Cocktails of the Canadian Rockies: Lake Louise Glacier Drop (Lake Louise)

As awestruck as I was in Banff (and thankful to don jeans verifying that cooler weather still exists in the world) I was not prepared for the splendor I’d experience in Lake Louise.  Having done some research we learned taking a slightly different route from Banff to Lake Louise on Bow River Parkway adds barely any time but affords some spectacular scenery and better wildlife viewing opportunity.  We did not see any wildlife but frankly the scenery was so mesmerizingly beautiful unless the animals jumped on our car I don’t think I would have noticed. 

It was around this portion of our travels that I became completely hypnotized by the color of the water, walking around slack jawed for the following days, muttering constantly ‘I just can’t get over the color of this water!’   I just wanted to be enveloped by this color, finding it completely enchanting.  I contemplated a paint job for our house or my car; maybe a cosmetic dye for my English Bulldog (people do it you know)?
At a postcard photo pull out in the road, I could not fully take in the beauty of the silty aqua river slithering around the dense evergreen forest dressing the bosom of the mountains which exploded toward the heavens.  To emphasize this I’ll state that my photos are completely untouched.  I used no polarizing filter (which I was told would filter some of the light haze and deepen blue pigment), have not saturated any colors.  This region pulls out all the chromatic stops, blasting lucky viewers with intensity of hue that seems contrived for its purity.
Lake Louise, Alberta Cananda |
Lake Louise from across the valley at the top of the Lake Louise Gondola. The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is poised in front of the lake
En route to our lodging in Lake Louise we stopped to ride the Lake Louise Gondola.  Much like the gondola in Banff it affords a loftier view of the entire area, including Lake Louise across the Bow River Valley, cradled below the glacier which feeds it.  This is Grizzly bear country and we encountered several signs suggesting no feeding (my response: ‘no problem’) and to keep windows closed.  At the top of the gondola are amazing vistas of the entire valley as well as an interpretive center educating on the area with focus on the Grizzly bear population, their demise and current attempts at repopulation. 
Nordic Center Lake Louise Ski Area summer |
The ski lodge at the base of the Lake Louise Gondola. Indoors in the central area was a floor to ceiling river rock fireplace, perfect for a Nordic break.
Lake Louise Gondola |
The Lake Louise ‘Gondola’ actually offers the choice of riding inside a small gondola car or on a four person chairlift. We enjoyed the outside ride in the chair with full unobstructed vistas.
Lake Louise |
Though we did not see any bears (some had been spotted earlier at the base of the gondola that morning), the stop was worth the view and education.  One inspired endeavor we learned about is the animal-friendly overpass construction employed in the park. The design is exclusively to facilitate safe passage of the animals to the opposite side of the road, providing cars pass through the tunnel-like structures, the tops of which are planted with vegetation allowing animals to cross over instead of ‘across’ the road without hearing or seeing the road traffic.  The design implementation has drastically cut down on car collision deaths for park animal residents.
Lakeside Lounge at Fairmont Lake Louise |
The view from the Lakeside Lounge at the Fairmont Lake Louise.
The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise was our second iconic hotel stop.   The initial hotel was built in 1890 as ‘Chalet Lake Louise’, a much more rustic accommodation targeting rail travelers and day visitors from the Banff Springs Hotel.   Through fires and multiple architects the current day Chateau Lake Louise was constructed in 1911.  The hotel has always been a hot spot for royalty and movie stars alike with the lake, originally ‘Emerald Lake’, being named for one of Queen Victoria’s daughters.  The chateau survived closure during World War II and was converted from a summer-only resort to one also open in the winter months for skiing beginning in the 1970’s.  
I was overcome to enter this grand hotel, a sentinel over this indescribably beautiful lake.  I fell instantly in love, snapping photos as a parent does of their newborn baby, not wanting to miss a single moment of the beauty this scene shone on visitors.  I truly could not take my eyes off the lake.  The combination of the alluring aqua tone, contrasting against the soaring, rugged, snow-covered peaks coupled with the chance for meandering in the presence of such magnificence felt like the definition of decadence.
Rock sculptures on Lake Louise |
The aura of Lake Louise is magical and as if to prove it we came upon a man placing these small boulders on obscure axis on larger rocks. Their perfect balancing act was unbelievable and they were still in place the following morning.
The established elegance of the Chateau is observed in every detail but it is far from stuffy or exclusive.  My first order of business was to seek  my next local mixology find, feeling this to be the type of place beckoning one to the practice the civilized art of ‘cocktail hour’.  The Lakeside Lounge is just as it sounds, the late afternoon cocktail and hors d’oeuvres spot steeped in the luster of this grande dame hotel with the best vantage points of the Caribbean-colored lake.
As I’d hoped a specialty cocktail awaited though my brakes went on when I read ‘blue curacao’ as an ingredient.  Admittedly I was hopelessly ill informed, judging the liquor by its color, jumping to assume to drink it was to dive headlong into the Hangover Pool.  I so loved the cocktail’s visual equality with the lake hue and forged ahead.  The cocktail was light, refreshing and citrusy; a local spin on a Lemon Drop cocktail.  I learned a bit and now knowing I can recreate a facsimile of the signature color of this vacation stop, my bulldog will be spared a pigmentary dip.
I highly recommend this cocktail especially to anyone hankering for the visual hope of cooler weather.  The color cannot be beat.
·         1 ounce citrus vodka
·         ½ ounce Cointreau
·         ½ ounce Blue Curacao
·         ¾ ounce freshly sqeezed lemon juice
·         ¾ ounce simple syrup
·         Lemon peel (garnish)
In shaker with ice, combine all ingredients.  Shake and strain into a cocktail glass rimmed with sugar.  Float a piece of lemon peel for garnish.
A few additional notes on the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.  Three of our family of four are gluten free diners due to medical necessity.  Food is always first and foremost in our travel planning due to the lack of predictability of finding ‘safe’ food in addition to hopefully delicious food.  Both at the Fairmont Banff Springs as well as the Chateau Lake Louise we found their menus to distinctly cater to all varieties of dining proclivities.  It was effortless for us to dine and the service was impeccable.  Everyone we dealt with was genuinely friendly and helpful.  There is a difference between those in the service industry trying to be nice and those who emanate happiness and the true desire to be helpful.  Everyone we encountered fell into the latter category.
Things we’d hoped to do at Lake Louise:   
Sadly a virus befell our merry band of travelers but these plans were too good not to share in hopes you might have a chance to do them!
Canoe on Lake Louise or Lake Moraine:    Canoes and kayaks can be rented at Lake Louise or nearby famous Lake Moraine along with life vests.  We as a family kayaked on Jenny Lake in Jackson Hole Wyoming and found it to be a unique, gorgeous was to enjoy the surroundings.  These lakes beg to be explored on the water!
Take the hike to the Lake Agnes Tea House and the Beehives:  A most popular hike from the Chateau Lake Louise leads hikers to a functioning historic teahouse well atop the mountains above Lake Louise at hidden Lake Agnes.  The 4 ½ mile roundtrip hike to the teahouse is rated as ‘moderate’ with the reward being enjoying tea in the clouds at the working teahouse (originally established in 1901 with the current replica building erected in 1981).  Soups, sandwiches and cakes are also offered.  For an added effort, hiking to the top of the Beehives offers a view of the entire Lake Louise region.  The Beehive portion rated as ‘strenuous’ with the complete round trip (including the roundtrip to the teahouse) of 6.6 miles.  (I found teahouse prospect enchanting wondering how the goods are carted to the teahouse, how the workers arrive there with no roads, etc.  If you do the hike please let me know what you learn!)
Bow River Parkway Alberta |
Bow River Parkway (via Instagram)

