Luxe Libations

The Alchemist tasting panel reviews high-end spirits

The tasting panel discusses the ultra-premium spirits we rarely get to taste. Getty Images photo

Sometimes nothing will do but the highest of high-end spirits. Perhaps there is an important anniversary to commemorate, a business deal to cement, a mentor to thank. Or maybe you are just lucky enough to stumble upon a tasting where you can sip something rare that’s been aging in a barrel for decades. Whatever the event, there comes a time when you may be able to enjoy an ultra-premium spirit—or a cocktail that’s been made with it. We asked our tasting panel to share some of their favourites and the cocktails they’d make with them (if they could afford to). This issue, our tasting panel team comprises bartenders Sabrine Dhaliwal, Robyn Gray, Grant Sceney and David Wolowidnyk. Here’s what they had to say. 

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Sunset

Sunset cocktail. Getty Images photo

This twist on the scotch classic is created by David Wolowidnyk.

1 oz Glenfarclas 17-year

1 oz Marsala

0.5 oz Bénédictine liqueur

2 dashes orange bitters

Garnish: orange peel, shortbread

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Courvoisier Gala

Courvoisier Gala cocktail, as served at the VCW23 launch party. Canadian Cake Hospitality photo

Courvoisier VS combines with sparkling citrus soda to dress up any occasion

• 1.75 oz Courvoisier VS

• 4-5 oz of sweetened citrus soda (lemon or grapefruit are preferred)

• Garnish: Citrus wheel

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Watch: One of the world’s best bartenders makes drinks for thousands from her Vancouver home

She’s spreading her world-class knowledge online.

Vancouver-based bartender Kaitlyn Stewart is TikTok famous

Kaitlyn Stewart loves to learn.

If the Vancouver bartender sees a new technique or tries a drink that captures her interest, she wants to know how it works. “I’m like a sponge, I’m always trying to soak it up,” she tells V.I.A over the phone.

She believes constantly learning is a testament to being a good bartender or even chef. It’s also likely one of the traits that earned her the title Bartender of the Year at the World Class Competition in 2017.

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Bobby Burns

Bobby Burns cocktail. Getty Images photo

The origins of this classic are lost to time, but it emerged in the early 20th century, its name an homage to the famed Scottish poet Robert Burns.

1 oz blended scotch whisky

1 oz sweet vermouth

0.5 oz Bénédictine liqueur

Garnish: lemon peel

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Here’s what the author of ‘A Bartender’s Guide to the World’ loves most about Vancouver

“It feels like Vancouver’s still one of the best-kept secrets in the world,” says award-winning cocktail expert Lauren Mote.

Lauren Mote is the author of A Bartender’s Guide to the World, a new book released Oct. 25, 2022 that chronicles her global travels in the cocktail industry with recipes.Photo courtesy Penguin Random House Canada

When it comes to tips about enjoying cocktails in Vancouver, Lauren Mote is a bit of ringer.

The award-winning Canadian mixologist and author of the new book A Bartender’s Guide to the World actually called Vancouver home for several years, crafting cocktails at some of the city’s top spots and launching her business Bittered Sling with her husband, chef Jonathan Chovancek.

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Vieux Carré

Vieux Carré. Getty Images photo

The classic, invented at the Monteleone Hotel in 1930s New Orleans.

0.75 oz rye whisky

0.75 oz Cognac

0.75 oz sweet vermouth

0.5 oz Bénédictine liqueur

2 dashes Angostura bitters

2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Garnish: lemon twist

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First Ever Craft BC Whisky Weekend comes to Victoria and Vancouver

The Craft BC Whisky Weekend was held October 29 and 30 in Victoria and Vancouver. Supplied photo

Over the past decade British Columbia has become the focal point for craft distilleries within Canada. Prior to 2013, there were only a handful of distilleries in operation in the province. However, once the Provincial Government established new regulations around “commercial” and “craft” distilleries, exempting “craft” distillers from the more than 160 percent markup the province applies to all other B.C. spirit makers, there has been an enormous boom. Today, there are close to 100 distilleries in operation.

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Setting the stage

At Published on Main, Dylan Riches performs cocktail theatre 

At Published on Main, Dylan Riches pushes boundaries with his creative cocktails. Sarah Annand photo

Ask Dylan Riches to trace his journey from the wilds of Prince George to bar manager at East Vancouver’s celebrated Published on Main, and he’ll ultimately suggest that he’s simply swapped one stage for another. 

“One of the things I love most about this industry is that the path is not the same for every single person,” Riches says at the award-winning restaurant. “I love talking to people in the industry, getting to know them, hearing about where they come from. Every person’s path has a different turn or twist.”

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