Pair Your Way to Success

Forage bar staff hard at work at the 2018 dinner

Forage bar staff hard at work at the 2018 dinner

How artisan-spirit cocktail and food pairings can raise your profile with local foodies.

The annual Distillers Dinner @ Forage is a highlight that kicks off the BC Distilled artisan spirits festival every year—and consistently sells out. “It’s our favourite event of the entire year,” says chef Welbert Choi from Forage, the farm-to-fork restaurant that partners with the festival each year to offer the $120 a plate dinner that local spirits fans, foodies and distillers devour.

This year’s inspired pairings included what chef Choi called “Vancouver’s best chowder” (a rich barbecued duck and shrimp soup topped with a triangle of crunchy crab toast) with a cocktail made from Noteworthy Barrel-Rested Gin from the Okanagan Dubh Glas distillery and The Woods Pacific Northwest Amaro from North Vancouver. Diners raved about meaty king oyster mushrooms served with pan-fried gnocchi, a savoury pairing with maritime Glen Saanich Single Malt Whisky from DeVine Spirits. A B.C. brandy, Lady of the Cask from Maple Leaf Spirits, complemented a chocolate soufflé to round out the six-course meal.

“Hosting a dinner that highlights local spirits and cocktails is a great way for distilleries to build engagement with their local restaurant scene, connect with fans and media and build attention for their industry as a whole. Restaurants that support local food and alcohol suppliers are everywhere–I’d love to see this type of dinner replicated in major cities across Canada,” says BC Distilled founder Alex Hamer, offering his assistance and learnings to other interested regions.