Mag (@magmei) and I were long overdue for a day drinking date. Yes – in Vancouver’s foodie scene, you can’t find that many social media influencers that can taste and handle alcohol like we do. We love our cocktails, with a passion, and a true dedication to discovering the best for our audience.
After we finished a media tasting at Ramen Taka, we retreated to H Tasting Lounge for a relaxing cocktail afternoon. The lounge was opened last November and was named HJU:Z Lounge. But they decided to choose a much more memorable name, well almost a little too memorable, something straying away from their Howard Hughs-inspired theme.
The place is gorgeous regardless, resembling the golden era of aviation in the most refined fashion. The 2,800 square-feet space features gold Art Deco sliding doors and custom-made baby blue velvet seats. And right outside, there was one of the most breath-taking views you could find in Vancouver – the North Shore mountains, the water, and the luscious green of Stanley Park.
We were attended by their star mixologist Dylan Williams, who also had previously worked at Bambuda.
The drinks arrived one after another, and we were enjoying this theatrical progression.
The first act was the Sakura Sidecar, a springtime special, but not on their regular cocktail menu, blended with Hennessy VS, lemon juice, Cointreau, infused Cherry Blossom Green Tea, Pierre Ferrand, and a cherry blossom candy floss cone.
The playfulness of the cocktail won me over instantly. I was instructed to tear off a piece of the cotton candy and put it on my tongue before taking a sip of the drink. The sharpness of the iconic cognac, touched by little citrusy notes, instantly merges with the sugar, leaving a warm, rich and delicious sensation on my palate.
Dylan would have a bigger role in the next act. The House of Faberge is inspired by the coldest livable place called Yakutsk in Russia, featuring Ciroc vodka, toaster hazelnut, green peppercorn, lactic acid, served in a breakable “egg” made of ice. The bartender puts down the drink but still stands there with a hammer in his hands. And there he goes, breaking the ice with the hammer and the purple liquid is released, fusing into the clear liquid in the glass.
I assume the liquid is the extract from butterfly pea blossom, which can change its color mixed with different liquids or at different temperatures.
What a show! The wow factor of the cocktail definitely impressed me, even though I’m not the biggest fan of vodka. But vodka seems irreplaceable here, to give us a sense of the beauty and mystery of an icy cold habitat.
I told Dylan my desire of a gin cocktail. He came back with a classic one, which is also very picturesque. It is the Spanish Gin and Tonic, made with Sheringham Gin. He carefully picked a few black peppercorns and put in the gin, and finished making the cocktail by pouring in the tonic water.
Sheringham Gin is produced on Vancouver Island, and it’s infused with kelp – a very unexpected ingredient. The cocktail also features cucumber bitters and black pepper cardamon bitters by Ms Better’s, a Vancouver business. It was quite eye-opening, or rather, palate-awakening to taste such a combination. A hint of the ocean and a small kick from the herbs and spices, it sends me to a blossoming garden by a beach house in the springtime.
Mag was challenging Dylan to come up with something even prettier. Dylan suggested the Peaceful Garden, although it’s not exaclty an alcoholic drink. Originally, it was made with white jasmine pearl cold tea, orange elderflower syrup, lemon, Las Animas Botica “balance” non-alcoholic rose geranium distillate, and garnished with a strawberry & rose reverse sphere.
I asked, can we add alcohol to it?
And the answer was yes, and the poison chosen by Dylan was Tanqueray Gin, for its chamomile profile.
The drink arrived, and it was absolutely gorgeous.
We were presented a pond from a zen garden, with the liquid so clear that the reflections of the rose sphere are all over the beautiful glass, a small purple chrysanthemum blossom floating on the liquid but completely still, and a brig of cherry blossom as the final touch, giving us a subtle scent of the Vancouver spring.
It was just too pretty to drink!
But it was delicious with the beautiful aromas all the precious ingredients.
What a beautiful afternoon, and we owe the sensory pleasures to the talented bartender and the classy settings of the lounge. The “House of Faberge”, playing on an extreme scenario on the aviation theme, represents what inspires to get best of both classic and modern takes on the art of cocktails. We were also wooed by the mixologist’s seasonal creations, which had brought the best out of, a rainy day in the spring. We do love the summer here, especially on the seawall, but we get to experience some peaceful or romantic moments in the spring on this part of the seawall as well. While finding both seasonal cocktails aesthetically gorgeous, we definitely got a taste of romance in from “Sakura Sidecar” and found a piece of serenity in the “Peaceful Garden”.
H Tasting Lounge
1601 Bayshore Dr, Vancouver, BC V6G 2V4
(604) 691-6962 or htastinglounge.com