City Girl Whisky Diary: Unique Whisky Cocktails and Recipes from The Distillery Bar in Vancouver

Mercury is in retrograde: my laptop died on Easter weekend, work’s been a bit crazy, and my left rotator cuff is telling me it needs a little more love. Aside from that, it’s been a pretty good week. But I’m definitely ready to put my my feet up and have a glass of something lovely.

I’m mostly a red wine and dark beer girl, but every now and then I like a fancy cocktail. A Gin and Tonic is usually my favourite, but I’ve come to love whisky cocktails in the last couple years. (This is what happens when you visit Scotland many, many times, and visit a fair amount of distilleries.)

The Distillery Bar + Kitchen in Yaletown makes excellent whisky cocktails and their Yaletown Distilling Co. just launched their first small batch whisky in February. (To go with their house made vodka and gin!) With the idea of making more use of my own cocktail making set, I recently got behind the bar with their Bar Manager, Roman Kardos, for a bartending tutorial.

If you haven’t been to The Distillery, it is my favourite place to have weekend brunch when I am looking after #YaletownCharlie, and is an excellent spot for after work drinks and appies or date night. Why?

Decor and Ambiance

The chandelier and décor are everything and you feel pretty glam when you’re there. It’s very Old Hollywood with a touch if modern fun. It’s a classy joint that you can absolutely picture Dean Martin or Rosemary Clooney lounging at a banquet, cocktail in hand. The Distillery also plays movies like Casablanca (a favourite of mine!) on their TV screens, which adds to the glamour factor of it all.

Whisky cocktail chandelier
Enjoying the fruits of my labour

#GetThrifty Price-Point

Yaletown is a pricey neighbourhood both in real estate and in dining. The Distillery and its sister restaurant, the Yaletown Brewing Company, manage to keep quality affordable both with their happy hour menus and their overall menus, which makes them popular places to frequent. Their savvy owner also owns the block they (and my work) reside on so that might have something to do with it!

Food & Drinks

Go for brunch. Have mimosas and excellent eggs. Go for dinner. Have some excellent pasta and a whisky cocktail. It’s all excellent and service with a smile.

Speaking of whisky cocktails… Back to my new friend, Roman. The two cocktails he taught me how to make were the Blood & Sand 2.0 and an Old Fashioned. Coming from a place of basically adding a bit of this and a bit of that to make what usually ends being very strong cocktails, I was humbled and impressed by the precision and effort that goes into making these cocktails (as you can see be the ‘elevens’ that showed up between my eyes, there was some serious concentration going on). Bartenders make it look so easy, and having now been behind the bar – without people adding a layer of pressure! – I appreciate bartenders even more! And I just KNOW Roman would school Tom Cruise circa Cocktail in a beverage making contest, no contest.

Three things I learned from Roman:

Patience – This includes taking the time to chill the glasses, AND that Old Fashioneds apparently need to be stirred for TWO-MINUTES before pouring. Oh, my goodness. That might not sound like a long time, but if you’ve ever kneaded dough by hand, you know I’m not kidding when I say it felt like forever… Especially since Roman made me practice stir before I actually made the drink. So if you order an Old Fashioned, don’t complain about how long it takes to get to you!

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Stirring for two minutes means a bit of multi-tasking can be done!

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Work It Out – In tandem with #1, cocktail shaking is a workout. Roman didn’t get those guns sitting on a bar stool doing nothing!

Creativity – Like any recipe, a lot of thought goes into the creation of a cocktail. It’s all about flavour and a special twist that will make someone want to order it every time they go out. Personally, I’m a fan of the drunk cherry on a stick. Simple and classic garnished for the win!

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(Click to enlarge photos.)

A big thank you to Roman for my tutorial and his time, and to the Distillery management team for the opportunity. I had so much fun!

What’s your favourite cocktail?

The Distillery / 1131 Mainland St., Vancouver / Website / @yaletowndistillingco

Recipes

Blood & Sand 2.0

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Print

Ingredients:  
  • 45ml Yaletown Small Batch Whisky
  • 15ml Cinzano Rosso
  • 5ml Amaro Montenegro
  • 15ml Orange Juice
  • 2 dashes Apothecary Cherry & Cedar bitters
  • Garnish – Cherry on a stick
  • Glass – Coupe
Method: 
  1. Chill glass with crushed ice; empty just before mixing cocktail
  2. Add ingredients to cocktail shaker
  3. Firmly place lid on cocktail shaker (Roman says to firmly jam it on)
  4. Shake vigorously and pour through the strainer
  5.  Garnish with a drunken cherry on a stick

Old Fashioned

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Print

Old Fashioned 
 
Ingredients:
  • 60ml Bulleit Bourbon
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish – Orange peel
  • Glass – Old Fashioned
Method: 
  1. Using a mason jar or wide-mouthed beaker, muddle the sugar cube until crushed
  2. Add the bitters, bourbon, and some ice cubes
  3. Stir for two minutes with a cocktail stirrer or a plastic chopstick
  4. Pour into glass filled with ice cubed
  5. Squeeze the orange peel a bit to get the oils; rub along the rim of glass and then add to the drink as a garnish in glass

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“The writer is a mysterious figure, wandering lonely as a cloud, fired by inspiration, or perhaps a cocktail or two.”  ~ Sara Sheridan

Photos: Jana Josue / http://www.jjosuephotography.com/ / @jjosuephotos

Makeup: Karlie Rosin

3 Replies to “City Girl Whisky Diary: Unique Whisky Cocktails and Recipes from The Distillery Bar in Vancouver”

  1. Great article Yasmine, I love how you describe the Distillery like an Old Hollywood bar!! I celebrated my birthday there last year and it was fantastic!
    Btw, you look gorgeous and so happy on those pictures💗

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