Follow Me Foodie to the BC Blueberry Cocktail Competition Event Recap & Recipes!
Who needs fifty shades of grey when you can have fifty shades of blue?! I actually have no idea what Fifty Shades of Grey is even about, but I’m scared to look it up because I might turn a shade of red. I was perhaps a shade of pink after this event anyway though. A few cocktails and I don’t even have to worry about applying blush. I was recently invited to the BC Blueberry BBQ & Cocktail Competition at the Four Seasons Vancouver and here is my recap.
It was battle bartenders and blueberries, but no punches were thrown and no hearts were broken, and the only thing left bruised was me… and maybe some egos. I’m kidding about the egos, but I really did end up with a random bruise on my hip and hand which matched my blue dress and stained blueberry lips. See, I really was representing all shades of blue.
It was all friendly competition, but there had to be a winner and the BC Blueberry Cocktail Champion was “The World’s Most Imaginative Bartender“… who is David Wolowidnyk aka David W. from West Restaurant.
From Bombay Sapphires to blueberries I don’t know if there is anything he can’t mix… except maybe beats, although he could be musically talented. He really is one of Vancouver’s favourite bartenders, but I’m going to have to ask him to stop entering competitions if he keeps winning them! He’s almost becoming the Usain Bolt of the cocktail world… oh my gosh, he’s becoming the Usain Bolt of the cocktail world… which in that case I take it back. May he continue to shake things up for Vancouver!
This is the third blueberry post I’ve written this summer (see my blueberry field trip here, and my 10 BC Ingredients post here), and I think I could just keep on going. Either BC Blueberries is doing a great job marketing them, or I really am that obsessed with them. It’s actually a little bit of both, or a lot of both. I honestly love blueberries and it’s definitely one of my favourite fruits. I look forward to them all year and the frozen ones just aren’t the same. Sure they’re still good, but the flavour isn’t as intense as when they’re fresh.
When food is so cold it actually freezes your taste buds so you can’t taste as well, and that’s why ice cold beer is pointless and things like ice cream need to be sweeter, or you wouldn’t taste them as much. Anyway I could go on another rant, but I’ll leave it there because this is about blueberries.
Since this was a one time event I’m not going to comment too much on the food or cocktails, however each bartender may feature their own cocktail at their own respective restaurant. The food and desserts may also be available in some variation at YEW at the Four Seasons. Regardless, it is great inspiration and there were creative things that I want to attempt making at home.
BC Blueberry Cocktail Winner: David Wolowidnyk from West
Dave made the Northern Highbush cocktail which is named after the most popular BC blueberry. I think this was the most expected cocktail and what most would imagine a blueberry cocktail to be like. Blue in colour, bright and vibrant and very sweet and almost equally sour. He used a blueberry shrub (fruit pickled in vinegar) and lemon juice so it was quite acidic. It was probably the booziest, most blueberry forward in flavour, and it had a definite zing and aromatics.
Northern Highbush Cocktail Recipe
By David Wolowidnyk, West Restaurant
1½ oz Victoria Gin
¾ oz Blueberry Shrub (see recipe below)
½ oz Tarragon Syrup (2:1) (see recipe below)
¼ oz Lemon Juice
dash Black Pepper Tincture (see recipe below)
dash Violette Liqueur
- Shake all ingredients with ice until very cold.
- Strain into a cocktail coupe.
- Garnish by spraying with a mist of Violette Liqueur
2 parts Blueberries, 1 part Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 part Sugar.
Simmer the blueberries, vinegar, and sugar for 10 minutes. Press through a fine strainer, bottle, cap & chill.
2 parts Sugar, 1 part Water, two large bunches of Tarragon.
Simmer the sugar and water until dissolved. Pour hot syrup over two large handfuls of tarragon & let sit until cool. Strain out tarragon, pour into a bottle, cap & chill.
Black Pepper Tincture:
500ml Black peppercorns, 750ml neutral spirit.
Combine the peppercorns and the neutral spirit. Let sit for 1 week. Strain out solids, pour into bottle.
Justin Taylor from YEW Restaurant
Justin made a cocktail that went down too easily. Although it wasn’t that sweet, I could have it for dessert. It was almost malted and chocolaty in colour and texture. It was an unexpected surprise. He also used a shrub (up and coming cocktail “trend” that he actually educated me about first), and was the only one that didn’t use any expected lemon juice. It was quite subtle in its degree of sweetness and sourness and neither were obvious or sharp. It was very creamy, rich in texture, yet mild in flavour and the egg whites rounded it out. I don’t care if egg white foams are a “dated cocktail trend”, when they have a purpose and are made well they do wonders. I love egg white cocktails and I really liked this.
