HEADER PHOTO NITA LAKE LODGE / ELLIE WILLIAMS

Whether you’ve spent the day tiring your legs out on the slopes, adventuring via snowmobile, zipline or snowshoe, or simply relaxing at one of the many spas Whistler has to offer – grabbing a cheeky winter cocktail afterwards is the perfect end to the day.

And in a place like Whistler, where the après scene is bustling and vibrant, the libation choices are seemingly endless. After some very hard work tasting and testing, we narrowed it down to this list of must-try, winter cocktails.

 

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The Mallard Lounge at Fairmont Chateau Whistler

Nestled at the base of Blackcomb Mountain at Fairmont Chateau Whistler, is the casual, yet refined, Mallard Lounge. The Mallard is known for its high-end food, live entertainment and inviting, relaxing atmosphere. But if we had to pick just one thing they do best – it would be cocktails.

Master mixologists at The Mallard start crafting their extensive winter cocktail menu as early as summertime. Head Bartender, Fred Lemieux told us they take pride in creating hand-made, sustainable cocktails, and developing a unique twist to some of the classics.

Winter cocktail line up on the bar at The Mallard, at Fairmont Chateau Whistler.
From left to right; The One Legged Man, Dazed and Confused, Cherry Ripe and Signature G&T. PHOTO BRITTANY ROFFEL

Talking of classics, The Mallard’s Signature Gin & Tonic is an unexpected show-stopper. Infused with grapefruit, lemon and cardamon, it’s a hint of the tropics in deep winter. Refreshing and not overly sweet, it’s served with a sprig of festive rosemary and juniper berries – a tasty spin on a time-honoured cocktail.

Another gin-based cocktail that caught our eye is The One Legged Man. What’s extra special about this libation is that the gin is made exclusively for the Fairmont Chateau Whistler by Montis Distilling, located right here in Whistler. This gin literally tastes like the mountains, with cedar tips, orris root, ginger, coriander and Pemberton Valley hops.

It’s the chinook and cascade hops in this bespoke gin that were the inspiration behind the name of this cocktail, given that it’s hop-forward. Even the honey syrup had hops added to it with a Steamworks IPA infusion. Finished with a dehydrated lemon wheel and fresh hop, The One Legged Man goes great with a side of chicken wings and / or nachos.

A photo of Fairmont Chateau Whistler's new gin made at Montis Distilling in Whistler.
This bespoke gin is infused with the scents of the local forests. PHOTO FAIRMONT CHATEAU WHISTLER

We asked our attentive bartender what he might suggest as a winter cocktail for after dinner, and he gave us one sweet and one smokey option. The Cherry Ripe comes on a gorgeous stand crafted locally (head to Mountain Galleries downstairs to see more) with a bright curl of lemon encasing a liqueur-soaked cherry balancing on the top. Made with Kirsch, a framboise dessert wine from the Okanagan (Elephant Island Winery) and Malibu, it’s a sweet sipper and the perfect finish to a lovely meal at The Mallard.

On the smokey end of the spectrum is their Dazed and Confused cocktail, which comes in its own case. If you like a bit of bar-based showmanship, this one’s for you. Italian rosé aperitif wine, Cocchi Americano Rosa, adds botanicals with citrus, rose and ginger notes. This is mixed with Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, which is hand-crafted in the village of Santa Catarina Minas. The mezcal adds that smokey quality, but it’s quite light and sweet making the Dazed and Confused cocktail a lovely balanced drink to finish the night.

The Raven Room

As one of Whistler’s premier cocktail bars, the drinks at The Raven Room are undeniably next-level. Their passionate bar team is constantly crafting new recipes that fit with the season and include locally sourced ingredients. However, this year they’re going for something a bit different…

 

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Miracle is a Christmas pop-up cocktail bar and it has taken over The Raven Room. And when we say taken over, we mean taken over. It reminded us of the scene from The Grinch where Betty Lou Who’s neighbour does some rather extreme decorating. In short, it’s a Christmas grotto that Santa and his elves would be proud of.

The cocktail menu is brimming with festive fun, and the glass and mugware they’re served in will cure any resting Grinch faces out there. Take the Yippee Ki Yay, a blend of warming rums and fresh pineapple, served in a jolly ceramic Santa’s Pants mug. If you want to challenge yourself this Christmas, try Elifing Around #2, which combines cognac, mulled wine reduction, champagne, lemon aromatic bitters and absinthe (just make sure you’ve got someone else driving the sleigh). There’s also a festive unicorn and t-rex to look out for amongst the 11 Christmas cocktails, with two shot options (one’s naughty, one’s nice).

