Tag Archives: National Bourbon Room

Blue Lagoon: the cocktail

Never heard of a Blue Lagoon cocktail? You’re not alone. For those readers who were tweens or teens in 1980, those two words together will most likely conjure images of Blue Lagoon, the movie, in which a ship-wrecked Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins get hot and heavy beside a very blue lagoon.

Remember this movie? Evidently it inspired a tropical cocktail of the same name.

Remember this movie? Evidently it inspired a cocktail of the same name.

Evidently, this cheesy 80s island love story inspired a tropical 80s cocktail of the same name, the Blue Lagoon. It’s a member of the cocktail genre I call “blue cocktails,” that includes the Blue Hawaiian, the Blue Margarita and the Blue Monday. All of these drinks are coloured blue by Blue Curacao, which is actually an orange-flavoured liqueur that’s been dyed blue. (When cocktails veered toward sweet and fruity in the 70s and 80s, blue curaçao showed up for the party.)

I’ve been hearing for a while that 80s cocktails are making a comeback. Bartenders are taking Amaretto sours and pina coladas and margaritas and making them better (usually that means less sweet, and with fresh juices or housemade syrups instead of sour mix). This is a good thing. But I kind of thought blue drinks would be overlooked because of their neon colour. So, when I saw that the Bourbon Room was featuring not only an 80s selection but a blue cocktail on said menu, I couldn’t resist.

So. Very. Pretty.

Blue Lagoon cocktail at the Bourbon Room. So. Very. Pretty.

Bartender Fern Zevnik has taken some liberties with the Blue Lagoon (using bourbon instead of vodka, for one), but the result is something that’s balanced, delicious and beautifully blue. Go ahead and dive in!

Blue Lagoon

  • 2 oz Buffalo Trace bourbon
  • 1 oz Giffard Blue Curacao
  • 3/4 oz housemade mead syrup (or use honey simple syrup)
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice

Method: Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake, then strain into a chilled coupe glass.

— Recipe courtesy Fern Zevnik

Drink of the Week: Bourbon Lemonade

I was lucky to attend the opening of the new National on 10th, a giant beer-hall cousin of the popular National on 17th. It’s a lovely space with high ceilings, communal tables and a great selection of beer.

Another new beer hall in Calgary? Yup, raise a stein (er, mason jar) to National on 10th

Another new beer hall in Calgary? Yup, raise a stein (er, mason jar) to National on 10th.

The question is not whether Calgary really needs another beer hall; rather, does the city need a Bourbon Room? I’d say the answer is, but of course! You see, while the keg party rages around communal tables downstairs in the new National, select Calgarians will be sipping Kentucky’s finest upstairs. The highly-anticipated Bourbon Room is scheduled to open next week.

It’s a small, dimly-lit space filled with retro red leather chairs and banquettes, with black and white (female) nude portraits hanging on the walls. My guide on the private tour, Stephen Phipps, cocktail guru for the Concorde Group (that owns National), wouldn’t let me take pictures (sorry!), but painted a picture of what the bourbon-swilling clientele can expect (sorry again, ladies, no male nudes, but Phipps hinted he may tend bar naked).

There will be over 40 different kinds of bourbon behind the bar, including some not available for purchase in Canada. The Bourbon Room is meant to be a mellow place where the lucky few can relax and engage in conversation. No iPhones allowed, in other words. (If you want to join the party, it’s happening downstairs in the beer hall.) Access will be by invite only. “It’s going to be exclusive,” says Phipps.

So, if you like to sip bourbon in an intimate setting, best to figure out how to land your name on the Bourbon Room list. And if that fails you can always order a bourbon lemonade downstairs.

Try this tasty cocktail at National on 10th (or just drink beer).

Try this tasty cocktail at National on 10th.

Bourbon Lemonade

  • 3 oz homemade lemonade (fresh lemon juice, water, honey)
  • 1 oz fresh strawberry puree
  • 1-1/2 oz bourbon

Put everybody in a mason jar, add ice, screw on the lid, shake it up and you’re good to go!

— Recipe courtesy Stephen Phipps, Concorde Group