Creating cocktails has become an art form, and bars around the world have begun playing with rare combinations to try and help distinguish themselves from the rest. Most of us have had some sort of craft cocktail that has impressed us with its unique choice of ingredients or artful presentation, but taking it one step further, this Canadian bar has created a Cocktail Lab with an industrial kitchen to back it up, where experimentation is a requirement and ingredients are masterfully selected to create some of the most beautiful cocktails in the world, in both taste and presentation, and they have the awards and accolades to prove it.
Botanist, the restaurant housed within the Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver, was designed to redefine the dining experience, while staying true to its locale in the Pacific Northwest. Located in one of the most fertile, productive, and diverse agricultural regions, Botanist ensures a year-round of abundance of incredible ingredients due to the region’s moderate climate.
Not to be outdone by its own masterful kitchen, the Botanist Lounge offers exclusive and rare labels from Champagne and internationally recognized sparkling wine regions of the world. But it’s the Cocktail Lab that truly is garnering all the attention. In addition to a menu of sophisticated yet playful cocktails, Botanist also offers a select number of chemist-like libations under the direction of Creative Beverage Director Grant Sceney, from the city’s most unique “lab.” The lab has been custom-created to integrate a culinary-forward approach to the Botanist’s cocktail design and production. Industrial kitchen elements have been added to the lab such as a rotary evaporator to distill and vacuum, a band saw for size-specific sculpting, and centrifuges to separate ingredients of different density.
Some of the cocktails even use foraged and farmed ingredients, truly making them one of a kind. Wild mushrooms were foraged from the forests of British Columbia for the Cocktal Lab’s “Candy Cap Magic,” while electric daisy flowers are grown exclusively for the use in the “What the Flower” cocktail. They even created their own Elderberry Liqueur using hand-picked locally sourced elderberry (only when in season) with a vodka base.
In March of this year, Botanist Bar was named the North American finalist in the Lucas Bols ‘Bols Around the World’ competition. One of six bar teams in the world competing for the first time, this global cocktail competition shifted the criteria from individual to team submission in celebration of its 10th year. The global teams were tasked with creating a cocktail with a unique concept and presentation, which required a submission of a brief video outlining how the cocktail and concept came to life. The Lucas Bols team narrowed down the top team finalists by region, and a final review by industry icons took place to select the six bar teams around the globe to compete in the grand finale in Amsterdam.
The Botanist team created a new uniquely designed experimental cocktail, Into the Æther, a show-stopping floating libation that was inspired by the fifth element of spirit, featuring Bols Genever as its base, combined with white tea, elemental vermouth, forest herbs, and seawater to emphasize bold and surprising flavors.
Botanist Bar was also shortlisted in the 12th annual coveted Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards under the ‘Best New International Bar’ category; the only Canadian bar to have ever been nominated in this category. With over 1,000 nominees and votes from 150 international judges, being shortlisted was a massive achievement for the newbie bar. Botanist has also been recognized internationally as one of the ‘World’s Best New Bars’ by Conde Nast Traveler’s Hot List.
The menu is broken down into five sections; Herb + Spice, Orchard + Field, Fruits + Vegetables, and Flowers + Trees, and From the Cocktail Lab. Some of our favorites from each section include:
Herb + Spice
The Golden Hour – tequila, yellow chartreuse, caramelized honey, Szechuan pepper, ginger, lemon (Fleeting moments in time, locked between a sun-drenched Earth and a resplendent sky, which a photograph will never fully capture.)
Orchard + Field
Heather & Mire – pisco, peated whisky, absinthe, black sesame, sage, house acid blend, egg white (Brush strokes of darkness and light, spread bountifully over nature’s ancient canvas, remind us of the balance in all things.)
Fruits + Vegetables
Botanist’s Martini – coastal gin blend, house vermouth, seaborne tincture, oyster leaf, vegan caviar (The reigning sovereign of the cocktail world gets lost in the forest.)
Flowers + Trees
In Bloom – pisco, Aperol, raspberry, rose, grapefruit, lemon (Be as broad as the Earth, find yourself with open arms and you shall not be limited.)
From the Cocktail Lab
Deep Cove – island gin, sea buckthorn, blue algae, drift wood (Cocktail Lab creations need no explanations as their presentations speak for themselves.)