Enjoy other Cocktails of the Canadian Rockies stops:

Captain’s Passion:  Banff

Pomegranate Cucumber Mojito:  Jasper 


    • says

      Sheepishly I must agree! Though the 'southern' Rockies are part of the same range, there is something very magestic and changeable about the Rockies in Canada. I have one more post coming tomorrow in perhaps the most spectacular area. I agree completely on the water. I've only seen that color in the tropics. All due to glacier run off.

  1. says

    I'm enjoying your adventure. Lovely scenery — I haven't been in the mountains for awhile, and need to get back. And I now know what I what to be when I grow up — someone who balances rocks on boulders! Great picture, just wonderful to know someone is doing that. There aren't that many blue-tinted drinks, are there? But the Lake Louise Glacier Drop looks great. Gorgeous color. Love the overhead shot (I'm a sucker for overhead shots). Enjoyable post — thank you.

    • says

      Isn't that wild (the boulder balancing)? It was pretty 'David Copperfield' to watch and see they stayed in place. Funny about the blue drink thing when I submistted it to Foodgawker I noted about 3 other blue drinks when it was accepted. Maybe it's blue drink season for the dog days of summer? I too loved the overhead shot especially with the cool grate as background (love it when photo elements 'in the wild' line up)! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

  2. says

    Lake Louis and Banff are the most beautiful place on earth. We visited 16 years ago and ALWAYS talk about a return trip to enjoy the majestic beauty and the gorgeous emerald blue green lake waters. I am definitely making this cocktail tonight to celebrate this beautiful spot on the earth! Thank you so much for such an extraordinary post and unique cocktail!


    • says

      If you've visited there you can appreciate the grandeur that simply cannot be captured with a camera! The ever changing landscape and sky. The expanse of everything. One more visit and cocktail to come: Jasper. Be on the lookout tomorrow!

  3. says

    As I mentioned yesterday, my sister works at the Agnes Lake Teahouse. They have no running water or electricity up there. They cook everything over a propane stove! To transport the goods up to the teahouse, they rent a helicopter every so often and it takes a full day to load and unload the helicopter. The workers live at the teahouse for three days and then down in the village of Lake Louise when they aren't working. It is truly a magical place 🙂

    • says

      I'm so glad you are back Kels with the scoop! Our last day we visited the Columbia Icefields (post tomorrow with one last cocktail) and two groups on our bus were discussing their hike to the teahouse the day prior. They got caught in a torrential hail storm that lasted 30 minutes as well as it seems the teashouse was swamped. Again thanks for the fill in.

  4. says

    Toni, This photo tour transported me, I felt as thought I was there along with you. And your photos are breathtaking. The instant I saw the cocktail I drew the conclusion it mirrored the color of the lake. I love travelogues!

    Thank you for stopping by my place earlier, it was grand to hear from you. Cheers!

    • says

      Thanks Brooks for riding along! I'm so delighted to find you in the blogosphere again and will look forward to keeping in touch a bit more now that you are on the radar! Hope your summer has been going well.

    • says

      Oh a kindred travel spirit! In hindsight our trip was a bit more rushed and I'd choose if going back. Would be easy to stay in each area a number of days. Frankly I could sit and stare at these lakes for a full day each! Tomorrow I'll be posting about Jasper….with cocktail!


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