With the launch of Vancouver Cocktail Week upcoming, Folio.YVR took the opportunity to embark on a cocktail-creating session and spoke to local author Janet Gyenes about her experience researching and publishing what may be the seminal YVR cocktail guide for everyone from newbies to those seeking a fresh recipe to relax with.

vancouver cocktails, janet gyenes, helen siwak, folioyvr, vancouver, bc, yvr

Tell us about your new book, Vancouver Cocktails: An Elegant Collection of Over 100 Recipes Inspired by the City on the Sea (Cider Mill Press, an imprint of HarperCollins Focus).

Vancouver Cocktails is part of the “city cocktail” series that includes Tokyo, London, Paris, and New York, among other global hotspots known for their bar scenes. It’s also the first book in the collection to showcase a Canadian city. There’s a ton of talent here. Many cocktail recipes in the book are from MICHELIN-starred venues, such as Published On Main and AnnaLena, as well as places that continually grace the world’s best bars lists, including Botanist Bar and the Lobby Lounge & RawBar, both in the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel. Readers can replicate some of these recipes at home and get a glimpse into the creative minds at work.

What inspiration did you find when writing Vancouver Cocktails?

“Obviously, the cocktail recipes, including the “must-know” classics, individual bartender stories, and the establishments themselves, are the book’s backbone. But I also wanted to craft a narrative that brings together Vancouver’s early history as a city built on booze—and which isn’t always a glamorous story—and an ever-evolving one that embodies the diversity of the people and distinctiveness of the neighbourhoods, showcases spirits from local distilleries, and everything else that has helped our cocktail scene become what it is today.”

vancouver cocktails, janet gyenes, helen siwak, folioyvr, vancouver, bc, yvr

“During my research, I learned the fascinating backstory of our city’s namesake cocktail, which was originally created at the Vancouver Club around 1925, even though it’s most associated with the Sylvia Hotel, where the actor Errol Flynn famously drank it in the 1950s. Now Notch8 in the Hotel Vancouver serves a modern version called Vancouver 2.0 (the recipe is in the book). Another local piece of history I uncovered was how a recipe for Hotel Georgia‘s signature cocktail appeared in a 1951 cocktail book—the first time the “dry shake” was described in print. Was that technique invented here at a time when celebs like Elvis were staying at the hotel? Fact and fiction are often muddled when it comes to cocktails. I was captivated by these stories I didn’t know, but I also hope anyone who reads this book, whether amateur cocktail enthusiast or pro bartender, learns a little something new or is inspired by what others have shared.”

vancouver cocktails, janet gyenes, helen siwak, folioyvr, vancouver, bc, yvr

What puts “Vancouver” in the recipes?

“Definitely a lot of ingredients foraged or found locally, spirits distilled right in the city, a reverence for the natural scenery, or an element found only in Vancouver. I put together a chapter called Hyper-Local Sipping, where recipes use things like “dust” made out of candy cap mushrooms, foraged sumac, dried larch needles, and cedar used for smoking… There’s no limit to the creativity.

From the outset, I also knew I wanted to write a chapter on cocktails inspired in some way by Asian culture. So you’ll find an espresso-martini riff from Anh and Chi, a MICHELIN Bib Gourmand choice, which draws on the sibling owners’ Vietnamese heritage. There are also a couple of recipes from Laowai, a glam speakeasy hidden behind a dumpling shop in Chinatown. Inside, guests are transported into a decadent 1930s Shanghai, a city I lived in for several years. Here, you can sip cocktails made with ingredients found at nearby vendors, such as lapsang souchong tea—a recipe in the book calls for it too—or get a taste of Chinese baijiu. The bar also stocks around 70 bottles of the spirit, including the infamous Maotai brand.”

vancouver cocktails, janet gyenes, helen siwak, folioyvr, vancouver, bc, yvr

About the Author

Janet Gyenes is an award-winning writer, photographer, and editor whose wanderlust has taken her to almost forty countries. Where she travels, Janet likes to learn what locals are distilling and brewing. She’s sipped bush beer on the island of Atiu in the South Pacific, biked to wineries in Mendoza, drank homemade snake wine in Vietnam, and sipped baijiu while horse-trekking in Inner Mongolia. A former beverage columnist for a lifestyle magazine, Janet has been writing about beverages for more than a decade. 

Janet grew up on the Sunshine Coast of BC but has lived in Vancouver for most of her life. She spent three years in China, where she explored Shanghai’s stellar bar scene. She is the co-author of two books, Moon Metro Vancouver and Vancouver: The Complete Resident’s Guide, and her work has appeared in Lonely Planet, Smithsonian, Culture Trip, and USA Today

All images for this story were provided by Cider Mill Press.

Author Profile

Helen Siwak, Luxury Lifestyle Observer
Helen Siwak, Luxury Lifestyle Observer
Helen Siwak is the founder of EcoLuxLuv Marketing & Communications Inc and publisher of Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, PORTFOLIOY.YVR Business & Entrepreneurs Magazine, and digital women's lifestyle magazine EcoLuxLifestyle.co. She is a prolific content creator, consultant, and marketing and media strategist within the ecoluxury lifestyle niche. Post-pandemic, she has worked with many small to mid-sized plant-based/vegan brands to build their digital foundations and strategize content creation and business development. Helen is the west coast correspondent to Canada’s top-read industry magazine Retail-Insider, holds a vast freelance portfolio, and consults with many of the world’s luxury heritage brands. Always seeking new opportunities and challenges, you can email her at helen@ecoluxluv.com.
Spread the love
fete chinoise, shangri-la hotel, vancouver, helen siwak, folioyvr, vancouver, bc, yvr Previous post Inaugural Fête Chinoise Signature Event Illuminated the Shangri-La
helen siwak, folioyvr, ecoluxury, lifestyle, luxury, vancouver, bc, yvr Next post Issue #23 – Helen Siwak, Publisher’s Message