How Sons of Vancouver is riding the big boom in small spirits
It will be just two short years in February since Sons of Vancouver opened for business—with a 700-litre still repurposed from a dairy pasteurizer. And, like so many of the distilleries around B.C., owners James Lester and Richard Klaus have barely had time to pause for breath.
Take the past few months of 2016 as an example: Sons ran a successful crowdfunding campaign to upgrade to a proper—and much bigger—still, opened a tasting room, and will release a special barrel-aged edition of their signature No. 82 Amaretto in time for the holidays.
I was just thinking of a Flaming Rum Punch,” says Clarence Odbody, the 293-year-old guardian angel in Frank Capra’s 1946 masterpiece It’s a Wonderful Life. But in this post-war dive bar all that’s on offer is “hard drinks… for men who want to get drunk fast.”
Back when Clarence was just a cherub, though, punches were all the rage. A concoction of spirits with something sweet, something sour, something weak and something spicy, punch was a communal beverage, enjoyed at social gatherings. It was often served hot, typically heated by inserting a molten hot poker into a jug, bowl or pitcher of liquor. There were, at times, flames.
Since then, flamed drinks have gone in and out of fashion like a Blue Blazer in a fickle breeze.
Whether it’s a glass of eggnog, a hot buttered rum, or a mug of spicy mulled wine, the winter season is loaded with tasty cocktails. What makes them ideal for the home bartender is their reliance on easily sourced pantry ingredients: spices (cinnamon, clove and nutmeg), fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme and sage), and fruits (mandarins, cranberries and pomegranates). Here are my family recipes for iconic winter cocktails—and a twist or two designed to take your holiday gathering to the next level.
Best made a few days in advance to allow the flavours to develop.
6 large eggs 1 cup granulated sugar 2 tsp ground allspice 12 oz bourbon or rum 3 cups whole milk 1.5 cups heavy cream 2 whole nutmegs (for garnish)
METHOD: Measure all your ingredients. Add the eggs to a blender running on lowest setting. After 20 seconds slowly pour in sugar and allspice. Increase speed to medium and slowly add bourbon, followed by milk and cream, and blend for one minute. Refrigerate immediately in an airtight container. Stir before serving. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg. Makes 8-10 servings.
Turn the heat on under this cocktail an hour before your guests arrive and your home will be filled with wonderful holiday aromas.
750ml bottle red wine 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice, pulp removed 0.5 cup granulated sugar 0.5 cup brandy or Cognac 2 tsp whole cloves 3 unpeeled mandarins, washed and cut into quarters 2 apples cored and quartered 1 cup frozen cranberries 4 cinnamon sticks 3 sprigs of rosemary
METHOD: Add wine, orange juice and sugar into a large pot over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Stud mandarins with cloves and add, along with remaining ingredients, to pot. Cook gently for two hours (take care not to boil off the alcohol). Remove from heat and allow to cool, then strain through a sieve, pressing down to extract the juices from the cranberries and mandarins. Store up to one week in fridge. To serve, heat in a crockpot on low, or in a pan over low heat. Do not boil. Garnish with mandarin segments, apple slices, cinnamon sticks and cranberries. Makes 12, five oz. servings.