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A New Cocktail Culture Dawns at Dominion Bar + Kitchen

Civic / February 9, 2018

There’s no doubt craft beer has caught on in British Columbia, with microbreweries opening across the province at a rate of twenty a year since 2015. Given this popularity, craft beer by local brewers such as Parallel 49 and Four Winds Brewing Co. will certainly be making an appearance on the drinks menu at Dominion Bar + Kitchen, the exciting new venue set to open soon in the Civic Hotel lobby at 3 Civic Plaza.

Craft beer’s flavour profile, however, is not to every visitor’s taste. This is something Darren Pierce, Dominion’s General Manager, knows from personal experience. “When I arrived here from Ireland, I’d never heard of craft beer. I found hops very different, and my taste buds weren’t used to them,” he confesses. “It took a long time to get used to the flavour.”

While he says he’s made the transition and now thoroughly enjoys a glass of IPA, he is keen to provide for the preferences of locals and foreign guests who drop in to Dominion for a meal and a drink. A great selection of lighter, crisper imported beers, as well as longtime favourites like Guinness, will quench their thirst. “We’ll have one of the best pours of Guinness in town,” promises Pierce.

Beyond its delightful collection of beers and local VQA wines, Dominion is banking on its fresh and inventive take on cocktail culture to make a name and reputation for this vibrant new social hub. Under the guidance of superstar consulting mixologist Shawn Layton, the in-house team led by Jas Bains has put together an exciting menu of its own flavourful creations alongside a selection of classic cocktails reinvented using local herbs, fresh juices and botanicals.

Take the traditional Gin and Tonic, the perfect drink for a warm summer day or dusky Friday evening. Reflecting its commitment to local purveyors, the venue offers a Spanish-style Gin and Tonic topped up with fresh, locally sourced rosemary, juniper berries and grapefruit wedges. “It’s not just your regular G & T,” says Pierce. “We’re making ours that little bit different, more memorable. Adding that bit of pop to the flavours.”

They’re also taking an innovative approach to other classics like the Old Fashioned. In an attempt broaden its allure to a new generation of cocktail drinkers, Pierce points to the little things they’re doing, in terms of substituting ingredients like orange bitters for the more traditional angostura bitters, and adding some fresh thyme along with the cherry. “That way it’s still an Old Fashioned,” he says, “but there’s more variety of flavour so that it appeals to more people.”

For those who choose not drink alcohol at alI, Dominion is offering menu selections that go well beyond the typical choice of soda water, pop or virgin Caesar. The unusually extensive and eclectic non-alcoholic drinks menu ranges from cold-brew coffee and kombucha all the way to specialty cocktails created from ginger beer or grapefruit soda.

Drinks aside, the food menu, designed by chef Brad Green, is focused on “New Canadian” dishes, with an emphasis on sharing and the diversity that reflects the rich cultural makeup of Surrey. Wherever possible, it focuses on locally grown and organic food, such as chicken from the Fraser Valley, tomato juice and herbs grown in Surrey, and fish caught in the Pacific Ocean.

While innovation and expressing the venue’s urban social vibe are priorities, Pierce is focused on making each guest feel welcome and comfortable. “When you’re in a beautifully lit and designed space with comfy seats and the perfect music, you feel comfortable. And when people feel comfortable they are more themselves. It’s just easier to have a great conversation because everything is set right and you feel good.”

Dominion Bar + Kitchen is scheduled to open in early 2018.