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Sabrine Dhaliwal creates classic holiday cocktails


I love crafting holiday cocktails that entice with comforting flavours and aromas.

By Sabrine Dhaliwal
Baking spices like cinnamon, pumpkin, cardamom and, of course, eggnog, all bring warmth and pleasure on the chill of short winter days and long winter nights. You think pumpkin pie, cookies, gingerbread, fruitcake and plum pudding.

As bar manager at West Restaurant in Vancouver, I am always looking to translate the flavours of the food and the season into our cocktails. It’s fun to find inspiration in the food.

During the colder time of the year, we see a lot more dark spirits like bourbon, brandy and rum. Gin and vodka will always be there, but around the holidays people are looking more for warming spirits that are richer, with a fuller mouth feel.

Vancouver has so many women bartenders, and a wonderfully supportive network of professionals. When I won “The Challenge,” Belvedere Vodka’s international contest to create a legendary martini cocktail in London, England, this past summer, it came as a bit of a surprise. In the excitement of adrenalin and the fog of fatigue, it took a few moments to sink in. And then pure joy. I am just so thrilled to bring this award back to Vancouver and the team at West.

The food pairing challenge proved difficult for the competitors, but I had an advantage working in a restaurant where we do that on a day-to-day basis. We always strive to accompany the food with a cocktail that will really bring out the best in both. That’s part of the satisfaction of this job.
Rum N’ Apples

Whole egg
1.5 oz Lemon Hart Demerara Rum
¾ oz Cinnamon Syrup (recipe below)
½ oz Giffard Manzana Apple Liqueur

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail, dry shake (without ice), shake a second time with ice.
Strain into a cocktail coupe, garnish with fresh grated nutmeg.

Cinnamon Syrup:
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick

This will make a 2:1 flavoured simple syrup.
Bring water and cinnamon stick to a boil, allow to volume to reduce by half.
Remove cinnamon stick, add sugar, stir until all sugar is dissolved.
Cool at room temperature then refrigerate for up to 4 weeks.