Brant Porter, bar manager at Veneto Kitchen and Bar, oversees the cocktail creation at this busy downtown spot. Shown is his signature drink, the Hotel Rialto. Don Descoteau/Monday Magazine

Behind Bars: Steppin’ out at Veneto

Brant Porter orchestrates the cocktail menu at popular Victoria beverage stop

Stepping into the recently revamped Veneto Kitchen and Bar in the Hotel Rialto, which itself was the result of a massive conversion at Douglas and Pandora more than a dozen years ago, Monday publisher Ruby Della Siega and myself are immediately struck by the liveliness of the bar.

Then again, it is happy hour and it’s Thursday, when people looking to get a jump on the weekend tend to step out for a drink.

As we settle into our seats at the bar, Veneto bar manager Brant Porter, who orchestrates their legendary cocktail program, greets us and gives us the lowdown on the latest creations they’ve developed in the “lab” in the building’s basement.

I briefly conjure a picture of people in white lab coats tossing liquids between test tubes, but this pre-release testing is an important piece of the cocktail puzzle for bars and bartenders.

Looking down Veneto’s cocktail list was a treat. It’s not overwhelmingly long, but has enough variety and interesting flavour combinations to pique our interest.

Ruby selects the Cosmopolite, anchored by lemongrass-ginger vodka and enhanced by the fruit flavours of cranberry-chai cordial, sour orange, sumac and black lime. It goes down easy and quenches the thirst well.

I chose Brant’s signature cocktail, the aptly named Hotel Rialto. Based with the lime-tinged flavour of Tanqueray Rangpur Gin, it blossoms beyond the usual gin cocktail with the refreshing use of almond, lemon and orange flower, and is topped with a large sprig of fresh mint. The clincher for me was the cucumber water ice cubes that enhanced the taste as they melted.

Using many local ingredients, including locally distilled gins, the crew at Veneto provide a truly Victorian experience.

Brant, who worked in his family’s Thai restaurant for years and has been working in bars virtually since his 19th birthday, made us feel at home in this busy downtown spot.

So without further ado, let’s hear more from him:

Claim to fame/best up-the-sleeve trick?

Showing up and working really hard.

What’s hot right now?

Coffee.

What traits make a good bartender?

I think great bartenders have a massively diverse set of personality traits, and that’s what makes each one great. I can assume though that most of them share a large capacity for empathy.

What’s your signature drink?

That’s a tricky one! The Hotel Rialto (described previously here), or anything with gin and tea..

What are you drinking these days?

Modelo and Martinis.

Your best memory from behind the bar?

I have a terrible memory (laughs). Working with friends, making people happy, just the day to day stuff is the best!

——————————-

Veneto Kitchen and Bar

1450 Douglas Street | 250-383-7310

venetodining.com

*****

If you’d like to see your bartenders featured in this space, email Don Descoteau at editor@mondaymag.com

*****

ALSO READ: Behind Bars: Tales of the Cocktail unveiled

Just Posted

Bold and brassy quintet touches down at UVic

Internationally recognized Canadian Brass performing with Victoria Symphony on Dec. 21

West Shore Parks and Rec staff member injury raises concerns about cut-through traffic

WSPR says staff member ‘seriously injured’ while monitoring scheduled closure

Victoria resident catches, cleans pigeon feet to help fight stringfoot

Hair, string tangled around birds’ feet can cut off circulation to toes and whole feet

Cyclists rejoice as the Christmas Lights Parade returns

Family-friendly 10km ride visits big Christmas displays, Dec. 21

VIDEO: These are the top toys this Christmas, B.C. toy experts say

Consider the play value of a game, staff at Toy Traders say

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Five things of note from Trudeau’s mandate letters to his ministers

Some marching orders come from the Liberal Party’s campaign, while others are new additions

Scheer’s resignation tips party into internal war over school tuition payments

The Conservatives have a Toronto convention already scheduled for April

POLL: Do you have a real or artificial Christmas tree?

The lights are up, holiday shoppers are bustling through the streets and… Continue reading

Navigating ‘fever phobia’: B.C. doctor gives tips on when a sick kid should get to the ER

Any temperature above 38 C is considered a fever, but not all cases warrant a trip to the hospital

Transportation Safety Board finishes work at B.C. plane crash site, investigation continues

Transport Canada provides information bulletin, family of victim releases statement

Most Read