Whether it’s a gathering of friends, a family get-together, or simply a kick-off to the weekend, brunch is more than just a meal — it’s practically a national pastime.
No brunch is complete without a good cocktail, and luckily for us, Vancouver’s restaurants are knocking their brunch-time libations out of the park. Below are six of the city’s top cocktail destinations to get your brunch on, and lucky for us they shared their recipes for you to try at home.
While this renowned Gastown establishment is primarily known as a nighttime destination, it’s beginning to develop a reputation for its stellar brunch menu and cocktail offerings. The restaurant’s Avocado Gimlet has become a bit of a legend in this city, with over five thousand of these tasty concoctions sold last year alone. Why not see what all the buzz is about and let Bar Manager William Johnson shake one up for you in their unbelievably romantic and sophisticated room. There’s no better (or healthier) way to imbibe while brunching.
- 1/4 Whole Fresh Avocado, peeled and pitted
- 45 mL Greenall’s Gin
- 15 mL Berentzen Apfelkorn Schnapps
- 30 mL Fresh Lime Juice
- 20 mL Simple Syrup
- Muddle the avocado in a shaker tin, add ingredients and dry shake.
- Add ice, and shake very hard.
- Fine strain into a chilled coupe glass.
Address: 217 Carrall Street
Beach Bay Cafe and Patio
Recently opened in the former Raincity Grill location, Beach Bay Cafe and Patio boasts one of the best ocean views in the city. There aren’t many other places I’d rather enjoy a high-quality cocktail on a Saturday afternoon than on their stunning patio. Try Bar Manager Adrian Lindner’s “Rum Melon D’Eau”, a perfectly balanced, light and refreshing cocktail. Be warned — you won’t be able to stop at just one.
Rum Melon D’Eau
- 1oz White rum
- 1/2 oz Triple Sec
- 3/4 oz Watermelon Syrup
- 3/4 oz Fresh Lime Juice
- Shake, and double strain all ingredients into a chilled cocktail glass.
- Top with a lime twist and hibiscus flower.
Address: 1193 Denman Street
Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar
No brunch is complete without Canada’s national drink, the Caesar. This spicy standard was invented by Walter Schell in 1969 at the Calgary Inn, and is rarely found in other parts of the world. The not-so-secret ingredient used in my “Creole Caesar” at Boulevard is Walter Ceasar Mix, which is made with 100% natural clam and tomato juice, and with no added MSG or high-glucose corn syrup typically found in store-bought Clamato juice varieties. Try your hand at my signature recipe below, or come and say hello at Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar and enjoy one over a leisurely weekend brunch.
- 1 oz Vodka, Gin or Tequila
- 5 oz Walter All-Natural Craft Caesar Mix (Mildly Spiced)
- 0.5 oz Lime Juice
- 0.5 oz Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 pinch Cayenne Powder
- 1 pinch Onion Powder
- 1 pinch Dried Thyme
- 1 pinch Dried Oregano
- 1 pinch Cracked Pepper
- 1 pinch Sweet Dried Paprika
- 1 pinch Kosher Salt
- 2 tbsp celery salt
- 2 tbsp dried chili flakes
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns
Combine in a spice grinder and pulverize.
- In a Boston shaker, combine all ingredients with ice.
- Shake vigourosly for 10 seconds and pour over fresh ice into a rimmed 12 oz glass.
- Garnish with pickled okra.
Address: 845 Burrard Street (at the Sutton Place Hotel)
If you haven’t yet been to Café Medina, get up and go there immediately. They offer the best brunch in the city in my opinion, and they do it seven days a week. I recently paid them a visit and was completely blown away by Bar Manager Trixie Blümel’s new cocktail menu. She’s put together a comprehensive selection of brunch cocktails, including her tantalizing and refreshing “Moroccan Mary,” and her creative and well-executed take on a Mimosa called “The Mimouna #1.” But it was Trixie’s variation on a Raddler (a beer and grapefruit combination), titled the ‘Al Maghrib’, that particularly perked my tastebuds.
- 12 oz Postmark IPA
- 3 oz Fresh Grapefruit Juice
- 0.75 oz Green Tea Syrup*
- 0.5 oz El Jimador Reposado Tequila
- 1 dash Bittered Sling Orange & Juniper Bitters
Green Tea Syrup*
*Bring 1 cup of turbinado sugar, 1 cup of water and 1 teaspoon of green tea to a boil. Stir until sugar dissolves and remove from heat. Let cool and bottle syrup. Keep refrigerated for up to 30 days.
- Build ingredients in a stemmed 18 oz beer glass.
- Garnish with a wide strip of grapefruit peel across the rim of the glass.
Address: 780 Richards Street
Tucked away up on Main and 16th, this Latin-inspired eatery is one of a handful of establishments owned and operated by barman extraordinaire Nick Devine. Nick’s bartenders execute his simplistic approach to cocktails with great pride, and many are flocking to El Camino’s for a taste. Be sure to try the Michelada, a somewhat under-the-radar cocktail that’s best described as a South American Caesar. This spicy tomato and beer mixture also doubles as an unbeatable “Hair of the Dog” after a Friday night on the town.
- 1 can (12 oz) of Tecate
- 2 oz Chilled Tomato Juice
- 0.5 oz Lime Juice
- 3 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
- 3 dashes El Camino’s Hot Sauce
- Rim a 20 oz pint glass with chili lime salt.
- Combine beer, tomato, lime juice, sauces and spices.
Address: 3250 Main Street
The team at Mamie Taylor’s are well-known for their American-style cuisine, with a menu that includes traditional favourites like chicken and waffles, cheddar cheese grits and my personal favourite fried green tomatoes. But next time you’re in, be sure to check out co-owner and long-serving Vancouver barman Ron Oliver’s incredible cocktail menu. Throughout the summer he’s featuring the delicious “Ducati Thief” — a sparkling wine aperitif that will undoubtedly whet your brunch-time appetite.
- 20 mL Cynar
- 20 mL Gin
- 20 mL Grapefruit Juice
- 10 mL Lemon Juice
- 5 mL Simple Sugar
- 30 mL Sparkling Wine
- Combine all ingredients, except for the sparkling wine.
- Add ice and shake vigorously for about 10 seconds.
- Pour over fresh ice in a wine glass.
- Top with sparkling wine and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
Address: 251 East Georgia Street