Braidwood Tavern at Four Seasons

Do you like an Old Fashioned cocktail? If you’re nodding your head we’d suggest a trip to the Braidwood Tavern at Four Seasons Whistler. They’ve just brought out a new concept for this winter, “An Old Fashioned for Everyone” and it’s been taste-tested by some non-believers (and some believers). Typically made with bourbon, the bar team was challenged to widen the scope to include gin, rum and scotch and they came up with some delicious cocktails, which are a bit of an experience.

The Bruce's Elixir cocktail, one of the Four Season's Old Fashioned's for everyone cocktails.
Bruce’s Elixir is a whisky-based Old Fashioned that reminds us of the mountains. PHOTO BRITTANY ROFFEL

Bruce’s Elixir is made with whisky that’s crafted right here in Whistler at Montis Distillery (you can take a tour). This has been artfully mixed with French honey liqueur, masala chai, nutmeg and, orange and sage bitters. The result is a refreshing winter cocktail, with a subtle hint of spice from the chai giving the drink a warming quality. It’s served in beautiful Japanese glassware brought to you atop a box of crushed ice and fresh spruce, bringing a touch of the mountains to the bar, both inside and outside the glass.

The Burnt Treasure cocktail, one of the Four Season's Old Fashioned's for everyone cocktails.
The map is on the little wooden barrel to the left of the glass, but it went up so fast we didn’t catch it! PHOTO BRITTANY ROFFEL

Bartender, Colin, brandishes a flame over the treasure map he’s just stamped in front of us. It disappears as he passes over the Burnt Treasure cocktail, a rum-based Old Fashioned infused with coconut and Polynesian bitters. This is the ideal choice if you have a sweet tooth and a penchant for pirates. Parlay!

Iced & Spiced is a treat for the senses. A burning cinnamon stick sits atop a glass filled with 12-year Bowmore Scotch infused with apple, rooibos tea, lapsang, chocolate bitters and maple syrup. It’s like you’re breathing in those festive spices and if you’re a fan of apple cider on a chilly day, this one’s for you. As you sip away, the peak of a mountain appears at the bottom of your handblown glass. It might be a 3D Whistler, Blackcomb or Black Tusk that peeks through as you enjoy your après libation.

INSIDER TIP: Ever wonder why they use such a big ice cube? Apart from looking fancy, it’s so that your Old Fashioned doesn’t get diluted as quickly (thanks Colin).

The Library by Macallan at Four Seasons Whistler

The Four Seasons has brought a bit of Scotland to the Pacific Coast this winter, with the addition of The Library by The Macallan, situated in an intimate, speakeasy-style space just off their luxurious hotel lobby.

It feels like you’ve been transported to a laird’s library in the highlands complete with roaring fire and leather-bound books. And this laird is serious about his whisky, opting for the world’s most luxurious brand, which just sold a bottle for 3.2 million CAD, breaking the record for the most expensive wine or spirit sold at auction.

A photo of the bar area of The Macallan Library at the Four Seasons Whistler.
Art Deco meets speakeasy meets whisky den. PHOTO FOUR SEASONS WHISTLER / ERIK MCRITCHIE PHOTOGRAPHY

Similar to Braidwood’s “An Old Fashioned for Everyone”, this whisky-based pop-up aims to dispel the myth this tipple should only be served neat in a glass while some Machiavellian plot is being hatched. I had the opportunity to speak with Nils, Macallan’s brand specialist about the five cocktail creations they’re offering. He mentioned that they all draw on the candied ginger, dark fruit and winter spice character inherent to Macallan whisky, but they’ve added elements from the Whistler flora like a pine needle tincture and local honey. 

Between the Pages has notes of caramel, vanilla, apricot and dried fruits. The whisky stands out without being overpowering, and it’s not overly sweet either. There’s a subtle hint of Earl Grey, and coconut water was added to give it viscosity and a creamy finish. Unripened grapes (verjus) and light carbonation bring a slight tartness, and the curry leaf garnish adds a peppery kick that cuts the sweetness. And, if you lift your glass to the light of the fire you’ll see it has a captivating gold shimmer.

Cloud Atlas looks like red velvet cake in cocktail form. It’s Macallan sherry, with rosé vermouth and plum bitters for a little kick. A homemade tarragon and thyme reduction was sous vide with honey, for a full-bodied texture. The “cream” on the top is foam from the sherry, and they’ve added chilli threads on the top for a bit of spice.

The Cloud Atlas cocktail at The Macallan Library at the Four Seasons.
The Cloud Atlas cocktail is as layered as the books it’s named after. PHOTO FOUR SEASONS WHISTLER / ERIK MCRITCHIE PHOTOGRAPHY

Each winter cocktail explores a unique flavour direction to excite every preference, from the aficionado to the novice. It’s also a showcase of passions and creativity, taking a brand that’s been around for over 200 years and coming up with new experiences for drink lovers to try. So grab a drink, settle down by the fire and lose yourself in the pages of a good book.

