Vancouver’s cocktail scene is brimming with amazing bartenders crafting delicious concoctions behind bars all over town. Many of the city’s top mixers have been traveling the globe to represent Vancouver and Canada in all kinds of high-profile global competitions, and it seems lately that it’s the ladies who are taking home the big wins.
One of Vancouver’s most esteemed bartenders is Sabrine Dhaliwal, Bar Manager of West Restaurant, who recently shook and stirred her way to the top of the Belvedere Vodka’s “The Challenge,” an international contest for Martini cocktails, held in London.
Dhaliwal is passionate about her craft, and hopes to inspire more women to learn more about mixing drinks. We asked her to tell us about her experience as a women in the cocktail scene, and what tips she had for those looking to up their home bar game.
Sabrine Dahliwal: I became interested in cocktails shortly after moving to Vancouver six years ago. From there, my curiosity grew when I started working at the Hotel Georgia alongside Robyn Gray and the late Derek Vanderheide. We had extensive training before the opening of the hotel, we spent a lot of time talking about the different cocktails, ingredients, etc.
I don’t think being a woman has impeded my career at all. If you put in the hard work, time and dedication it all pays off in the end, regardless of gender. We are very lucky in Vancouver to have so many amazing women bartenders and a supportive network.
While I was in London for a competition I was the only female competitor and after speaking with the others, having so many women bartenders in Vancouver is an anomaly; I wouldn’t change it for anything, there is something sexy about a women who can tell you the history of the Manhattan.
I don’t believe that there are genders in drinks or spirits. Some cocktails and spirits are definitely geared towards the more seasoned drinker but saying one is more “girly” than the other is irrelevant. I’ve served many pink drinks to men and they like them just like I’ve served many women who enjoy a heavily peated whisky.
The more you know the more you can appreciate and enjoy a spirit or cocktail. Knowledge is power. There are many great books available with recipes, history, technique tips etc. If you could only have one cocktail/spirit book on your shelf I’d recommend The Bar Book by Jeffery Morgenthaler. He talks about essentials for you home bar, technique tips and a few great recipes as well.
I’ve selected the following spirits because they are versatile. You can use them in many different combinations.
Here’s a recipe Dhaliwal has created to showcase these three spirits:
Recipe by Sabrine Dhailiwal
Combine all ingredients in shaker, add ice. Shake hard, strain into a coupe, and enjoy.