After a long, hard day of spectating - tromping on and off of busses, standing in lines and then, of course, cheering on our athletes as they compete - those of us in the stands for the Games will have earned a drink. While there's nothing wrong with keeping things simple and grabbing an icy wobbly pop on a patio, some establishments are getting very innovative with their drink menus for the Olympics. Here are a few experiences worth checking out:
Bundle up for the Belvedere Room
The Bearfoot Bistro is renowned for their ability to throw a party. They're already a destination for wine and bubbly lovers, with a fabled underground treasure trove of thousands of bottles of the good stuff. And now they're diving headfirst into one of the hottest culinary trends: vodka. Just in time for the Olympics, they've unveiled Canada's first sub-zero vodka room, the Belvedere Ice Room, converting their former cigar lounge into what is essentially a very large, posh refrigerator lined with slabs of clear ice with shelves notched for bottles. Patrons can swaddle themselves in Canada Goose down jackets and wolf-fur trimmed hats to stay toasty in the minus-18 Celsius room while they sip and sample some of the 50 vodkas from around the world, paired with a sumptuous spread of gravadlax, oysters and caviar.
Put a chill on your wine
The folks at Inniskillin have teamed up with the Hilton to host a few special events in the Cinnamon Bear Bar and Grill throughout the Olympics, starting with a "Small World"-themed Olympic launch party held on the day the torch rolled into town. They've set up a solid ice "luge" to funnel samples of their lovely ice wine, ensuring each glass is nicely chilled. While the luge won't be "running" on a daily basis, look for it again on Feb. 12 and 28, when they host parties to mark the opening and closing of the Games.
Belly up to the ice bar
Monk's Grill in the Upper Village is so serious about cocktail hour that they've partnered with Minus 5, a company out of New Zealand, to construct a temporary outdoor ice lounge. Housed in an illuminated inflatable tent right beside the restaurant, the lounge features impressive ice sculptures of a Canadian bobsled and snowboarder, tables and a place to snuggle up. Even the glasses are made of solid ice, but before you start envisioning that terrible scene from A Christmas Story , your lips and tongue won't stick to the rim (there's no humidity in the lounge). This chilly experience is open from noon 'til midnight and admission is $20, which includes your choice of four Olympic-themed cocktails (Canadian "Eh," Helter Skeleton, Skyy Jump and Gold Medal).
2010 cocktail concoctions
While not all bars have gone to the lengths of building special bars for the Games, many have come up with some pretty cool new drinks. Check 'em out:
Fifty-Two 80 Bistro & Bar at the Four Seasons has created the Torch Cocktail, a fusion of Monavie energy drink, pear puree and lemongrass-infused vodka all poured into a tall torch shaped glass, and lit on fire. A flaming delicacy for $28.
The Mallard Lounge at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler has created an impressive list of seven Legacy Cocktails, priced between $14 and $20.10. My money's on the Triple Lutz, which includes three key Canadian ingredients: Victoria Cellars Gin, Crystal Head vodka from Newfoundland and their chef's own whiskey-infused Quebec maple syrup. Topped with an ice wine-infused foam, this is one cocktail that truly celebrates Canada from coast to coast.
The Mix at Ric's has three special cocktails on the menu for the Games - the Golden, a blend of Belvedere vodka and Patron citronage with champagne and a citrus twist; the Maple Pride, which features Canadian Club, vermouth and maple syrup served as a classic Manhattan with a Canadian twist; and the Olympic Dream, Victoria gin with Okanagan ice wine, Whistler glacier water served shaken and chilled. Prices range from $12 to $13.50 throughout the Olympics.
Last but certainly not least, the longtime locals' fave, Rim Rock Cafe, has also gotten into the spirit of things behind the bar, whipping up nationally and internationally-inspired beverages like the B.C. Martini, Newfoundland Longshot (three ounces of Iceberg Vodka shaken hard, served with large ice and a smoked fish stuffed olive), Team America, the Russian Defector, Scottish Dream and many more.