The BC 100 Mile Blues Cocktail Recipe
By Justin Taylor – YEW Restaurant
2 oz fresh pressed BC Blueberries
1 oz Victoria Gin
1 oz Tugwell Mead
1/4 oz Venturi Schulz Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 oz Pasteurized Egg Whites
1/2 oz Honey Water
drizzle of Blueberry Syrup
The honey water is made by simply adding equal parts of honey and water together to allow the honey to break down in the cocktail. It is essentially simple syrup. The blueberry syrup is made with equal parts blueberry juice and honey and reduced over heat to give it more viscosity. All the ingredients minus the blueberry syrup are added to a Boston mixing glass with ice. It is then shaken vigorously and double strained into a cocktail glass. The garnish is applied using the syrup as ink to draw on top of the cocktail.
Jon Smolensky from Hawksworth Restaurant
Jon made a 100 Mile Cocktail Recipe just like the other bartenders. The blueberries weren’t as obvious in flavour or appearance, but it was probably the most dynamic and original in flavour. This was the richest and creamiest of the three, but there was enough acidity to cut it. Again it wasn’t sweet enough that I would say it was dessert, although it could be for some. He also used egg whites in his cocktail and together with the cream it was almost like egg nog. The lemons helped ease the richness and it was a bit fizzy too and it shared characteristics of an ice cream float, but not nearly as sweet or heavy. The birch syrup was a nice current ingredient and twist from maple syrup. It’s less sweet, more tart and a bit savoury and it enhances that blueberry aspect. I would call that the secret ingredient.
100 Mile Fizz Cocktail Recipe
By Jon Smolensky – Hawksworth Restaurant
Fraser Valley Fresh whole cream
A whole bunch of locally grown lemon verbena
Fraser valley Free range brown eggs
High quality BC birch syrup (use 100 percent maple syrup if the pure birch syrup is unavailable)
1. In a 1l mason jar, put a handful of picked lemon verbena leaves and 1 bottle of gin together. Seal the lid and let macerate for at least 12 hours at room temperature, checking periodically.
2. Strain out the lemon verbena from the gin and set aside.
3. In a cocktail shaker, muddle a handful of blueberries. If you have a juicer or a blender, even better. In that case, add the equivalent of 1 1/4 oz fresh blueberry juice.
4. Crack one egg and separate the white from the yolk. Put the white in the shaker, save the yolk for an omelette later!
5. Add 1 oz of cream, 1 1/2 oz of your infused lemon verbena gin, the juice of 1/2 a lemon, and 1/2 oz of pure birch syrup (make sure it’s pure…if not, use pure maple syrup instead)
6. Close the shaker and dry shake first to emulsify the egg whites in the cocktail.
7. Open the shaker up, add ice, and shake hard again. Strain the cocktail into a Collins glass filled with ice.
8. Top with a little soda water and garnish with a slapped lemon verbena top to express some aromatics.
9. Put a straw in it and enjoy your 100 mile fizz!
Grilled Qualicum Scallops & Blueberry Agrodolce Recipe
By: Ned Bell at YEW Restaurant at The Four Seasons
BC Blueberry Agrodolce
2 cups + 1 cup fresh BC Blueberries
1/8 cup local honey
1/8 cup Venturi Schulze balsamic vinegar
1 shallot, thinly sliced into rings
1 /2 tsp sea salt
1 sprig fresh thyme
1. In a small pot, simmer 2 cups blueberries with honey, balsamic, sliced shallots, sea salt and fresh thyme for 5 minutes over medium heat.
Remove from the heat and add remaining 1 cup blueberries. Let cool.
1-2 Qualicum scallops per person,
1. Season with sea salt and cracked black pepper.
2. Grill to medium rare.
1 bulb fennel, diced into ¼ inch cubes
2 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic
1 cup 35 % cream
1 tsp sea salt
1. Over medium heat, saute the fennel in the butter with the garlic for 5 minutes.
2. Add the cream and sea salt, simmer until the fennel in tender, puree in a Vita mix blender until smooth.
1. Spread 2 tbsp warm fennel puree on the plate, place scallops on top and then
2. Garnish with 1 tbsp of the BC Blueberry Argodolce.
3. Finish with a few fresh thyme leaves and enjoy!