Kitsilano has taken cocktail culture to a whole new level this season
Kitsilano is a mainstay for warm tans, beach hair and a laid-back attitude.
“The neighbourhood screams a lifestyle of health and exercise,” explains Jane McFadden, the executive director of the Kitsilano West 4th Avenue Business Association.
But what about after the sun sets?
Cocktail culture rules many a Gastown hotspot, Yaletown denizens appreciate crafty combinations of distilled liquors, and Mount Pleasant’s many hipster joints offer up the handiwork of masterful barkeeps. But inspired offerings at some of Kitsilano’s top restaurants now mean that the westside of Vancouver has a burgeoning cocktail locale on its hands.
“The options on West 4th Avenue have evolved over the past couple of years,” says McFadden. “It’s now become a destination for dining—and a natural stroll up a few blocks from the beach for a refreshing summer cocktail.”
Here are four of the finest signature drinks available this season in Kits…
1. Mission, 2042 West 4th Avenue
The focus at Mission—both in the kitchen and at the bar—is on sourcing: local ingredients are fresh, farmed and even foraged to help chef Curtis Luk and head bartender Marc Smolinski enliven their menus. In fact, there is such a dedication to ‘local’ that the popular “Everyday Sunshine”—long a favourite on the locale’s extensive cocktail list—has now seen over 12 iterations since it debuted last year.
For the summer, an emphasis on strawberries saturates the refreshing base of locally distilled Sid’s Vodka. Expect raspberries and blackberries as the summer progresses and a pear/apple skew in the fall.
Don't Miss! Bartender Marc Smolinski will hold court on the BCLiving lifestyle stage (4th and Yew) for Khatsahlano Day on Saturday, July 8th from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., demonstrating his impressive creativity and expertise.
2. Raisu, 2340 West 4th Avenue
There’s a joy that is undeniable when diners ascend the rustic stairs of Raisu and enter one of Kitsilano’s most beloved Japanese haunts. The izakaya-leaning concept is open, bright and welcoming. Even the top of the drink menu declares, “Let’s drink tonight!”
A glass can certainly be raised during sweltering weather with the plum wine sangria. The cocktail is so light and refreshing, it’s a perfect respite from a humid summer outside: a combination of peach, soda and plum wine, topped with raspberries, lemon and a variety of local fruits.
3. Au Comptoir, 2278 West 4th Avenue
Diners entering Au Comptoir would be forgiven for believing they had stumbled into an eatery just steps away from the Champs-Élysées. Often labelled “Paris-by-way-of-West-Coast,” the restaurant showcases plenty of French influences: bistro favourites on the menu, the romantic glow of candlelight at dinner and even an extraordinary pewter bar top created by some of the country’s best craftsmen.
It comes as little surprise then that the signature cocktails reflect a similarly sophisticated air. The restaurant’s mojito, for example, is offered with an inventive twist, layering the sweet bite of pineapple on top of the drink’s familiar mint.
4. Maenam, 1938 West 4th Avenue
As he creates the signature drinks at Maenam, bar manager Jon-David McIntyre keeps history in mind—both the cuisine’s and his own. McIntyre’s menu reflects the dedication to balance displayed in popular Thai dishes and also folds in some personal touches.
During a year spent working in Australia, he was inspired to create the Siam Sunburn. Featuring chili-infused tequila, passionfruit, butterscotch, kaffir lime and topped with egg white, the cocktail is one of Maenam’s most popular, offering visitors an undeniably spicy kick.