Vancouver’s Handcrafted Eggnogs

Photo: Jorden Hutchison

By Jorden Hutchison

Eggnog…it’s the quintessential holiday drink. According to a recent poll by Statistics Canada, Canadians consume more than eight million litres of eggnog during the holiday season. And while store-bought eggnog might taste good, it can contain as many as fifteen not-so-wholesome ingredients like heavy cream, excessive amounts of sugar, artificial flavours and butter.

This holiday season, I set out on a search to explore Vancouver’s handcrafted eggnog scene. I went to a handful of the city’s most popular bars and restaurants – each known for serving great cocktails – and met the notable bartenders who create this festive brew. And while each drink was unique, one thing remained the same: they featured far less ingredients than store-bought versions yet ten times the flavour. So gather your friends and loved ones (19 years or older, of course) and follow this tasty Yuletide trail.

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Vancouver’s Handcrafted Eggnogs

‘Elements’ at West Restaurant: A New Way to Dine at One of Vancouver’s Top Restaurants

Honey Mussels from West's new Elements menu. Photo: James Stockhorst / West Restaurant

Three months ago, West Restaurant—the multiple-award winner of Vancouver Restaurant Magazine’s Restaurant of the Year Award and one of the indisputable leaders in Vancouver cuisine—made major changes to its interior and its menu. West redesigned its dining room, replacing its old-school, white-tablecloth formality with sleek, stylish stone table tops and warm, urban fixtures to better reflect its innovative, contemporary cuisine, and added a new menu to its famous a la carte and Tasting Menu options: the tapas/izakaya-style Elements.

With Elements, West Restaurant provides a new way to enjoy its phenomenal food at a lower price point than its traditional a la carte fare. From the Elements menu, diners can choose from a range of exceptional-yet-reasonably-priced items, like the Crispy Stuffed Mussels for $2.50 each or the tender, melt-in-your-mouth Fraser Valley Pork Belly for $12, and then share the food, family-style, so that everyone in your party gets to try each of the dishes.

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‘Elements’ at West Restaurant: A New Way to Dine at One of Vancouver’s Top Restaurants

West’s Bartender Extraordinaire David Wolowidnyk & the Art of the Original Cocktail

West Restaurant's David Wolowidnyk & his Japan-inspired original cocktail. Photo: Dana Lynch

When I was in my early twenties, cocktails were just mixed drinks to me, a way to indulge in alcohol that felt grown-up, even though I was usually just ordering mid-nineties college-girl staples like Ameretto Sours and Cosmopolitans.

Call it the wisdom that comes with age, but I view cocktails very differently now. My cocktail palate has grown more sophisticated (though I’m still working at improving it) and I can now appreciate the art of the cocktail, the way a truly accomplished bartender and mixologist can create layers of flavour to make a beverage that is a unique taste sensation, a drink that stands on its own as its own gastronomical experience.

Skeptical that a cocktail can be all that? Then I know a man you need to meet:  West Restaurant + Bar’s bartender extraordinaire David Wolowidnyk, a master in the art of the cocktail.

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West’s Bartender Extraordinaire David Wolowidnyk & the Art of the Original Cocktail

Dining at West Restaurant – Vancouver Dining Par Excellance

In Vancouver—a city with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to world-class cuisine—it’s difficult to name a single restaurant as the “best.” But if that title could be claimed, West Restaurant + Bar would certainly be among the very top contenders.

The recipient of an enormous array of awards (including AAA’s Four Diamond Award and four consecutive wins for Restaurant of the Year by Vancouver Restaurant Magazine) and famed for its outstanding contemporary cuisine by Chef David Gunawan, perfect service, and bartender extraordinaire David Wolowidnyk* (himself a frequent winner of Bartender of the Year), West has a grandiose reputation. But it takes just one visit to this South Granville institution to confirm that that reputation is well-earned.

Or, to put it more simply: After dining at West last night, my partner and I declared it one of the best meals we’d had in our life. (And as someone who often writes about food, we’ve tried a lot of restaurants!)

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Dining at West Restaurant – Vancouver Dining Par Excellance

A Decade of Eating Fresh and Local: West Restaurant

(c) Remy Scalza

These days it seems like every other restaurant in Vancouver is offering a hundred-mile menu and embracing seasonal ingredients.  But few have been championing the eat-fresh, eat-local mantra longer – or with better results – than West, the venerable Vancouver institution in the South Granville neighborhood.

Lauded annually by Vancouver Magazine and food critics across Canada, West will be celebrating its 10th birthday this year.  Back when it first opened its doors, the vibrant Vancouver restaurant scene we know today was still in its infancy – a few great bistros, lots of staid old Continental restaurants serving up middling European fare.   West – as the name suggests – helped bring the food focus a little closer to home, emphasizing fish and produce from the Pacific Northwest and a lighter, more contemporary cooking style.

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A Decade of Eating Fresh and Local: West Restaurant

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