The Port Renfrew (aka Port Manhattan)

I’ve been experimenting with a recently made a batch of cherry hazelnut bitters from the indispensable book Bitters by Brad Parsons. These bitters are exceptionally cool, inspired by West Coast flavours of hazelnut, cherry, and devil’s club root. I’m very excited about playing around with these bitters some more and finding ways to showcase their flavour and pungent aromatic punch!

This is in essence a manhattan cocktail with port in place of sweet vermouth. It’s not really anything new to be honest, but since I also added the West Coast inspired homemade bitters I decided I had the right to call this concoction “The Port Renfrew”. This is a town that holds a special place in my heart, fondly remembered as the base camp for surfing expeditions and forays into the nearby pristine old growth forest. It also receives an average rainfall of about 3.5 meters annually, and this is just the kind of cocktail you would want to drink on one of those dark and wet winter nights on the West Coast.

If you’ve ever been unfortunate to encounter Devil’s Club Root while hacking through thick forest brush as I have, you can take pleasure in knowing you’ve had the last laugh while you sip down it’s essence in this libation.


1.5 oz Bourbon, I used Bulleit

0.5 oz Tawny Port

4 dashes of cherry hazelnut bitters, or whatever other bitters you may you have on hand. If you want to get close without making your own, add a couple dashes each of Fee Brothers cherry bitters and Fee Brothers black walnut bitters.

2-3 Candied hazelnuts for garnish


1. Chill a coupe glass in the freezer 5 minutes before starting. Add the candied hazelnuts to the glass.

2. Add all ingredients except the hazelnuts to a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir for 1 minute, then strain into the chilled coupe glass.



Smoky Scotch and Apple Sour

This is my best attempt to replicate one of my favourite drinks from Veneto Tapa Lounge, “The Satchmo.” Sweet, sour, and smoky manage to all come together in a harmonious fashion, with a subtle compliment of apple and cinnamon.

I have to hand it to the folks at Veneto for their creativity and consistency, as well as their ability to deliver with both classic and contemporary cocktails. These are the people that not only introduced me to classics such as the Vieux Carre and Seelbach Hotel, but also some of my new favourites such as the Satchmo, Aloe Kitty, The Wax Poetic, and Barjonesing. I highly recommend a visit to their location in the Rialto Hotel to give some of these a try; if you don’t know what to order, ask for a Vieux Carre.

Look for an Islay Scotch to add the smoky characteristic that really makes this drink work, I used Laphroaig 10 year. Apple bitters may be hard to find, but Angostura will work in a pinch.


1.5 oz peaty Scotch

0.75 oz lemon juice

0.5 egg white

0.5 oz honey

3 dashes apple bitters (or Angostura)

Ice for shaking

Apple peels, about half an apple worth

1. Muddle the apple peels in a boston shaker. Add the Scotch, lemon juice, honey, bitters, and egg white. Shake vigorously, then add ice and shake again.

2. Strain with a fine mesh, and garnish with an apple slice.


The Nicaula

Who doesn’t want a cocktail named after them? Like Paula and Nicole, this cocktail is very interesting, while also sweet, balanced, and complex. 

Mezcal is an amazing spirit. It is the scotch of tequila, but plays a little bit more nicely when it comes to cocktails. It can be hard to find, but it is worthwhile to pick up a bottle when you stumble across it. In Vancouver, try Legacy Liquor in Olympic Village. 

The apple bitters I’ve used in this recipe were homemade. You can find apple bitters in specialty liquor stores, or better yet make them yourself! Other fruity bitters would work as well with the mezcal. 

1 oz Mezcal

1/2 oz Amaro

5 dashes apple bitters

1/2 lemon

1/2 egg white

1/4 oz honey

To make:

1. Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake well, strain into coupe glass and garnish with an apple slice.