“A cocktail is an example of one’s passion”- Frankie Solarik
Last night I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Brent Vanderveen and Frankie Solarik; owners of the stylish and sophisticated barchef. Located on vibrant Queen Street West at the corner of Queen and Augusta; it is the only cocktail-focused bar in Toronto! barchef came on the scene on December 9th, 2008 with cocktails from $8 to $45 and there all totally worth it!!
Visually, this place is a dream! You step into a dark room that’s brought to life by candle light, and the scent of fresh herbs, spices and caramelised fruits immediately captures you. The decor is simple, clean and classic and you can’t help but notice the colorful glow of the 50lb block of ice that’s sits atop the bar, as well as the mise en place of fresh ingredients. There’s an energy in the room that is indescribable… Frankie greets us with a smile, as he places a simple and elegant menu in front of us; “Time for some cocktails ladies?”
There are four categories to this exciting menu: Recession, Sweet, Sour and Molecular.
The Recession page, an “ode to a classic style, with a barchef twist” features a variety of $8 cocktails, and a disclaimer that warns: “Drinks back in the day were hardcore so please bear in mind that you will taste the booze”. This page rocks!!
The Sweet page features a number of sweet and tantalizing $12 cocktails as well as two award winning cocktails. The Rosemary Orange, a popular cocktail that consists of vanilla infused lemoncello, Amaro, fresh squeezed orange, lemon, muddled rosemary, rosemary syrup, rosemary, vanilla, and a cinnamon sugar rim! Another popular cocktail is the Barchef Rocket- Toronto’s Official Cocktail! This cocktail consists of Smirnoff raspberry, curacao, fresh lime, lemoncello, pomegranate aril, and an effervescent citric sugar rim! Mmm mmm GOOD! Now that’s how you put on for your city!
The Lavender Cosmo, which by the way is my new favourite cocktail can be found on the Sour page. It features fresh muddled cranberry, lavender, vodka, navan, fresh lime, cranberry, vanilla, effervescent and a sugar rim. The cocktails on this page will really bring your taste buds to life! With the Lavender Cosmo you first taste the sweet crunchy sugar on the rim, followed by the smooth and delicate vanilla foam, and lastly the cool refreshing taste of the cranberry, vodka and fresh lime! This is definitely one for the ladies! Frankie enjoys playing with both taste and texture, and this cocktail is loaded with both!
The cocktail of ALL cocktails can be found on the Molecular page; The Vanilla Hickory Smoked Manhattan. If the name doesn’t get you, then the preparation will! This cocktail features vanilla and hickory smoked Crown Royal Extra Rare, fresh lemon, in-house cherry-vanilla bitter, hickory smoked syrup, and vanilla cognac. It’s $45 and is definitely worth every single penny! It’s sophisticated, savoury and smooth. This drink is for anyone that appreciates the finer things in life…
Interviewing Brent and Frankie was truly an amazing and inspiring experience. Frankie’s passion for cocktails is reflected in the menu, and is demonstrated in his cocktail preparation. His understanding of taste and how to pair ingredients to make unique and tasty cocktails is remarkable! He makes it a fun and interactive experience, answering questions from the mesmerized crowd all the while mixing, shaking, and even cooking! People whip out their cameras every time he makes the Vanilla Hickory Smoked Manhattan; there’s smoke, there’s fire, it’s quite a show! When asked how he feels about this cocktail he responds, “it’s the epitome of what I can do as far as respecting the subtlety and complexity of a spirit”. Spoken like a true mixologist. Brent speaks passionately about the cocktail movement, about wanting to introduce Toronto to the cocktail culture. Brent wants to show Toronto something new and exciting, and I they’re doing just that!
Visit their website www.barcheftoronto.com for hours of operations and more info!
In the words of Brent Vanderveen, “Don’t do the regular, DO Barchef!”
If you’re looking for something fun and new to do tonight, DO Barchef! Every Thursday is Absinthe Thursdays!!
“We don’t want to market ourselves as untouchable. We want everyone to come to barchef, enjoy a few cocktails with a good crowd, and have a good time”– Brent Vanderveen.
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