After a long day of on the slopes at Big White Ski Resort, I was tempted to end the evening off quietly with a refreshing hot tub. However, knowing the resort was voted to have the best après ski bar in Canada by Ski Canada Magazine, I was also determined not to give up the gun and end my night early. Fortunately for me, the award winning Gunbarrel Grill has carved a unique niche in the village, serving up a the increasingly well-known Gunbarrel Coffee cocktail.
To seek out this legendary beverage, I headed to the second floor of the rowdy Snowshoe Sam’s pub to the more intimate Gunbarrel Grill. I took a seat at the bar and without even consulting the menu, decided to just shoot from the hip and order a Gunbarrel Coffee straight out. I was expecting an energy-inducing coffee beverage, but was not entirely prepared for the bartender, Keith, to pull out the big guns (literally a large shot gun) along with a portable bar stocked with a fire pit and various liquors specially assembled to prepare the drink.
Curious as to how this concoction was going to be prepared, I watched with full attention. Keith began by pouring brandy into my glass, and then to my surprise, abruptly set it aflame while calmly explaining that this was done to bring out the flavour. Even before drinking any of the coffee, the bright flames and showmanship had already begun to perk up my energy levels.
Crème de cacao, Kootenay Coffee and whipped cream were then added to the drink and I could feel myself licking my lips. Meanwhile, Keith began to explain that the owners of the Gunbarrel Saloon created the drink 30 years ago at a nearby resort, Apex. They were looking for a creative coffee drink to use to brand their establishment and after several attempts (and some drinking of their own), they decided to dismantle a shotgun hanging over the saloon’s fireplace and use it to prepare a coffee-based cocktail.
Before I could fully wonder just how a shotgun fits into mixology, Keith began to prepare the weapon, which he used as a slide to pour flaming Grand Marnier into my drink. For a moment, the entire gun was ablaze, catching the attention of the entire restaurant.
I was then promptly handed the completed beverage and in taking a sip, immediately tasted the sweet notes from the crème de cacao mixed with the toasted Grand Marnier. I’m not sure if it was the caffeine or the alcohol (or both), but I could start to feel myself perking up even more, and decided to shoot the breeze with Keith to find out more about this gunfire-inspired beverage. He went on to explain that the drink had become so successful, that it has been featured in Ski Canada Magazine and used in several promotional videos for Alaska Air and Big White Ski Resort. It’s also earned the Gunbarrel Grill a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor for being in the top-performing 10% of business on the site.
Although all of the awards and publicity are quite an accomplishment, you wouldn’t be jumping the gun in agreeing with why the coffee has earned them after even just one sip! The beverage is the perfect way to end a day on the slopes and the number one must-order drink on the mountain.
See the process on video via Destination BC here: