Tug Eatery cocktails

Behind Bars with Tug Eatery

Inner Harbour restaurant serves up a twist on tea time

  • Aug. 18, 2021 7:30 a.m.

Victoria is world renowned for its well-deserved tea time reputation. Nothing new there, nothing you didn’t already know…

But when the Monday Magazine taste testers discovered this new, must-try tea time, gone were any assumptions that this is a staid, old-school practice.

Yes, readers, Victoria’s newest and possibly most creative tea time can be found on Swift Street in the Mermaid building at Tug Eatery.

Envision your grandmother’s china set, antique silver-clad tea pot with a twist: gin! Another English tradition that fits in just fine with Victoria’s classy culture. (More on the gin, later…)

Tug takes its nautical name from the fact that it is perched on the Inner Harbour and guests have the perfect view to see the comings and goings of water traffic from the wall of windows. The bar at Tug sports ship portholes, sturdy wood-plank walls balanced with a black industrial-style exposed ceiling.

Great ambience and definitely not the tea palaces you’ve visited before.

Back to the gin…

Bar manager Tyler Dalling was our host and he recommended the top-selling cocktails his patrons favour, such as the blue-green “Mermaid Tears.” Besides being one of the best-named drinks our tasters have ever come across, it sports the gin plus kombucha made from Babe’s Honey Farm. The fresh lemon and ice make for a great patio sipper.

And the show stopper? Tea Time was served up in a classic china cup with a pattern called Old Country Roses. For the record, the drink indeed includes black tea as the base along with Empress Gin, St. Germain Elderflower Liquor, vanilla and a little fresh lemon.

And if you bring a few friends, they’ll serve Tea Time up in an antique silver tea pot and you’ll have yourselves a lovely little tea party.

Let’s hear what Tyler Dalling has to say:

Your claim to fame/best up-the-sleeve trick or technique? It’s gotta be that winning smile—something that hasn’t worked out very well during COVID.

What’s hot right now? Aside from the weather? Classic cocktails like the Last Word or 20th Century are making a huge comeback right now; but what I feel most people are looking for in the summer months are easy-drinking and refreshing beverages like a fresh gin smash.

What traits make a good bartender? Creativity and passion. The passion to play around with cool and interesting spirits/liqueurs, and the creativity to throw it all together and see what works. Of course, having a good palate never hurts.

What’s your signature drink? Maybe not my signature, but the one that I have the most love for would be the January Embers—a tribute to both my favourite time of year and love of classic Stephen King. The scotch in the cocktail really is reminiscent of cuddling up by the fire, and the cranberry and thyme are perfect representations of the holiday season.

What are you drinking these days? I’m a big fan of elegance in simplicity. My go-to drink these days is Hendrick’s gin with fresh grapefruit juice and soda water. Nothing is more refreshing after a long hot shift.

Best memory from behind the bar? All of my best memories from behind the bar are without a doubt all of the amazing and unique people I’ve worked with over the years. No industry builds camaraderie like the service industry, and the friendships I’ve made working in bars and restaurants are highlights of my life.

Food and Drink