1.3 MILLION. And that’s just from the rail.
When I think back to what has happened at Bar None over the past 20 years it truly blows my mind. Did you know that the Juno award winning band SOULSTREAM got their start within these walls? That Hip Hop Icons Naughty By Nature, Kurupt, Talib Kweli, R&B and Dance Hall legends Slim (112) and Beenie Man, and even the soulful Prince have performed at one time or another.
The warehouse turned hardware store turned gay bar turned dance bar turned VANCOUVER LEGEND has seen its fair share of history.
With all these epic performers making their stop to add to the venue’s past success, what may not be looked back on is that Bar None has always been home to a proper Cocktail.
In the summer of 2007, tutored by the Vancouver cocktail icon Jay Jones, I made my first Old Fashioned inside the walls of Bar None Nightclub. Jay was brought over from the stick at Nu restaurant to consult on a new phase of drink culture – Craft Cocktails. 20 or so bartenders who barely knew a bar spoon from a hawthorne strainer gathered one hot summer day to mix and taste 10 drinks designed by Jay and destined to see the pages of the cocktail menu at Granville Room and the then named Denman St. Freehouse (the Calling). We mixed a selection of Classic Cocktails – including a Mai Tai Trader Vic would be proud of, an Old Fashioned later endorsed by Bill Samuels and a Dark n Stormy that didn’t break any trademark violations. Jay also taught us some contemporary creations. The Jack Sparrow (a pineapple & rum concoction with crack black pepper), Remarkable (Kiwi & Manuka honey Vodka), and the Kentucky Sun (Apple & Bourbon). We muddled, mixed, shook and stirred and gave up the fight that these drinks couldn’t be made fast enough. A few looks at Jay’s cold glance and tattoo’d arms told us quickly that these drinks would be made. It was that afternoon inside Bar None that I learned how to make cocktails with passion and care.
But even before that 2007 afternoon, Bar None had a cocktail in its arsenal. You may be hard-pressed to find a copy today, but Bar None was featured inside Bill Tikos’ cocktail bar collection Signature Cocktails (Cool Cocktails from Cool Places). The name of the books a bit dated, but to give you an idea of how this is important – Bill Tikos is the founder of a little website The Cool Hunter.
Here’s an excerpt from Signature Cocktails:
“Bar None, housed in a converted warehouse, is contemporary, intimate, and offers something for every taste. Whether it’s live music, international DJ’s, a cigar lounge or Martini bar you’re looking for, you’ll find it here. If you are in Vancouver it’s definitely worth a visit – but in the meantime, here’s the recipe for Pistachio Margarita.
Place the tequila, Cointreau, sugar and lime juice in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously.
Pour and serve.”
Frankly, it is nothing more than a traditional margarita with a nutty rim made with premium tequila. But, as a young bartender into proper cocktails for the first time, you can imagine the effect that finding that page in a cocktail book while scouring Chapters for Dale Degroff’s The Craft of the Cocktail would make. An internationally printed cocktail book with a bar owned by the company I was currently working for. Oh indeed.
It doesn’t stop there, head over to the World’s Best Bars website you’ll find a review from a few years ago tagging Bar None with 5 stars claiming drinks are “ but well poured and with three bars to choose from, easy to get hold of.”
You may not think of Bar None paving the way for cocktail culture in Vancouver nightclubs, but think again. With worldly Bartenders like Mr. Jones at one time calling the wood at Bar None home, seasonal cocktail lists changing multiple times yearly and an entertainment lineup as storied as it gets in our fair city you may be pleasantly surprised at the quality of drink you’ll receive.
The party starts Wednesday, November 14 with an amazing performance by SOULSTREAM and continues all week. Come celebrate 20 Years of Music and cocktails with us. For a full list of events and happenings please visit our event page.
For guest list, just contact us in the usual fashions – BBM your hookup or click here if you’re the iphone type.
Each month, serious beer drinkers come together at Smiley’s for our Beer Drinkers Pairing Dinner series. Interesting craft brews are brought in and paired with unique, prix-fixe menu selections created by our development chef Alvin Pilay.
On the 23rd of October, our attention will turn to a truly beer drinkers tradition – Oktoberfest. It’s almost the official beer drinker’s Christmas, and to celebrate we are bringing in four exclusive, rare pumpkin style beers from some amazing craft breweries;
Parallel 49 Lost Souls Chocolate Pumpkin Porter, Howe Sound Pumpkin Eater Imperial Pumpkin Ale & Brooklyn Brewery Post Road Pumpkin Ale will all be available as a flight accompaniment to the following custom menu:
CANAPE Wild mushroom tart chanterelle, morel, truffle cream
FIRST Squash & fennel salad currants, sage, endive, brown butter dressing
MAIN Slow roasted Rossdown Farms turkey brussels sprouts, buttermilk mash, thyme jus, crab apple preserve