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One of our favourite local, vegan-friendly Vancouver restaurants – The Refinery – has been running weekly events centered around pairing specific spirits with different world cuisines each month.  To our delight, the theme for the month of September just happens to be India vs. Bombay Sapphire Gin – and has a completely vegan option!  The event is held every Thursday, and involves three courses paired with three innovative cocktails.  At only $32 per person – it’s an amazing deal!  Especially for the caliber of food and drinks created by people who are truly passionate about what they do.  Each Thursday, a different superstar Vancouver bartender (from the likes of The Keefer, Shangri-La, West, and more) creates India-inspired cocktails to pair with the food and guests are invited to rate their experience.

The Refinery

As you may know, one of the most frustrating things about being a food lover and a vegan is that there is a serious lack of finer dining experiences to be had.  Not that there’s anything wrong with casual vegan dining, but it’s nice to have the option to get a bit fancier once in a while.  The Refinery recently added vegan items to their regular menu, inspired by bar manager Lauren Mote who has been experimenting with a vegan/raw lifestyle for several months, and The Vegan Project is delighted to add them to our repertoire as a finer vegan dining option.

The Menu

Chef:  Ben De Champlain

Mixologist:  Lauren Mote

First Course

Food: Onion and Lentil Fritters with Grilled Pineapple and Tamarind Chutney

Drink: A Split Pea Gin Cocktail

Onion and Lentil Fritters and The Split Pea Gin Cocktail

Yes, that’s right!  Split pea!  Lauren Mote is known for being rather adventurous with her cocktails and this was a perfect example.  It didn’t taste exactly like split peas, but had an earthy, creamy texture that had a bit of spark at the end.  It paired well with the fritters, which were like dense little pakoras with a falafel-like texture.  The chutney was perfectly done and added a nice fruity sweet counter balance to the fritter spices.

Second Course

Food:  Indian Spice Roasted Tomato Soup with Lentils, Black Chickpeas, Spinach and Fennel (the non-vegan option comes with gin-infused paneer)

Cocktail:  A Chantrelle Mushroom Infused Gin Cocktail

Indian Spice Roasted Tomato Soup and The Chantrelle Mushroom Gin Cocktail

Ben explained that the soup used a combination of around 17 ingredients and would be unapologetically spicy.  I’m a fan of spicy food but I’m certainly not a fan of the type of spice that overpowers flavour.  This soup was more like an Indian stew and the spice was perfectly balanced with the complex flavours.   The soup paired fabulously with the Chantrelle Mushroom Cocktail which also included one of my favourite ingredients – Punt E Mes sweet vermouth.  Again, this course paired spicy and sweet very well.  And again, the cocktail did not taste explicitly like mushrooms, but had a nice earthy flavour that went well with the sweet vermouth.

Third Course

Food:  Cashew Coconut Curry with Potatoes and Cauliflower with a Green Bean and Fresh Herb Salad

Cocktail:  Gin Cocktail with Mustard Seed, Tahini, Coconut Milk, Lemon Juice, Makers Mark and Lillet

Cashew Coconut Curry with The Mustard Seed Gin Cocktail

This last combination was my favourite – the curry was quite delicate and the herbs and toasted coconut on top were a perfectly crisp and refreshing accompaniment.  The cocktail was rich, foamy and aromatic.  Some thought the cocktail was too overpowering in this pairing and chose the second combination as their favourite, but I loved it.

Overall, The Refinery’s Cocktail Kitchen was a fun and delicious experience and I gave the fabulous Miss Lauren Mote 5’s across the board!  Bridget has yet to try The Cocktail Kitchen experience so we’ll be going back this month.  If you’re interested in trying it, we recommend booking now because spots are filling up fast.  Competitor details can be found here.  Book your reservation by calling 604.687.8001.

The Cocktail Kitchen Bartender Competition Series

The Refinery

1115 Granville Street, Vancouver

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