Posts Tagged ‘The Refinery’

Cocktail Kitchen with Driftwood Beer at The Refinery

On May 11th I attended my first ever Cocktail Kitchen and for this one it was with a twist, this one was with Driftwood Beer mixed into a variety of cocktails. I had no idea what to expect, though I had heard many stories from friends about the various Cocktail Kitchen’s they attended at The Refinery in the past.

The format of the Cocktail Kitchen Series is that each month features a food theme and a spirit. For May, there was a Thai vegetarian menu designed by The Refinery’s Ben de Champlain that was up against Driftwood Brewery beer. The competing bartender had to create original cocktails to pair with each of the three dishes, using the featured beverage and one of The Refinery’s house bitters. Guests then rated the cocktails, the taste of their food pairings, and the bartender’s presentation.

Lauren Mote & Ben de Champlain of The Refinery were the hosts of the night.

Here is what Lauren and Ben of The Refinery served guests:

Driftwood Ale Amuse Cocktail

The Malteser - with Driftwood White Bark ale, ovaltine and bourbon

Thai Soup with coconut, mushrooms, galangai, chili and herbs

Pineapple Express with Driftwood Batog IPA, vodka, grapefruit bitters, lemongrass lemon drop

Thai Salad - mango, papaya, mint, coriander and citrus

Bark has Bite - with Driftwood Farmhand Ale, homemade root beer

Mussaman Curry - peanuts, pineapple, potato, longan, herbs

For a calendar of the next Cocktail Kitchen check here.

The Refinery is located at 1115 Granville Street, Vancouver

By: Richard Wolak

Best Foodie Events of 2009

I went to a lot of different food and wine events during 2009 and these are the standouts of the year.

1) Coast Restaurant Opening party was the best restaurant opening of the year.

2) Ocean Wise Seafood Chowder Chowdown was the most entertaining event at the coolest venue that brought together some of the cities best chefs and restaurants to support a great organization.

3)     A Night with Theo Chocolate was the most unique event of the year that brought together foodies and wine connoisseurs.

4)     A Night of Don Julio Tequilas was one of the most exciting consumer events that paired great food from the Goldfish Pacific Kitchen chefs.

5)     The Globe in your Glass one of the best wine events that brought together consumers and the twittering wine trade.

6)     Canada’s First Ever Beer Inspired Mixology Competition brought together some of the top Bartenders in the area in competition

7)     A Night of Urban Grains at Bishops was one of the most educational menu tasting events at a Vancouver restaurant that brought together some of Vancouver’s foodie media folk and the founders of Urban Grains.

By: Richard Wolak

Ocean Wise Seafood Chowder Chowdown

Andrew Christie (left & Matt Christie (right) of Go Fish

Andrew Christie (left & Matt Christie (right) of Go Fish

The 2nd Annual Ocean Wise Seafood Chowder Chowdown was a huge success at a great event hosted by the Vancouver Aquarium on November 25th. This sold out event saw hundreds of people sampling many or all of the ten chowders from BC’s top ten Ocean Wise restaurants from around the city and area, many of the chowders were paired with BC brews and the suggested beers were listed along each of the restaurants chowders.

Go Fish - Gold Winner - Smoked Corn & Scallop Chowder

Go Fish - Gold Winner - Smoked Corn & Scallop Chowder

Go Fish won Gold with their “Smoked Corn and Scallop Chowder”, Matt and his brother Andrew had cooked up a storm that night with a constant line-up of people who eagerly awaited the fresh seared scallops to top the chowder, this was a sight to be seen and it was worth the wait which I can attest too. The Refinery won Silver with their “Smoked Cod and Crab Chowder” by Chef Mike Carter and his team and Coast Restaurant won Bronze with their “BC Sea Urchin and Smoked Pacific Oyster Chowder” by Executive Chef Josh Wolfe and his team.

Chef Johnny Bridge of The Refinery

Chef Johnny Bridge of The Refinery, 2nd place win

Chefs from Coast Restaurant who won 3rd place

Chefs from Coast Restaurant who won 3rd place

The Judging panel included: Jamie Maw, Chef David Hawksworth, Chester Carey, Guy Dean, Kim Stockburn and Vancouver Canucks Willie Mitchell. Each of the judges were served a fairly good size portion of each of the chowders to taste and make their marks and notes.

Chef Matt (left) & his brother Andrew Christie (right) - Go Fish - cooking

Chef Matt (left) & his brother Andrew Christie (right) - Go Fish - cooking

Chef from the Vancouver Aquarium with their chowder

Chef from the Vancouver Aquarium with their chowder

Kurtis Lysholm - Phillips Brewery - pouring beer

Kurtis Lysholm - Phillips Brewery - pouring beer

Longboat Chocolate Porter poured for the Judges

Longboat Chocolate Porter poured for the Judges

Everyone who attended was able to cast their vote for their favourite chowder for the People’s Choice Award and the winner was O’Douls.

