Bar Manager Shelby Goodwin on Calgary’s Culinary-Infused Drink SceneBy Kwin Mosby
What Shelby Goodwin, Calgary native, bar manager and mixologist, loves most about his job is tailoring cocktails to the palates of each and every patron at The Derrick Gin Mill & Kitchen. His expert skill at this — but more importantly, a delicious dessert cocktail he concocted — won over judges during Marriott Hotels’ Bourbon Battle competition at the Calgary Marriott Downtown Hotel.
Now, the award-winning bartender offers his expert insight on Calgary’s hottest bars, trends and the quintessential cocktails that represent the city.
Your winning cocktail for the bourbon battle was “Bob and Barb’s Backyard Pie.” What inspired this cocktail? What did the judges like about it? Is this something you serve at your bar?
Bob and Barb are my parents and this bourbon cocktail was inspired by my time baking with my mom. So creating a honey-based pie cocktail seemed like a natural idea. Alpine wildflower honey – a secret, local ingredient – is what I believe the judges liked the most about my cocktail.
“Bob and Barb’s Backyard Pie” isn’t on the menu at my bar yet, but I will probably add something similar to it. My mom hasn’t tried my cocktail yet, but here’s the recipe so you can try it!
Bob and Barb’s Backyard Pie Recipe
• ¾ oz. – Maker’s Base
• ¾ oz. – Maker’s 46
• ¾ oz. – Knob Creek
• 2 dashes of Fee Brothers chocolate bitters
• 3 dashes of Angostura orange bitters
• 3 muddled gooseberries
• ½ oz. – homemade brandy cherry juice
• 1 oz. – Beeline Alpine Wildflower Honey
**garnished with a gooseberry and a cherry
Pairing a cocktail with food can be a great bar experience. What would you pair with “Bob and Barb’s Backyard Pie”?
This is a dessert cocktail for sure. It’s a cocktail to enjoy after eating a filling meal such as our Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich, that we make in-house, or our Chicken Cordon Bleu with cauliflower puree, sautéed asparagus and chicken jus. A delicious dessert cocktail is perfect after these two entrees.
The bar scene in Calgary is growing. People are starting to focus on original creations versus new twists on classic cocktails.
Describe the cocktail scene in your city? What are the big trends at the moment? Why do you think these trends are hot?
The bar scene in Calgary is growing. People are starting to focus on original creations versus new twists on classic cocktails. [Local bartenders] are using their imagination and creativity, expanding to go beyond the regular cocktails.
Bartenders, like myself, try to use more culinary techniques – such as compressing ingredients (like berries) with liquor or sous vide ingredients – to help create cocktails with more depth or more flavor.
If you could create an official drink for your city, what would it be? How is it representative of the city?
Honestly, it’s hard to follow the Caesar, which includes vodka, Clamato, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce with celery and a salt rim. In 1969, restaurant manager Walter Chell created what has become arguably the most famous cocktail in the country and a staple brunch cocktail in Calgary. It represents my city and that’s a tough act to follow.
(Side Note: The Caesar may sound like a Bloody Mary, but the major difference between the two is the Clamato, which is blend of tomato juice and clam broth.)
Aside from the Derrick Gin Mill & Kitchen, what are your favorite places to grab the perfect bourbon cocktail and mingle with the locals in Calgary?
The Bourbon Room is my favorite place to sip on a bourbon cocktail.
They have what seems like a wide variety of bourbons on their menu. The cocktails are awesome. “Grandpa’s Breath” is phenomenal! It’s a mix of sherry cask rye, Cointreau, 10-year Ardbeg and Angostura bitters. This stiff cocktail has great depth, but it’s not for the faint of heart because it’s strong and very, very boozy.
What city or cities have impressed you with their bar scene? Why?
I am impressed with Montreal‘s bar scene because of the sheer coolness and the city’s French je ne sais quoi … it’s just something I can’t really describe. But if you’re visiting, I recommend a sightseeing pitstop at the Maison Cloakroom, a men’s clothing store and barbershop that turns into a speakeasy bar after 3 p.m., or try Le Mal Necessaire, a cool tiki bar co-owned by Graham Warner, a fellow Calgary native.
If you are a first-timer in your city, where do you have to go?
First-time visitors traveling to Calgary should visit a bar called Proof. Just looking at the 300-plus bottles that line the wall to the ceiling… well, it’s amazing. It’s a great space and has a chic and sophisticated vibe. And the bar has a staff of knowledgeable bartenders who know how to tailor a drink to suit the most finicky customer’s taste.
What cocktail would you say matches your personality? Why?
I love cognac so I would have to say a “Sidecar,” which includes cognac, Cointreau, lemon and sugar. The cognac represents my serious side and how it can take some time to really get to know me… an acquired taste. The Cointreau, lemon and sugar represent my fun and liveliness. And together these ingredients make a great cocktail.