June 06, 2018
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of finishing my day off by stopping at Juniper Kitchen + Bar on Keefer Street in Vancouver’s Chinatown neighbourhood. It’s clearly a popular after work venue as the restaurant filled up very quickly after my friend and I had arrived.
Juniper Kitchen + Bar is one of the participating businesses in the Buy BC: EAT DRINK LOCAL program. What’s unique about Juniper is that they not only feature local food but also serve hyper-local cocktails. How cool is that!
Head Bartender, Max Borrowman, said the local aspect was a focus from the start.
“The owners wanted to get something going that mimicked the local distillery scene, but opening a distillery proved difficult for this neighbourhood. They opted for a restaurant and cocktail bar instead.”
This was the right choice to make as it’s clearly a perfect fit for the neighbourhood.
“The ambience and design are meant to imitate the vibe of a distillery: high ceilings, copper lighting etc.,” Max explains. “That coupled with local distilleries’ products and a local, seasonally rotating food menu from the region of Cascadia, and voila!”
So, How Were Their Local Cocktails?
Amazing! While I was there I tasted several different cocktails. First up, I ordered the IPA Sour, made with Pemberton Distilling Schramm Gin, local IPA liqueur, citrus, botanicals, grapefruit and hops bitters. It was delicious – what a great flavour profile – and is also one of the recommended items on their EAT DRINK LOCAL profile!
We followed up with a recommended special from Max; a Hazy Monk – Tempo Renovo gin, crème de cacao, lime, orange, cacao and coffee bitters, egg white and Strange Fellows Brewing’s Hazy IPA. We both loved this one – the hint of cacao was fantastic.
As you can tell from the ingredient list, Juniper Kitchen + Bar focuses on local products in their cocktails.
“We use a lot of local craft distilleries’ gins, liqueurs, vermouths and whiskeys,” Max explains. “We also use local ingredients like locally produced bitters, and fruits and nuts that are native to our area of the world as much as possible.
“Some of the local ingredients we are using at the moment are huckleberries, blueberries, spruce tips and craft beer. Not all are in season but we freeze the fresh produce from last year to make some of our syrups and shrubs.”
While they don’t have specific ‘partnerships’ with distilleries, they do use products from many local distilleries. Odd Society, Sheringham, Ampersand Distilling, fellow Buy BC: EAT DRINK LOCAL businesses Wayward Distillation, Sea Cider and a number of BC wines by the bottle and glass are just some examples.
“We are also doing a lot with local distilleries right now that are producing product that’s a little more on the light side,” Max says. “Gins like Sheringham and Ampersand are lovely this time of year. With the food we try to use veggies that are in season as well as meats that are from farms as local as possible.”
The kitchen is just as local as the bar – with seasonal menus that change depending on what’s available. However, they don’t change their entire menu with the seasons. As Max explains, they try to alternate their seasonal menu just to keep people guessing. This provides a lot of variety to choose from!
“We just switched over to our Spring menu, which incorporates a lot of herbs because they have such a spring-like flavour. Dill, basil, rosemary, cilantro and parsley are featured heavily.
And if you’re looking for a pairing between Juniper’s delicious food and their amazing cocktails?
“I would say our cured salmon right now is awesome with the new West Coast Sour,” Max says. “The salmon is cured in house and accompanied by house-made rye crackers with dill and smoked crème fraiche. The cocktail has Sheringham Gin, spruce tip, lemon and dill giving the salmon a nice fresh kick.”
You can find Juniper Kitchen + Bar at 185 Keefer St, open from 4.30pm every day. Be sure to tag us on social media when you stop by!
Contributor: Sarah Mawji