Cirque Restaurant bar manager Jamie Chennells preparing his winning cocktail – Venom and Vermouth. Below, Himalayan Spice Bistro (left) and Fernie Distillery (right). Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Cirque Restaurant wins best cocktail at annual throwdown

Cirque Restaurant was named creator of the best cocktail at the fourth annual Cirque Cocktail Throwdown, hosted June 23 at Fernie Alpine Ski Resort.

Close behind came the Fernie Distillery and Yamagoya restaurant in third.

Ten restaurants and bars attended the event; Himalayan Spice Bistro, The Northern, Fernie Alpine Springs, The Fernie Hotel, Cirque Restaurant, The Fernie Distillers, Bridge Bistro, Infinitea, Yamagoya and Legends.

The 10 establishments sent in their best bartender to compete for best cocktail, a competition which took hours of judging and voting by the public.

Members of the public walked around Cirque Restaurant tasting a variety of drinks, and voted for their favourite anonymously by texting in their choice.

Judges scored the drinks out of 10 based on presentation, creativity, aesthetics, flavour and ‘totally wow’ on how impressed they were, overall. The panel of judges were made up of local influencers Adam Laurin, Barrie Elliot, Matt Kuhn, L’wrennie Farkas and Jesse Bell.

“So far we’re four contestants in and nobody has really disappointed,” said Laurin. “There’s been nothing lower than an eight on my card.”

By mid-afternoon the cocktail throwdown attracted over 70 participants, marking their best turnout yet. Organizer Jessica Traynor said this is a reflection of how the cocktail culture in Fernie is growing.

“The cocktail culture is still really new to Fernie,” she said. “So Cirque really took that on board and now the Fernie Distillery is our first real cocktail bar downtown… so people, the excitement about cocktails is just growing in town.”

Now, she explained, many businesses around town are seeing this trend grow, and accommodating it. Judge Laurin later reiterated this, explaining that cocktail culture is still new to the area.

“We get people that visit here from all over the world so there’s all that experience and wealth of knowledge that comes into Fernie – it’s fun to sit down and experience that and see what people bring to the table,” said Laurin.

Cirque Restaurant bar manager Jamie Chennells reflected on his winning cocktail – Venom and Vermouth, a mix of a martini bianco, Cinzano Rossa, dry apple cider, Belgian white ale, lemon juice and Angostura bitters.

A bartender in the winter and carpenter in the summer, Chennells was called upon to perform in the cocktail competition and immediately starting brainstorming ideas. For three winters he has worked at Cirque, but has previously worked in bars across Canada including Vancouver and Ottawa.

The cocktail competition coincided with a pig roast presented by Cirque, as well as a pool party paired with a shuttle to bring people to and from the ski hill.

This weekend also served as the opening weekend of Fernie Alpine Resort, bringing with it a new dinner menu presented by Cirque, which went live Wednesday, June 26.


Judges Adam Laurin, L’wrennie Farkas, Barrie Elliot, Jesse Bell and Matt Kuhn. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

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