The Keefer Bar again.
What is a good drink? A drink that takes you to a better place. A new, but comfortably familiar recliner, with stars appearing in only your skies. And your throat is so thankful.
For the second time, friend Frank and I ventured into the Keefer bar. I was anxious to savour its libations after the latest issue of the BC liquor store mag Taste awarded the Keefer queen Danielle Tatarin its bar star of the season. I follow the stars. Alas, she did not appear, but instead, Monsieur MacAlpine minus dreadlocks appeared to evolve realms of taste and intoxication I would otherwise have doubted existed. Good work, Mac. He was the bar star Frank and I had hoped to meet when we were last at the Keefer bar 2 1/2 years ago. It's rare you encounter someone who is trying to elevate the universe of taste possibilities. More often in cheffery, but the best things to enter my taste buds in Vegas have been extraordinary drinks, even better than the sublime food.
I told Gez I'm a man of sangria and this menu item immediately came to mind. Although the egg white made it somewhat heavy, it was worth every molecule. "Fantasy Island:
absolut elyx vodka, pomegranate, lemon juice, fantasy island tea syrup, Chinese happy wine & egg white - served up with a toasted coconut & cacao sugar rim." I had seen it in the online menu, described there as "fruity." It certainly was that. A wonderful drink.
We ordered some soft tacos, mine with shitake, Frank's with duck, as well as shrimp spring rolls. The spring rolls were amazing, but I made the mistake of allowing my taco to touch the hot sauce on the plate. Frank wisely avoided it. We also ordered chicken skewers with peanut sauce, but they never appeared. I'd never had Happy Wine before, but the Keefer specialized in using Chinese ingredients (it is in Chinatown). I was offered a sip of the wine of happiness and it slightly reminded me of a port wine that came in an endless bottle at a hotel I stayed at in Lisbon. A very good memory.
"Next was the mother of dragons: The west winds gin, lemon juice, dragon pearl green tea syrup, dry curaçao & apothecary spitfire bitters." Another delicious cocktail. I'm particularly fond of the tea chain David's dragon fruit tea. It is both a refreshing and a substantial fruit when liquefied. Two of the best drinks I've ever had, both in Vegas, were made from green tea; though I find green tea undrinkable on its own. This was wonderfully drinkable. A lot of wonderful cocktails are being made in Vancouver with homemade bitters these days.
From the note from Gez:
"After this was the one you weren't so fond of which is a shame! It's usually a big crowd pleaser. It was a twist on the tangerine dream, which I usually make with rye, but switched it up as you don't like whiskey. Hennessy vs cognac, ramazotti, tangerine dry vermouth & general Ambrose aromatic bitters."
My first sips of this reminded me of the last time I was in Paris, around Halloween, 2002. Odd in that I drank Normandy Cidre, Calvados and Orange Widow while in France, not cognac that I can recall. Although initially involving, I think the cognac eventually chased away my enjoyment of this drink.
"Finally we got back on the right track with a twist on a paper plane. Havana club anejo blanco rum, aperol, amaro nonino, lemon juice and a touch of creme de violette." I think violet was the way to go with this one. Yet another fine beverage. Once more I experienced mixology at its best. Yet again I am excited by the possibilities of flavour. Now I know where to take thirsty out of town guests. In the press clipping section of the Keefer website, they link to an article naming Keefer one of the best bars in the world. All the other bars are in distant countries, but the Keefer is in my city! Lucky me!