Daily bite: Celebrated Edmonton cocktail bar, North 53, to close March 31

Restaurateur Kevin Cam is closing North 53 to focus on new projects

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After four years as a leader in Edmonton's cocktail scene, the popular North 53 is calling it quits. March 31st will be the finally day of service for the small cocktail bar on 124th Street. North's owner, Kevin Cam, also runs the Chinese-style downtown spot, Baijiu, which opened in 2017 is also known for its interesting cocktails and lively night vibe. Cam says with North's closure, he is aiming to open other ventures in the heart of Edmonton over the next year or so.

"I’m working on a few projects right now that are closer to the downtown core," explains Cam. "North 53 was done its five-year lease and I decided not to renew it for anotherfive years. I want to shift my focus towards a more centralized location to where all the action takes place with our new arena and the developing Ice District."

North's location didn't take too long to get snapped up as the Calgary-based breakfast chain OEB Breakfast Co. has taking over its lease and itching to get the keys for April 1st. OEB itself has seen some aggressive expansion in the past little while after opening a new location in Calgary's Mission neighbourhood this past fall and another Edmonton location (in addition to the former North 53 space) that's set to open in about a month. The breakfast chain has proven to be quite popular in Calgary, so we can expect similar success in Edmonton.

While parting is quite sweet sorrow, owner Kevin Cam says that his in-progress project will likely be a refreshed version of his original concept. North 53 will go out with a big farewell celebration at the end of March, but for the memories, here is the recipe for the bar's most famous drink, Smoke and Oak.

North 53's signature Smoke and Oak cocktail

If you don't have a smoking gun at home, you can skip that step, this stiff drink is just as tasty to sip without the smoke. That said, if you want to really impress your friends, smoke away!


2 ounces Victoria Distillers Oaken Gin

1/4 ounce smoked maple syrup

3 dashes orange bitters

4 dashes Angostura bitters

Add all ingredients into a mixing glass and add ice. Stir well and strain into an easily poured vessel. 

Smoking instructions:

Express orange oil into a rocks glass.

Torch apple wood chips on a safe surface and cover with rocks glass trapping the smoke.

Keep smoke in glass with a coaster and then add a large ice cube with a cocktail cherry of your choosing, making sure to cover again and not let the smoke out.

To serve:

Take smoke filled glass and take off coaster.  Slowly pour pre-made cocktail in, allowing the drink to displace the smoke.

Be happy.