B.C.’s craft distillers breathe new life into an old spirit
Over the last few decades, brandy has developed a branding problem. Not the Brandy who rose to fame with hits like The Boy is Mine in the late 1990s; rather, the once-venerable tipple that today is often seen as old fashioned, dull and enjoyed exclusively by the elderly.
Perhaps you’ve had it before in your grandma’s flamed Christmas pudding, drunk an occasional Sidecar at a hip cocktail spot or heard a reference to it in a Drake or Megan Thee Stallion song.
But outside of Cognac—a sub-category of brandy that has been embraced and promoted by the rap community—brandy has not been an intuitive or even conscious choice for most Gen Xers, millennials or Gen Zers.
Despite its waning popularity, there seems to be a trend emerging in British Columbia that just might clutch brandy out of the doldrums and back en vogue. Whether coincidental or created through circumstance, a number of B.C. wineries, cideries and distilleries have recently released their own small-batch, terroir-driven brandies—and they’re good, really good.
For the ultimate grown-up dessert, Whitley Neill Rhubarb and Ginger Gin is a wonderful base for a mouth-watering treat, whether served alone or paired with a scrumptious dessert. The Rhubarb Pie Fizz cocktail brings real pizazz to the table and great for a cheeky toast to the chef.
• 20ml Whitley Neill Rhubarb and Ginger Gin
• 10ml Lemon juice
• 50ml Apple juice
• Slices of apple
Originating from New Orleans, the original Sazerac used Cognac as the base ingredient (it was later replaced with rye whisky). Apple brandy provides a smoother, more fruity base for this locally inspired iteration.
B.C.’s Shelter Point Distillery becomes the first Canadian bottling by the prestigious Scotch Malt Whisky Society.
During the Victoria Whisky Festival on January 20, the Canadian chapter of Scotland’s Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) unveiled a new bottling, 152.1, also known by the name Vibrant and Vigorous. The “.1” identifies the first-ever bottling from a new-to-SMWS distillery, and the Society identifies whiskies only by number and their often-fanciful house names, because each whisky is a single cask bottled at house strength, and may be a unicorn that doesn’t align with the distillery’s house style.
Getting inside Vancouver’s newest bar involves placing a wager on “King Louie.”
The team behind the hidden Chinatown bar Laowai is opening another underground watering hole, this time inside the (faux) Happy Valley Turf Club off-track betting shop (518 Main St).
Bagheera is an homage to India and the cultural crossroads of Three Kingdoms Hospitality co-founders Lewis Hart and Brij Rathi. While Laowai is modelled after Prohibition-era Shanghai, Bagheera is named for the black panther in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book and was inspired by India at the turn of the 20th century.
For the first time in its 13-year history, the 2023 Canadian Whisky Awards have named a B.C. craft bottling the best whisky in Canada.
At the Canadian Whisky Awards on January 19, Palm Trees & A Tropical Breeze from the North Vancouver-based Sons of Vancouver won top Canadian Whisky of the Year honours. It was also named Canadian Whisky of the Year, Artisan Producers; Barrel Finished Whisky of the Year; and All-Rye Whisky of the Year.
Follow the signs to great food and drink in Victoria’s Bastion Square
A sign pointing you to fresh oysters and another just above the door are the only clues that one of Victoria’s most exciting food and drink experiences can be found here, tucked away in historic Bastion Square.
Follow the stairs down to find a dark and moody candlelit space, where the canopied bar gleaming with bottles of local and international wine and spirits is a sure sign that this is the right place to come for a good drink.