Lead bartender Ryan Broekhuizen, flanked by cook Brad Eades, left, and bartender Soren Schepkowski, keeps things fresh behind the bar at Clarke & Co. Don Descoteau/Monday Magazine

BEHIND BARS: Creating concoctions on a little corner of Victoria’s downtown

Cocktail whiz Ryan Broekhuizen and the bar team at tiny Clarke & Co. great multi-taskers

The space at the northwest corner of Blanshard and Broughton streets has gone through a few iterations in recent years.

But Clarke & Co., a cozy little bar where you instantly feel at home upon being greeted by the staff, is building a following with great service, a modest-sized but interesting food and beverage menu and well-versed bartenders, like bar lead Ryan Broekhuizen, on the job here nine months after managing other local bars.

On this night, Ryan makes Monday publisher Ruby Della Siega and myself a pair of cocktails, one a Maple Butter Smoked Old-Fashioned, that features, among other ingredients, a syrup made using Dark Matter beer from Hoyne. He starts by torching a chunk of wood on the bar to the smoking point, then sitting the glass over it. A simple, but cool step that makes this beverage unique.

The finished product is smooth and goes down easy. Ryan tells us this cocktail was one of the first on the Clark & Co. menu and it remains today, with minor variations.

The other drink, a Balkan Market, is a sour not on the menu (Ryan keeps a book behind the bar for writing ingredients in). With Chilean pisco and Slivovitz plum brandy among ingredients, this two-parts-citrus/one-part-sweetness drink has a frothy finish that yields a yummy pre-show cocktail, says Ruby, who soon dashes off to the opera across the street at the Royal Theatre.

So here’s more from Ryan:

Your claim to fame/best up-the-sleeve trick or technique?

I would say I’m best known for my egg white cocktails/sours. Anything from a classic Pisco or Bourbon Sour to the more obscure cocktails like my Negroni Fizz.

What’s hot right now?

I am seeing more and more low ABV (alcohol by volume) cocktails. With our guest becoming more educated, they are starting to know what Amaros and good apperitifs are. Cocktails with Montenegro, Aperol, Campari etc.

What traits make a good bartender?

From my experience, I would say multi-tasking and being able to work a full room. Some bartenders get lost in the process and forget about the big picture and their guest.

What’s your signature drink?

I’ve had a cocktail called the Modern Royale on every cocktail menu I’ve put together, with a few variations here and there. Most recent iteration is Dry London Gin, St. German Elderflower, Crème de Violette, Citrus, Lavender and Egg White.

What are you drinking these days?

Ask any one and they would say I only drink Negronis … I do like a good bourbon neat from time to time though.

Best memory from behind the bar?

I would say my first shift behind a bar. I was serving at a local restaurant when our bar manager walked out in a busy Friday. Our manager had asked the team if anyone knew how to pour a drink. I previously had some banquet bartending experience, so I raised my hand. Not knowing any of the recipes, I had to make everything off the cuff or improvise a new cocktail. From that point on I was hooked and it was really the start of my career. Who wouldn’t love such a creative job?

——-

Clarke & Co.

1002 Blanshard St. 250-677-5909

facebook.com/victoriacocktails

ALSO CHECK OUT:

Waterfront bar will Lure you in

Time to get your Glo on

Steppin’ out at Veneto

Tales of the cocktail unveiled: Zambri’s

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID Creations opens at the Art Gallery

Rental and sales exhibition features works by 34 local artists

Daniel Lapp’s West Coast Kitchen Party

Join BC’s highly renowned fiddler and folk artist Daniel Lapp for a… Continue reading

Emily Carr show wraps up Canadian Tour at Royal BC Museum

Fresh Seeing opens with exclusive addition of T’anuu

Antimatter festival adapts

Hybrid model brings 100 films

Toronto poet Robert Priest is presenting an online reading on Oct. 24. (Photo courtesy Allen Booth)
Nanaimo spoken word society presents online reading by prolific Toronto poet

Robert Priest to dip into 40-year catalogue for upcoming Zoom reading

Nanaimo singer Elise Boulanger releases her new single, ‘Cigarettes et rosé’ on Oct. 11. (Photo courtesy Laura Baldwinson)
Nanaimo singer releasing new single inspired by overheard conversations

Elise Boulanger to unveil ‘Cigarettes et rosé,’ accompanying ukulele tutorial video to come

Lee Porteous will be one of the performers at the Duncan Showroom’s storytelling event later this month. (Photo Submitted)
Duncan Showroom hosts storytellers series

Monthly shows will be broadcast live on YouTube

The 2020 City of Victoria Youth Poet Laureate Neko Smart will give up her seat for the next young poet in January. (Contributed/ Jeremy Loveday)
Nominations open for Victoria’s 2021 Youth Poet Laureate

Honourary one-year term reserved for region’s emerging poets

Joëlle Rabu and Nico Rhodes present No Regrets, a live-streamed and in-person show featuring the songs of French singer Édith Piaf at the Port Theatre on Oct. 17. (Photo courtesy Vital Image)
Nanaimo mother-son duo pay tribute to Édith Piaf in Nanaimo

Vocalist Joëlle Rabu and pianist and arranger Nico Rhodes present ‘No Regrets’ show Oct. 17

Local poets Ian Cognito and Pat Smekal are releasing their latest collection, ‘Old Bones and Battered Bookends.’ (Photo courtesy Literacy Central Vancouver Island/Image by Jacques Gamelin)
Nanaimo area poets release anthology on aging

Ian Cognito and Pat Smekal present ‘Old Bones and Battered Bookends’

The Arts Alive sculpture Winds of Time by Linda Lindsay which sat in front of the Pharmasave on Oak Bay Avenue in 2019 has been purchased anonymously and will be mounted in the King George Terrace parking lot. (Photo from OakBay.ca)
Winds of Time breezes onto Oak Bay lookout

Donor bought Arts Alive sculpture for Oak Bay lookout

Vancouver Island Regional Library presents reading by Saskatchewan poet laureate

Bruce Rice will read from new book about a photographer who found posthumous success

Most Read