A decade of great Canadian whisky

B.C. distillers scored big at the 10th annual Canadian Whisky Awards in Victoria last night.

The BC winners at the Canadian Whisky Awards included (from left to right): Grant Stevely of Dubh Glas Distillery, Kevin Titcomb and Ken Winchester of De Vine Spirits, Terence Fitzgerald and Jason MacIsaac of Sheringham Distillery, and Leon Webb and Jacob Wiebe from Shelter Point Distillery. Charlene Rooke photo

At a gala awards ceremony celebrating 10 years, the 2020 Canadian Whisky Awards recognized famous whiskies and big achievements of the past decade, while giving kudos to small-batch innovations from artisan distilleries, including four from B.C.

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Bitter & sweet

Why you should be drinking vermouth made in B.C.

At MARKET at the Shangri-la Hotel in Vancouver, head bartender Gianluigi Bosco makes his own house-aromatized and fortified wines. Leila Kwok photo

More than 200 years ago, wine drinkers in Turin and Marseille started adding bittering and flavouring botanicals to wine fortified with spirit, to make an entirely new drink. The styles they created—a sweeter, reddish-brown style in Italy and a drier white-wine version in France—are iconic today, and collectively known as vermouth, a term that comes from the root word for wormwood, which is synonymous in many languages with “bitter.”

Now enjoying a renaissance thanks to cocktail mixology and the Spanish-driven trend for sipping them solo or as a spritz, vermouths should have a place on your back bar. (Actually, in your fridge, where a red vermouth will stay fresh for several months, and white vermouth for several weeks after opening.) Here are three new and three favourite B.C. bottlings to try.

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Citrus Breeze

Gianluigi Bosco’s Citrus Breeze. Leila Kwok photo

This refreshing spritz recipe by Gianluigi Bosco, head bartender at MARKET at the Shangri-la Hotel, uses a vermouth you can make yourself.

• 3 oz Citrus Wine (recipe below)
• 0.25 oz melissa and peppermint hydrosols (see note)
• 2 dashes citric acid, available at gourmet stores
• Soda water, to taste
• Orange zest and mint, for garnish

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The Drive

The Drive cocktail from Odd Society Spirits. RD Cane photo

Recipe from Odd Society Spirits.

• 1 oz Odd Society Prospector Rye Whisky
• 0.75 oz Odd Society Bittersweet Vermouth
• 0.25 oz Odd Society Crème de Cassis
• Garnish: orange twist, brandied cherry

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Hi-ya! Barate Kid is back

Cheer on your favourite bartenders while learning about Vancouver Cocktail Week and supporting the Australian bushfire relief efforts

Logo courtesy of Barate Kid.

Vancouver’s favourite high-speed bartending competition returns on January 26, and this time it’s both a launch party for Vancouver Cocktail Week and a fundraiser for Australian bushfire relief.

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Behind the smile

The hospitality industry isn’t always great for mental health. Now we’re doing something about it

Bartender Alex Black is one of the founding directors of Mind the Bar, which works to destigmatize mental illness. Jonathan Norton photo

The conversation surrounding mental health in the hospitality industry is finally gaining momentum. Published studies are showing that hospitality employees are put under extremely high stress compared to most other industries. Statistics Canada shows we top all other industries when it comes to alcohol and illicit drug abuse. To quote celebrity chef Cat Cora: “We are dealing with an epidemic of mental illness in our industry.”

Community leaders around the globe are stepping forward to voice their concerns, and some have publicly acknowledged their own demons. We’ve seen icons like Anthony Bourdain and Sasha Petraske succumb to the perils of mental illness, while others, like chefs Sean Brock and David McMillan, have begun to promote a sober lifestyle.

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Bottled Up! with Souhail Rostainajad

Souhail Rostainajad. Chris Giannakos photo

Souhail Rostainajad is a new kid on the Gastown block, and he has properly landed in one of Vancouver’s most established bars, Pourhouse, where he is working under industry leader, bar manager Adam Domet and alongside a solid bar team of high fliers—a surefire way to plant some root and stock in the Vancouver bar industry. It’s a fitting place to land in particular because it is the conceptual starting point of the infamous Restaurant Rumble, and Souhail trains in martial arts… he’s got a competitive streak and an eye for assiduousness, so if we don’t see him training for Aprons for Gloves this year, we are hoping to see him sharpen his skills at this year’s Barate Kid!

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The Kir Royale

Cocktail of the resistance

The elegant but rebellious Kir Royale is an easy party staple. Dan Toulgoet photo

The Kir Royale (or Royal, if you prefer) is the kind of swanky fizz that could have been conjured up by some posh hotel barkeep trying to impress a well-heeled customer. In fact, its backstory is much more thrilling than that.

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