Holiday Spirits Abound at Neil Macrae Lounge

Vancouver TheatreSports Christmas Queen 2(Vancouver, BC) – The holiday season is a time of indulgence with all the cookies, mince tarts and candy canes not to mention egg nog and mulled wine.

Paul Belsito, manager of the Neil Macrae Bar & Lounge at Vancouver TheatreSports’™ The Improv Centre, has been getting into the festive spirits a little early this year. He’s been designing special cocktails to complement VTSL’s upcoming show Christmas Queen 2 – You Better Watch Out which opens with previews starting November 25th and runs through December 20th. This year’s edition of the Christmas Queen saga finds our favourite blue-haired ‘Dame’ dropping in on Santa and his elves at the North Pole Workshop.

“I’ve tried to theme the drinks to represent some of the show’s key characters,” says Belsito. “I think I’ve created ones that are in the ‘spirit’ of the show – fun and a little naughty.”

Ice Queen (blue): Melon Liqueur, Blue Curacao, Lemon/Lime Juice with a splash of soda water

Santa’s Little Helper (red): Fireball, Ginger Ale, Cranberry Juice

Tipsy Elf (green): Crème de Menthe, Amaretto, Lemon Juice

Value-priced at $8 (Scrooge would approve), and jewel-toned as a string of Christmas lights, VTSL’s holiday cocktails are available only through the run of Christmas Queen 2. Paul’s cocktails are sure to delight even the sourest Grinch.

Join us for a little holiday cheer and festive spirits Wednesday through Sunday evenings from 6:30 p.m., November 25 through December 20 in the Neil Macrae Bar & Lounge at Vancouver TheatreSports’ The Improv Centre, 1502 Duranleau Street on Granville Island. The fully-licenced Neil Macrae Bar & Lounge is a convenient place for theatre patrons to meet for pre or post-show drinks. Patrons can also take their beverages into the theatre with them to enjoy during the performance.

Vancouver TheatreSports™ appreciates the support of its season sponsors: City of Vancouver, CMHC Granville Island, The Georgia Straight and The Granville Island Hotel.

Vancouver Foodster presents the Craft Beer Cocktail Challenge

Who knew you could make cocktails from beer?  I haven’t had one before, but when I look at the creations below, it peaks my interest.  Maybe yours too?  You can try these creations and vote for your favourite cocktail.  Details about participating locations and how to vote below.  Cheers!

Vancouver, BC – Welcome to the Vancouver Foodster Craft Beer Cocktail Challenge. Restaurants from all over the city were invited to create and enter a cocktail creation that includes Craft Beer and other ingredients into a unqiue cocktail into this challenge. Each restaurant will be featuring their creations on their menu from October 1-25, 2015.

A few of the unique creations in this challenge:

The Apron

The Gearshift

The Gearshift

The Gearshift 

Price: $8.00

Description: Shift your night into high gear with this twist on the classic bourbon cocktail

Ingredients: Maker’s Mark Kentucky Bourbon, Southern Comfort, Red Truck Ale, Angostura Bitters, Marachino Cherry, Lemon Twist

Created by: Allister Cave

Offered: Lunch and Dinner 9am – 11pm

The Apron

3099 Corvette Way, Richmond

Tel: 604-303-6565


Twitter: @apronyvr


American Grille




Price: $8.95

Description: a beer cocktail that celebrates the spirit of the spooky season combining Parallel 49’s Pumpkin Ale, with vanilla vodka and a scoop of pumpkin ice cream

Ingredients: 1 oz. Vanilla Vodka, 175 ml. Pumpkin Ale, 1 scoop Pumpkin Ice Cream

Created by: Donovan

Offered: All the time

American Grille

7571 Westminster Highway, Richmond

Tel: 604-232-2804


Twitter: @GrilleYVR


Darby’s Public House

Bodega Breeze

Bodega Breeze

Bodega Breeze

Price: $9

Created by: James Olivier.


Ingredients: 3oz Steamworks Pilsner, 1oz Rangpur or Bombay Gin, 1.25oz IPA, lime, basil simple syrup, 3 basil leaves, 1.5oz lemon juice, .5oz lime juice, 1 lemon twist, *Cascadia Hop sugar

Offered: 11am-midnight everyday

Darby’s Public House

2001 Macdonald St, Vancouver

Tel: (604) 731-0617


Twitter: @darbys_in_kits

The full list of participating restaurants can be found here

For our Challenges, we have 2 sets of winners. The People’s Choice winners will be selected by the public who are invited to visit any of the participating restaurants and order the Craft Beer Cocktail creations and then decide on which ones they think are worthy of winning the challenge by casting their votes.

For this challenge we have 3 media judges and they are:

Joe Leary

Host of Just Here for the Beer Radio, Broadcaster, Feature Writer/Columnist for 24 Hours Newspaper, Feature Writer BC Lions Magazine

Twitter: @reallyjoeleary

Benjamin Yong

Freelance writer and journalist for Darpan Magazine and other publications.

Twitter: @b_yong

Henry Yuen

Freelance writer for Beyond Chopsticks and other publications.

Twitter: @beyondchopstick


The public is invited to order these Craft Beer Cocktail creations at the participating restaurants keeping in mind this criteria – originality, creativity, uniqueness,  traditional, non-traditional, price, value and most importantly taste. People can vote the same day after trying the creation and they can vote once a day throughout the promotion. People will be encouraged to Vote for their favourites from October 1-25, 2015.

With a smartphone, customers will be able to vote from their table in the restaurant right after they have eaten the Craft Beer Cocktail creation. 

We will announce the winning restaurants and their Craft Beer Cocktail creations on October 26, 2015.

Introducing two NEW cocktails at Joe Fortes

Long live summer!  If that is how you feel you may want to go to Joe Forte’s downtown and try the 2 new cocktails on their patio.  Details from Joe Fortes is below.  Enjoy.


