A Tale of Two Tastes: Where Cocktails and Music Mix in Tofino

What pairs better than a well-crafted cocktail and finely-curated music? Not much. We’ve taken the new autumn cocktail menu, expertly created by our in-house mixologist, Carl Hamilton, and partnered each drink with a song that carries its spirit. Have a listen, and then come in for a taste, and tell us how we did. Cheers.

Cocktail Category: uplifting + refreshing

In this category, we focus on fresh flavours the perk up people. Think lighter liquors, lime, cucumber, mint and fizzy additions.

EARL OF EASTSIDE, paired with Too Much, My My, by Vince Vaccaro 

Sheringham Kazuki gin, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, fresh lime, earl grey tea cordial, cucumber, fresh mint, soda. $12

Long-time Victoria, B.C.-based folk rocker Vince Vaccaro brings his French-Canadian roots to the west coast with a catchy brand of music he shared with an enthusiastic crowd at our very own Catchella music fest. Vaccaro manages to ride a line between pop sensibilities and the folk rock that keeps him grounded. So does the Earl of Eastside, pairing Sooke’s fresh-as-hell Sheringham gin with a little French flair in the form of St. Germain elderflower liqueur. Did you know you can forage your own elderflower in Tofino and beyond on Vancouver Island? Maybe we should make our own version of St. Germain…

FIREFLY, paired with Redbone, by Childish Gambino

Birdseye chili-infused Finlandia vodka, ginger + lemongrass + kafir lime cordial, fresh lime, soda. $10

While Childish Gambino A.K.A. Donald Glover might be as famous as Jay-Z now, he’ll always be Troy of Community fame to us. And as badass as This is America is, Redbone remains Childish Gambino’s best work: sultry, smooth, and steamy-as-hell. By now, it’s likely unseated Barry White’s Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe for a win in the Best-Song-To-Woo-Someone-With category. Hot and fresh, like a spicy, chili-fied cocktail with just enough sweetness and fizz to get the job done. La-tee-da.

DARK ‘N’ STORMY, paired with The Hurricane’s Eye, by Jesse Roper

Gosling’s rum, ginger beer, fresh lime, Angostura bitters, pressed ginger. $11

Beautiful, heavy, and punishing. This track by Victoria, B.C. blues rocker Jesse Roper may as well be a 10-metre, mid-December swell hammering Tofino’s shores. From the peaceful opening guitar work, to the Delta-inspired lyrics, to the low-and-dirty nut-kicking bass and drum drop, right up to when the squeal of the harmonica kicks in, this song doesn’t let up, just like the long, stormy winters we have. Surf is stacking up. Make it a double, bartender.

Cocktail category: fruit forward

SPICE ROUTE, paired with Big Blue Wave, by Hey Ocean!

Appleton signature blend Jamaican rum, Cointreau, spiced + caramelized pineapple jam, almond orgeat, fresh lime, black walnut bitters. $13

This classic track from Vancouver happy/dancy rockers Hey Ocean! may be too poppy for the haters, but no one likes a critic anyway. We’d rather just travel, surf, dance and have a good ol’ time like they do. Big Blue Wave speaks to Tofino’s upcoming true surf season, one where the tourists tend to stay away, the softer of us travel to warmer destinations, and strong, windy storms deliver set after set of the best surf in Canada. Hey Ocean! Thank you for the soundtrack to a good session. And, hey, ocean, thank you too.

SALAL GIN FIZZ, paired with Old, Old Fashioned, by Frightened Rabbit

Local Stump coastal gin from Phillips Fermentorium Distilling Co, wild foraged salal berry ‘sloe gin style’ infusion, fresh lemon, meringue foam. $14

Sloe gin is a British favourite, and a forgotten classic. “Sloes” are little berries that grow wild all over England. But we don’t have sloe on the west coast. We have salal, and we have a lot of it, so we used it to make a drink. Our friends in Victoria, B.C.’s Fermentorium Distilling Co. are an inventive offshoot of the mega-popular Phillips Brewing and Malting craft beer aficionados. They helped with local, small-batch produced Stump Coastal Forest Gin as the perfect base for a west-coast styled Gin Fizz. To complement this tasty drink and pay heritage to its UK heritage, we leaned on Frightened Rabbit’s Old, Old Fashioned, a song that speaks to the oppression of dark winter days, and the power of personal connection in lifting our spirits. Rest in peace, Scott Hutchinson.


