A rooftop lounge with firepit (yes, please!) just opened downtown. Photos on Yelp showed stylish modern decor and design; industrial mixed with sophisticated lighting, etc. My gal pal was coming a little later, after a wardrobe change and shower to freshen up, post-scuba diving lesson. Walked over to the elevators for a ride to the lounge, where I was greeted and pre-screened by their concierge. Weird.
First things I noticed when I got there were hammered metal and stone that turned the front room wall into an interesting Game of Thrones-y art piece. Hundreds of glass tubes on the ceiling slowly changed colors. Huge bar with nice selection, check!
Table next to the window, few feet away from the (crowded) outdoor seating area and firepit, double-check!
With my gal pal on her way, I decided to order a cocktail. I would usually order a classic cocktail, or even a classic cocktail with a creative twist, but tonight I thought I’d try something new, in keeping with the theme – new hotel, new rooftop bar, new cocktail.
Also, I normally don’t do vegetables in my cocktails, mainly because it just sounded like a really bad idea. But I decided to go against my better judgment, be a little adventurous. And the vegetable for this maiden voyage would be…the beet.
I love beets. Boiled, sliced and served on salads, or at the end of my fork with nothing else on them. But in a cocktail?? We’ll see about THAT!
I’m guessing that as part of the farm-to-table movement, bartenders have been using natural, organic ingredients for years to add interesting colors and flavors to their cocktails. Valid. I’ve also heard of beet juice being used for color. But as a FLAVOR? I was skeptical, but not close-minded.
The cocktail that arrived was gorgeous! I stared at the amazing deep red color, and held the martini glass up in the air. Definitely an Instagram moment! I took pictures when the glass tubes above me turned blue.
And then I tasted it. Oh man. No. Never again.
I wish I could have seen the WTF?? look on my face just then when I reached for the cocktail menu in horror, panic and confusion. That….flavor…was the beet GREENS that had been blended and strained. In an attempt to balance out the earthy muskiness of the shrub’s flavor, they added bittersweet and citrusy Gentian liqueur, plus some Aquavit, for a touch of black licorice. Then throw in some vodka and a lemon squeeze. The result – smoked dirt and licorice with a citrus twist.
What were they thinking? Was this cocktail actually bartender-tested and approved?
Vegetables are officially banned from my cocktails.
But if you want a really GOOD, summery refreshing cocktail…
After a day spent exploring shops in Gastown, I hiked over to the Asian food Mecca on Robson Street. I wandered into a beautiful restaurant with delicious smells and a quirky banana leaf motif, opened their cocktail menu, and there it was: the Bourbon Smash.
For those of you who love bourbons and whiskeys (like me), the bourbon smash is a mix of bold (bourbon) and fresh flavors (mint and lemon), harmoniously mingled and completely enjoyed!
Courtesy of foodnetwork
3/4 ounce simple syrup
8 fresh mint leaves, plus 1 sprig, for garnish
3 lemon wedges
2 ounces bourbon
Put the simple syrup, mint leaves and lemon wedges into a cocktail shaker and muddle them until the lemons are broken down. Add the bourbon and fill the shaker with ice; using a long cocktail spoon, stir vigorously until very cold.
Fill a rocks glass with ice and use a fine strainer to strain the drink into the glass. Put the mint sprig in the palm of one hand and gently smack it with the fingers of your other hand (this releases the oils and fragrance). Garnish the drink with the sprig and serve.