B.C.’s small-batch distillers got crafty in this season, releasing new bottled cocktails, gift packs, special editions and other little goodies—from vermouth to liqueur—ideal for stuffing stockings, or treating yourself to new tastes.
Cocktail lovers have a whole back-bar of B.C. craft cocktails and spirits to taste this holiday season. Mini-bottle sets are a hot commodity: Shelter Point’s 12 Days of Christmas advent calendar sold out, direct from the distillery, in hours. More common are spirit trios, which you can break apart into three little presents, or sample without investing in full-size bottles. Sheringham’s gin trios sell out at Legacy Liquor Store, where Remy Letendre, the buyer for the extensive B.C. craft spirits section, says, “This year, I was excited to see a few brands take part in the ‘tri-pack’ Christmas selection. I think it’s a great way for these craft distilleries to get people to try a wider range of products. The early success of the Esquimalt vermouth tri-pack just shows how people are willing to branch out … for home bartending.”
He also points to this year’s wave of new, premium bottled B.C. craft cocktails, including lower-alcohol but big-flavour mixed drinks from brands like Provincial and Duchess. “Companies like Legend Distilling and Roots and Wings have done a great job integrating their own products to create B.C. craft twists on traditional cocktails,” including spirit-forwards drinks like Manhattans and Old Fashioneds.
Get these while they last: through Legacy Liquor Store in Vancouver, from the distilleries or at other private retailers throughout B.C. (check distillers’ websites for availability). Prices do not include tax or bottle deposit.
The Aromatics by Sheringham Distillery
Three 100-millilitre bottles of award-winning Seaside Gin, London Dry Gin and a sunny Lemon Gin Liqueur, lined up in a woodsy-themed box that easily extends into any winter-months gifting occasion (around $39).
Vermouth Gift Set by Esquimalt Wine Company
The Rosso, Dry and Kina-Rouge vermouths from Vancouver Island have been making a splash in the B.C. cocktail scene: try them all in 148-millilitre bottles. Either with sparkling water or in premium cocktails, they’ll raise your bar (around $45).
Gin Gin Gin 3-Pack by Arbutus Distillery
You’ve never seen a blue gin as colour-saturated as this deep indigo version, which changes to vibrant fuchsia with tonic or lime. Lemon-licked Citrus Gin and evergreen Forest Dweller gin round out the trio of 200-millilitre bottles (around $54).
Origins Gin Showcase by Phillips Fermentorium Distilling Co.
The vintage Old George still at Phillips Brewing & Malting Co. in Victoria cranks out not only the Old George barrel-aged gin (made in an Old Tom style), but rainforest-scented Stump Coastal Forest and Discovery Street gins, with these three 110-millilitre bottles covering all your holiday cocktail needs (around $39).
Bottled Cocktails by Legend Distilling
In 500-millilitre glass bottles reminiscent of old-school beer stubbies, find a B.C. craft a Negroni (made from Legend’s Silver Moon Gin, Naramaro and Manitou liqueur), Manhattan (from Wyatt Whisky and Naramaro) or Espresso Martini (Blasted Brew liqueur and Shadow in the Lake Vodka), mixed and ready for the celebration (around $37).
Bottled cocktails by Provincial Spirits Co.
Cute 341-millilitre bottles of innovative vodka-based cocktails (like blueberry, fresh fig and lemon; passionfruit, orange and guava; haskap berry, grape and botanicals; blood orange, vanilla and cardamom; plus apricot-lemon and plum or sage and lemon sours) are ready to swig or pour over ice (around $5 each).
Bottled cocktails by Roots and Wings Distillery
Right from the farm-based Langley distillery, a fresh crop of 375-millilitre bottled cocktails includes a vibrant Auracinsis cocktail (a Cosmopolitan variation, made from potato-distilled Vital Vodka) and an Old Fashioned featuring its Rebel barrel-aged corn spirit (around $26).
Duchess Lightly Sparkling Cosmopolitan
In a frosted 280-millilitre bottle with an innovative fizz-friendly crown cap, this Vancouver-born tart and slightly bubbly pink drink is low-sugar and made with real cranberry and lime juice (around $6).
Odd Society Spirits whiskies and cocktail mixers
The first step to making great malt whisky is basically brewing a beer, so Vancouver’s Odd Society collaborated with Doan’s, Parallel 49, Storm and Powell (the latter coming in January) on limited-edition whisky bottlings (375 millilitres for around $37). The distilleries tall 375-millilitre bottles of Crème de Cassis (around $24, for festive New Year’s Kir Royales), Salal Gin (a seasonal West Coast take on sloe gin, around $33) are sweet gifts, too.
Schnapps, brandy and liqueur from Pemberton Distillery
Cute 375-millilitre jugs of traditional potato-based German Kartoffelschnaps and a hoppy Hopfenschnaps, a delicious barrel-aged Apple Brandy plus a toddy-ready Whisky & Wild Honey liqueur are all eminently stocking-stuffable premium spirits (from $30 each).
Krupnik from Wayward Distillery
A traditional honey-sweetened Polish holiday drink, the krupnik from Wayward on Vancouver Island is actually distilled from honey, and infused with citrus peel, baking spices and vanilla. Try this tipple with ginger beer, in hot apple cider or chai tea… or all by its delicious self (around $45 for 375 millilitres).
Liqueurs from Bruinwood Estate Distillery
A creamy Advocaat that was an audience favourite at BC Distilled, a Champagne-ready Crème de Cassis and a Pumpkin Spice Cream liqueur are warming treats that will carry you through the entire holiday season (around $40 each).
—by Charlene Rooke