Among the French accents bouncing through the atmosphere in 17th ave’s The Living Room yesterday, were Calgary’s top mixologists who were competing in the Grey Goose Pour Master’s competition. Prior to the competition the team from across the pond including Ludovic Miazga and Marian Beke of London’s NightJar spoke about their love of the cocktail and what they do. Ludovic quipped “Making a cocktail is telling a story. The story is important.” How can you not agree with that? There’s so much more to putting a fantastic drink together than just mixing the ingredients. From glasswear to garnish, Marian shared some of his favorite combinations with Calgary’s gaggle of lucky attendees.
The Pour Masters competition was fierce and there’s one thing I’m sure of now – Calgary’s bartenders take their jobs seriously. They love what they do and they look at it as a form of expression. This is their art. Each mixologist had 5 minutes to put together a cocktail with 1 local ingredient, 1 French ingredient, the key ingredient – Grey Goose Cherry Noir vodka, and whatever else they pleased.
My favorite drink ended up losing out. Nathan of Milk Tiger Lounge whipped up his ‘South of France’ which included sage infused sweet clover honey. The result was so different from any of the others and his drink made a lasting impression with many of us.
The winner was well deserved however as Jimmy of the CUBE (opening August 2013) presented us with a coffee infused cherry vodka. It was served with a lemon twist along side some toasted baguette and Goose liver pate. Amazing.
The after party brought us to Rush (of Top Chef Canada finale fame) where I had one of the best cocktails of my life. The Burbon Blackberry Smash had a complex yet bright taste and finished with a long cool kiss of mint. Joel was a gracious host and his Pour Masters cocktail, Summer Bramble, featured the ever Calgarian mini fried donut as a garnish. He stuffed his with a brandied cherry. Crazy! Go to Rush. Ask Joel for a drink and you will not be disappointed.
I’ve known for a long time that Calgary is up on the food scene but I wasn’t aware of how fantastic our bartenders are. If you find yourself downtown on a hot summer day, feeling parched, then head over to Rush to see Joel or to Cube for a visit with Jimmy. Maybe find yourself chatting with Franz at Anejo or Nathan at Milk Tiger. Cliff and Lee at The Living room will make you feel at home. And don’t forget to say hi to Jody of Loungeburger and the boys at Cilantro. You know that these guys will take care of you.