Steve da Cruz, Mixologist

"Ten years ago, I knew nothing about the right way to make cocktails—I'd even use my teeth to open a beer," says mixologist Steve Da Cruz. Today, Da Cruz is a star of Vancouver's phenomenal cocktail scene.

For the drinks at the new Corner Suite Bistro de Luxe, he resurrects cocktails from 19th-century books, though some of his best drinks have a slightly more modern provenance. One is the Vancouver, a combination of gin, sweet vermouth and Benedictine created at the city's Sylvia Hotel in the 1950s. "I learned how to make it from a customer with a thick Scottish brogue, who came in dressed like he was one of The Dirty Dozen," Da Cruz says.

Da Cruz became obsessed with cocktails while hanging out in seminal Manhattan bars like Milk & Honey, but he's happier in Vancouver. "In New York, you had to twist someone's arm to lend you an unusual spirit," he says. "Here, we share what we can."

(Update: Corner Suite Bistro de Luxe closed in January 2011.)

Top New Spirits

One of Steve Da Cruz's favorite new distillers is Victoria Spirits, which hand-makes small batches in a wood-fired copper still. Here are three of its standouts:

Victoria Gin: Victoria bottles only the best part of the distilling run, known as "the heart."

Twisted & Bitter: The distillery makes these bitters with organic oranges and double-infused gin.

Craigdarroch Whisky: Victoria's tasting room will soon offer barrel samplings of this much-anticipated single malt.


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