Chef Chris Whittaker - O'Doul's - People's Choice Award Winner

Chef Chris Whittaker - O'Doul's - People's Choice Award Winner

Ocean Wise is a program that was launched by the Vancouver Aquarium in 2005 to educate consumers on ocean-friendly seafood choices, this local initiative has become a national program, learn more at

Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts with their Calypso Chowder

Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts with their Calypso Chowder

The winning chowder from Go Fish was well paired with the Tree Brewing Cutthroat Pale Ale. In my opinion other beers that went over well included the Phillips Longboat Chocolate Porter and the Phillips Blue Buck.

I hope Go Fish will be adding Matt and Andrew’s Gold Winning Chowder to their menu, I can see another long line-up!

By: Richard Wolak

The Bean by Lauren Mote

Lauren Mote is a Bartender at The Refinery in Vancouver. After Lauren challenged some of her industry friends to name an ingredient or two which would make a great cocktail that she could create using the 2 ingredients as a bases for the drink and then add other ingredients which would add mystery and flavour I succumbed to the challenge. I suggested that she use Espresso and Cocoa Nibs, she sourced the nibs and concocted her beverage naming it “The Bean”.

The Bean

The Bean


Homemade Coffee Liquor with JJ Bean and Continental Espresso Beans

Homemade Chocolate Vermouth with organic French cocoa nibs


Fresh Espresso


Pairing Notes:

Lauren suggests the Chocolate Hazelnut Creme Brulee from The Refinery as her dessert of choice to pair with this drink.

Bartender: Kris Jensen

Kris Jensen of The Refinery in competition

Kris Jensen of The Refinery in competition

Kris Jensen is the Bartender at The Refinery downtown Vancouver. On August 17th he competed in the Whistler Brewing Mixologist Competition held at his bar.

His featured drink was called “Taco Bell”.


1.5 oz chipolte & ancho chili infused reposado tequila

3/4 oz lime juice

1 oz charred oak syrup

egg white

black tusk float (about 3 oz)

chipolte powder + dark chocolate shaving

The Mixologists Competition and the Lowdown

Kris Jensen of The Refinery in competition

Kris Jensen of The Refinery in competition

The Refinery in Vancouver was the host of “Canada’s First Ever Beer Inspired Mixology Competition” that was sponsored by The Whistler Brewing Company.  The event was held on Monday August 17th, here is the lowdown on what was required for each of the competitors.
1. The cocktail must incorporate 1 of the 5 fantastic beers from Whistler Brewing Company
2. Each participant received a 5-pack of different beers to experiment with
3. The day of the competition, each participant created their cocktail LIVE from behind THE REFINERY wood.
4. Each participant was required to bring their own ingredients – and Whistler Beer was provided!

Kris Jenson of The Refinery in front of the Judges

Kris Jenson of The Refinery in front of the Judges

This amazing team of Judges had to not only taste each of the 15 beer inspired beverages but pay attention to every single detail throughout the 3 hour competition.

The Judges were:

  1. Bruce Dean – The Whistler Brewing Company
  2. Andrew Morrison – Scout Magazine
  3. Joanne Sasvari – Vancouver Sun
  4. Rick Green – BC Brews
  5. Chester Carey – Certified Cicerone™

Photo credit: Richard Wolak

By: Richard Wolak

Winning Bartenders at Canada’s First Ever Mixology Competition

Colin Turner of Cin Cin (2nd Place Winner)

Colin Turner of Cin Cin (2nd Place Winner)

The Refinery in Vancouver was the host of “Canada’s First Ever Beer Inspired Mixology Competition” that was sponsored by The Whistler Brewing Company.  The event was held on Monday August 17th and there were 15 competitors representing bars and restaurants from around Vancouver and Victoria.

  1. Shaun Layton of George won in 1st place for his “Apres Fizz”.
  2. Colin Turner of Cin Cin took second place for “The Hybrid”.
  3. Kyle Lane of Regional Tasting Lounge took third for his highly creative Bubble Beer.

The point of the competition was to showcase 2 things, the first being that Vancouver (+surrounding areas) mixologists have created a dynamic community in which the sky is ultimately the limit for their creations; the second and what better then to use The Whistler Brewing Company beers as a catalyst to showcase this city’s talent in creating signature contemporary cocktails for such a unique competition. Lauren Mote of The Refinery was chief organizer of this amazing fete!

Photo credit: Richard Wolak

By: Richard Wolak

Interview with Mixologist Lauren Mote

The Refinery | Vancouver

Lauren Mote

What have you been working on lately?

Recently, I have been trying to perfect classic cocktail making techniques with my staff. The most important thing to me is being able to translate quality as well as history to each guest, in every aspect of the business. While the bar program is sound, I can focus on other things – trips to the Okanagan to prepare bar ingredients for the fall/winter, as well as accompanying our chef, Michael Carter, while he plans his upcoming menu changes, and gathers product from the valley as well to jar & pickle in house.
What are some current trends you’ve seen in the cocktail market?

