July 29: Bartender Ben de Champlain (The Refinery)
Credit: Pelman Photography

July 29: Bartender Ben de Champlain (The Refinery)

Guests cheers to bartender and chef Ben de Champlain's cocktail pairing for the second course: tequila, hibiscus syrup, homemade gingerbeer and lemon juice.


July 29: Bartender Ben de Champlain (The Refinery)
Credit: Pelman Photography

July 29: Bartender Ben de Champlain (The Refinery)

For the 12th and final cocktail of the July competition, bartender Ben de Champlain mixes up tequila and Green Chartreuse caramelized Mexican raw-sugar “Caipirhinia” with key limes to pair with the third course of food.


July 29: Bartender Ben de Champlain (The Refinery)
Credit: Pelman Photography

July 29: Bartender Ben de Champlain (The Refinery)

The third course on the Central American-themed July menu was inspired by the Yucatan region of Mexico: Achiote and Driftwood Whitebark beer-marinated flank steak, jicama, watercress and cucumber salad, jalapeno and cilantro dressing, grilled onions.


July 8: Bartender Lauren Mote (The Refinery)
Credit: Pelman Photography

July 8: Bartender Lauren Mote (The Refinery)

Lauren's cocktail list took some ideas from Central American libation classics like horchata and aguas fresca.


July 8: Bartender Lauren Mote (The Refinery)
Credit: Pelman Photography

July 8: Bartender Lauren Mote (The Refinery)

For the July Cocktail Kitchen menu's first course, The Refinery chef Ben de Champlain prepared Qualicum scallop ceviche, chile, cilantro and citrus, braised fennel, guajillo dressing.


July 15: Bartender Colin MacDougall (Blue Water Cafe & The Pourhouse)
Credit: Pelman Photography

July 15: Bartender Colin MacDougall (Blue Water Cafe & The Pourhouse)

The Refinery's managers and bartenders help Colin Macdougall with his 5-minute shake-preparation Ramos ‘Tequila’ Fizz...


July 15: Bartender Colin MacDougall (Blue Water Cafe & The Pourhouse)
Credit: Pelman Photography

July 15: Bartender Colin MacDougall (Blue Water Cafe & The Pourhouse)

...which is made of tequila, egg white, milk, key lime oil, citrus and soda, pairing well with the chef's Driftwood White Bark beer and achiote-marinated flank steak with a watercress and jicama salad.


July 22: Bartender David Bain (West Restaurant)
Credit: Pelman Photography

July 22: Bartender David Bain (West Restaurant)

An adoring crowd of eager Cocktail Kitchen guests await the next cocktail-food pairing...


July 22: Bartender David Bain (West Restaurant)
Credit: Pelman Photography

July 22: Bartender David Bain (West Restaurant)

...which they'll rate to determine a score for the evening's bartender competitor.


July 29: Bartender Ben de Champlain (The Refinery)
Credit: Pelman Photography

July 29: Bartender Ben de Champlain (The Refinery)

The second course on the July Cocktail Kitchen menu was inspired by the Caribbean and the Gulf Central American countries: Caribbean jerk spice poached prawns, tomato chayote and pineapple salad, pimento dressing, avocado crema and homemade soft tortilla.


 

Four of Vancouver’s brightest bar-tending talents wow the crowd with innovative and delectable cocktails

 

Late last Thursday night, Refinery owner Ray Staniscia carefully counted the ballots after the Central America and Hornitos Tequila Cocktail Kitchen finale. On the other side of the door, Ben de Champlain—both the chef responsible for the Central American menu and Thursday’s cocktail pairings—and the other bartenders anxiously awaited the results...

 

Who will be competing in the August series against Jay Jones (Barjonesing Consulting), Justin Tisdall (Market, Shangrai-La) and Trevor Kallies (Granville Room)?

 

 

The Cocktain Kitchen Series at The Refinery in Vancouver

 

Cocktail Kitchen at The Refinery


Website

1115 Granville St, Vancouver

Thursdays, 7 p.m.

Tickets $30. Space is limited. Reserve by calling 604-687-8001.

WIN TICKETS through Granville Online:

Every month, we'll be giving away a pair of tickets through our Facebook page!

 

Learn more:

The Refinery launches The Cocktail Kitchen

Over this past month, we have seen some of the most interesting and innovative pairings, from arguably four of Vancouver’s best veteran and up-and-coming bartending talents.

 

The launch of Cocktail Kitchen on July 8 was my baby—as the resident mixologist and social media guru for The Refinery, it was my duty to set the bar at its highest. My sole job in this series is consistency, publicity and promotion. Organizing bartenders, bitters and writings their press releases. That’s me. My ballots don’t even count!

