Art of the Cocktail, the Victoria Film Festival’s annual fundraiser, came to a close following the Victoria Spirits Best of the Pacific Northwest bartending competition.
The competition, which took place at the Vic Theatre, had seven bartenders competing for the coveted title. Following a written test and a blind tasting, the competitors made their mushroom-themed cocktails. Although the competition was stiff, long-time competitor Brendan Brewster, bartender at Clive’s Classic Lounge, took home the title with his cocktail Pitter Patter Let’s Get At ‘Er, which was served in a portabello “cup”.
The Grand Tasting, which took place at the Crystal Garden on Oct 24, welcomed more than 800 attendees to sample a selection from distilleries, spirit brands and local Victoria restaurants. Highlighting BC’s growing number of distilleries, eleven BC distilleries were featured at the Grand Tasting, as well as being available for purchase at the Cascadia store which was on-site.
Most popular cocktail of the evening went to Little Jumbo’s Domini-Kentucky Autumn. Little Jumbo’s Bar Manager Nate Caudle is a two-time past winner of the Best of the Pacific Northwest competition. The runner-up went to the Churchill’s Stone Sour cocktail.
Another new addition to this year’s Grand Tasting was carnival games throughout the Grand Tasting. With cocktail-themed classic games like Lime in the Coconut, Pin the Cork on the Bottle, All the Olives, and the popular Harbour Air Seaplane Toss, there were a variety of prizes to be won, from popcorn and tickets to the Vic Theatre, Victoria Film Festival t-shirts, a 2016 Film Pass and two tickets to a Harbour Air scenic tour.
“It’s a sparkling evening and a chance to what’s new on the cocktail scene. Between the booming BC distilleries, local restaurants and games, it’s an event that people describe to me as their favourite,” said Kathy Kay, Director of Art of the Cocktail and the Victoria Film Festival.
The seminars took place Sunday afternoon at the Parkside Hotel.
Meet the Island Makers brought together a panel of five Vancouver Island distillers to discuss the history of their spirits and distilling process. Moderator Tan Vinh from the Seattle Times also teased out stories of failed attempts from the distillers, as well as future spirit hopes. Lucky participants got an insider’s look and taste of yet to be released spirits.
Cheese is not just for wine anymore as we discovered in Cheese, Please! Daniele Mereu demonstrated the great partnership of 6 classic cocktails with 8 cheeses as participants discovered how fabulous Canadian fromage is, including one overwhelmed taster who couldn’t help but burst out loud “Jesus, this is good”. Lori Palmiere from Dairy Farmers of Canada gave an in-depth look into the process and ingredients.