Hardly your grandfather's martini 

Ketel One introduces high-tech vodka preparation kit

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The Pique staff gathered for the annual Christmas staff party this year in the Bearfoot Bistro's lounge, and while there André St. Jacques promised columnist Leslie Anthony and I an advance tasting of a new drink.

"You have to check out this new drink," St. Jacques says to me early in the evening. "It will blow your mind!"

Since St. Jacques is the man responsible for putting on some of the greatest parties Whistler has ever seen, and is well known for his passion for food, drink and good times, I knew this was not an opportunity to miss. The restaurant entrepreneur set Chris Hoy, the Bearfoot's head bartender, in motion. Hoy leaves the party in a hurry, returning minutes later with what looks like a fancy copper kettle.

"Maybe this new drink is a modern take on hot buttered rum?" I think to myself. I also speculate internally that maybe Hoy has come up with a funky Rooibos tea spiked with brandy or a new take on adult hot chocolate.

Hoy has quietly tucked himself away across the Listel Hotel lobby in the hotel's lounge, working on the concoction.

Bearfoot marketing manager Marc Des Rosier eases into the dining room on a mission. When he spies me standing in a corner with my wife and a group of Pique writers he swiftly makes his way straight to our small group.

"André is ready for you now in the lounge," says Des Rosier with a coy, larger than usual smile.

The look in his eye seems to confirm St. Jacques' earlier commitment to offer up a new taste sensation that will change my vision of whatever cocktail is about to be reinvented.

We stride into the lounge to discover Anthony sitting at the bar in front of the very same copper kettle I saw earlier, along with a tray filled with some lemon, three small olives stuffed with blue cheese and an extra-large olive. Beside the tray is the kettle, which has the Ketel One vodka logo pressed into it, on a small stand. An unmarked tall black vessel sits beside the kettle.

St. Jacques wheels into the lounge, as Hoy starts to explain that he's going to prepare the coldest possible vodka martini through a reverse boiling process using liquid nitrogen.

Turns out, my guesses aren't even close.

Hoy launches right into it pouring cold Ketel One and vermouth into the kettle. He pours liquid nitro over the exterior of the kettle — a thin, white cloud envelopes the vessel as small beads of nitrogen fall onto the kettle stand. Hoy super cools three tall drink holders using the nitro, fills them with the contents of the kettle then prepares a drink using citrus for my wife, blue cheese-stuffed olives for me and the larger olive for Anthony.

All three of us take our first sips and agree this drink experience is truly mind blowing. Three happy cocktail drinkers enjoying the coldest martinis in the world — mission accomplished for Hoy, Des Rosier and St. Jacques.


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