There’s more to dining than just what you put in your mouth. We are what we eat but we are also how we eat—the experience of dining in Whistler can be just as fulfilling as the meal itself…or the drinks.
This week over at the Whistler Sabbatical Project André Saint-Jacques of The Bearfoot Bistro demonstrates how to sabre open a bottle of champagne. Sabreing is a pretty exciting way to add some “pop” to the fine-dining experience (with a lethal weapon no less) but for participatory good times The Bearfoot just might be the coolest spot in town, literally. They’ll hand-make ice cream right at your table, the champagne bar features a rail of illuminated ice and the Belvedere Ice Room, a frozen temple devoted solely to vodka, sits a nippy -18?C
“It’s the coldest vodka room in the world,” explains Kerren Bottay, a Bearfoot manager, as we gear up in Canada Goose Arctic jackets and hats before entering. “Vodka is smoother when it’s cold and at home people usually keep their bottles in the freezer anyhow. We figured why not keep the people in there too? It’s an experience.”
It certainly is. The ceiling and walls are lined with thick ice, your breath hangs in the frosty air and vodka bottles sit perched in perfectly sized individual nooks chiseled into the ice. Showcasing over 55 vodkas from 12 different countries the Belvedere Ice Room has a unique and special feel to it—part igloo, part castle, all cool—you can’t do this at home.
“We get a good variety of people in here,” Kerren says. “From patrons in the middle of a 5-course dinner looking to clean their palates to Staggettes every weekend of the summer to Olympic athletes and their hardware. I once served a guy with full ski gear on, including skis.” The room holds ten people comfortably and the tasting experience, lasting 10-12 minutes, includes four different vodka samples… or eight if you book back-to-back sessions.
In the essence of fair and balanced journalism I decided to taste some of the wares. The Schramm Vodka (distilled in Pemberton, just 25 minutes north of Whistler) is a crowd favourite but I opted for a Special Edition Belvedere (when in Rome…) One smooth and refreshing gulp and it’s very apparent why The Belvedere Ice Room is poised to become this winter’s hottest night out in Whistler. Just don’t stick your tongue on the wall.
— Feet Banks