A TOUCH OF class IN YOUR GLASS

These days, the whiskey cocktail is the Whistler gentleman's libation of choice

by VINCE SHULEY

WHETHER YOU ARE A SINGLE-MALT ROOKIE looking for an alternative to beer or you've just finished watching the latest season of Mad Men, no spirit cements class and sophistication quite like whiskey.

Beer may be the contemporary man's preferred libation, but whiskey cocktails are making a comeback. Sipping a neat, single malt may not be everyone's idea of a refreshing après-ski drink, but whipping up a mix of ice and flavours will make your whiskey experience all the more memorable.

Luckily, the bar scene in Whistler has some skilled mixologists shaking and stirring through the après hour and long into the night. Whenever your preferred cocktail hour is, make it a classy one.

BRANDY'S BAR | OLD FASHIONED

Few cocktails can list a longer heritage than the Old Fashioned. A simple addition of a sweet reduction, Angostura bitters, an orange slice and some garnishing cherries have made this a favourite gentleman's drink for centuries.

It's now making a comeback at Brandy's as younger drinkers look for a more gentle introduction to single malts. Like blue jeans, the Old Fashioned is a cocktail that will always be a staple.

Brandy's has a reputation for being one of Whistler's most favoured local hang-outs, partially due to its grandfathered liquor license allowing it to stay open until 2 a.m. It's a great place to sit down, take in a hockey game and grab a bite to eat while you enjoy your cocktail.

Old Fashioned
2 oz Woodford Reserve Bourbon Whiskey
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
1 orange slice1 splash of cherry reduction (made in-house at Brandy's with cinnamon, clove and orange rind flavours)
Garnish with drunken cherries

FIFTY TWO 80 BAR, FOUR SEASONS RESORT | CEDAR SMOKE ROB ROY

There are few bars in Whistler that can boast the class of Fifty Two 80. A spacious lounge with leather club chairs, a glowing fireplace and bar stocked with some of the finest liquor that money can buy. Barman and mixologist Cam Coull has been working on a new cocktail for the winter season that will engage all the senses — the Cedar Smoke Rob Roy.

It all starts with the Scotch. A single- malt is aged for several weeks in a five- litre, port-infused barrel, before being poured into a specialty float glass (made by Vancouver's Molo Design). A sweet vermouth is added, as well as a couple dashes of house-made bitters. An ice sphere cools the concoction by melting very slowly and minimizing dilution.

Lastly, a glass disk is placed on top and cedar smoke is injected into the vacant space of the glass, forming an icy cloud and infusing the cocktail with smoky undertones.

"It's trying to get all the senses involved," says Coull. "The guest is getting the visuals from the floating glass, the smell as the server lifts the lid and the smoke pours out, as well as the taste of all the combined flavours." The Cedar Smoke Rob Roy will be Fifty Two 80's signature creation this winter, a sensory experience that will warm you from head to toe after your day of skiing.

Rob Roy
2 oz Scotch Whiskey
Splash of Carpano sweet Vermouth
Splash of house-made bitters
Garnish with maraschino cherries

IL CAMINETTO DI UMBERTO | BOURBON BLUSH

Il Caminetto is one of the longest-standing businesses in Whistler, having served one of the finest Italian dining experiences in town since the early '80s. Genuine Tuscan cuisine and an extensive wine list are what draw most people into this softly lit yet colourful atmosphere, but the bar zone — complete with grand piano and resident pianist Doc Fingers — has a more casual appeal. The cocktail list is much like the food menu; traditional recipes with the finest ingredients.

For an early-spring refreshment, try a Bourbon Blush on the sunny Il Caminetto patio as you watch visitors mill to and from the mountain. Jim Beam bourbon has the perfect sweetness to compliment the fresh strawberries, all over a high ball full of ice and topped up with Sprite. There is no better way to enjoy whiskey on a sunny, spring afternoon.

Bourbon Blush
2 oz Jim Beam Bourbon Whiskey
Fresh strawberries
Top with Sprite

TOMMY AFRICA'S | TOMMY MANHATTAN

Occasionally, a gentleman likes to let loose. Lounges and bars may be a good warm-up, but for special occasions that warrant a big night out, sometimes there is no better cure than bringing the party underground. As one of Whistler's original nightclub venues, Tommy Africa's has a reputation for showcasing the biggest names in electronic dance music from its iconic glass DJ booth. The legendasry '80s Night has been going every Monday since 1996, playing the cheesiest hits from a decorated decade.

The cocktail of choice for the discerning drinker at Tommy's is a take on another one of the classics — the Manhattan. To keep it easy drinking, the Tommy Manhattan uses Jack Daniel's Gentleman Jack, substitutes cherry juice for sweet vermouth (to reduce sweetness slightly) and is served in a low-ball glass over ice. After all, you don't want your cocktail to impede your dance moves.

Tommy Manhattan
2 oz Gentleman's Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey
Dash of cherry juice (in place of sweet vermouth)
Dash of Angostura bitters

Old Fashioned
Photo: BONNY MAKAREWICZ, www.picturewhistler.com