November’s most ‘spirited’ events

November is no one’s favourite month. It’s dark, cold, wet and gloomy, and it isn’t quitethe month that comes with presents. Maybe that’s why it’s such a great month for drinking. I mean,  maybe that’s why it’s such a great month for new product releases and exciting social events, starting with these.

Whisky and more whisky
The Valkyrie limited edition single malt from Highland Park. Contributed photo

The whisky releases continue to trickle into stores, including these stellar single malts:

• Valkyrie from Highland Park, a terrific limited release from the Orkney distillery, with a savoury, dry, smoky, salty flavour profile. $99.95.

• The Bartender’s Malt, a dried apricot, chocolate and brioche-flavoured blend from Auchentoshan that’s designed to be especially good in cocktails. $59.99.

• Bowmore Vault Edition #1: Atlantic Sea Salt, a truly special dram fragrant with wood smoke, vanilla, honey and salt. Think of it as maple-smoked bacon in a glass. $179.99.

Note: Reports suggest that, thanks to glitches in BCLDB’s new computer system, a number of items may not be delivered or restocked in time for the holidays. Stock your bar cart now!

Party supplies

The best way to banish the November blues is to throw a party, which is also a good excuse for stocking up on glassware and bar tools. Each year Indigo comes out with great cocktail gear like its jaunty gilt-trimmed low-ball glasses. At only $39.50 for a set of four, it won’t break your heart (or the bank) if someone drops one on the kitchen tile.

Head to the hills

It’s a winter wonderland up in Whistler, and if that isn’t enough of a reason to head up to the mountain resort, Cornucopia should be. The 11-day food and drink fest (Nov. 9-19) features a number of cocktail and spirits events, including seminars and grand tastings. Most of them are on the second weekend, so you still have time to book your getaway.

Genever, whenever

Before there was gin, there was genever, a Dutch grain spirit that’s delicately scented with juniper. It’s found a major fan in Philip Duff, one of the world’s great cocktail educators (he’s director of education for Tales of the Cocktail, among other things), who recently launched his own brand, Old Duff Genever.

On Nov. 13, Duff will be in Victoria, leading an intimate evening at Foxtrot Tango Whisky, where he will talk about cocktails and genever – and there will, of course, be cocktails served. Tickets are $55.

Seasonal ingredients

It’s not just pumpkin spice season. November means the return of the sweet-tart citrus fruits that are so delicious in our favourite sours. Switch up the same old lemon and lime with blood oranges, Meyer lemons, clementines and mandarins and use them in Margaritas, Collinses and Sidecars. It’s also the season for pomegranates, and making your own grenadine will give you a whole new appreciation of the bright red syrup.

Make a Blood Orange Sidecar.
Artful cocktails

Join 850 of your most stylish friends at Harbour Events Centre on Nov. 16 for Dinner by Design Cocktail Art, Vancouver’s largest cocktail party (and a fundraiser for Visual College of Art and Design scholarships). Sip on drinks by some of the city’s best bartenders while checking out the spectacular tablescapes created by top interior designers. Tickets are $75.

The Hopscotch festival features food, craft and premium beers, scotch, whisky, and several wines. Contributed photo

There is so much to sip and savour at the 22nd Annual Hopscotch Festival. It’s a full seven days and nights of spirits, craft beer, cider, wine and cocktails, running Nov. 20- 26, with the Grand Tasting Hall on Nov. 24 and 25 at the PNE Forum. Tickets start at $30.

And with that, we’re right into the holidays, and it will be like November never happened.

—by Joanne Sasvari



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