Thank god for ambitious bartenders, and for the chef/owners who love them.
Rob Feenie is one of the most respected chefs in Canada; his flagship restaurant, Lumiere, is a Relais-Chateaux establishment often mentioned in the same breath as Daniel, Charlie Trotter’s and the French Laundry. A couple of years ago—around the time he was getting famous for winning the competition on Iron Chef America—he opened a more casual bistro-style restaurant next door to Lumiere, and called it Feenie’s. The atmosphere (and price) is much more approachable for most people, but the food is still spectacular. Fortunately, so are the drinks.
There were a lot of options on the drink menu—some the obligatory cosmo knock-offs, but an impressive number of whiskey, rum and brandy-based cocktails that all seemed worth ordering. My choice was a pisco sour, mainly because I’d never had one in a bar before, only at home, and I wanted to see how mine stacked up against the pros.
Point #1 in Feenie’s favor: when I ordered the drink, the waiter said, “You know it lives up to its name—it really is sour.” Actually, it wasn’t any more tart than the basic sour-style drink I typically make, but I think a fair number of customers are surprised by the taste of a drink that isn’t laden with sugar.
Point # 2: when he served the drink, the waiter took care to mention it included raw egg white—just in case I hadn’t gleaned that from the menu. He’s probably had enough of them sent back by customers who had no idea what they were ordering.
Point #3: the drink. We were sitting near the bar, so I could see the bartender giving it a whopping good shake, to best aerate the egg white. He then poured it in a champagne flute, the best to keep the foam, and served it with a faint stain of angostura bitters on top. The taste was a tiny bit rough—the balance of sweet and sour erred slightly on the sour side, but not too bad—but it had a nice pisco kick, and the deep roundness of a drink made with just enough spirit to keep the flavor lively.
I think next year Vancouver Magazine needs to pull its geriatric ass out of the Bacchus and haul it down to Kitsilano for a lesson at the bar of Feenie’s.