Smooth Operator

The Sidecar cocktail is a sophisticated, classy concoction, so why is it so often overlooked?

Ritz Paris bartender Frank Meier may have invented the Sidecar in 1923. Ritz Paris photo.

The Sidecar is one of the great Prohibition-era classics, a boozy-but-vibrant three-ingredient cocktail that fulfills our desire for both the depth of brown spirits and the bright acidity of citrus. It should be a rock star among cocktails, yet where Old Fashioneds, tiki drinks and even the horrible Gimlet have made their comebacks, the Sidecar has somehow eluded its just recognition amid the modern cocktail revival.

It’s time for that to change.

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The Sidecar

The Sidecar. Dan Toulgoet photo.

The original recipe called for equal amounts of Cognac, orange liqueur and lemon juice, but whether it’s the ingredients that have changed or modern tastes, today we prefer a version that’s heavier on the Cognac. If you can’t afford the real thing, use as good a quality brandy as you can.

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3 Cocktails a True Scotsman Would Approve Of

Sláinte! January 25, 2018, is Robbie Burns Day—a day dedicated to the life and poetry of the late Scottish radical poet, Robert Burns. Burns suppers typically include haggis, Scotch whisky and the recitation of Burns’ poetry. For those planning on cheersing the famed Scotsman this year, here are three tribute-worthy whisky cocktail recipes that can be easily recreated at home.

Distillery Yaletown


1.5 parts DEWAR’S 12 Blended Scotch Whisky
0.75 parts lemon juice
0.75 parts honey syrup
3 slices fresh ginger
Candied ginger garnish

Using a wooden muddler, muddle the fresh ginger in the bottom of a cocktail shaker until it is well mashed. Add the blended Scotch, lemon juice, and honey syrup, and fill shaker with ice. Shake until well chilled (about 20 seconds). Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass (you may wish to double strain through a fine tea strainer to remove the small flecks of ginger), and spray the Islay Scotch over the top.

Distillery Vancouver

Dewar’s Dramble

1.5 parts DEWAR’S 12 Blended Scotch Whisky
0.75 parts lemon juice
0.50 parts simple syrup
0.25 parts. Crème du Mure
Blackberry garnish

Add all ingredients (minus crème de mure) to the glass. Fill with crushed ice and stir. Top with more crushed ice and then drizzle crème du mure on top. Garnish with a fresh blackberry.

Best Cocktail Bars Vancouver

The Darb

2 parts DEWAR’S 12 Blended Scotch Whisky
1 part Martini Rossi (Sweet Vermouth)
3 dashes bittercube Corazon bitters
Garnish with lemon twist

Stir and strain
Glass and ice—rocks / large cube

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Roll out the barrel

Surrey’s Central City may have begun as beer brewers, but they are fast becoming one of B.C.’s most important distillers of single malt.

Central City has 1,400 barrels of single malt aging right now.

He may have a lengthy career in brewing behind him, but Gary Lohin is clear: “I’ve been a whisky aficionado for even longer.”

He got his start in beer at Whistler Brewing back in 1989, before spending most of the 1990s at Sailor Hagar’s Brewpub in North Vancouver. He moved to Central City Brewpub in Surrey in 2003 where his Red Racer beer lineup established him as one of B.C.’s top brewmasters. It was on trips to Oregon and California that he visited microdistilleries and began noticing that breweries there were adding stills. So, when Central City began planning its new production facility in 2010, Lohin suggested to his business partner that they should add a distillery.

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A kinder, gentler cocktail culture

Legendary bartender Jim Meehan, author of Meehan’s Bartender Manual. Contributed photo.

Legendary bartender Jim Meehan envisions a future where humanity is as important as the craft.

It’s not about the fancy glassware, or the high-tech centrifuge, or the exotic, impossible-to-source-spirit, not any more. It’s all about the people.

“Now that it’s no longer an arms race to assemble the cocktail, the other things matter more,” says Jim Meehan.

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Stone Fence

The Stone Fence cocktail, an historic drink given new life by bartender Jim Meehan in his new book Meehan’s Bartender Manual.

Here’s an old school classic getting a new life thanks to Jim Meehan. Cocktail historian David Wondrich traces it back to 1775 when it was “a savage mixture” of New England rum and hard cider. Nearly a century later, he notes, it had evolved into a “suave and smooth” bourbon cooler. Today, Meehan makes the most of the resurgence of craft cider and adds maple syrup for depth of flavour. And, he says, if you want to add a dash or two of Angostura bitters, by all means go ahead.

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Whisky raid leaves shelves empty, bar owners stunned

Provincial liquor inspectors remove bottles of whisky from Fets Whisky Kitchen in Vancouver. Fets Whisky Kitchen photo.

It’s the story that everyone in the BC booze industry is buzzing about: On Jan. 18, the provincial government conducted four simultaneous Prohibition-style raids on establishments in Victoria, Nanaimo and Vancouver and confiscated tens of thousands of dollars worth of liquor.

Their target? Bottles of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s unique (and expensive) whiskies.

Their reasoning? Although the bottles were shipped to B.C. under proper channels and all appropriate taxes paid, the licensees bought them through private retailers instead of government stores, which is not allowed.

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Golden Oldie

The name may sound dated, but the Old Fashioned remains a classic for a reason. The Alchemist asked Sabrine Dhaliwal, Bar Manager at Uva, to let us in on its secrets.

Sabrine Dhaliwal stirs up a classic. Dan Toulgoet photo.

The Old Fashioned is amazing — simple and complex at the same time. On paper it is minimal — spirit, bitters, sugar and water (via the dilution of ice) — but what is critical for an Old Fashioned is getting that balance right. You get the balance right, you have a beautiful cocktail, but if you don’t, there’s nowhere to hide. The fewer the ingredients in a cocktail, the more skill needed to make it.

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Old Fashioned

Sabrine Dhaliwal’s Old Fashioned. Dan Toulgoet photo.

The classic whisky cocktail.

• 2 oz Buffalo Trace bourbon
• 1 tsp granulated sugar
• 2 dashes Bittered Sling Kensington Aromatic Bitters
• Orange twist and brandied cherry for garnish

Add the sugar to an Old Fashioned glass, wet with bitters and (if using a sugar cube) muddle to dissolve. Add bourbon and a single large ice cube, stir for eight to 10 seconds and garnish with an orange twist and a brandied cherry.

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