Tonight I attended the finale of the Cocktail Kitchen Series at The Refinery in downtown Vancouver which had run for six months. Each week the city's top bartenders were invited to the bar to pair cocktails with dishes from the kitchen. For $30 a ticket, the customers had the privilege of judging the drinks and how well they went with the food they ate.
The entire exercise is to encourage people to not just have cocktails before dinner or after, but to have them with their meals too.
At tonight's finale, they not only revealed the winner (Justin Tisdale from Chambar), but also the winning customer, who won a free round trip on Air Canada to any destination in North America. Pretty good deal.
My friend is a cocktail fanatic. He will visit restaurants regularly and ask the bartenders there to create him a drink. He took me to the event and explained the cocktail scene in Vancouver has really exploded in the last few years. He observed that for a small city like Vancouver this is quite impressive as the popularity of these drinks haven't taken off in Toronto which has a much bigger population.
I piped in that it was probably because the palates of Torontonians weren't as sophisticated and preferred their beers instead.
But my friend thinks it's about accessibility, and as Toronto is so spread out, it's hard to get people to explore a number of bars and the bartenders there creating interesting concoctions.
On the other end of the spectrum, people in Hong Kong are more into wines rather than cocktails. It's all about the wine label than developing their own tastes. And most Chinese people usually prefer sweeter cocktails which make the fruity ones more popular.
While there are cocktail competitions in Hong Kong mostly held in industry circles, there isn't much public hype about them. But now more Chinese newspapers and magazines are writing more about cocktails so with greater exposure, hopefully more people will be exploring cocktails.
If Singapore has the Singapore Sling, what's Hong Kong's drink?