In some ways, Vancouver is the last place that should be importing a cocktail event from a town that boasts about drinking in the streets (New Orleans). Still, while local theatres and bars struggle to maintain their existence under archaic provincial booze laws, our city will once again host NOLA’s Tales of the Cocktail franchise.
Launched in New Orleans a decade ago, TotC has become one of the most celebrated binge-drinking events in North America — not on the level of spring break or Super Bowl, perhaps, but with a lot less PBR. Mixologists, booze experts and alcoholics with blogs (alcobloggers?) swarm The Big Easy like fruitflies to a day-old Mojito in search of the holy grail of cocktails, or at least a cocktail in a grail, or even just something in a shotglass.
Last year, TotC vetted the idea of Vancouver, a city whose booze laws seem to have been written by Carrie Nation a century ago, as the first location outside of New Orleans deserving of a touring offshoot. (DailyXY covered it in two installments.) No doubt we have Vancouver’s hard-working, creative mixologists — people like Kale & Nori’s Lauren Mote and En Route’s bartender of the year Jay Jones — to thank for talking the organizers down south into taking a chance on our fair but provincial town.
And, to be fair, a new restaurant or bar opening up in the city this days is more likely than not to have artisanal cocktails on the menu. Just the night before the writing of this piece, this writer visited a recently opened establishment, The Union Bar, to find drinks like the “Phuket Coconut Spritzer” and “Komodo Cooler” featuring exotic ingredients like pandan leaves and calamansi (a citrus fruit found in the Philippines).
Sometimes it seems that the tail — or perhaps in this case, the “tale” — is wagging the dog. I don’t quite remember that precise moment where I walked into a restaurant and was disappointed that the most exotic cocktail on the menu was a crantini; regardless: now, such a situation would probably inspire me to walk out in a huff.
That’s why I, and everyone else in town who has realized that there is more to a drinking life than what the provincial government and restaurant chains would have us believe, are looking forward to Tales of the Cocktail on Tour, Vancouver. It’s a four-day full-immersion experience in not only tasting but also learning about a wide variety of ingredients, from liqueurs to bitters.
Booze industry heavyweights such as Pegu Club co-owner Audrey Saunders, 42Below “Vodka Professor” Jacob Briars, America’s “Spirits Guru” Paul Pacult and craft bartending pioneer Dushan Zaric will host seminars. Tasting rooms give Tales-goers the chance to sample various products, from big-names to lesser-knowns.
Attendees also have the chance to rub stir sticks with and sample cocktails from many of the city’s top cocktail-pushers, including Donnelly Group’s Trevor Kallies, Hawksworth’s Jon Smolensky, Uva’s Evelyn Chick, Yew’s Justin Taylor and CinCin Ristorante + Bar’s Donnie Wheeler.
In other words, there’s no good reason to be sober for anytime between Feb 12–15, and every reason not to be. There are no tickets for individual events, but an all-inclusive pass for $195 gives you full access to all four days of the event, including seminars, tasting rooms, and parties. See you out there.
Image courtesy of TechCocktail.