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Laowai x Salmon Guru, VCW2024

Tonight I was back at Laowai for another guest bartender shift. 2 out of the 3 that I am covering for Vancouver Cocktail Week. This one featured Oscar and Vincent from Salmon Guru in Madrid, which is currently No. 14 on the World’s 50 Best Bars.

Hidden behind the facade of this inconspicuous Chinatown dumpling shop, they weren’t asking for the secret code words tonight, but letting guests in, in steams.

As a ticketed event, each entry included four Salmon Guru cocktails and a round of dumplings.

Once again I was able to perch myself at the bar to capture all the action. And I mean that literally as the two bartenders were full of zeal. They thanked guests for coming as they entered, were quick to strike a pose of photos, and had such great back and forth banter between one another and the folks at the bar.

The most memorable moment of the night was everyone joining in on a chorus of “What’s Up (What’s Going On)” by 4 Non Blondes. They certainly set the tone and mood for the night.

Our harmonious would be followed with a cheers and group shot of Mitchers, as the sponsored spirit of the night. 2 out of 4 of the cocktails tonight would be made featuring their bourbon.

We would try all the 4 listed cocktails and the special off menu item, in the order they were listed.

The Inspiration Paloma was a mix of Hereadura Silver Tequila with fresh basil, strawberry cordial, elderberry liqueur, and grapefruit soda. It was like an over done Paloma, watered down from over thinking. I felt they were taking an already popular cocktail and trying to make it unnecessarily elevated. Still tasty and we still finished it, but not my first choice.

The Ultramarino was my favourite cocktail of the night, as the most original. Hendricks gin, siete misterios mezcal, manzanilla wine, lime cordial, and rhubarb syrup. Served in a clay amphora submerged in seawater, as per the menu. You are advised to take a sip of the cocktail first, and then chase it with the crispy Parmesan chips garnish. It was sweet yet medical to start, with the salty parm changing it’s impression shortly after. Complex, salty, and savoury; I have not had a cocktail like this before.

At a close second was the Tropical Vieux Carré. A milk punch that didn’t look like much in the glass. Made from the traditional recipe of cognac, Mitchers rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, benedictine and bitters, mango, and hops. It smelled like herbal medicine and tastes like apricot, where the smell and taste don’t register the same. A cocktail that continues to develop and evolve the more you drink and the more you think. I got the hoppy-ness of beer the second time around, add the tropical essence of mango hit 30 seconds after.

The Tiempos Modernos was Mitchers Bourbon, sweet vermouth, amarena cherry syrup, and old fashioned bitters. So bold and son strong, a full body, syrupy rich cocktail that has you feeling the spirits right away. Like Guinness and cola’s offspring, very unique.

And the cocktail not listed on the menu, but available for those in the know, was tequila infused with cardamon, lemon juice, and ginger beer. Oscar said the goal is to mix it up so that the thinly sliced cucumber curl falls to the bottom of the glass and flavours the rest of the mix. A very citrus forward cocktail, this one is great as a refreshing chase, and to be paired with food. Punchy flavours that leaves you feeling your spirit.

And you can’t visit Laowai without having an order of dumplings. Tonight that would be the Zhong Dumplings from Sichuan. Pork dumplings in a Sichuan chili oil and house-made aromatic soy. Bold and gamey this dense dumpling was not missing any seasonings, on the saltier side to pair well with drinks.

In short another guest bartender series from Laowai that did not disappoint. Can’t wait to be back tomorrow for the next one.

251 East Georgia Street, Vancouver, BC V6A 176

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