Cocktail Category: spirit forward sippers

THE DIPLOMAT, paired with Traveller, by Chris Stapleton 

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva rum, Flor de Cana 12yr rum, medjool date reduction, chocolate bitters, citrus. $16

Tofino-raised surfer and good times guy Noah Cohen knows his way around airports and surf breaks globally. As an iconic Canadian surfer and an ambassador for Tofino Resort + Marina, he spreads west coast cheer wherever he goes…almost like a diplomat for surfing and Tofino. When asked what his favourite cocktail + tune pairing, he picked these two, claiming that legit country music singer and songwriter Chris Stapleton was his jam. This track in particular helped him navigate the many trails a pro surfer takes in his travels. If you see Noah ponied up to the bar in The Hatch Waterfront Pub, be sure to say hi.

THE UNDERWOOD, paired with Make Art Not Friends, by Sturgill Simpson

Woodford Reserve bourbon washed with toasted pecan + brown butter, maple syrup, old fashioned bitters, candied pecans. $16

If anything, The Underwood begged to be paired with psychedelic rock country genius Sturgill Simpson based on the inclusion of bourbon alone. The Kentucky-born Simpson’s brand-new album Sound & Fury (almost certainly a nod to legendary Southern writer William Faulkner) is simply brilliant. The entire album pushes forward with tremendous power, but the song Make Art Not Friends is a standout, full of juicy vitriol, criticism for the record industry, commentary on the state of politics, and hints of Sturgill’s environmentalist heart. The succinct line “…think I’m gonna just stay home, and make art, not friends.” is a sentiment we can all identify with, especially when the weather goes heavy. Break out the bourbon and the rich, dark flavours. It’s gonna be a long storm-watching season.

p.s. There’s a jaw-dropping, must-see anime visual album/short film that accompanies Sound & Fury. Find it on Netflix.

NORDIC MOON, paired with Fallingwater, by Maggie Rogers

Sheringham akvavit, Noilly Prat dry vermouth, celery bitters, savoury infusion of local kelp, capers + dill, tomato water dashi, smoky spritz. $14

What’s more autumn than falling water? From the waterfalls plummeting fresh water out of the rainforest and into the salty sea, to the rain beating steadily into the pluviophile heart of the west coast, the hydraulics of Tofino move more than H2O. They move spirits, just like Maggie Rogers’ soulful voice and singalong choruses. Speaking of spirits, Vancouver Island-produced akvavit shows a big presence in this cocktail, and it’s needed. The giant “savoury infusion” of crazy flavourful notes needs to be balanced. This is a beautiful, bold drink that needs to be reckoned with, just like Rogers.

Cocktail category: winter warmers

MULLED WINE, paired with Dear John, by Norah Jones featuring Ryan Adams 

Red wine, brandy + Cointreau warmed with vanilla bean + winter spices. $9


A quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).


Giving a feeling of comfort, warmth, and relaxation.

‘Nuff said.


TRIPLE IRISH COFFEE, paired with The Swell Season: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

Jameson Irish whisky, fresh coffee, topped with Bailey’s + Guinness whipped cream. $9

Strap in for a ride with The Swell Season, a folk rock duo consisting of Irish multi-instrumentalist Glen Hansard and Czech singer and pianist, Markéta Irglová. They are so damn good that one song is not enough, just like a proper Irish coffee; our version, of which, triples down with the holy Irish trifecta of Jameson, Guinness and Bailey’s. Come in after a solid surf session and warm up proper. We are, after all, moving into Tofino’s very own special swell season. Sláinte.


Cocktail category: margaritas

All Jimmy Buffett, baby. No explanations needed.

CLASSIC, paired with Son of a Son of Sailor

El Jimador reposado, Cointreau, fresh lime. $11

PINEAPPLE, paired with Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude 

Pineapple infused El Jimador blanco, Cointreau, fresh lime, chili salt rim. $12

STRAWBERRY + RHUBARB, paired with Tampico Trauma

El Jimador blanco, Cointreau, strawberry + rhubarb cordial, fresh lime. $12

THAI, paired with Southern Cross, Live

El Jimador blanco, Cointreau, ginger + lemongrass + kafir lime cordial, fresh lime. $12

THIRTY-THREE, paired with The Wino and I Know

Jalapeno infused El Jimador blanco, Cointreau, jalapenos, fresh lime, agave. $12

SMOKY + HERBACEOUS, paired with God’s Own Drunk 

Sombra mezcal, amaro montenegro, ancho reyes poblano liqueur, fresh lime. $16