Mar 05

Lougheed’s Legacy Hosts a One of a Kind Cider

by Downtown Calgary · 1 comment

This is a guest post by Adam Johnson. Adam is a public relations consultant at Fleishman-Hillard, and has spent his fair share of time behind a bar. After eight years pouring drinks, he now finds the time to get out and enjoy the finer things in life – and in a bottle. If you’d like to become a guest blogger, find out how here.

As the snow fell and I looked up at the shadow of The Bow, I was struck by just how different Calgary looks at night.

By day, the city is the very definition of hustle and bustle. The streets are stacked with cars and the sidewalks lined with business people heading to and from their various destinations. Things move so quickly here that it can be easy to miss the buildings for the town. James Lougheed lent his name to my destination for the evening, and what I found inside was nothing short of living up to that eponymous title.

The Lougheed Building, opened in 1912, is now standing for its first year past the century mark, and is home to my watering hole for this particular evening – ParkerHouse. While there was no shortage of locations to choose from, the way this particular establishment stood out was by explicitly not standing out. Without looking for ParkerHouse, you may very well miss it. The restaurant’s only signage comes in the form of a very demure font on the window. Inside, the décor is anything but.

Chandeliers line up end on end leading into the dining room, with stairs marching upward to a beautiful mezzanine private dining area. As inviting as this was, it was after 9 pm, so I headed to the lounge. The mezzanine allows a unique mood as you sit at the bar, which is set with speckled granite. One minute with the cocktail menu and I was ready to see what ParkherHouse had to offer.

I was fortunate enough to be served by the establishment’s AGM, Mark Woodhouse. Mr. Woodhouse was no stranger to the cocktail world, and had soon whipped up one of the house specialties – the Parker Apple Cider.

The sharp bite of lemon and the tangy connection of Grey Goose and apple juice could not have made this any less like the juice boxes I grew up on. Despite the weather outside, Parker’s Apple Cider tasted like how sitting on a porch at sunset feels. If you attend the ParkerHouse with female company, order your lady one of these and then soak up the praise.

Somewhere between my first sip and the bottom of my glass, Mr. Woodhouse had a chance to give me the lowdown on this gin joint. Apparently, as would be expected most places downtown, a reservation is a must if a lunchtime visit is in your week’s plans. In the evening, one is still highly recommended, but not always a necessity. While I was here on a cocktail quest, it does bare noting that the wine list here is extensive and themed. On beautiful display against the far wall on the lounge side, it creates a beautiful visage as you enter.

Now, maybe it was the classic feel of the lounge at ParkerHouse, or maybe it was the result of watching Mad Men reruns for most of the evening leading up to my visit, but for my second drink, I took the bartender’s advice and ordered an Old Fashioned. In the past, I have noticed that both the citrus and the sugar responsible for its flavor can overpower this drink. Not so with the ParkerHouse variation. The slow release of the flavor added a subtlety and class to the Mr. Woodhouse’s favorite concoction. The fact that the glass seemed form-fit to my hand was an added bonus.

A new trend is beginning to take place not just in downtown Calgary, but the city as a whole. Years of beer service and sugared pop highballs are giving way to a more classic approach. Calgary is a city that prides itself on its old-fashioned way; ParkerHouse will help nurture that feeling.

Editor’s note: The ParkerHouse is participating in the Big Taste 2013. Check out the Big Taste website for more information.

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