Whistler is widely known as British Columbia’s winter playground, but summer is an ideal time for a quick trip to celebrate with the guys. A visit to the village is perfect for bachelor parties and birthdays, but you need no special reason to get away with your best buds and experience the great outdoors. There is enough fresh air here to cure any hangover. If that doesn’t help, you may have to turn to the hair of the dog that bit you. There’s plenty of that in Whistler, too. Just don’t wake up with a live tiger in your room.
You might be tempted to cruise through the village’s many clubs and saloons, but if you want to avoid the younger crowd and have a more grown-up night out, start with dinner at Bearfoot Bistro. Chef Melissa Craig is one of Canada’s most celebrated chefs, and her farm-to-table cuisine is nothing short of sublime. Her creations are a perfect starting point to a choose-your-own Whistler adventure — dinner options are set so you can create your own tasting menus.
Plan ahead and book yourself a champagne sabering experience with Bearfoot Bistro’s owner, Andre Saint Jacques. Sabering is the ceremonial act of cutting open a champagne bottle with a large knife, or saber. It’s an exercise in chemistry and physics — just the right temperature of the champagne, and the correct motion and pressure of your cut are necessary for proper sabering. The restaurant is one of 150 Dom Perignon houses in the world, and a peek into the wine cellar downstairs shows you why. Saint Jacques is an expert and Guinness World Record holder in champagne sabering. He’ll show you how to impress your guests at your next dinner party (if you’re lucky, you might learn how saber a champagne bottle with just the foot of your glass). Be warned, Saint Jacques is legendary for his incredible parties, and spending any sort of time with him and alcohol may cause some raucousness and a sudden and unexpected zest for life.
If you can manage it after all the food, wine (you ordered wine with dinner, right?) and champagne, make your way to the Belvedere Ice Room, also in Bearfoot Bistro. There is no exaggeration in the name of this little cave-like space — hooded parkas are required and provided because the room is kept at -40 degrees Celsius, and yes, there’s ice everywhere. The temperature is ideal for tasting more than 50 vodkas from around the world. Sip, but don’t slip.
After a lively night at Bearfoot Bistro, you and your buddies may want to sleep in. Don’t waste the day, but do get your rest and hydrate (or go for the aforementioned hair of the dog with a mimosa or Bloody Mary) so you can be in good shape for what might be Whistler’s main attraction during the summer — the Whistler Mountain Bike Park. During the summer months, Whistler’s snow-covered ski slopes turn to dirt and mud and are perfectly carved for mountain biking. Just like during ski season, trails are labeled by difficulty, giving beginners ample opportunity to learn how not to crash. If you are a beginner, be sure to check out Bike Park 101, where you can get some coaching and skill improvement. A couple dry runs down a beginner’s trail will build confidence and get your ready for the black and double-black diamonds in no time.
After a long day on the slopes, head out for an evening away from the village. Why leave the comfort of the walkable village, you ask? Do it for craft cocktails at nearby Cure Lounge at Nita Lake Lodge. Cure uses a plethora of fresh ingredients to create unique libations. Drinks spiked with ingredients such as brandied cherries, pickled sunchokes, pearl onions and picholine olives will wake up those taste buds. Don’t miss a signature, the Cedar Sour — cedar infused rye with fresh lemon, lemon thyme syrup and egg white. Stay for dinner at the attached Aura restaurant, or simply order a snack (the house made charcuterie is not to be missed).
If you’re in Whistler in July, be sure to plan your trip around an Outstanding in the Field dinner at North Arm Farm in nearby Pemberton. These dinners are held all over North America, and are meant to bring diners closer to where their food comes from. You’ll sit at a dinner table that’s hundreds of feet long while noshing on dishes made up of local ingredients, many of which were provided by the same farm you’re visiting. On July 14, Melissa Craig will be the guest chef at North Arm Farm. Tickets are $190 per person, and still were available at press time. Check the Outstanding in the Field website for future dinners.
Before the Outstanding in the Field dinner begins, make a pit stop for a tour and tasting at Schramm Distillery. This family- owned-and-operated organic artisan distillery has won several international awards for its spirits. Tyler Schramm began the operation in 2002 with his brother Jonathan. The two were trying to figure out what to do with all the potatoes from Jonathan’s potato farm. “It started in Pemberton with these potatoes, and we wanted to do something with them. French fries? Hash browns? No! Vodka,” Tyler said. According to Tyler, 15 pounds of potatoes go into a 750 ml bottle of Schramm Vodka. His vodka is the world’s only certified organic vodka, and it is all bottled by hand. Schramm Vodka is not available in the U.S., but you can order it online.
There are endless possibilities in Whistler for summer fun. Visit whistler.com to plan your perfect mancation.
Photos by Ethan Chung