October 12, 2011

Cocktails In Victoria

At the top of October I was in Victoria for a fabulous three-day Art of the Cocktail event, full of workshops, tastings, bartending competitions, and the extra fun Grand Tasting.

After hopping off a float plane from Vancouver and rolling my carry-on to the Fairmont Empress, handily located at the mouth of the harbour, I checked into that grand dame of a hotel. There I was welcomed with an in-room amenity — a chocolate teacup full of truffles!

The next day I meant to attend the Art of the Cocktail workshop called “The Long and Mysterious History of Cocktail Bitters and Liqueurs”, but took a wrong turn on the way to the hotel Chateau Victoria, wound up in Chinatown (this happens more often than I’d like to admit), was late, and the organizers wouldn’t let me in. So, I guess cocktail bitters and liqueurs will remain a mystery to me.

Reeling from this latest humiliation, I met up with friends and we popped in for afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress, nibbling scones with clotted cream while drinking signature tea blends, and a flute of Sumac Ridge bubbly. This made me feel much, much better.

After that, we arrived on time for the Art of the Cocktail session on gin. This introduction to the world of dry gin and gin-based cocktails was led by talented bartender Solomon Siegel, and the master distiller of Victoria Gin Peter Hunt, who together filled us in on the history of gin and gin production. We also learned how to make a perfect basic gin cocktail, how to mix a real martini and other contemporary favourites.

The main event that night was a cocktail sampling by way of nearly 50 different spirits and liqueurs with tasty one-bite appetizers to match. It all got me thinking about the upcoming holiday season. After all, it’s never too early to start planning.

Get your thinking caps on and search our archives for great appetizer and cocktail ideas.

Photo credits:
1-7. Amy Rosen