Over the last month there have been a few faces missing from The Keefer Bar. As summer approaches, some of our management team have taken the opportunity to escape Vancouver while we still can and expand our knowledge of spirits, cocktails and drinking culture around the world, as well, of course, to enjoy a little vacation and party time.

Keenan and Navin took some time to catch some sun in the Mexican beach town of Puerto Escondido, keeping well hydrated on cervesas and agave spirits before joining up with Dani, herself, having her fair share of time in paradise at a Hawaiian yoga retreat. They, Along with a contingency of Canadian bar professionals, converged on Oaxaca for a comprehensive Mezcal tour, hosted by Los Siete Misterios Mezcal. Over 5 days, the crew learned everything from the agricultural aspects of agave production (How NOT to handle a freshly harvested agave) through to elements of distillation in clay pot stills, a method not commonly seen before Mezcal burst onto the Canadian bartender radar last year. Of course, our team mastered the art Mezcal consumption, incorporating traditional accompaniments to Mezcal like Sal de Gustano (a style of salt made by blending with the larvae living in the agave). The crew ended their trip with a few nights in Mexico City, making cocktails for the rest of the group and sampling the Mezcal creations at some of the best cocktail establishments that Mexico has to offer.

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Gez claimed his prize for the recent Giffard Iron Bartender competition hosted at Legacy Liquor Store and took off for Angers, France, to compete for the Keefer Bar and Canada in the Giffard West cup cocktail competition (of which Dani won in 2010). Accompanied by Scot Curry from Alta Bistro in Whistler and the infamous, Jay Jones (judging the event) the trio had time to explore Paris for a weekend before heading to Angers, the home of Giffard. There they competed against 22 bartenders from 14 countries. Although Canada didn’t bring home the bacon this time, the boys put in exceptional performances! Gez took the time while in Europe to explore some of the most famous liquor producing regions in the world, Cognac and Bordeaux. While in Cognac, team Canada was hosted most graciously by Alexander Gabriel of Pierre Ferrand (PF Cognac, Citadel Gin and Plantation Rum launching in Canada this July) along with a full day touring the spectacular facilities of Hennessy. This week of excellent food, wine and cognac will no doubt serve as a muse for upcoming cocktail creation!

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With a fully rested and freshly inspired team, you can be sure that the custom creations and upcoming summer drinks list will be full of unique surprises and utilizing new techniques learned abroad, all in order to tantalize the palates of Vancouver! See you for a Mezcal or Cognac cocktail soon!

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