The Alchemist Fall/Winter 2020

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Have you been spending a lot more time at home lately? Funny, us, too! That’s why, in this issue of The Alchemist, we look at ways to shake things up in our home bars.

Charlene Rooke rounds up the tools you need—which also happen to make great holiday gifts—and talks to cocktail legend Camper English, founder of, about the dangerous things you really shouldn’t be doing at home or anywhere. We offer the five essential classic cocktail recipes everyone should know, and our Tasting Panel shares the bottles they stock at home. And we introduce our new Home Bar columnist, Matthew Benevoli, who shows us how to make homemade vermouth.

But when pandemic restrictions allow, we still want to go out and have some fun, so Gail Johnson gives us a tour of some of the new(ish) Vancouver restaurants serving Italian cocktails, Michael White checks in with Whiskey Muse Reece Sims, and we reminisce about the wildly inventive cocktails at The Aviary in Chicago. Plus we have all the latest spirited news from here and around the world.

We also have a complete guide to B.C.’s distilleries and enough recipes to warm your soul all winter long.

Speaking of winter: This is going to be a long, cold, and difficult few months for a lot of people. Please support your local bars and restaurants, and if you are in a position to do so, help the people who work in them by donating to these organizations:

BC Hospitality Foundation

Mind the Bar

Greater Vancouver Food Bank

Breaking Bread

Vancouver Food and Beverage Community Relief Fund

CPBA Bartenders Relief Measures Program

Bartenders Benevolent Fund

And let’s raise a glass to the end of 2020, and a better, kinder, safer and more delicious year in 2021.

Find The Alchemist in select distilleries and independent liquor stores across B.C. Or make sure you never miss an issue, and subscribe right here.



Vermouth isn’t just a ingredient to add to cocktails. It already is a cocktail—wine that has been fortified with spirits and aromatized with botanicals. The simplest way to enjoy it is with some ice and fragrant garnishes like citrus peel or, as with the dry vermouth on our cover, a sprig of rosemary and a couple of olives.

That said, it’s an essential ingredient in some of the great classic cocktails like the Manhattan, Martini and Vieux Carré, as well as plenty of modern ones, too. It generally comes in two types: dry, white and French, or sweet, red and Italian. In both cultures, it’s enjoyed as an aperitif or aperitivo to whet the appetite. So santé, cin-cin and enjoy!

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