When smoke gets in your glass

Bearface blender makes the most of Canada’s flexible rules in his whisky-mezcal mashup

Bearface master blender Andres Faustinelli. Supplied photo

Consider Andres Faustinelli an industry disrupter, in the best possible way.

“The beauty of this project was in our mind from day one,” says the master blender for Bearface Spirits. “The whole idea with Bearface is we’re going to showcase what we can do in Canada, and be way open about it. We’re going to be disrupting and having fun.”

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Last minute gift guide: Warming whiskies

Need something to tuck under the tree? We’ve got you covered with these holiday bottles

istockphoto.com

Here at The Alchemist, we pretty much always think a bottle of something delicious makes a good gift, especially if that bottle contains whisky. If you’re looking for a last-minute gift, these are the are the sippers we’d like to find under our own Christmas trees. (For more gift ideas, see Last Minute Gift Guide Part 2: Spirited presents.)

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Bottled Up! with Hailey Pasemko

Hailey Pasemko is the bar manager at Wolf in the Fog in Tofino. Jordie Hennigar photo

This is Hailey Pasemko, and she’s the managing force behind the bar program at Wolf in the Fog in Tofino, on Vancouver Island. She came highly recommended as someone to speak to (thank you Alex Black!) and for good reason: Hailey began tending bar at 19 and has maneuvered through the industry with precision and agility, consistently pushing herself to learn more, do more, and make this industry her own. She’s a loaded gun, with wine education, bar education, management experience, and now, she’s forging a path as a forager, the fruits of her labour displayed behind her bar, with self made products such as Salmonberry bitters and Nootka rose syrup. There’s never been a tastier reason to hit up Tofino.

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Drink like a critic with this new tour

Photo courtesy of Alexandra Gill.

If you’re going to Dine Like A Critic, you’d better drink like one, too.

Alexandra Gill is perhaps best known as the long-time Vancouver restaurant critic for The Globe and Mail, but she is also the new editor of Canada’s Best Bars. So it’s no surprise that she has put cocktail pairings on the menu of her new luxury food tour company.

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Say hi to rye

The Alchemist tasting panel samples Canadian and American rye spirits

The lineup included both American and Canadian whiskies, as well as unaged rye spirit. Dan Toulgoet photo

Our bartender tasting panel is never short of opinions, but no other spirit has ignited passion the way rye whisky did. Maybe because it’s our national spirit (sort of). Or maybe it’s just because bold flavours inspire bold statements.

Seven of Vancouver’s top bartenders gathered on a rainy afternoon at Homer Street Café for the tasting panel: Alex Black, bartender and mental health advocate; J-S Dupuis, beverage director of Wentworth Hospitality; Robyn Gray of the Rosewood Hotel Georgia; Katie Ingram, bar manager at Elisa Steakhouse; Grant Sceney, Fairmont Pacific Rim; and, from Homer Street Café, Rob Scope and David Wolowidnyk.

They loved the sweet spice and rich, bold flavour of the rye. But they differed on whether Canadian or American is better, and whether it has to be 100 per cent rye or can be a blend of grains. And they admitted that as much as they love rye, it’s a hard sell to consumers, many of whom are unfamiliar with it and prefer the simple sweetness of bourbon.

The panel tasted 12 rye-based spirits. Here’s what they had to say.

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Rock & Rye: Resurrecting a distinctly Canadian spirit in Vancouver

As a Canadian distillery, Resurrection Spirits has taken ownership of a distinctly Canadian spirit: rye. Photo: Resurrection Spirits Inc./Facebook

There is an inescapable paradox at play in the notion of craft production. It is like the beloved local indie band that creates a hit single and then ends up filling stadiums on the next tour. “Sellouts!” we cry, too cool to support them now that they are popular. “It used to be about the music, man.”

Make something cool, people like it. Too many people like it, your thing is not cool anymore. It is a philosophical minefield that makes artisanship a tough gig.

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Cosy up with a good read

Whether you’re looking for a new recipe or a great gift, these boozy books have you covered

Canadian Spirits: The Essential Cross-country Guide to Distilleries, Their Spirits and Where to Imbibe Them by Stephen Beaumont and Christine Sismondo (Nimbus Publishing, $29.95)

Two of Canada’s top spirits writers have compiled a comprehensive guide to the assortment of hooch produced from coast to coast to coast in this country. This is the essential book about the industry’s history and its future, covering more than 160 producers ranging from the behemoth Hiram-Walker in Windsor, Ontario, to Vancouver’s tiny Odd Society Spirits. Available October 31.

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