Vanilla-and-hickory smoked Manhattan, anyone? BarChef is a cocktail lounge on Queen Street West in Toronto. Dedicated to the art and science of the cocktail, its beauty lies in the colours and details behind the bar—from apothecary jars filled with bitters and syrups to bell jars and 100-pound blocks of ice. Owner Frankie Solarik holds court in his fedora, chipping ice, talking to patrons (a mix of rockers, hipsters, business people, locals and celebrities) and enjoying his craft thoroughly.
Solarik is a leading figure of the global cocktail renaissance. His book, The Bar Chef, explores the importance of engaging all the senses when creating modernist cocktails. Depth and balance—the ideas behind great wines, and great food and wine pairings—are vital to a magnificent drink. Chapters detail the elements of the set-up, the art and craft of mixology and, of course, include recipes for syrups, infusions, bitters and the cocktails themselves. A chapter for non-alcoholic drinks rounds out the book.
This book is aimed at adventurous mixologists, enthusiasts who want to hone their skills and taste, and who want to experience something of Solarik’s genius at home. This book is neither comprehensive nor “general.” Rather, it is a carefully curated sampling of Solarik’s creations, featuring recipes that are challenging but achievable, and oh so delicious.