By Colin Gallant
CALGARY – Model Citizen’s door lies on 17th Avenue between 2nd and 4th Street. Despite the high traffic, you’d be excused for missing it.
The lowkey nature of their modus operandi means an unmarked door, an intimidating set of steps and a blackout curtain available to the host as necessary. There’s only an exterior bulb to clue you in—lit (so to speak) when they’re open, extinguished when it’s time to run along. But don’t take it personally: Model Citizen is a venture by the operators of Model Milk and Pigeonhole, two establishments that top lists of Calgary’s elite dining and gulping outposts. Both are readily marked and provide the same caliber of offerings.
On to the matter at hand: Model Citizen served this writer the best beverage he’s ever tasted. In a haze of dim light, AM disco and hushed revelry brought on by fearsome but thoughtful spirits, the Yung Nordic cocktail shone through to take the throne of the evening.
Concocted in collaboration between Model Citizen and pop-up prodigies Sugarwater, the Yung Nordic is a youthful take on exoticism, flavor balance and Millenial chic. Like confectionary meets oil of oregano, the devilish akvavit (most easily described as a Scandinavian, gin-like hardsauce derived from caraway and fennel) and tangy beet juice leave the taste buds feeling as if they’ve short-circuited a cotton candy machine plugged into a greenhouse. It’s as much an intoxicant as an invigorator, a flirtatiously dangerous paradox. For the sake of the beverage’s proprietary dignity, some ingredients have been omitted from this description.
No cocktail, be it a Sugarwater disruption or homegrown remedy, was wanting for delight on the night BeatRoute visited. That said, Model Citizen is a volatile place to have a drink in that it reserves the right to play a form of 52 Pickup at its whim; its current menu isn’t the point, rather, the ingenuity of offerings is.
All of the above could be true and still remain inconsequential if a patron were to feel rebuffed. We’re pleased to report that on this visit, and several prior to their consideration for review, BeatRoute has received nothing short of attentive, personalized service at Model Citizen. Having witnessed the host show patience in the face of a squadron of jersey-clad Chads, servers take significant moments to linger with chatty tables, and bartenders labour over their work while keeping it social, a certain feeling was created in the room that has yet to leave us. We hope to return soon.
Model Citizen is open Thursday-Saturday at 300 17th Ave. SW. Disco masters Kinfolk are there every Friday, and the cocktails change when they damn well feel like it. The 50-seat establishment is prime for a small party and accessible to larger groups through its website.Kinfolk, Model Citizen