Frontier Psychiatrist

Frontier Mixology: The Vancouver Cocktail

Posted on: June 8, 2011

It’s puck night in the Frontier Mixologist’s house.   Some believe ice hockey first developed in the Netherlands, where it looked more like ice golf.  In any event, the modern game was clearly developed by our friends north of the border.  The relocation of a team to Winnipeg/Manitoba is, thus, fitting.  As it’s their game, moreover, and, despite some trepidations based on Aaron Rome’s Game 3 blindside hit on Nathan Horton, we’re rooting for the Canucks in the battle for Lord Stanley’s cup.

As for the city of Vancouver, its cocktail scene is in good shape.  Indeed, a bar there will be happy to prepare for you FP favorites the Red Hook or a Lucien Gaudin.  Now, while watching the game, if offered a cold (strange) brew, I won’t refuse.  Tonight, I’d rather have a cocktail.  Given the importance of ice in cocktail making, it seems somehow appropriate.

Accordingly, we visit a delightful but obscure classic revived by Ted Haigh: the Vancouver.  It’s been getting more and more recognition lately,  particularly by bartenders around Vancouver.  Don’t be distracted by recipes employing Canadian whiskey and maple syrup, strictly for hosers.

The Vancouver

1½  oz. gin

¾ oz. sweet vermouth

¼ oz. Benedictine

dash or two of orange bitters

Stir together with ice; strain into a chilled cocktail glass; garnish with a thin strip of lemon peel, which you’ve run along the rim of the glass first.

The drink reportedly was favored by Errol Flynn, and was kept alive by the city’s Sylvia Hotel.  The drink itself is a variation on the better-known (at least at the time) Ford Cocktail, which is also a superior tipple that swaps in dry vermouth for the sweet.

Make both to not only ensure a good evening,  but reveal to yourself just how much of a difference seemingly slight variations in ingredient and proportion have on a finished drink.  In particular, the combination of spirit, fortified wine, liqueur, and bitters is hard to beat, and endlessly versatile.  See, e.g., the Brooklyn and the Martinez.  As for ingredients, rather than a French or Italian sweet vermouth, I like to keep my Vancouver Cocktail on the Pacific Coast with Vya sweet vermouth from Madera, CA, and Junipero gin from San Francisco.

So, for tonight, go Canucks!  And, as always, drink up,


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