“This drink was inspired by the first trade routes between India and North America.”
Shane Beehan, the award winning bartender from Field Guide, pops a dried rosebud into my cocktail glass then sets to work combining Hendricks with honey, earl grey, and blood orange marmalade.
The result is a drink he calls “Moseley Tea Service”. It’s a tart, refreshing, and not too sweet concoction that goes down way too easy. It’s a drink that doesn’t just taste great, but where scent and appearance were carefully considered, making my first cocktail at Imbibe a multi-sensory experience.
Field Guide and The Middle Spoon have been my go-to suggestions when visitors ask where to go for cocktails in Halifax, but last night Imbibe expanded that list. This year, the annual cocktail event brought together 24 Halifax restaurants and their resident bartenders to show off their skills in the Schooner Showroom at Casino Nova Scotia.
There were bacon straws, jalapeño syrups, balsamic vinegar, sriracha, and spiced beet-apple cordial. Mangos were salted, mint was massaged, lime leaves were muddled.
I found a new favourite in Agricola Street Brasserie. Their strawberry and hibiscus take on a margarita almost made me forget the 10 feet of snow outside, plus their display of shiny brass and citrus fruit was oh-so-pretty.
But it was Gio that got my vote for best cocktail. They served up two – the Blueberry Stumble, a concoction of blueberry jam tea, amaretto and cinnamon syrup and the Ancho White Sour with amaretto and bourbon, lemon juice, and ancho white syrup. I had a hard time deciding between their two cocktails but in the end the Ancho got my beads.
I’m not a cocktail connoisseur, but in this case the judges agreed. Both the people’s choice AND the best in show went to GIO.
I didn’t make it to all 24 stations. Even with good use of the pour buckets and pacing I could only manage a taste of 10. I most regret missing the Garden Island Iced Tea at Bistro Le Coq and the Royal Supernova at Onyx.
More food would have been a welcome addition to the event, and while I liked the mood lighting I would have loved a little well-lit Instagram station to park my drinks for some pretty photos, but @allisomething gave me a crash course in cocktail shadow photography.
This is the first time that Savour Food and Wine extended an invitation to Imbibe to local media and bloggers, so I attended this event free of charge. The regular ticket price for this event is $49.00 and includes access to all food and drinks showcased at the event. I left with a new appreciation for Halifax’s growing cocktail scene and a list of new recommendations for cocktail night.
Imbibe is one in a series of food events put on by RANS as part of The Savour Food and Wine Festival, a month-long celebration of local food and drink. The main event, The Savour Food and Wine Show, takes place on March 5th at the World Trade and Convention Centre. Tickets are $79.00 and can be purchased HERE.