This wild child has carved his own path in the industry, securing his place in the bar scene at an early age after passionately needing to be around live music. Currently working the wood in Gastown’s beloved music spot, Guilt & Co. as well as repping the new and alluring spirit called Trakal, he doesn’t stop there, concurrently pursuing acting, music, and his motorcycle license. He’s so damn charismatic, I can’t help but think of Brian Flannagan from the movie Cocktail, but don’t ever tell him I said that. This month’s feature bartender is the one and only Alex Carruthers.
Although Singapore takes the title, Canada once again shakes up the world’s biggest cocktail competition
Note: This is the third in an Alchemist series following Diageo World Class 2019 from planning the competition to the National Final in Whistler and through to the Global Final in Scotland.
He came so close. Vancouver’s Jeff Savage made it to the final eight at the Diageo World Class Final. And he won the Singleton State of Mind award. But in the end, the diminutive Bannie Kang from Singapore took home the ultimate prize.
The spirit that supposedly drove a generation of French artists mad is back in B.C., where distillers are reinventing absinthe
It’s all fun and games until someone loses an ear. Vincent Van Gogh’s escapades might have delivered the final cut to the fashionable, anise-flavoured spirit absinthe, invented in Switzerland in the late 18th century and favoured by Belle Époque bohemians. Seen as highly addictive and dangerous, it was banned in the U.S. and much of Europe for nearly a century, until 2007.
Likely the poor quality or high-proof base spirit—not the relatively small amount of hallucogenic thujone, naturally found in absinthe’s bittering agent, wormwood (Artemesia absinthium)—was responsible for absinthe-attributed naughtiness. But its reputation as the bad boy of the spirits world persists, as does its role in cocktails, particularly of the French-influenced New Orleans school, such as the Sazerac, Corpse Reviver No. 2 and La Louisiane.
Here are five local absinthes to try, from newcomers to B.C.’s standard-bearers.
Congratulations to Vancouver bartender Jeff Savage, who made it to the final eight at the Diageo World Class Final on September 26 in Glasgow, Scotland. He also won the Singleton State of Mind award.
But, in the end, Bannie Kang from Singapore took home the ultimate prize, beating out 54 bartenders from around the world to become World Class Bartender of the Year.
Okanagan Spirits’ anise-flavoured take on the Cuban classic.
• 1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
• 1 tbsp sugar
• 6 mint leaves
• 1 oz Taboo Absinthe
• 1 cup crushed ice
• Sparkling water
• Garnish: 1 lime wheel
At Arbutus Distillery, they use their own house-made ginger beer, but any good commercial one would work as well.
• 1 oz Baba Yaga Absinthe
• 0.5 oz fresh lime juice
• Ginger beer
This modern take on an absinthe frappé was invented about a decade ago by French bartender Charles Vexenat for Pernod Ricard. At Pemberton Spirits, they make it with The Devil’s Club Organic Absinthe instead.
• 1 oz simple syrup
• 1 oz absinthe
• 1 oz fresh lime juice
• 4 oz water
• Garnish: 4 slices cucumber
This floral, low-proof cocktail comes from Tofino Distilling and is a cool refresher on a hot day.
• 1 oz absinthe
• 2.5 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
• 5 oz lavender syrup
• 5 oz still water
Tired of the same old, same old wine-and-cheese pairing? The folks at The Macallan have got you covered.
They’ve recently partnered with Toronto cheese wiz Afrim Pristine (owner of Cheese Boutique and author of the book For the Love of Cheese) and American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional Elizabeth Chubbuck to pair fine fromage with, yes, single malt.
Turns out, they go surprisingly well together.
Where B.C. was once a major barrel producer, today distillers are scrambling to find casks
There’s a spot on the Seawall of Vancouver’s northeast False Creek that should be a pilgrimage—or maybe mourning grounds—for B.C. whisky fans. Under the Cambie Bridge in Coopers’ Park, a plaque marks where the Sweeney Cooperage set up shop in 1889, becoming an important international manufacturer of wooden barrels. It closed in 1981, three decades too early for the current demand from B.C. distillers.