Words: Henry Yuen
Imagination and creativity are the backbones behind every new dish constructed by chefs, regardless of the cuisine and the local ingredients available. They often tweak the dishes to search for flavour uniqueness. This is no difference when it comes to creating smashing cocktails!
These days, an integral job of the bar mangers, or “Mixologist” or “Drink Directors”, is to create new cocktails by mixing and matching available ingredients. Sure they don’t mind following the exact recipes traditional cocktails since they are no brainers, but the urge to create some amazing drinks that provide that “wow” factor is the given chance to grasp that artistic instinct mixologists possess and the result is always yummy.
The bar program at Earls is one successful example judging by the number of cocktails on most tables, not to mention that they are now featuring $5 cocktails this whole summer (Sunday to Thursday) nights! Diners seem to embrace the starter drinks and cocktails are taking centre stage. Those colourful; delicious cocktails tend to liven up the atmosphere to another level. I tried and enjoyed the “Mad Hatter” very much. This drink belongs to the creative cocktail category and the creativity is well-presented by serving it in a teapot with dry ice inside. The “pot” of cocktail is delivered to our table with foggy smokes escaping the lid; more smoked accompanied the liquid emitted through the sprout when poured into the glass. It’s a delightful and mighty refreshing drink of Smirnoff Vodka, pear, black tea, lime leaf and coconut water; how dramatic! The black tea adds a profound South East Asian mood to this cocktail. Interestingly, Mad Hatter is a good fit with the hot and fluffy BBQ buns served in a bamboo basket. They both get a 10 for visual effect and flavour from me for sure.
At Cactus Club Café, their 98 Days of Summer Cocktails program is in full swing. According to bar operation manager, Sam Zavari, “guest can enjoy these refreshing cocktails which include the Watermelon Margarita and the Sunset Soda throughout the summer”. The focus of the their cocktails is summer's favourite flavours and this year the cocktails feature watermelon and peach. Summer, watermelon and juice-dripping fruits do go hand-in-hand teamwork to fight the heat, more so these days when the sun is scorching and our bodies particularly crave for watermelon. “Fresh watermelon is a summer staple and the ultimate refresher on hot summer days. The bartenders are juicing twice daily which ensures optimal freshness and flavour.” Other cocktail creations include the Sunset Soda which is made with Smirnoff Orange Vodka; and the Watermelon Margarita made with Cuervo Gold Tequila.
Recommend bites to make the cocktail sipping more enjoyable are fresh seafood, light and uplifting such as Rob Feenie signature ceviche with Ocean Wise Lois Lake steelhead and sustainably harvested prawns. There are always the ever popular Tuna Tataki and Fish Tacos - good excuses to go grab a table and cocktail drinks.
The “Super Drinks” and Crafted Slush at Joey have been gaining momentum as the full-blown west coast sun decides to stay on. Take the Stiff Lemonade for instance, made with Pearl Vodka, fresh lemon-lime slush and limoncello liqueur, is the great escape under the hot sun. The Blueberry Mojito, with muddled blueberries, fresh lime juice and the must -- mint leaves is so fruity and inviting, it tingles away the summer heat like a garden breeze. Sip this with the Japanese dumplings served with hot mustards, you would end up ordering more of each.