There has been a large resurgence in classic cocktail culture, which excites me – only then, when my peers and I can perfect those techniques, can we then attempt to “raise the bar”. In bars right across Canada, barkeeps are becoming more – the humble bartender becomes a mixologist – flaunting his/her best skills and talents for others to learn from. The industry is becoming less about one individual making a difference, it’s now about building a team.
Which spirit is due for a renaissance?

Personally, I feel that whisky is making a renaissance, and has for a while. To me it’s a conceptual renaissance for consumers that order “vodka & soda” traditionally breaking outside of the box, and including spirits like whisky, gin, and rum into their drinking pleasures. There’s no lack of bartenders that can help those make the transition from a default vodka beverage to an extremely delicious, well balanced cocktail including one of the aforementioned spirits.
What’s the price point on your cocktails?

Our cocktails, at The Refinery range from $10 – $14. Based on the quality of the products, the amount of labour it takes to produce these products from scratch on a daily basis, and finally the time it takes our bartenders to carefully construct each cocktail, the price is quite reasonable. A $10 cocktail example comes from our vast repertoire of classic cocktails using good quality stock ingredients, and small amounts of housemade ingredients. A $14 cocktail example is the Charred Bourbon Sour, where many components of the cocktail are created daily, like the Charred American Oak & Caramelized Coconut Syrup, and the House Bitters.

What drew you to restaurants and in particular, to mixology?

I have been working with food and beverage since I was 14. I quickly added amateur cook, industry worker, and bartender to my resume. The important thing for me has always been the people – that includes guests and co-workers alike. My start in what we all define as “mixology” came when I was 23. I had just started Year 2 at the University of Toronto. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to start working the bar at Le Select Bistro in Toronto. While working at the bistro, I learned from several of the city’s best sommeliers, and Lachlan Dennis – the uber passionate Bar Manager. It was an infectious learning curve for me; I just couldn’t get enough knowledge. I was applying all I had learned about food, and food science on my own time, and wine & spirit tasting notes – this created a monster that I didn’t know existed. Eventually, in 2007, I moved to Vancouver; my lifestyle and industry outlook were immediately changed. I completed my Sommelier program, opened an online writing source – Poivre Media Co., and just put my head down, studied and worked away in some of the brightest places in Vancouver. It was serendipity.

What goes into creating a new cocktail? What inspires you?

I am inspired usually by just one thing – it could be an ingredient, a fact, or a feeling – the cocktail concept is always derived from passion. By nature, I am a very sensual person that needs to express my excitement about something through creation – there you have it. Everything is deconstructed – like a tasting note. It’s like taking apart an engine, examining the individual components, putting it back together again, and turning it on – only at this point can you see how each tiny addition can really effect the finished product.

What was your training like?

My training was riduclously informal. Most of it has come from studying it myself, followed by many dollars spent on trial and error! Now, I have all of the tools to make it right the first time, and I’m always so delighted when it works out!! Most people that do what I do have gone to great lengths – had wonderful opportunities to travel abroad and train with some exceptional mixologists, but I never grabbed chances like that. I had to make do with books.

Who are your mentors?

So many people, for so many reasons.

My staff. Left to their own devices they are well-oiled machines with so much talent. They’re hungry for knowledge, and keep me inspired to mentor them.

Chef JC Poirier inspire my continued love for food.

Sommeliers Jean-Jacques Quinsac, Sebastien Le Goff, and Iain Phillip inspire my continued love for wine.

MFK Fisher and Jeffery Steingarten inspire my continued love for writing.

Jennifer Hennessey, the ultimate leadership coach.

Mixologists’ Jay Jones and Frankie Solarik inspire my continued love for passionately creating cocktails, and setting “the bar” at its highest.

My cousins Eden & Aura Hertzog. Both bakers, both independent, both teachers, both passionate, and both successful.

Lastly my mother, Linda. She constantly tells me how proud she is.

What are some of the trends that you’ve been seeing in the country or in Vancouver specifically?

We are finally creating a supportive community; we will all reap the economic and social benefits of cooperation. I notice its impact in Vancouver, and on a recent trip to Toronto, I saw it forming – very exciting!

How busy is the bar at The Refinery?

We sold more cocktails in my first two weeks at The Refinery with our then new house cocktail list, then The Refinery sold in the 5 months previous to my start! We have become a destination during what seems like endless construction on Granville St, a recession, and during a time of redefining our neighbourhood – there has to be more to Granville Street then night clubs!!

If you weren’t a mixologist, what would you be doing?

I would likely try my hardest to own a farm/vineyard in southern France, make my own wine and spirits, and write books about how much I love my life.

By: Richard Wolak
photo credit: Tris Hussey

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