Vancouver’s Fairmont Pacific Rim Exhibits Douglas Coupland, Complete w/ Corresponding Cocktails

It’s hard to believe it’s been a tad more than thirty years since Douglas Coupland‘s epochal Generation X was first published. But in a 1991 that was on the one hand leaving behind the Top Gun / Weekend at Bernie’s vapidness of late ’80s culture, and yet on the other making it not just okay, but also extremely profitable to be (wince) Pearl Jam, his book incisively captured a kind of general malaise or discontent with modern life that would long remain the post-Boomer generation’s way of view(askew)ing the world around them.

Of course, delineating history by decade demarcation is mostly futile, as the ’70s gave us not only Ziggy Stardust and Never Mind the Bollocks, but also, well…the way people dressed in the ’70s. Yet the German-born Canadian novelist was certainly onto something when that now very famous debut novel of his posited that there were deeply significant disparities opening up in the value systems of people who were separated by only about 20 or so years. To be sure, Gen X would prove much, much more wary of the big sellout that most of the hippies/yippies eventually and vigorously embraced.

Most disappointingly, the Xers’ healthy levels skepticism and self-questioning would quickly be replaced by blindly enthusiastic, generally unfounded Millennial self-confidence and narcissism.

Whether it had anything to do with chronology or not, Coupland launched a long dormant visual arts career just as the calendar ticked into the new Millennium. And Vancouver’s most culturally engaged hotel, the Fairmont Pacific Rim, have been since November presenting a survey of that work, at their newly launched Pacific Gallery – only now they are throwing in several original corresponding cocktail creations for good measure. No surprise, Green Light, Red Light explores the insidiousness that lies beneath the surface sheen of quotidian pop culture and the new gen media. It’s a logical continuation of not only Warhol’s keen Pop Art commentary, but also the post-Marxist dialectics of post-punk provocateurs like PIL, Gang of Four and their ilk.

So a series of portraits of ’60s era Japanese film starlets, while outwardly pretty, has a distinct air of hollowness and commodification about it. While a collection of ’70s era muscle car hoods could almost be viewed through an Ozymandias lens, visually impressive but melancholy relics of the decline of American industry. But it is his eerily cutesy Moneyboy and Moneygirl statues, perched ominously above the lobby lounge fireplace, that most viscerally convey the overarching vacuousness of disposable, 21st Century consumerism and entertainment.

Just thinking about it all is enough to make you reach for the nearest vodka bottle; and so it makes perfect sense that Coupland and the hotel have now also collaborated on a series of cocktails (see recipes below) that make direct reference to his creative oeuvre. Notably, the buzzy Lobby Lounge & RawBar has just made the list of Canada’s 50 Best Bars, and so its “mixological” credibility is clearly beyond question. The drinks have actually got clever titles like Clint, Dirty Harry, Blueberry Oleo and Tokyo Twilight, the latter based on the 1957 Japanese film of the same name, whose star Ineko Arima appears in Coupland’s prints.

That Generation X the book bore the subtitle “Tales For An Accelerated Culture” was certainly prescient, as the onset of our new digital existence has sent everything into irreversible hyper-drive. What the Fairmont’s Pacific Gallery is offering then is the chance to look back thoughtfully at what the last sixty+ years of pop culture might actually have meant, through the eyes of someone eminently qualified to comment on them…and enjoy an expertly prepared tipple whilst warily taking it all in.

“It’s strange how quickly the past became ‘history,’” Coupland observes, “and it’s even stranger how quickly the future is becoming the present. I think we maybe no longer have a present. I think we now inhabit the future 24/7.”

Tokyo Twilight (pictured above)

1.5 oz Tanqueray 10

0.75 oz Sake 

1.5 oz Green Tea Ginger Cordial *

0.5 oz Grapefruit Juice

0.5 oz Lime

Garnish: Rosemary Sprig 

Glassware: Coupe glass

Method: Build, Shake, strain into coupe. Garnish

Dirty Harry

2 oz Ketel One

0.75 oz Dry Vermouth

0.25 oz Dirty Ginger Shrub *

Garnish: Radish slice, Pickled Cucumber, Pickled Ginger (all on a skewer)

Glassware: Coupe glass

Method: Combine ingredients into mixing tin, stir then strain into coupe

Pickled Ginger Shrub

8.5 oz Pickled Ginger Juice

8.5 oz Olive Brine

3.25 oz Simple syrup 1:1

0.5 oz Apple Cider Vinegar

Method: Build all ingredients together and keep refrigerated. Pickled Ginger juice- strain off from pickled ginger for sushi


1.5 oz Canadian Club Rye

0.75 oz Lemon juice

0.5 oz Blueberry Oleo *

0.25 oz Green Chartreuse

1.5 oz Soda

Garnish: Sage

Glassware: Coupe glass

Method: Build, Shake, strain into chilled coupe, top soda, garnish 

Ginger Green Tea Cordial

3.5 oz Sugar

17.5 oz ginger juice (use slow vegetable juicer to press ginger juice

17.5 oz sencha tea (add 1 oz sencha green tea to 17 oz hot water. Steep for 15 mins)

Method: Add hot strained sencha tea to sugar, keep on heat and stir until dissolved. Set aside and let cool. Add ginger juice once cooled.

Blueberry Oleo

3.5 oz Sugar

17.5 oz blueberries

5.25 oz lemon zest

1 oz thyme, chopped

14 oz lavender tea (add 0.5 oz dried lavender to 13.5 oz hot water. steep for 15 mins)

Method: Add all ingredients to a vac, seal bag, muddling gently to break up blueberries. Seal and let sit for 24hrs.

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