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Golden Era Cocktail Revival Gala, VCW2023

Tonight, the weeklong festivities of the second annual Vancouver Cocktail Week came to a climax. This is the Golden Era Cocktail Revival Gala, a celebration of libations held at one of Fairmont Hotel Vancouver’s opulent ballrooms. Guests were invited to dress in their best cocktail attire, so we came in period theme: 20’s-30’s in honour of the fall of Prohibition.

As taken from the event advertisement. “Raise your glass to the fall of Prohibition and enter the golden era of cocktails at an epic party that takes you on a glamorous journey through tipsy traditions. Throughout the ballroom—designed in 1939 and with more than 800 hours of hand-painted details—over 40 complimentary premium spirit bar stations featuring local bar stars and global brand ambassadors will offer drinks representing different eras in cocktail culture past and present.”

As VIPs we were given advance access to get the lay of the land and take some choice photos of the cocktails served in their intended glassware (before it was a plastic cup affair, towards the later parts of the evening). Here, we were able to mingle with international and national VIP guests while enjoying passed canapés and cocktails. The former saw the likes of fried coconut shrimp, salmon and lox, beets in a sesame cone, and ahi tuna on a crisp.

Guests snaked around the ball room visiting each branded drink station, where they offered up a unique cocktail for the night’s festivities. You were able to partake in whichever and how many you chose. They were so many vendors that try as I might, I was not able to get to them all, or capture them all. As the night progressed, the ballroom filled to capacity, the drinks flowed heavier, the music grew louder, and the guests got rowdier; myself included.

The following are a few of my favourite stand outs.

At the Brokers Gin booth a few lucky guests were able to pick up a bowler’s hat, in the same style that crowns their bottles. Here, you were able to enjoy a classic martini made as dry as you wanted it with your choice of olive, stuffed or otherwise. I had an extra dry gin martini with a blue cheese stuffed olive, while dawning my new hat, under the shade of one of their branded golf umbrellas.

One of the tastiest cocktails was from Luksusowa, where the bartender working the booth shared his flare for flamboyant mixing. He was serving this potato-based vodka with a lemongrass foam as a chase or to mix into the drink itself for a refreshing citrus spritz.

At the Canadian Club booth they added a little fire to their iced cocktail by way of a smoked lemon rind to finish.

Choya’s plum wine was so tasty that it didn’t really need much more. So, it was served straight up or as a snow cone with crushed ice, a pickled plum and edible flowers for garnish.

A little later in the night a self-serve buffet opened up in the adjacent room with three tables stockpiled with food. The first was a build your own charcuterie station with a curated selection of meat, cheese, and cold mezze.

Table number 2 took you under the sea with a buffet of seafood. Fresh oysters in the half shell, a mound of peel and chilled shrimp, a salmon tray that included smoked, sashimi, and candied salmon. And there was even lumpfish caviar on ice.

The last table was a mix of hot and cold Asian tapas. This included 4 different varieties of dumplings, a collection of maki and nigiri sushi, and chicken and beef on sticks.

And as guests filtered back and forth between food and drinks, they were able to cast their bids on the silent auction items that stretched down to hallway. All the proceeds were to support the BC Hospitality Foundation and its scholarship program.

And as the crown jewel of the night, guests were able to cheer on the finalists in the World Class Canada bartender competition during their live speed-round hour before the winner was announced for the 2023 Canadian Bartender of the Year.

In conclusion this is one of the best galas of this format I have attended to date. Everything was exuberantly opulent as the evening and occasion demanded. It was great to be able to hob knob with the industry and learn more about each sponsored liquor brand through taste. I will definitely be bookmarking this one for next year.

Vancouver cocktail week // March 5-11, 2023

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