Spring In Roxbury, by Thor Paulson

The Canadian Professional Bartenders Association (BC Chapter) recently hosted their Annual General Meeting and Cocktail Competition. The CPBA Cup annual cocktail competition was held on a rainy Monday night, at The Keefer BarThe 86 Co. sponsored the event.
The Diamond Gastown‘s bar manager, Thor Paulson, defended his current title, winning the Cup second time in a row. With the win comes the opportunity to attend Tales of the Cocktail in Mexico City (April 19-21, 2015) Here’s his competition winning cocktail:
 Thor Paulson

Spring in Roxbury, by Thor Paulson

In Paulson’s own words, “This drink is a light and refreshing twist on the Gibson cocktail. Instead of garnishing with cocktail onions, this cocktail incorporates the green onion in the drink and as a garnish. The name comes from the graphic artist Charles Dana Gibson (after whom, the story goes, the Gibson cocktail is named) who was born in Roxbury, MA. I combined that with the alternate name for the green onion, the spring onion, and the light, floral, and herbaceous flavors present in this cocktail that one associates with spring.

Ingredients:
45 ml Ford’s Gin
15 ml Cinzano Extra Dry
20 ml verjus blanc
10 ml honey water (1:1 dilution)
10 ml cloudy apple juice
3 inches of spring onion, chopped
Garnish: spring onion stem split and curled on a garnish pick.

Put spring onion to mixing glass and lightly muddle. Combine ingredients in shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously for 12 seconds. Fine strain into a chilled cocktail coupé, and garnish with spring onion stem on a pick.

Thor Paulson explains his inspiration, “Simon Ford has called Ford’s Gin, ‘a gin to be used as a workhorse for the cocktail bartender’. I decided to take Mr. Ford at his word and attempted to make a drink that would play off the balanced, citrusy, floral aspects of the gin. I also wanted to test it with a challenging ingredient — the spring onion. As this cocktail is a twist on the classic Gibson cocktail, starting with the traditional 3 parts gin to 1 part vermouth base of a wet martini seemed appropriate.

The green onion introduces mild savory/garlicky notes that play well with the citrus and floral notes in the gin, which in turn serve as a nice contrast with the green onion’s flavor profile. The verjus adds acidity in lieu of adding any sort of citrus. It’s softer edges avoids overpowering the other elements of the drink. Verjus is also known for playing better with wine, and wine based apéritif such as vermouth, which this drink has. The pairing of apple and onion is very classic. Cloudy apple juice helps to integrate the difficult to use spring onion flavors into the drink. Honey adds needed sweetness and body, completing the drink.”

Thor Paulson Diamond
Thor Paulson.

In terms of Thor’s bar career he tells justcocktails, “I’ve been a bartender for three years, and worked in a few venues. I have come full circle to the place where I started, The Diamond Gastown.”

Who is your biggest bartending influence?

“I’d have to say Josh Pape”, Thor acknowledges without hesitation. Josh Pape is an industry legend in Vancouver. Having started as a bartender to help pay for an education in Kinesiology, he has continued to bloom in the hospitality industry. Unflappable under pressure, he is still consistently one of the fastest bartenders in annual timed cocktail competitions in the city. He is a proprietor of the highly regarded venues, Wildebeest, Bufala, and The Diamond.

Thor, do you have a bartending pet peeve that you are trying to improve in your venue?

“Yeah, a big challenge in this market is working with quests to improve drinking etiquette. I want people to slow down and enjoy the experience. For example, you don’t have to walk up to the bar and start calling out orders for things (we don’t have) before you’ve looked at the menu.”

Thor’s career is just starting, but expect big things from him in the near future.

Thor Paulson
Spring In Roxbury.
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