Interview with Colin Turner

Colin Turner - CinCin in Vancouver

Colin Turner - CinCin in Vancouver

CinCin | Vancouver

I understand you won 2nd place in Canada’s first ever Beer Mixology Competition held at The Refinery on August 17, 2009.

Yes, what a fantastic competition! I had such a great time, and really enjoyed the opportunity to talk about the cocktail as I was making it. Whistler Beer and Lauren Mote of the Refinery did a terrific job in organizing the event and bringing everyone together.

Would you consider yourself a Bartender or a Mixologist or both? And why?

I’ve always considered myself to be a bartender.

Mixology is just one part of the job.  Bartending involves a lot of different skills.  All the way from entertaining my guests, ordering enough product, teaching my younger staff and running the day to day operations of my bar.

To myself, mixology, or the art of making drinks is a very important part of the job, but it is not a title I like to use.

How long did it take you to create your cocktail for the Mixology Competition? And how did you go about sourcing the ingredients?

About 4 days from concept to finished product. I sourced the ingredients from my bar and kitchen.

Describe the cocktail you created including the ingredients for the 2009 Whistler Beer Mixology Competition that was recently held in Vancouver.

We were all tasked to design a cocktail using one of Whistler’s beers, an interesting challenge, as you wouldn’t usually combine the two. Many times, guests at my bar have a hard time choosing between having a beer or having a cocktail. With the drink that I created—the Hybrid—they get the best of both worlds.

Here’s the recipe:

The Hybrid

2 oz Beniamino Moscato Grappa

1 oz Dubbonet

.5 oz House made Clove and all spice syrup

½ orange peeled

6 oz Whistler Weiss Beer

Beer Foam


In a shaker muddle orange and add liquor and syrup

Add ice and Shake.

Double strain mix into a tall beer glass filled with ice.  Add Whistler Weiss Beer.

Add beer foam on top.


200 grams clove

200 grams Jamaican all spice

500 ml water

500 ml organic cane sugar

Boil for 15-20 minutes.  When the mixture reduces to 250 ml,

Remove clove and all spice

Add organic cane sugar and allow to cool

Beer Foam:

1 L Whistler Weiss Beer

200 ml organic cane sugar

6 sheets gelatin

Heat beer and reduce to 800 ml

Add sugar and add gelatin

Allow to cool and pour mixture into 1L ISI Whip Container

Use 3-4 whip chargers

Keep cold

What was your training like and how long have you been a leader in this industry?

Most of my training has been on the job.  I began as a Bar Porter nearly 20 years ago and eventually worked my way up to bartender. I’ve now been managing bars for over 10 years, with the past three years as the Bar Manager at CinCin. I’ve love experimenting with different combinations and creating exciting drinks using some great products. Vancouver has such a vibrant bartending community, and I love being a part of it. I’ve learned a lot from my peers, and am always reading, researching and most importantly, tasting and experimenting, to expand my knowledge.

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

I love being behind the bar. I enjoy the constant challenge of matching each guest’s unique tastes to a suitable cocktail, wine, or beer. When you get it right—really right—it’s the best feeling in the world.

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

I draw my inspiration from many places. It could be a new product that comes available, something I’ve seen or tasted, or a just a new combination of ingredients that I’m experimenting with. By just experimenting with different flavour combinations, you’re bound to stumble upon something that works. At least eventually!

The overall concept comes first. The serving vessel, seasonality, availability of ingredients, colour, and audience are just a few of the things that come into play. I usually take one step at a time, mixing small amounts of the ingredients first to taste if they compliment one another. If I like the combination, I keep going. I usually end of making the cocktail three or four times to adjust the precise amounts of each ingredient and balance the flavours.

What are some current trends you’ve seen in the cocktail market?

We’ve seen a lot of trends come and go. Usually very quickly. Vancouver’s cocktail culture is a little different in that the level of talent is extremely high. There’s a huge commitment to quality cocktails, with bartenders continually pushing the envelope of the cocktail culture.

We’re seeing a resurgence of classic cocktails, and those incorporating spirits such as whiskey and bourbon, rather than gin and vodka, one trend I’m sure will stay for a very long time.

The other thing I’m noticing is that our guests are much more knowledgeable. They are far more versed in product knowledge, and often know the flavour profiles of each brand and which one they would like used in their cocktails.

Oh, and cocktail competitions!

Who are your mentors?

David Wolowidnik from West for his passion, talent and endless creativity.

Chef Thierry Busset (my pastry chef at CinCin) for teaching me that ”it’s all in the mind.”

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

Good question.  Most likely running a club or restaurant. I love this business!

By: Richard Wolak

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