Joe Fortes is prolonging the summer season with its fresh herb inspired cocktails – Introducing two delicious and refreshing cocktails, Wild Thyme and Garden Gnome!

Wild Thyme

incorporates organic unpasturized  cream honey blended with fresh thyme adding natural sweetness to hibiscus infused vodka by Absolut while balancing the sweetness with the acidity of some fresh lemon.

Wild Thyme cocktail

Wild Thyme cocktail

Garden Gnome

A refreshing blend of basil, cucumber syrup and cranberries this hibiscus infused vodka cocktail is the perfect patio drink!

Garden Gnome cocktail

Garden Gnome cocktail

*Absolut Hibiskus offers the slightly acidic, berry-flavor of hibiscus underlined by sweet notes of pomegranate.
Joe Fortes’ rooftop patio is scheduled to be open until October 5th, so right now is the perfect time to enjoy these two new cocktails on the patio before it’s closed!
Shane Mulvanys cocktails

Who Won the Angostura Bitters Canadian Cocktail Challenge?

Angostura Bitters

Angostura Bitters

This past week Vancouver had the honour of hosting the Canadian championship of the Angostura Bitters Canadian Cocktail Challenge, with the winner going on to the World Championship.  Four bartenders from across Canada were competing, with the competition being held at The Blackbird Public House & Oyster Bar.  Each competitor made 2 different cocktails each which were given to a panel of 3 judges.  One of the cocktails from each competitor was also being made at the bar for each of the audience members to try.  The audience then was asked to vote for the “People’s Choice”.   Read on to learn about What are Angostura Bitters, the competitors, and their cocktails.

What are Angostura Bitters?

According to Wikipedia “Angostura bitters, often simply referred to as angostura, is a concentrated bitters made of water, 44.7% alcohol, herbs and spices,[1] by House of Angostura in Trinidad and Tobago. It is typically used for flavoring beverages, or (less often) food. The bitters were first produced in the town of Angostura (Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela) (hence the name), and do not contain angostura bark. The bottle is easily recognisable by its distinctive over-sized label.”

Who are the Competitors?

  • Colin Tait has been bartending for around 15 years, starting in Edinburgh in his native Scotland. In 2010, he jumped at the opportunity to come to Calgary.
  • Shane Mulvany was born in Cavan, Ireland and started bartending in a family friend’s pub at 16.
    In Spring last year, he moved to Toronto with his wife and has worked as the bar manager at Paese Ristorante and Bar Chef. He is currently the head bartender at The Chase in Toronto’s financial district.
  • Dale Styner started bartending at eight years old. His 21 year career in the industry began in Calgary at 14 as a dishwasher.
    His life of a bartender has paid his way from Calgary to Vancouver to South America and across Europe.
  • Simon Hooper started his career almost 10 years ago in Sydney, Australia, where he trained as a chef. Simon has spent the last 5.5 years living in Canada.  He has worked as head bartender in some of the top bars in Toronto and Vancouver.
Dale Styner and Colin Tait

Dale Styner (L) and Colin Tait (R)

Shane Mulvany and Simon Hooper

Shane Mulvany (L) and Simon Hooper (R)

The Cocktails

The cocktails that the audience were given to try were:

  • Headhunter (Colin)
  • Trinidad Forest Fire (Simon)
  • Brian Lara Swizzle (Shane)
  • Smashed Apple (Dale)

My two favourite drinks of the evening were the Headhunter and the Brian Lara Swizzle.  The Headhunter was off dry and had a woodsy, sweet spice and a hint of orange flavours.  Nice smooth mouthfeel without any sourness, and had a constant bubble/froth on the top.  The Brian Lara Swizzle was served in a tall glass and had pink grapefuit colour, aroma and flavour.  On the palate besides grapefuit, you also tasted grapefruit peel, lime, sweet spices, and woodiness.   It had a medium level of acidity making the drink bright and giving you a mouthwatering finish.

The winner of the judged part of the competition was Shane Mulvany with his Brian Lara Swizzle, and the People’s Choice winner was Dale Styner with his Smashed Apple cocktail.

Brian Lara Swizzle

  • 2oz Angostura 5 Year Old Rum
  • 5 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
  • 2oz Carrot Juice
  • 1oz Lime Juice
  • 1/2oz Orange Sherbert*
  • 1/2oz Cardamom Syrup**

Add all ingredients into flared pilsner glass, add crushed ice and swizzle using a swizzle stick.

Garnish with pineapple leaves.

Special Instructions:

*Orange Sherbert Zest of 3 Oranges Juice from 2 Oranges 125g Sugar 1/4 Tesapoon of Salt Muddle sugar and zest then add other ingrediebts, let sit for 3 hours and strain

**Cardamom Syrup 10 Crushed Cardamom seeds 200g Sugar 100ml Water Heat for 30 minutes until sugar dissolves. Strain, allow to cool and bottle

Want a Champagne Icewine Cocktail?

I was just browsing around on the web and I found this recipe for a champagne with icewine cocktail recipe and thought I’d pass it along to you. Although the recipe is listed as “champagne”, it really should be identified as “sparkling wine” as champagne is only from the Champagne region in France.

Since this is a long weekend, you may want to make some tonight or on Sunday night with friends. Enjoy and Happy New Year!

Fusion Royale Champagne Cocktail

By Scott McTaggart, Fusion Grill, Winnipeg
750 ml bottle sparkling wine (suggests Sumac Ridge Stellar’s Jay)
375 ml bottle icewine (suggests Inniskillin Vidal)
Preserved Bing cherries

Fill champagne flutes 3/4 full of sparkling wine. Add a dash of icewine to each. Drop in a cherry.

Makes 6 servings.