Stepping out of the rain and into Clive’s Classic Lounge, the super-cozy getaway just off the lobby of the Chateau Victoria Hotel, one feels well protected from the elements.
Upon glancing through their significant cocktail menu, largely assembled by bar manager Jayce Kadyschuk, it’s quickly clear that many natural elements lie just behind the bar. “I like using food elements, so we try to build cocktails with spirits that work well with that,” he says.
The lounge’s cocktail menu is laid out in common sense style, with more “approachable” drinks in the Bright and Fresh section, those with a little more depth and complexity under Herbal and Complex, and more liquor-forward cocktails listed under Bold and Pure.
I select the Deep Dark Woods, which uses a base of McClelland’s Islay scotch and stump gin, with green chartreuse and Abano Amaro liqueur to balance it out. Lovely and smooth, and the cedar smoked glass (ask for one!) adds another complex and interesting element.
Monday publisher Ruby Della Siega dove into a Maccha Sour (Herbal and Complex), a fresh combination of Sheringham Kazuki gin, Zuiyo junmai-sake, Strega Italian liqueur, lemon juice, house-made maccha syrup and egg white. Ruby describes it as “interesting and zingy.”
Celebrations at Clive’s this year have included a 10th anniversary and being named a finalist in the Tales of the Cocktail competition in New Orleans. “It’s the the biggest bar event on the planet and just to be nominated is something special,” Kadyschuk said.
Starting Nov. 16, an updated menu will take effect. But Kadyschuk said patrons shouldn’t expect a complete rehashing of the drinks on offer. “We’ve been having fun playing with some things for fall, like some hot drinks, and more seasonal ingredients.”
Let’s hear more from Jayce:
Your claim to fame/best up-the-sleeve trick or technique? I’d say our off-the-cuff cocktails created on the spot. We base the cocktail on a quick conversation and a few questions to find out what direction to go in to make a unique cocktail creation for the guest
What’s hot right now? Environmental awareness in bartending and providing a safe, respectful space for guests of all walks of life. These are not just local trends, the international bar community is taking action towards our environmental impact, and communicating values that honour and respect each individual who chooses to enjoy the cocktail experience we aim to provide.
What traits make a good bartender? A good bartender does more than just make a good cocktail, they create a unique memorable experience by reading their bar guests to understand how to create that experience.
What’s your signature drink? The first cocktail I created that found international attention was back in 2013 with “Coffee & Cigarettes,” a scotch-based cocktail with cold brew coffee, amaro and chocolate bitters. It ended up being printed in a number of international publications, including Gaz Regan’s 101 Best Cocktails.
What are you drinking these days? Vermouth, Amaro, Sherry and Port. Loving the low ABV approach to drinking when I do make it out and saddle up at a bar. Low ABV base twists on classics is what I’ve been into lately.
Best memory from behind the bar? A few years ago for my birthday, rather than take the night off to celebrate, I invited a long-time bartender friend from out-of-town to guest bartend with me at Clive’s. We created a feature cocktail menu for the night where all of the drinks catered to my personal taste. A lot of great friends and Clive’s regulars came by, and it was a revolving door of good people at the bar. The best part was being able to celebrate doing what I love on my birthday.
Clive’s Classic Lounge
Chateau Victoria, 740 Burdett Ave.
READ other recent Behind Bars features:
Learning about the versatility and nuanced flavours of sake
Variety the name of the game at The Churchill
People’s Choice winner back for Art of the Cocktail