New Whistler cocktail elevates the beet 

Drink ingredients emphasize products found regionally

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With the explosive success of the 100-mile diet it was only a matter of time before we saw it's reincarnation elsewhere. For Whistler the latest twist is to be found at the Fifty Two 80 Bistro and Lounge at the Four Seasons Resort Whistler where you can now enjoy a 100-Mile cocktail, the Feel the Beet.

This concoction raises the social order for the simple beet. Beet lovers, all 10 of them, will love this cocktail. Gin lovers absolutely have to check this out.

The ingredient list is intriguing: beet infused Schramm Gin, Nonna Pia's Balsamic Reduction, fresh strawberry puree, Township 7 Sauvignon Blanc and wild flower Lillooet honey.

The gin is handcrafted in batches at the distillery in Pemberton. Schramm Gin is produced with organically grown potatoes from Pemberton.

The strawberry puree is made in-house with Pemberton strawberries.

The Pemberton ingredients travel a measly 32 kilometres (20 miles).

The Nonna Pia story is an interesting one on its own. The locally made balsamic reductions the company produces are aged for six years. The raw ingredient throws a small wrench into the 100-mile theme because it originates from Modena, Italy. The popular product is so good that it is easy to overlook this minor detail.

Township 7 Sauvignon Blanc comes from a winery with operations in south Langley and Naramata.

According to the Township 7 website, the Sauvignon Blanc offers hints of kiwi, strawberry and honeydew.

"The palate is fruit salad, a hint of sweet Chilliwack corn and caramel with a guest appearance of beurre noisette," reads the summary for this wine.

The wine travels 116 kilometres (72 miles) from Langley to Whistler.

The honey from Lillooet travelled 130km (81 miles) to help bring the sweet into the cocktail.

"With this cocktail we really wanted to showcase what wonderful produce we have at our fingertips," says Uriah Conti, Food and Beverage Supervisor at the Four Seasons Resort Whistler. "Pemberton is bordering on the fruit belt of Canada and produces anything from crones, strawberries, beets and even potatoes. It is important to our team at the Fifty Two Eighty Bistro that we support local businesses. Nonna Pia's is definitely a local success story that seemed like a natural fit for us to include in the cocktail."

Balsamic reduction does seem like an unusual ingredient for a cocktail. Beet also seems like an unusual choice. Conti makes it work by first muddling the sweet and pungent Pemberton beets before repeatedly passing the Schramm gin through until the liquid comes out a perfect pinky purple color.

Next he adds the strawberry puree and a swirl of Nonna Pia's strawberry and fig balsamic reduction.

One of the final ingredients into the mix is goat cheese from Salt Spring Island. The cheese is frothed with eggs in a CO2 canister before being tucked into a strawberry finished with the reduction, which sits on the edge of a martini glass.

The cheese travels 126 miles so it doesn't quite fit inside the 100-mile circle, but again, taste trumps distance for this ingredient.

Can you feel it based solely on the list of ingredients?

According to Conti, the inspiration for the drink is the beet salad offered by his colleagues in the hotel kitchen.

"It is a beautiful salad," he says. He wanted to match the salad with a drink and that is how Feel the Beet was created.

He says the word is out on this drink and people are asking for it though when they read the ingredients, he says, they wonder out loud how the drink can possibly work.

"When they taste it, it is not what they expect," says Conti. "They just don't see beets as an ingredient in a cocktail and it is very evident there are beets in it; however, it is very balanced and it works."

With the locally sourced ingredients for this drink "locavores" and others who try Feel the Beet can do so knowing it is more sustainable than some of the other cocktail choices out there.

Who knew that drinking gin cocktails could contribute to saving the world?

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