Drinking in the mountains 

Renowned mixologist draws inspiration from global peaks for Four Seasons' new cocktail menu

click to enlarge PHOTO BY LEILA KWOK - through the looking glass Four Seasons Whistler has rolled out an ambitious cocktail program inspired by iconic mountains from around the world.
  • PHOTO by Leila kwok
  • through the looking glass Four Seasons Whistler has rolled out an ambitious cocktail program inspired by iconic mountains from around the world.

Whistler's picturesque views offer the perfect backdrop for enjoying a beverage in the mountains. Now, the Four Seasons is taking that a step further with its ambitious new, mountain-inspired cocktail menu.

The Upper Village hotel recently unveiled "Spirit of the Mountains," a program devised by renowned mixologist Lauren Mote that pays tribute to some of the globe's most iconic peaks.

"I take inspiration from a lot of different places, but in the case of the Four Seasons Whistler's new program, the mountains, the flora and the fauna of these global regions provide an incredible resource for flavours and storytelling," wrote Mote in an email while travelling through the Middle East. "I am able to share these stories of the culture, showcasing the natural world and flavours from each region, while being innovative and delicious at the same time."

Known for her talents behind the bar, Mote is a Vancouver-based mixologist, sommelier, writer and co-founder of the award-winning Bittered Sling Bitters and the Diageo Reserve & World Class Global Cocktailian. Mote was tapped by the Four Seasons to come up with the menu, which represents mountainous terrain from four different quadrants of the globe, the Northwest, Northeast, Southwest and Southeast, using ingredients that reflect each distinct locale.

There's the Sunda Punch, taking its name from the Sunda Plate, which reaches north to the southern tip of Japan and south around the arc of Indonesia, and is home to frequent earthquakes. A play on the margarita, the drink is a tequila punch "with a few surprises blooming in the porthole infuser" that is inspired by the lands surrounding this active volcanic range.

"It's a really interesting way to serve a tequila punch," noted Mote, "inspired by the fruits and flavours of Indonesia and tropical climates — brought to life with Don Julio Tequila Blanco and Bittered Sling Moondog Latin Bitters."

Representing the Southwest region is Orinoco Julep, named after one of the longest rivers in South America, which travels 250 kilometres through high mountainous terrain. The julep-style cocktail is made with Johnnie Walker Black, Tonka bean and spice, white Vermouth and green chartreuse, mint, and plum and root beer bitters.

There's also the Matterhorn cocktail, named after one of the Alps' tallest peaks, which combines flavours from across Europe and the Middle East. It features Tanqueray gin, white port and clingstone peach bitters, clementine, cinnamon and sparkling wine.

Closer to home, the London Mountain draws from Whistler Mountain's original moniker, and showcases British Columbian flora with a cosmopolitan twist. Featuring Ketel One vodka, Whistler's "Hygge chai," with elderberry, ginger and black tea, as well as Okanagan blackcurrant, aromotized wine, lemon juice and wildflower honey.

Mote's irrepressible creativity has led to a literary approach when crafting cocktails that begins with a pen and a pad.

"I write stories and essays first, and where illustrations normally exist within the pages of a book, I add in cocktails to help tell the stories of heritage, craftsmanship and culture of individual ingredients, and ultimately the cocktail itself," she explained.

Unsurprisingly, Mote's cocktails tend to reach a level of artistry rarely found behind the average bar, the aesthetic of a drink just as essential as the flavours in the glass.

"We eat with our eyes first, touch and aroma second, followed by the palate/taste, and hopefully it's complemented with chatter, great music and ambience — why not spend some extra time making the cocktail beautiful in every way that it can be?" she wondered. "The concepts of 'thoughtfulness' and 'taking care through preparation' aren't difficult, the bartender has to be passionate enough to bring their stories to life through the glass."

When asked how the amateur mixologist can raise the bar on their own homemade cocktails, Mote gets a bit philosophical.

"Read books and watch YouTube, listen to podcasts and learn a multitude of disciplines — you'd be surprised how much a music, art, pastry, cooking or wine background can carve out an interesting niche for each person," she advised. "The pursuit of greatness in our industry rests in the hands of the beholder, and what makes us individually spectacular is our attention to detail, education, a selfless attitude towards service and the environment, and a love for creating sensational moments for our guests."

The Four Seasons' Spirit of the Mountains program features six cocktails in all, available at the hotel's in-house steak restaurant, Sidecut. Visit sidecutwhistler.com for more information.

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