Cheers to the VCW community

Vancouver Cocktail Week features events for everyone, in support of the city’s hospitality industry

Vancouver’s Kaitlyn Stewart was the World Class Global Bartender of the Year in 2017. Living Room Creative photo

Unlike some boozy events, Vancouver Cocktail Week isn’t just a big party (though it offers plenty of opportunities to raise a glass and get your ya-yas out). And unlike other boozy events, it’s not a trade show where you wander from booth to booth sampling wee sips of things (though it does feature loads of exciting new spirits, bitters and cocktails to taste and try).

What Vancouver Cocktail Week is, is a celebration of community, and not just the community of talented bartenders and industry professionals in this city. It’s also a celebration of you, the guests they serve, the whole reason the industry exists in the first place.

That’s why VCW events take place, not in a convention hall, but in the bars and restaurants where the city’s best bartenders can show you what they do best.

And it’s also why VCW24 has something for everyone, whether you are only just discovering cocktails or want to add to your collection of recipes for your next dinner party, expand your knowledge as an industry professional or simply enjoy a fun night out on the town.

Here are just some of the exciting experiences you can discover at VCW24, March 3 to 10.

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Grilled Pineapple Sour

Joel Virginillo photo

The Grilled Pineapple Sour takes you to the tropics with its combination of the smoky sweetness of grilled pineapple, the complexity of tequila and the tartness of fresh citrus juice.

1oz Herradura Ultra

1oz fresh lime juice

1oz fresh lemon juice

1oz grilled Pineapple Syrup

2 dashes Aromatic bitters

1 egg white (or vegan foamer)

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Alberta whisky named Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year

The win marks an exciting shift in small-scale distilling across the country

The Fort Distillery’s Mountain Pass Whisky is the 2024 Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year. Photo courtesy Artisan Distillers Canada

After seven years of domination by B.C. and Ontario, an Alberta distillery has taken home the top prize at the 2024 Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition.

In a series of blind tastings, a cross-Canada panel of judges selected The Fort Distillery‘s Mountain Pass Whisky as the Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year. The Fort Saskatchewan distillery prevailed over more than 80 small-scale spirits producers from 10 provinces and territories, who entered nearly 300 products in the competition; its whisky was only the second ever to win CASC’s top award.

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Where to Drink Right Now on Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman is a Canadian-favourite winter destination. Photo courtesy Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa.

This expat-filled, Canadian-favourite winter destination is planting a flag on the world-class bar map. With pretty perfect daily weather and literally a Seven Mile Beach to enjoy during the day, and plenty of sunset and nightlife spots, there’s no need to wait until Cayman Cocktail Week (an annual festival, in the last week of October) to visit.

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First we take Manhattan

And then we try these other city cocktails

The Manhattan is regarded as the first modern cocktail. Getty Images photo

Like its namesake city, the Manhattan is elegant but uncompromising and invulnerable to fashion’s changing whims. Oh, sure, it can bend a little—rocks or up, bourbon or rye, occasionally willing to entertain a variation like the scotch-inflected Rob Roy—but it will always be what it is: a drink of whisky, vermouth and bitters.

It’s been that way since the 1880s, when it was invented. Or maybe it was the 1870s or 1860s. In any case, writing in Difford’s Guide, Simon Difford notes that “the Manhattan is regarded as the first ‘modern cocktail.’” Or as the late bartending legend Gary “Gaz” Regan once said, “It was the drink that changed the face of cocktails.”

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Toronto

Getty Images photo

The Toronto first appeared in print in 1922, replacing the Manhattan’s vermouth with the darker, more intensely herbaceous Fernet-Branca.

2 oz rye whisky (Canadian, of course)

0.25 oz Fernet-Branca

0.25 oz simple syrup

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Garnish: orange twist

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Brooklyn

Getty Images photo

The Brooklyn is a drier Manhattan: whisky, dry (French) vermouth, maraschino liqueur, Angostura bitters.

2 oz rye whisky

1 oz dry vermouth

0.25 oz maraschino liqueur

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Garnish: brandied or maraschino cherry, preferably Luxardo

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Manhattan

Getty Images photo

Like its namesake city, the Manhattan is elegant but uncompromising and invulnerable to fashion’s changing whims. 

2 oz rye whisky (or, if you must, bourbon)

1 oz sweet vermouth

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Garnish: brandied cherry or lemon twist

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Scotch Sippers

Our bartenders explain how to master single-malt mixology

Sweet, spicy, smoky: Scotch whisky has something for everyone. Getty Images photo

In the world of spirits, few elixirs carry the weight of tradition and reverence as does single malt whisky. This liquid gold, celebrated for its complexity and rich character, has long been the epitome of sipping perfection. It is often imbibed neat, treasured in crystal glasses and savoured slowly, as if each drop encapsulates generations of craftsmanship.

Historically the thought of mixing such a revered spirit into a cocktail was nothing short of sacrilegious. However, with the variety of flavour profiles offered by the category, as well as an interest from distilleries to produce their own interpretations around the globe, a transformation is underway. Bartenders are now revitalizing classics and reimagining new possibilities.

Our tasting panel team comprises Jenna Gillespie, Lory Nixon and Kate Chernoff from British Columbia and Erika Mauro, Ashley Flynn and Jenn Abergel from Ontario. This all-female perspective weighs in on their favourite single malts and how to cocktail with them.

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