I was glad we were finally doing the Chinatown Cocktail Crawl. The idea came up right after our Gastown crawl in the summer, and it wasn’t hard at all for us to think of the great spots for the new adventure. It is no secret that Vancouver’s Chinatown is where the new exciting food trends are. We have been witnessing a resurgence of modern eateries and bars in the area. Chinese influenced or not, all these new restaurants have contributed to the revitalization of the historic neighbourhood. But unfortunately we weren’t able to find the right time for all of us until the winter, when we found ourselves stumbling in the snow towards our cocktail stops. But still, we couldn’t be more excited.
Besides the original crew including me, Maggi (vieamaggi.com) and Kristina (drunkennoms.com), my friend Lou joined the adventure as well. He is also a gin guy, like me. And I think 4 is a better number than 3 for a crawl, as we could taste more cocktails and lower the sharing cost of food.
There was a little hiccup at the beginning. As I had been trying to sell Maggi The Emerald as one of the must-go spots, they weren’t open as they close their doors on Mondays. And it was the same case with Sai Woo and Kissa Tanto, although both would make such great destinations with their Asian fusion menus.
After walking around the block and not being able to stop for food or drinks, we quickly adapted to Maggi’s suggestion of getting a quick bite at Virtuous Pie first. After all, we did need some substance in the belly, getting the stomach ready for the many drinks later.
And finally we arrived at our first stop of the evening, Mamie Taylor’s, quietly located on East Georgia street, across from the often busy Phnom Penh. Having been warned several times about this place with red brick walls full of taxidermy objects, here I was, walking towards the end of the dining room, passing all the stuffed animal heads on the wall – deers, boars and wolves, and many birds with spreading wings. For some reason I was picturing a moment as if I were in a scene from “A Night at the Museum”, when all these objects came to life staring down at me.
We were seated at seclusive round booth in the back, where we were surrounded by a bunch of collectibles, a huge bear skin, a giant adler and an antique lamp on top of a terrarium.
And let’s the drinking begin!
Apparently Maggi came here for the Absinthe flight ($19), or the trio of Lucid, St. George Verte, and Taboo, and the mystery of the potion with 70% alcohol that makes you see the dancing green fairy that looks like Kylie Minogue. But oh boy, she was totally not prepared for it, and almost choked on the harshness of the alcohol and the “liquorice” taste that she had always disliked. And she was also disappointed about the colour – it was not the vibrant green that she was hoping for. On the other hand, although I had my fair share of Absinthe experience myself, and definitely expected the strong booziness and the anise flavour, I found the presentation in 3 wine glasses somewhat underwhelming. And why a flight? Perhaps, absinthe is appreciated better in the traditional way… A proper absinthe drip maybe?
Kristina didn’t look too impressed her Bourbon Flight ($18). But I actually liked the taste of the trio: Booker’s, Wild Turkey Rare Breed and W.L. Weller 12 year, with the Wild Turkey being my favourite and incredibly smooth considering the alcohol content. Again, I was not too thrilled with the glasses, which were the same with the ones for the absinthe flight.
However, Lou’s Mercy Mercy ($12) was served in an exquisite small crystal glass and it was definitely the look that fits right in the ambience. Made of gin, lillet, aperol and bitters, the cocktail has a beautiful amber colour and pleasant citrus notes.
We ordered a shared dish as we always do at any cocktail crawl stop. The Chicken Liver Pate ($8) was sweet and creamy. Chicken liver probably has the least gamy flavour in the liver family, which goes well with white wine and gin cocktails IMO.
We were off to an interesting start for our Chinatown Cocktail Crawl. Although we got distracted by the Absinthe Flight and the Bourbon Flight, and tasted only one cocktail, I did enjoy the quirkiness and fetch the idea behind their “modern American” approach on food and drinks. And I am interested in coming back for their happy hour menu, with pub fare that only costs a looney or a tooney a pop. And I’m sure the stuffed animals on the walls will be nicer to me next time, well in my head anyway.Website and menu: