Themed menus at Victoria bars, eateries celebrate royal visit

If the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge feel thirsty or peckish during the royal visit, they’ll find no shortage of themed food and drink here to make them feel at home.

“It appears Kate is partial to Jack Daniel’s,” said Pagliacci’s owner-operator Solomon Siegel, explaining how the duchess’s fondness for the Tennessee whisky inspired him to put a new cocktail on the restaurant’s menu.

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In honour of the couple’s visit, which begins today in Victoria, Solomon created Cambridge Royale, which blends a half-ounce of Jack Daniel’s with equal amounts of sloe gin and Drambuie.

The royal concoction, stirred with ice, strained and topped with champagne, is a temporary addition to the Broad street noshery’s menu, Siegel said.

“Sloe gin is one of the most classic English liqueurs out there, and legend has it that Drambuie was created by [Prince] Charles Stuart,” he said.

“Since the Stuarts got ousted …, we thought it’d be a cheeky thing to have [Drambuie] in their cocktail. We like to create a bit of chaos.”

Little Jumbo, a Fort Street bar and restaurant, is also featuring a royal-themed cocktail customized by head bartender Nate Caudle.

Dubbed Burdock & Bramble, it blends Jack Daniel’s, Crème de Mûre, Benedictine and lime juice topped with Fentimans Dandelion and Burdock Soda, with a mint sprig and fresh local blackberries.

“We thought she might prefer a Canadian rye, but we went with Daniel’s,” said Jumbo managing director Bruce Gillespie, whose research also indicated Prince William has “a broad palate,” including a taste for Tiki-themed cocktails.

“It’s unlike what Will’s grandmother, whose standard is gin and Dubonnet, is into,” said Gillespie, who describes the cocktail as “a bourbon-based treat worthy of a duchess.”

The blackberry element, he said, was an homage to the original Bramble cocktail, a neo-classic London cocktail created by the late Dick Bradsell in London’s Soho bar Fred’s Club in the mid-1980s.

There is no word yet on whether any local venues would offer what England’s Telegraph reports is one of Kate’s favourites — Crack Baby, a cocktail of vodka, raspberry liquor, passion fruit and champagne.

Not surprisingly, the grand dame of Victoria hotels is celebrating with the launch of a new Royal Champagne Afternoon Tea.

“The Fairmont Empress has played host to many royal visits over the years, and we’re thrilled the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are coming to Victoria,” said public relations director Kerry Duff.

“Royal pinkies up!” says advertising for the hotel’s partnership with Darren McGrady, a former royal executive chef, whose new tea menu was inspired by the Royal Family’s favourite pastries.

The menu includes caramel banana cake, said to be a childhood favourite of Prince William and Prince Harry; coronation chicken mayonnaise bridge rolls, reportedly the Queen’s sandwich of choice; and the Royal Chocolate Birthday Cake.

The family recipe for the birthday cake was passed down from one royal chef to the next, dating back to Queen Victoria.

The Royal Champagne Afternoon Tea will be offered in the Empress’s lobby lounge from Sept. 30 to Nov. 30.

The Hotel Grand Pacific is also renaming its signature afternoon tea the Royal Tea and extending its teatime hours, from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m., during the visit, said sales and marketing director Ian Wish.

“Victoria has a long association with tea, as well as royalty, but we take it to the next level,” said Wish, noting its afternoon-tea program, curated with Silk Road Tea’s Daniela Cubelic, pairs Asian influences with local, sustainable ingredients.

A celebratory Royal Tea and tour of Point Ellice House, 2616 Pleasant St., has been planned for Sunday between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. to commemorate the visit.

A number of local restaurants are also getting in on the royal action.

Staff at Yates Street Taphouse and Grill are contemplating creating a royal cocktail and will hand out commemorative prints, said manager Dan Lau.

The theatre-district bar and restaurant, where patrons often watch sports events, will also broadcast royal visit coverage on its multitude of screens, and add bangers and mash (sausages and mashed potatoes) to its menu.

Royal fever will be evident at Strathcona Hotel’s Sticky Wicket, where “English standards” will be added to the menu, said sous chef Vince Zerr.

The hotel’s kitchen staff has been busy researching royal cuisine, said Zerr, who just learned that the Queen’s coronation lunch in 1953 featured curried chicken salad with mango chutney.

The royal-inspired menu includes a mini shrimp quiche, curry chicken lettuce wrap, seafood pot pie and celery root cottage pie.

The menu will even be available in the hotel’s infamous hillbilly bar Big Bad John’s, “but I’m just not sure whether the patrons will be ordering it,” joked Zerr.

There was no word on whether Big Bad John’s would be festooned with upside-down Union Jack flags to accompany its collection of bras hanging from its ceiling.

Zerr admitted he was surprised to learn the royals eat so much cake, “unless that’s just made up on the Internet,” he said.

“It’s the afternoon-tea tradition. You have to have tea and cake,” said Monique Goffinet Miller, who co-chairs the Victoria branch of the Monarchist League of Canada.

A royal visit to B.C. with Victoria as home base for Will and Kate and their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, is akin to the Super Bowl for monarchists.

“The one thing this royal couple is doing is exemplifying family,” said Miller, who has encouraged members to have block parties and afternoon teas.

“We’re seeing a whole new kind of royal interaction where it is a family unit. It’s what is making this visit different. They’re on social media together, doing video chats together.”

Miller is among 30 local league members who have received security clearance from the RCMP and will be in “the VIP standing location” in front of the legislature during this afternoon’s welcoming ceremony.

“We’re hoping not just to catch glimpses, but to have the couple greet their membership,” said Miller, who will distribute magazines to help raise awareness “about the relevancy of the Royal Family.”

Tourism Victoria said the significance of the royal visit cannot be underestimated, with as many as 1,000 members of the international media coming to Victoria to cover it.

“That, in itself, will have a significant economic impact, as they’ll be staying in hotels, eating in restaurants and experiencing firsthand everything our region has to offer,” said chief marketing officer Trina Mousseau.

“The publicity has already been incredible. People magazine, with its substantial international circulation, has a feature on the royals coming to Victoria. It’s hard to put a price tag on the value that has for marketing our destination.”

mreid@timescolonist.com

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