In the words of Queen Victoria herself;
“The important thing is not what they think of me, but what I think of them.”
Firstly, find a hotel that has your last stop in it. The nightcap is a key feature to a perfect night on the town.
Secondly, consider the next morning conveniences. Mostly, food, parking, and noise.
Stepping out into Victoria is like going back in time. The cobbled streets and picturesque harbour bring you to the “Victorian” age. A time when the european influences were far more obvious. Victoria is steeped in the history of the colonial industries.
Although Victoria’s history dates back centuries with names like James Cook and George Vancouver, the “drinks history” is very modern. The name that whispers throughout the “drinks scene” in Victoria is Shawn Soole. The larger than life Australian character that embodies the modern professional bartender. The latest news has Shawn re-opening the Cafe Mexico but we will save that for last stop to be sure we do it justice.
We go with the “Caray-me-Away Sidecar”, because we are suckers for sherry in cocktails. Torres 5 yr Spanish Brandy, Amontillado Sherry, orange and caraway syrup and fresh lemon. Delicious, balanced and refreshing.
The restaurant space is beautiful and enormous. It has a cocktail menu to match, with a range of “Fairmont” and local classics. We stick to the sherry inspirations and go for the “Dapper Gentlemen”. A combination of Gentlemen Jack, Olorrosso Sherry and Amaro Averna.
If Clive’s was where cocktails were born in Victoria, the afore-mentioned Shawn Soole was the father. .
“Top 10 Hotel Bars in the World” by Tales of the Cocktail, Clive’s Classic Lounge is the best place in Victoria to experience craft mixology.
We settle into a “Monje” cocktail with Hornitos black barrel Tequila, Campari, yellow Chartreuse, lemon juice, berry tea syrup and Scrappy’s chocolate bitters.
We start with the margarita’s and quickly move into the custom creations from behind the bar. A bottle of Sotol being sold at cost price, brings us to the end of our experience. We left with smiles, full bellies, and a looming agave headache.
Fittingly, we were served “The long kiss goodnight” cocktail. Which was exactly what a nightcap should be. Bold, sweet, and with a rich with digestif qualities.Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Amaro Abano, strawberry red wine syrup and cacao coffee bitters.
After a decent nights rest we had time to kill before taking the ferry back to the mainland and decided that catching the Royal BC Museum would be a great way to spend the morning. Taking in the rich history of the first settlers in Canada, the languages of the native tribes of British Columbia and the history of Victoria’s colonial past. Truly fascinating and worth a visit from any cocktail historian.
Victoria is a place where the drinks and people are steeped in history and worth getting familiar with.