INSIDER TIP: For the luxury whisky seekers there are over 12 different bottlings of The Macallan, the largest collection in Whistler. 

Wild Blue

Wild Blue is one of Whistler’s newest additions to the food and drink scene, and it’s made quite the splash. It was recently recognized as the #2 Best New Restaurant in Canada by Air Canada enRoute and #4 Best New Restaurant by Canada’s 100 Best. We should celebrate with a drink, and seeing as their Negroni was enRoute’s Cocktail of the Year we’ll start there.

The Pinoli Negroni is Bar Manager, Zach Lavoie’s, cocktail baby. While visiting a friend’s home in Sicily, he snacked on pinoli (pine nut) cookies as they drank negronis on the beach. Years later, when asked to give the negroni a unique spin, he thought back to his time in Italy and decided to combine the cookie with the cocktail.

What happened next he calls “alchemy” – mad scientist popped to mind for me. He tried the nuts raw, cooked and toasted, infused the gin, then the aperitivo and then the vermouth, but the flavour he wanted wasn’t there. In the end, he put all the ingredients into a two-hour sous vide and then used coffee filters to extract the oil. I can sense your suspicion, but the result is an incredibly smooth, faintly toasty negroni, which is served with a circle of lemon peel bobbing provocatively on a large ice cube.

Another cocktail you should try at Wild Blue this winter season is the Nitro Infused Espresso Martini. It took Zach two and a half months to perfect and comes “on tap” with a Guinness-like top. Infused with House of Funk’s nitro coffee, and mixed with Kahlua and Absolut Vodka it’s a bitter-sweet sipper with depth and body. On the lighter side, Zach’s gone retro 80s and brought back the Grasshopper. The addition of green Chartreuse (a herbal liqueur) cuts the sweetness of this dessert cocktail which tastes like mint chocolate chip ice cream in liquid form.

Wild Blue has a late-night menu available from 10 PM to midnight over the peak winter season, with some fantastic dessert options. They also do après from 3 to 5 PM each day, both of these experiences involve a resident DJ setting the vibe.

Cure Lounge at Nita Lake Lodge

Cure Lounge is a bit of a hidden gem nestled in Creekside on the shores of Nita Lake. The lounge itself has a funky, cozy feel and if you can snag yourself a seat by the fire then do it.

When we asked what we should try this season bartender, Alex, made us laugh when he brought over the Pumpkin-Spice Margarita, which he’s dubbed the Millennial Margarita. It was delicious, which was embarrassing given that the taste testers were indeed millennials – he knows his market. It’s a tasty combination of Cazadores Blanco, Triple Sec, pumpkin spice syrup and orange juice, served with a cinnamon salt rim. They also have a Cherry Amaretto Margarita, which is a bit sweeter and looks very cheery in festive red. 

The Pumpkin Spice Margarita at Nita Lake Lodge.
PHOTO NITA LAKE LODGE / ELLIE WILLIAMS

He’s also put a fun spin on a Canadian classic, the Caesar. The Curry Mezcal Caesar comes with a cheeky chicken wing as the garnish and, as the name suggests, there’s a touch of smokey curry flavours with mezcal, Worcestershire Sauce, Clamato and lime. Another option is the Steak Spice Caesar. Alex has infused the whisky with steak spice and added Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce to the mix. It even comes with a slice of filet mignon as the garnish and a steak salt rim.

The Curry Caesar at Nita Lake Lodge.
PHOTO NITA LAKE LODGE / ELLIE WILLIAMS

If you like a whisky sour try the Cinnamon & Sage Sour, it sounds like a rather unusual combination of flavours but trust us (well, Alex), it works. They also have a Smoked Plum Manhattan, made with Bulleit Rye, Bittersweet Vermouth, plum syrup and Smoke & Oak bitters. It packs a punch, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

So there you have it, a delicious roundup of winter cocktails from Whistler’s vibrant restaurant and bar scene. Which ones have made your must-try list for when you’re here? Cheers to a great season, we hope to see you on the slopes and perhaps at the bar sipping away on the winter cocktail of your choice!

Book your winter trip now to secure up to 25% off lodging and 33% off rentals. Thinking about spring skiing? Receive a $75 après voucher for every third night booked.

Come experience Whistler Blackcomb’s extensive terrain and adventure at every turn to see why we're known as one of the best resorts on the planet. Secure your mountain getaway with Whistler.com for personalized service and the local knowledge of our Whistler-based team. Want to win a winter trip for two to Whistler? Check out our Drop In to Winter contest.

Author

You can often find Dee exploring all Whistler has to offer with her three-kid tribe in tow. Originally from the UK, Dee enjoys balancing out high-thrills adventures with down-time basking in the beauty of the wonderful place she now calls home.