Meditations

Refinery’s Cocktail Kitchen


It’s like finding a 100 dollar bill in your pocket. Oooo, maybe it’s more like the sudden realization that you are in the middle of such a good book you can’t put it down. No, actually it’s exactly like finding a hidden gem of a restaurant where the staff is so passionate about their imaginative and delicious fare that they want to share it with the entire world.
I guess it’s kind of unfair to describe the Refinery as hidden when it’s plunked as big as life at 1115 Granville street, but then so are dozens of other 50 seat establishments vying for our night-out dollars. It is not however any degree of exaggeration to say they want to share it with the entire world. The infectiously enthusiastic staff is serving up dishes from a different part of the world every month from now until January. Each week a different bartender is invited to match a set of 3 cocktails with the monthly plates. The celebrity mixers must use the chosen spirit of that month, and must utilize at least 1 of the 19 house bitters created by Refinery’s Bar Master, Lauren Mote.
The kick-off night featured Lauren herself creating the 3 Hornito Tequila based cocktails paired with chef Ben de Champlain (ex-Bin 941) Central American inspired plates.

Chef Ben de Champlain's 1st Course - Central America theme

First up, inspired by the west coast of Central America, we had a Qualicum scallop ceviche, chile, cilantro balanced with grapefruit and orange citrus. Beside was the braised fennel with guajillo chili dressing, which had a green tea flavor with berry overtones.

Refinery's Cocktail Kitchen - July 2010 - Central America

Lauren Mote's Aguas Fresca

Lauren paired this graciously with what she called

Aguas Fresca

1.5 oz Hornitos tequila
.5 oz homemade fennel seed and orange sherry bitters
1.5 oz watermelon water
.75 oz lime juice1 oz cane sugar
mint and cucumber foam

A refreshingly dangerous cocktail, whose nose of cucumber dissolved to a light watermelon affair on the way down. Lauren’s secret: A pinch of gelatin to hold the foam.

This was closely followed up with a Caribbean region inspired jerk spice poached prawn, tomato chayote and pineapple salad, pimento dressing (all spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, habanero hot sauce), served with avocado crema and a homemade fluffy soft tortilla.
I could have easily eaten a dozen of those prawns. Some may like to be able to experience the flavours together with a little less effort, but this is casual Caribbean.

Refinery's Cocktail Kitchen - July 2010

2nd Course with paired cocktal

Lauren countered with a cooling cocktail:

Tamarind Bushy Tree

1.5 oz Hornitos tequila
.5 oz homemade house bitters (Hi-proof whiskey base with coriander)
.75 oz lemon juice
1 oz tamarind allspice syrup
.25 oz cilantro water

That amazing crusty rim was a stucco of chili powder & dehydrated mango salt – truly inspired as it mirrored the plates spicy fruitiness.

Refinery's Cocktail Kiychen - July 2010 - 3rd Course

3rd course, Flank Steak

The finale featured a traditional Mexican flank steak, a fairly tough cut of meat which required a long marinade of Achiote & Driftwood Whitebark beer to make it tender. The slightly sloppy greens were a jicama, watercress and cucumber salad, jalapeno and cilantro dressing, grilled onions. All inspired by the Yucatan region of Mexico, it was rustic, hearty, and held a mild sneaky heat.

Lauren saved the best for last with a silky cloth in liquid form…

Refinery's Cocktail kitchen - July 2010 - 3rd Cocktail pairing

3rd cocktail pairing - Horchata Picante

Horchata Picante

1 oz Hornitos Tequila
.25 oz homemade ancho & chipotle bitters
.5 oz homemade chocolate vermouth
4 oz almond and rice milk horchata

Chocolate vermouth! Did you hear that! Wow, this sealed the deal for me. I walked out of the Refinery a happy and better man, glowing from the inside as I truly believe that this level of care put into food and drink becomes part of the being.

I would reserve now… at a paltry $30, every Thursday, this will surely sell out every week.

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