By HANNA DEEVES
Whether you’re in Calgary for business or pleasure, there is always time for a good cocktail. For bars that can cater to your preferences with alluring drink lists, it’s important to know where the creative bartenders are.
This summer Bombay Sapphire hosted their 11th annual Most Imaginative Bartender contest, crowning Dylan McLeod of Native Tongues, Jeff Savage of Proof, and Timo Salimaki of The Living Room regional winners in Calgary.
Timo Salimaki went on to win Most Imaginative Bartender in Canada, so, with his new title and worldly experience, he was the obvious choice to ask about the Calgary bar scene.
“For a lot of places that I’ve gone to around the world, it’s just all about making a really good drink. And people in Calgary definitely know how to do that,” Salimaki says. “If any of these bartenders were in any other major city, they would be at the top of their game as well.”
Salimaki says that most of his drinks have a savory approach and the inspiration for the winning cocktail The Mirepoix Experience came from a batch of soup he made on a rainy day, and accidentally made too much of.
“I remember eating this soup after five days and the flavours had become so complex. And then I don’t know for some reason I decided ‘Hey gin would be a really good addition to this.’”
Canada’s Most Imaginative Bartender shares his favourite spots
The philosophy behind Proof is to respect bartending traditions and craft drinks that satisfy curiosity. The bar is designed for everyone to have sitting room and the menu features both classics and creative creations. Proof is Salimaki’s favourite spot when he’s not mixing his own drinks. “They make fantastic daiquiris.” Salimaki says that’s his favourite drink and though it is simple, it’s hard to make well.
•1302 1 St SW, 403-246-2414. proofyyc.com
Betty Lou’s Library
This bar is the dream for anyone that grew up watching spy movies. Entrance to this bar is by password only that you have to call ahead to get with your reservation. But you have to find the door yourself.
•The Devenish Building – 908 17 Ave SW, 403-454-4774. bettylouslibrary.com
One of Calgary’s first cocktail bars setting the standard high for all the rest.
•1410 4 St SW, 403-261-5009. milktigerlounge.ca
Designed for smaller groups this speakeasy rotates their menu monthly with weekly features and snack bar form the Model Milk kitchen.
•300 17 Ave SW, 403-265-7343. modelmilk.ca
Their mission is to be the best Mexican restaurant in Canada by exploring and interpret Mexico’s cultural diversity through food, drink and hospitality.
•235 12 Ave SW, 403-263-9444. nativetongues.ca
The Living Room
Home bar to Canada’s Most Imaginative Bartender, General Manager Timo Samlimaki, The Living Room provides comfort food with a modern twist. The creative cocktail menu changes three times a year to suit the seasons and the best ingredients.
•514 17th Ave SW, 403-228-9830. livingroomrestaurant.ca
Have what it takes to tackle the winning cocktails? Give these recipes a try.
The Mirepoix Experience – Timo Salimaki, The Living Room
2oz Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin
1.75oz Spiced Mirepoix Tincture
0.5oz Ginger Syrup
0.5oz Lemon Juice
2 dashes Bittercube Orange Bitters
Lives Gone By – Dylan Mcleod, Native Tongues Taqueria
1.5 oz Seaweed infused Bombay Sapphire Gin
0.5 oz Miro Blanco Vermouth
0.5 oz Maidenii Dry Vermouth
0.25 oz Silvio Carta Vernaccia Di Oristano
2 drops Bar 40 salt bitters
Manu Et Corde – Jeff Savage, Proof Cocktail Bar
1.75 oz Bombay Sapphire
0.75 oz Corde Vermouth*
0.75 oz Lemon Juice
0.5 oz Orgeat
3 Dash Bittercube Corazon Bitters
*Corde Vermouth is made by aromatizing Muscato wine with Juniper, Black Pepper, Fenugreek, Rosemary and Wormwood