Fabien Maillard hails from Paris, where he trained as a chef before trading his apron for a lab coat. Founded in 2008, Le LAB, Comptoir à Cocktails is his Montreal temple to cocktail higher learning, a tavern-cum-social-science-salon where employees answer to the title "labtender." Here he holds regular workshops where, for $95, guests mingle and mix their own cocktails according to the day's theme. Among recent topics: the Tiki renaissance. That gathering inspired a new menu offering, the Jimmy Hawkins, named after the cabin-boy hero in Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. A reimagined mai tai, it replaces pirate-fuel rum with tequila and lets refreshingly au courant cucumber and elderflower syrups stand in for floral-almond orgeat syrup. "You can close your eyes and see the beach and the waves," Maillard says. After three, you might even see pirates.
Jimmy Hawkins recipe by Fabien Maillard, Le LAB, Comptoir à Cocktails, Montreal
1/2 ounce cucumber syrup*
1/2 ounce elderflower syrup*
3/4 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce triple sec or other orange-flavoured liqueur
1 ounce tequila blanco
* Flavoured syrups are sold at select liquor and cocktail supply stores across Canada. To make your own, stir 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add desired flavourings. Let steep for 30 minutes before straining into a jar. (Syrup will keep, covered, in a refrigerator for up to two weeks).
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Fill shaker with ice cubes, cover and shake vigorously. Strain drink from shaker into a lowball or rocks glass. Garnish with thinly sliced cucumber.