Behind Bars: People’s Choice winner back for Art of the Cocktail

Expect something special from Cenote for this Victoria Film Festival fundraiser Oct. 19

When the team from Cenote Restaurant and Lounge signed up for their first appearance at The Art of the Cocktail, they had a pretty clear plan: let as many people as possible know who they were, where they are and what they do.

They went all out to create a memorable experience for attendees at the Victoria Film Festival’s 2018 fundraiser event at the Crystal Garden, doing their best to recreate the essence of their basement bar. And while competition wasn’t their focus, they wound up winning the people’s choice award for their tequila-based cocktail Night Swim.

Scott Lansdowne, the man behind Cenote’s cocktail program.

“We probably brought more stuff than anybody to create the same kind of essence that we have in our basement,” says Kevin Tahouney, who co-owns Cenote with Seth Asch and Scott Lansdowne, the man who oversees the bar side of their operation underneath Lyle’s Place Records at 768 Yates St.

The success enjoyed by the Cenote crew at Art of the Cocktail – yes, they’ll be back for the Oct. 19 event this year – belies the fact they only got serious about creating cocktails four years ago. For Lansdowne and his team of bartenders including Nate Caudle, Adam Price and James Harrison, creativity is the key. They seize on new items and new trends to create drinks that raise your eyebrows.

When I dropped by Cenote recently, I sampled a Pistol Whip (Bulleit bourbon, Triple Sec, absinthe, orgeat, lime and fresh mint) off the cocktail menu. I had just finished this delicious and refreshing beverage when Harrison whipped together an amazing, unnamed cocktail on the spot, with some ingredients he’d been working with lately. There’s that creativity in action.

Victoria Film Festival director Kathy Kay has seen Art of the Cocktail evolve from a business casual, after-5 affair to cocktail classy where attendees, like many of the exhibitors, also go all out.

“Now they’re stunning, absolutely stunning,” she says. “And this year with the Paris theme, I think we might even see some Chanel.”

There’s about 45 exhibitors expected this time around, including many newcomers, Kay says. While the majority are offering cocktails, more are expected to provide food items – a good thing for people looking to pace themselves. After all, this event doesn’t have tokens or tickets for drinks, it’s one ticket for everything. Which is likely a big reason it sells out about 900 tickets every year.

Among the features to watch for this year are an ice luge, courtesy Prince of Whales, with a mystery cocktail at the end; potato latkes and smoked salmon appetizers courtesy of The Village Restaurant, and fresh oysters from 10 Acres.

But in the end, it’s all about the cocktails. Tahouney says Cenote’s bar crew haven’t quite determined what they’ll be concocting for the event, but you can be assured it’ll be something special that will do the Victoria basement bar proud.

VIP tickets, with early entrance, are sold out but you can find general grand tasting tickets, along with more information, at artofthecocktail.ca.



editor@mondaymag.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Conflict expert explains how to talk to people who aren’t social distancing

Approach the conversation with empathy says conflict expert

COVID-19: Managing your mental health from isolation

Ministry of Mental Health, Addictions recommends numerous strategies for self-care during pandemic

Saanich moves forward with summer camp registration despite COVID-19

District to give full refunds if camps are cancelled

Sunday morning fire damages Victoria gas station

The fire on Fairfield Road caused $75,000 in estimated damages to tires and automotive equipment

Deadline extended for annual writing competition

Mail-in entry format makes Victoria Writer’s Society contest perfect for the times

‘Better days will return’: Queen Elizabeth delivers message amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Queen said crisis reminds her of her first address during World War II in 1940

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

COVID-19: Hospitals remain safe for childbirth, say Vancouver Island care providers

North Island Hospital has been asked to share its perinatal COVID-19 response plan

Canadian cadets to mark 103rd anniversary of Vimy Ridge April 9 virtually

Idea of Captain Billie Sheridan in Williams Lake, B.C. who wondered what to do in times of COVID-19

B.C. VIEWS: Pandemic shows need for adequate care home staffing

Seniors in B.C. care homes face challenging times

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

Researchers look at humidity as a weapon in the fight against airborne viruses

Regular hand washing, physical distancing and PPE for health care workers remains best line of defense

Most Read