Booze-Infused Night at Park Distillery

    Naomi Witherick June 4, 2016

    First impressions told me Park Distillery was unique: campfire-inspired cuisine, a lodge-like building and housemade spirits that make this the only distillery in a Canadian National Park.

    I ate there with friends one Friday evening. The weekend had brought glamorous out-of-towners and dressed-down locals to the chic Banff Avenue venue furnished with cabin accents.


    Seating us at an upstairs table overlooking the copper distiller, our server told us more about the place. Park has been making spirits for over a year and the menu includes “made with booze” items, infused with varieties of liquor.

    We started with cocktails. The bar offers an impressive drinks menu that includes Park’s housemade rye and classic, vanilla, chili and espresso vodka.

    I chose the Yoho Traverse cocktail with dark rum, apricot brandy, passion fruit, lime juice and syrup. It had a rich flavour with a fruity aftertaste that didn’t overpower the food.

    To start, I shared a portion of cornbread with my friend Sara. The four chunky slices had a cake-like texture and were served with boozy maple rum butter. Though it tasted incredible, it was so filling we struggled to finish the whole portion.

    Another friend had the Cornflake Pulled Pork Fingers with maple whisky and bacon dipping sauce. She said the tender meat complimented the fingers’ crispy exterior and tasted great with the salty, liquor-based dip.

    Most of our party had the pulled chicken sandwich as a main. Cooked on a rotisserie fuelled with Okanagan cherry wood, the chicken was tender, moist and singed with wood-fired flavour.

    My friend Grace had the Bourbon and Pear salad, with warm chicken, almonds and bourbon vinaigrette. Like the starters, she said the boozy dressing was a striking accompaniment.

    The meal was delicious but I still wasn’t satisfied. As a helpless coffee addict I was determined to sample Park’s espresso vodka, and found myself ordering a neat shot for dessert.

    The espresso element was quite bitter, as though the coffee beans it was made with had been over roasted. That burnt flavour was difficult to ignore, but (despite my lack of vodka tasting expertise) I thought the vodka had fantastic quality. Along with the flavour-packed food and boozy sauces, it was a real tribute to this exclusive Banff venue.

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