A Bartender’s Guide to Valentine’s Day in Vancouver

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It’s no surprise that this coming Saturday is Valentine’s Day, and as usual, expectations to impress are high. But we often get caught up in all the fuss and forget about what’s important — spending time with our loved ones. With Valentine’s Day falling on a weekend this year, take advantage of all the romance our great city has to offer by treating your sweetie to a whirlwind adventure they won’t soon forget.

Here are my personal recommendations on how to spend the special day:

1. Indulge in a mini craft spirits tour

Credit: Flickr Creative Commons
Photo by Paphio/Flickr

Granville Island really has it all — especially if you’re a spirits enthusiast. I recommend paying a visit to Artisan SakeMaker, owned by the incredible Masa Shiroki. Sample some of his 100 percent all-natural, BC-made sake and ask the helpful staff to show you how to properly enjoy it. Hot or cold, it will definitely warm up your soul!

liberty-distillery
Photo via The Liberty Distillery/Facebook

Just down the street you’ll find The Liberty Distillery. Established in 2010, The Liberty Distillery has consistently produced some of the finest craft vodka and gin in the country, made entirely from BC ingredients. I recommend sampling their ‘Truth Vodka’ before picking up a bottle for your home enjoyment.

Artisan SakeMaker

Address: 1399 Railspur Alley
Phone: 604-685-7253
Website: www.artisansakemaker.com

The Liberty Distillery

Address: 1494 Old Bridge Road
Phone: 604-558-1998
Website: www.thelibertydistillery.com

2. Treat your sweetie to some seaside comfort food

No visit to Granville Island is complete without lunch at local fish ‘n’ chips institution Go Fish, which offers sustainable seafood choices from their popular take-out counter. Watch the fresh fish come off the boats and go directly into the fryer!

Go Fish

Address: 1505 West 1st Avenue
Phone: 604-730-5040

3. Partake in some romantic late-winter fun

RobsonSquare
Photo by T Chang/Flickr

After your visit to Granville Island, grab a water taxi and get yourselves down to Robson Square. Not only is this Vancouver landmark home to The Vancouver Art Gallery — which you can peruse with your sweetie if you’re so inclined — but it also has a fantastic outdoor skating rink. The Robson Square Ice Rink is open all the way until February 28 (weather permitting), and skating is free with your own skates. It’s the perfect excuse to hold hands as you cruise together down the ice. So Canadian!

Robson Square Ice Rink and Plaza

Address: 800 Robson St.
Phone: 604-209-8316
Website: www.robsonsquare.com

4. Play mixology master with Valentine’s-inspired cocktails

Credit: Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar
Photo courtesy Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar

So you’ve had a full day, and now it’s time to kick back and set the mood with some romance-inducing cocktails. Why not hit up one of the many amazing cocktail bars that our city has to offer? Or if you really want to make an impression, try your hand at the amourous concoctions featured below. These ‘his and hers’ interpretations of the same cocktail are aptly titled ‘Romeo’ and ‘Juliet’ —while Romeo is stiffened with cognac, chocolate bitters and orange vermouth, Juliet still packs a punch but is softened with Cava, lavender bitters and blood orange juice.

‘Romeo’

By Alex Black, Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar

Ingredients:

  • 0.75 oz Hennessy V.S.
  • 0.75 oz Aperol
  • 0.75 oz Cinzano Orancio
  • 3 dashes Scrappy’s Chocolate Bitters
  • ½ dash Peychaud’s Bitters

Method:

  • Combine all ingredients into a mixing glass, and stir.
  • Strain over rocks into an absinthe-rinsed glass.
  • Garnish with a blood orange twist.

‘Juliet’

By Alex Black, Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar

Ingredients:

  • 0.5 oz Aperol
  • 0.5 oz Cinzano Orancio
  • 0.5 oz Blood Orange Juice
  • 1 dash Scrappy’s Lavender Bitters
  • Splash of Cava (Spanish Sparkling Wine)

Method:

  • Shake ingredients together in a cocktail shaker.
  • Strain into an absinthe-rinsed champagne flute.
  • Top with Cava, or bubbly of your choice.
  • Garnish with a blood orange twist.

If you have any questions or feedback on the cocktails above, come and say hello at Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar where they’re served exclusively on the menu until February 15.

Featured image: Red wine spilling/Shutterstock

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About the author

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Justin Taylor A renowned bartender and cocktail creator, Justin Taylor has been a fixture in the industry in both Toronto and Vancouver for the better part of two decades. As Bar Manager at Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar, located at the iconic Sutton Place Hotel Vancouver, Justin continues to stir up the Vancouver bartending scene with a heady mix of knowledge, panache, wit and hospitality.
@taylormixology

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