Canada’s cocktail champ is an Irishman


Shane Mulvany is all smiles after winning the Angostura Bitters Canadian Cocktail Challenge and the $5,000 top prize in Vancouver. (Adrian Brijbassi/

Story by Adrian Brijbassi Columnist


Shane Mulvany prepares his winning cocktail at Blackbird in Vancouver. (Adrian Brijbassi/

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Shane Mulvany has been living in Canada for 18 months — which is all the time he needed to become this nation’s top bartender.

Mulvany won the annual Angostura Bitters Cocktail Challenge in October at Blackbird Public House & Oyster Bar, a massive new bar in downtown Vancouver. A bartender at the Chase in Toronto, Mulvany is from Ireland, having relocated after marrying a Canadian.

He won the mixology contest sponsored by Angostura, a Trinidad company that makes rum and bitters, the tart and flavourful condiment that is a choice ingredient in many cocktails.

“This was perfect for me, because rum is my favourite type of alcohol,” Mulvany says. “I’d love to open a rum shack someday, have it serve only rum-based drinks.”

He’s headed for a dream trip, then. Along with a $5,000 cheque, Mulvany’s grand prize includes a trip to Trinidad for the World Cocktail Challenge, where bartenders from more than a dozen nations compete for a $10,000 grand prize. The competition takes place during the Caribbean nation’s fantastic carnival, which in 2014 occurs on March 3 and 4.

Mulvany won for his drink called the Brian Lara Swizzle, named after the famous Trinidadian cricketer. The four finalists for the national title hailed from Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver. Oliver Stern of the Toronto Temperance Society was last year’s Canadian winner.

Unlike last year, there was not a media challenge. Apparently, the 2013 media champ was a tough act to follow.

More Travel News in Canada

Whistler welcomes Cornucopia: In its 17th season, the food and drink festival called Cornucopia fills 11 days in Whistler, the ski resort town that has become a destination for much more than just winter sports. This year’s Cornucopia fest runs from November 7-17, with an extravagant celebration planned for Friday, November 8 at Araxi. The festival celebrates British Columbia food and wine, as well as health and wellness. Find out more about the events and how to purchase tickets for seminars and foodie parties on the Cornucopia website.

Keep an eye out for coverage of Friday’s Araxi dinner from Columnist Adrian Brijbassi.

New Montreal attraction: The Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, the successor to the Montreal planetarium, is part of the Space for Life attraction. Together, the Montreal Biodôme, Insectarium, Botanical Garden, and Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium form the Space for Life, the largest natural science museum complex in Canada.

The planetarium features two immersion theatre experiences: The Milky Way Theatre, a state-of-the-art astronomical facility that teaches visitors about the universe under a spectacular representation of the night sky; and the Chaos Theatre, reserved for highly creative projects. It is showing Continuum through February 1.

The new planetarium cost $48 million to construct and opened in April. It features the largest collection of meteorites in Québec.

  • Admission: $10-$19; family rate (2 adults, 3 children) is $52.50 ($42 for Quebec residents)
  • Hours:  Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday: 9 am-5 pm; Thursday-Saturday: 9 am-8 pm; closed Monday.
  • Telephone: 514-872-4530
  • Tickets:


Adrian is the editor of and He also edited "Inspired Cooking", a nutrition-focused cookbook featuring 20 of Canada's leading chefs and in support of the cancer-fighting charity, InspireHealth. "Inspired Cooking" was created in honour of Adrian's late wife and co-founder, Julia Pelish, who passed away of brain cancer in 2016. Adrian has won numerous awards for his travel writing, travel photography, and fiction, and has visited more than 55 countries. He is a former editor at the Toronto Star and New York Newsday, and was the social media and advocacy manager for Destination Canada. His articles have frequently appeared in the Huffington Post, Globe & Mail, and other major publications. He has appeared on national and local broadcasts, talking about travel, sports, creative writing and journalism. In 2019, he launched Trippzy, a travel-trivia app developed to educate consumers about destinations around the world.

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