 

The Cocktail Kitchen menu for July

 

First Course: Qualicum scallop ceviche, chile, cilantro and citrus, braised fennel, guajillo dressing (inspired by the West Coast)

 

Second Course: Caribbean jerk spice poached prawns, tomato chayote and pineapple salad, pimento dressing (all spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, habanero hot sauce) , avocado crema and homemade soft tortilla (inspired by the Caribbean and the Gulf Central American Countries)

 

Third Course: Achiote & Driftwood Whitebark beer marinated flank steak, jicama, watercress and cucumber salad, jalapeno and cilantro dressing, grilled onions (inspired by the Yucatan region of Mexico)

 

The inspiration for each bartender’s cocktail list was undoubtedly different, and it was really intriguing to see how each bartender broke down the menu to reach their perfectly balanced cocktail pairings. Guests from a variety of backgrounds joined together over four weeks to experience the art of food and cocktail pairings.

 

July 8: Bartender Lauren Mote (The Refinery)

 

Inspired by the fundamentals of basic food science and tasting note pairings, my cocktail list took some ideas from Central American libation classics like horchata and aguas fresca, and transformed them into parallel weight/acid/sweetness pairings with Ben’s menu. Tequila, watermelon water, fennel and sherry bitters, cucumber and mint foam with tequila; dehydrated mango and chili powder salted cilantro water, allspice and tamarind tequila collins; homemade rice and almond milk tequila horchata with almond flower syrup, cinnamon, smoked pepper bitters and chocolate vermouth.

 

July 15: Bartender Colin MacDougall (Blue Water Cafe & The Pourhouse)

 

One of Vancouver’s brightest rising stars in the cocktail scene, Colin of both The Blue Water Cafe in Yaletown and The Pourhouse in Gastown, created an innovative list of successful “stand alone” cocktails.

 

Apricot and armagnac jelly, tequila, honey, lemon juice and four different citrus bitters made the first cocktail a success, and his other two were real show pieces: a play on a margarita—arguably the most popular tequila-based cocktail, with tequila, roasted pineapple syrup, chilies, mint and lime juice, and banana pepper bitters, followed by his Ramos “Tequila” Fizz.

 

“I didn’t know what to expect when I learned I had 90 cocktails to prepare! It worked out in the end, the Refinery managers and bartenders helped me shake my five-minute shake-preparation Ramos ‘Tequila’ Fizz too!” says Colin of his third and most successful cocktail which incorporated tequila, egg white, milk, key lime oil, citrus and soda, which paired quite well with Ben’s Driftwood White Bark beer and achiote-marinated flank steak with a vibrant watercress and jicama salad.

 

July 22: Bartender David Bain (West Restaurant)

 

David Bain wasn't always behind the wood. As the charismatic service kid from North Van, David has generated quite a following from his days at several Vancouver restaurant “institutions,” not to mention a large base of regulars that he's nurtured by sitting on the other side of the bar. Quite frankly, everyone knows David Bain.

His cocktails included some odd-ball complements that worked out in his favour, like tequila, fino sherry, tea, peaty scotch and merlot for his first; tequila, coconut, tamarind, and cola for his second; and tequila, sake, cucumber and chocolate for his third.

 

July 29: Bartender Ben de Champlain (The Refinery)

 

Well, he's certainly as tattooed as he is lovable—the 13-year veteran chef-recently-turned-bartender Ben de Champlain was playing on home soil with one huge advantage: it’s his menu.

 

When flavour pairing counts the most, it's not surprising that Ben created an inventive but simple cocktail list that incorporated some of the cooking elements and ingredients found in his three-course menu. Tequila, fennel braising liquid, lime juice, chilies, fennel & sherry bitters for his first; tequila, hibiscus syrup, homemade gingerbeer, lemon juice for his second; tequila and Green Chartreuse caramelized Mexican raw-sugar “Caipirhinia” with key limes for his third.

 

The winner announced

 

So, as I was explaining above, all the bartenders were anxiously awaiting the results from the ballots. Ray burst out of the office to announce that Ben wins by 0.2 points over the second place competitor!

 

Here’s what we learned from this past month’s competitors and guests: what makes the best food and cocktail pairing isn’t necessarily just the cocktail—it’s all in the connection. Ben was passionate and sincere in his storytelling. You could almost taste how badly he wanted the win. Ben’s cocktails had a behind-the-scenes story to do directly with the food menu and some heavy-duty regional inspiration.

 

He will go on to compete this month as France meets Courvoisier Cognac in a gorgeous marriage of French food, cocktails and culture.