If you’ve ever seen, or taken part in, a round of welcome shots offered to insiders at a mixology-forward bar, you’re already familiar with the bartender handshake.
The cocktail renaissance of the last 20-some years spurred the tradition of bartenders pouring a little something (often something unknown or slightly unpalatable to the general drinking public) for visiting colleagues. To enter a bar and receive a so-called bartender handshake drink is like being part of a secret society. Global trends started this way, as uber-local greetings: San Francisco bartenders were pouring handshake shots of Fernet-Branca 20 years ago, and Chicago has cornered the market on ultra-bitter Malort. There’s even a world-ranked bar in Mexico city called (wait for it…) Handshake, which has a menu of little welcome snack-tails.
There’s a decided chill in the air and that can only mean one thing: It’s whisky season! True, we’re happy to sip whisky and whisky cocktails year-round, but fall especially cries out for their sweet, spicy, smoky notes.
Pro tip: Book March 3 to 10, 2024, off work right now. That’s when Vancouver Cocktail Week, presented by The Alchemist, returns to town, and you won’t want to miss one spirited minute of it.
The city’s third annual celebration of Vancouver cocktail culture will have even more bar stars from Canada and around the world shaking things up with planned takeovers and mid-week pop-ups at Vancouver’s most popular cocktail venues.
A Canadian wins World Class for an unprecedented third time. So what’s next for our talented bartenders?
On September 29, amid confetti and cheers, Toronto’s Jacob Martin became the World Class Global Bartender 2023, the third time a bartender from Canada—or any country—has won the world’s biggest, most prestigious cocktail competition. It’s an extraordinary accomplishment, and a fitting finale to Canada’s 10th year of competing in the event.
There’s no better time to explore the Ontario Craft Gin Trail than right now, when it’s blooming with fall colours and seasonal spirits
The Ontario Craft Gin Trail, formed in the summer of 2022, rounds up six Ontario gin-stitutions on a self-guided trek around the province’s southwestern distilleries. It’s a perfect weekend getaway or staycation, with stops as little as an hour west of Toronto (in Guelph). Here’s what we saw, tasted and loved.
It goes without saying that a stop at Canada’s Best Bar, Civil Liberties, is essential. Now, you can also grab some bottled Civil Pours from the same mixologists: they recently ran a Bloor West pop-up, and watch for wider availability soon. A stop at Mother Cocktail Bar, an inventive Toronto fermentorium that’s steadily climbing the ranks of North America’s 50 Best Bars, is also a must. For the speakeasy set, there are inception-style spots tucked inside Coffee Oysters Champagne and under the restaurant Little Sister, but we won’t spoil those secrets here. Make your reservations now for these buzzing bars.
There’s no shortage of glamour in Miami, but even the most jaded of luxury travellers will find something to marvel at when setting foot into Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club. A former members-only club that hosted the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Winston Churchill, the historic grandeur of the hotel is still present in every nook. While visitors may get lost strolling the storied halls, most who enter today probably know exactly where they are going and that place is usually the Champagne Bar.
The mid-20th century was the best of times, the booziest of times
The end of the Second World War ushered in an era of unprecedented prosperity and optimism across North America. The space race was on; so was the baby boom, a housing boom and a technology boom that filled all those new homes with fancy gadgets and their driveways with shiny automobiles. (There was also another, less happy “boom” on people’s minds, a nuclear one.)
And, when workers came home from the office to their tidy, well-appointed suburbs, they’d mix up pitchers of Martinis or Mai Tais to enjoy around their kidney-shaped cocktail tables.