I have only recently discovered Archer, and after trying and enjoying their brunch options, I was excited to be back now for their new Happy Hour offerings. This wound also serve as way to gauge their regular menu. And to celebrate this new edition they have 5 new cocktails worth trying. Well crafted spirited drinks, that at the time, we were but a handful of the first guests to be able to try them all.
Prepared to order at their artisanal bar, the whole cocktail is an experience from the leggy stemware to the subtle fragrances, the specialty tinctures, and just the conception of the drink itself.
We were able to try all 5 and they are as follows. In writing this I attempted to find a favourite and the one I would recommend if you can only pick one, but in truth, they are all so great and each has its own personality. So you best come in a group to try them all yourself.
The Espresso Love is their take on an espresso martini with vanilla vodka, kahlua, disaronno, espresso, and tonic. It is light with the sweeter side of coffee coming through. I found it like a drinkable dessert within its creamy mouth-feel.
The Perfect Matcha is a fun one with its unique use of the slightly bitter matcha powder and its dual colours of green and orange coming together. Although the look is less desirable when you stir things up to mix the cocktail before drinking. Cazadorez Reposado, sombra mezcal, grapefruit, and matcha. It comes across as smokey on the nose with a citrusy fresh finish.
The Suikarita was the most memorable. When we all saw it we thought the server has mistaken the order. This did not look like a traditional watermelon margarita, but instead a clear glass of water. In reality this was Cazadorez Reposado, watermelon, triple sec, lime, and milk; where the lot of it was given a clarified clean milk wash. I found it tasted like a spiked soda water with a hint of watermelon. Others said it was more like the jolly rancher candy. But all of us agreed that it was a subtle cocktail that’s you could easily go back for more of, one after another, or a couple.
The Lavender Yuzu Spritz was a stunning one in its tall sleek flute. Empress gin, lavender, Yuzu, and lemon. A nice fizzy cocktail that is floral forward, with the essence of lavender coming through in a perfume over the glass.
If you are looking for the strongest out of the lot, that would be the Kami Hikoki. Suntory Toki, averna, honey, lemon, and egg whites. It reminded me of a stiffer whisky sour, full-bodied it warms your throughout, ending clean and slightly sweet on the palate.
And now that we have all the drinks covered, time to move on to the snacks to pair with them. Here, we also got to try the entire happy hour food menu. The following menu is only available between 2:00-5:00pm with last call for food at 4:30pm.
The Blossom Enoki had a stunning presentation and was a good plate to help set the tone and expectations on what was to follow. Yuzu kosho aioli, togorashi, and chives. You could smell the deep fry as the plate was walked over to our table. A mouth watering scent that was clean and fresh, transitioning well into the taste of the dish. This was a creative and fun take on an onion blossom, and a lot more tastier too, in my opinion.
The Chicken Karaage is a classic on most Pacific Northwest menus. So what sets Archer’s version apart, aside from the precision placed perfect plating? That would be the quality of white chicken meat featured, its thick and even breading, plus the clean oil used to fried each nugget so that they are thick and juicy without any residual oil or grease. And then finishing it with some black garlic aioli and sesame seeds for a smooth creamy finish and an Asian flavour twist.
The Petit-Pois Croquette is like a deep fried mashed potato ball with the flavours of a samosa, and the texture of gummy mochi. A new experience at every bite with curry potato, spiced yogurt, and pickled onion.
The Charcoal Bao was a looker. A dark steamed bun as apposed the typical while ones coifed with edible gold leaf. Inside, bbq glazed pork belly, crushed peanuts, and pickled fresno. Despite the decadence of a chewy bun and sticky glazed caramelized meat, this did not eat heavy. It also has great depth with just a hint of spice from chilies, balanced out by the fresh green herbs.
I like the fall-of-theabone Sticky Beef Ribs in black vinegar with puffed wild rice and herbs. It has a sweet tang and smokey caramelized ends that is the best to enjoy with your bare hands.
And there aren’t too many happy hour menus that feature Local Oysters, but Archer does, and they serve it with a red wine mignonette and horseradish. Depending on the season your oysters can be briny or sweet, although it is the sauces that make all the difference.
And seeing we were here and our time began transitions into their dinner service, we had to try a few of their more popular items from of odd that menu too.
The Tuna Crudo was a simple and sweet starter. It ate as light and lean as a salad would especially with the juicy fruit, just without any greens. Dashi vinaigrette, citrus pearls, togarashi, and rice cracker.
I loved the Burrata, especially smeared over their perfectly toasted slices of sourdough. This creamy cheese was served dressed in heirloom tomato, aged balsamic, and extra virgin olive oil. The Burrata was silky, lush, and easily spreadable. I practically ate a whole serving myself. The whole assembly was simple, but delicious. The tomato offered sweetness and the decorative butter biscuit a nice salty crisp.
And because one round of oysters isn’t enough, because they are known for their Smoked Oysters, we had to order a couple of bowls. Served in a fishbowl that is engulfed with a flavoured smoke, this is not only a dish, but a show as well. Once brought to the table, the bowl is un-cloched allowing the smoke to plume and release, uncovering a whole new presentation.
Behind the smoke, each oyster is gingerly resting on rocks, amongst wood chips. Each already dressed in a
herb crust with pickled shallots, ikura, and citrus pearls. A much different experience from the raw oysters above. These were so luxuriously topped, although in doing so you do loose much of the actual taste of the oysters, and instead have it as a base for everything else more exiting.
In short, I can confirm that Archer is a great spot for happy hour. So come in and enjoy delicious drink and food to start as appetizer, and stay for dinner and their regular, highly celebrated menu after.
1152 Alberni St, Vancouver, BC V6E 1A5