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 set, I recently got behind the bar with their Bar Manager, Roman Kardos, for a bartending tutorial*. (*Gifted experience.)
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 feet up and have a glass of something lovely. Like a whisky cocktail.
I’m mostly a red wine and dark beer girl, but every now and then I like a cocktail. A G&T is usually my usual go-to, but I’ve come to love whisky cocktails in the last couple of years. (This is what happens when you visit Scotland many, many times, and visit a fair amount of distilleries.) And one of my favourite Vancouver establishments, The Distillery Bar + Kitchen, has some excellent options on the bar menu.
I recently had the opportunity to get behind said bar with their Bar Manager, Roman Kardos, for a cocktail-making lesson, and they’ve kindly given permission for me to share the recipes on the blog. But first, let’s talk about why I love The Distillery. (Click here to skip to the recipes.)
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 of modern fun. It’s a classy joint that you can absolutely picture Dean Martin or Rosemary Clooney lounging at a table, cocktail in hand. They also play movies like Casablanca (a favourite of mine) on their TV screens, which adds to the glam factor of it all.
#GetThrifty pricepoint – 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 and drink – Go for brunch. Have mimosas and excellent eggs. Go for dinner. Have some excellent pasta and a whisky cocktail. It’s all fantastic and served with a smile.
How to make a whisky cocktail
Speaking of whisky cocktails… Back to my new friend Roman and my time behind the bar. The two cocktails he taught me how to make are the Blood & Sand 2.0 and an Old Fashioned. The Distillery’s parent company also owns the neighbouring Yaletown Distilling Co. and they recently released their own whisky.
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 by 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 Fashioned cocktails apparently need to be stirred for TWO MINUTES before pouring. Eek. 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 before I actually made the drink. So if you order an Old Fashioned, don’t moan about how long it takes to get to you — it’s made with a lot of care!
Work it out – In tandem with patience, shaking a cocktail 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 — a simple and classic garnish for the win.
Enough of my ramblings, it’s time for you to make some cocktails! Click here for the recipes.
The Distillery Bar + Kitchen is located in Vancouver’s Yaletown district at 1131 Mainland Street. (Website / @yaletowndistillingco) A big thank you to Roman for my tutorial and his time, and to the Mark James Group for the opportunity. I had so much fun! As always, opinions are my own.
Blood & Sand 2.0
- 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
- Chill glass with crushed ice; empty just before mixing cocktail
- Add ingredients to cocktail shaker
- Firmly place lid on cocktail shaker (Roman says to firmly jam it on)
- Shake vigorously and pour through the strainer
- Garnish with a drunken cherry on a stick
The Distillery Old Fashioned
- 60ml Bulleit Bourbon
- 1 sugar cube
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- Ice cubes
- Garnish – Orange peel
- Glass – Old Fashioned
- Using a mason jar or wide-mouthed beaker, muddle the sugar cube until crushed
- Add the bitters, bourbon, and some ice cubes
- Stir for two minutes with a cocktail stirrer or a plastic chopstick
- Pour into glass filled with ice cubed
- 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
“The writer is a mysterious figure, wandering lonely as a cloud, fired by inspiration, or perhaps a cocktail or two.”Sara Sheridan