I recently had the luxury of going to Seattle and it put me in mind of comparison. How does Victoria stack up?
Vancouver bartender Jamie Boudreau hightailed it down there with varying degrees of success until he opened his own place, Canon. I decided to try the new hot spot in the Pike Place Market, Radiator.
Perusing the whiskey miscellaneous list was a blast. So many I hadn’t tried but I kept on track and went for cocktails, including The Water Line: rye, Aquavit, Cynar, cointreau and bitters. A unique combination that upon first sip spoke of maple syrup. Say what? Not what I was expecting at all but then I’d been a sloppy thinker – the Black Walnut bitters, of course. Perhaps the drink was a riff on the Trident with a Templeton rye switch and like that drink, the bitters seem to bring all the flavours together and add a pleasurable peak note.
I wasn’t as lucky with my next pick, a Renegade. The Buffalo Trace does overpower the Del Maguey and yellow chartreuse is barely noticeable except for imparting a syrupy mouth feel.
Radiator has an unusual menu known for serving a pig’s head but I went with chicken livers with a thick corn flake breading which had only a minimal invasion by the liver.
It’s in a subversive-type of location, hidden inside a building, beside the market. I enjoyed the energy and the cocktails and this will be on my list of places to visit when I’m in town, but I certainly think some of Victoria’s craft cocktail bars hold their own and have their own undeniable unique spirit.