Wake up to the Espresso Martini

The bittersweet contemporary classic makes a comeback

Get your caffeine buzz on with the return of the retro Espresso Martini. Getty Images photo

High-waisted jeans, shoulder pads, neon colours—if you had any doubts that the 1980s are back, the return of the Espresso Martini should lay them to rest.

This buzzy, bittersweet cocktail was perhaps the quintessential cocktail of an era in drinks culture that was otherwise, frankly, pretty grim. 

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A sweet win for Vancouver’s own Bitter Babe

Lauren Mote honoured with Spirited Award for mentorship at Tales of the Cocktail

Lauren Mote was named Best International Bar Mentor at 2022’s Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. Photo courtesy of Tales of the Cocktail.

To Vancouverites, Lauren Mote may be best known as the co-founder of Bittered Sling Bitters and, for a while at least, a vibrant presence behind some of the city’s best bars. But worldwide she is renowned for her work as a mentor, educator and driving force for a better, more inclusive cocktail world.

Now all her hard work and passion has been recognized by her peers at the annual Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. On July 28, at the 16th Annual Spirited Awards, Mote was named Best International Bar Mentor.

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Orange liqueur

Getty Images photo. Beat the Triple Sec shortage by making your own orange liqueur. Getty Images photo

Short of triple sec? Make your own

It seems there will be no end to the supply chain issues that have drained back bars of essential spirits these past two years. This summer, for instance, it looks like we’re facing a shortage of Aperol, just in time for spritz season, so drink up while you can.

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Summer spirits

The Alchemist tasting panel reviews sips for the sunny season

Hot weather demands lighter spirits and less complicated cocktails. Getty Images photo

Once summer’s warmer, sunnier weather finally arrives, we crave drinks that are lighter and easier, more refreshing and less complicated. No one knows that better than the bartenders who craft all your Margaritas, G&Ts, spritzes and other summertime thirst quenchers. So we asked them to share their favourite warm weather spirits, and the cocktails they would make with them. This issue, our tasting panel team comprises bartenders J-S Dupuis, Robyn Gray, Jeff Savage, Grant Sceney and David Wolowidnyk. Here’s what they had to say. 

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Generation cocktail

Fairmont Pacific Rim launches a series of drinks inspired by Douglas Coupland’s new art exhibit

Dirty Harry. Photo courtesy of Lobby Lounge at the Fairmont Pacific Rim

Vancouver’s own Douglas Coupland is typically the creator, not the muse, known for 13 novels including the era-defining Generation X as well as numerous artworks, many of them displayed prominently around town.

But for now at least, he’s also the inspiration for a limited series of cocktails designed by the Fairmont Pacific Rim’s award-winning beverage director, Grant Sceney.

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Recognition for Vancouver bars

The Keefer ranks No. 25 at the inaugural North America’s 50 Best Bars Awards; Botanist places No. 2 on Canada’s 50 Best Bars

The winners at the 50 Best Bars ceremony in New York City. Supplied photo

We all know what a dynamic cocktail scene Vancouver has, and what a talented group of bartenders we have slinging drinks here.

Now the rest of the world is getting an idea, too. Well, sort of.

Two sets of “best bar” rankings have just been released, with nods to some of our favourite watering holes. But as always, some of our very best cocktail destinations couldn’t make the list because they just don’t qualify as bars. (Because of our licensing rules, they are often technically considered restaurants.) No matter. We know who you are.

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Great world bars we love: Johnnie Walker Princes Street, Edinburgh

Photo courtesy of Johnnie Walker/Diageo

There are few places I’d rather be right now than the Explorers’ Bothy at Johnnie Walker Princes Street in Edinburgh. This glam new rooftop whisky bar not only features stunning views of the Edinburgh skyline, it also offers 150 different drams to sample. Then again, its neighbour, 1820, has equally breathtaking views and craft cocktails. Hmm, which to choose?

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A final toast to VCW 2022

The bartending team at A Botany of Brunch.

We learned, we tasted, we socialized, we drank deeply of cocktail culture. Heck, we even danced a little.

The first ever Vancouver Cocktail Week presented by The Alchemist has just wrapped up, and plans are already in the works for next year—mark your calendars now for VCW 2023, March 5 to 11!

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Sip and help Ukraine

At The Alchemist, we’ve watched the humanitarian crisis unfold in Ukraine with heartbreak and horror, and like many of you, have felt the urge to help in any way we can. As it turns out, some of our favourite distillers and bartenders are way ahead of us.

Odd Society Spirits is donating 20 per cent of its East Van Vodka proceeds to World Central Kitchen to help their humanitarian efforts for Ukraine. Odd Society Spirits photo

Odd Society Spirits

Odd Society Spirits is donating 20 per cent of its East Van Vodka proceeds to World Central Kitchen to help their humanitarian efforts for Ukraine.
World Central Kitchen is first to the frontlines, providing meals in response to humanitarian, climate, and community crises. They build resilient food systems with locally led solutions and are currently serving thousands of fresh meals to Ukrainian families fleeing home as well as those who remain in the country.
The team at Odd Society Spirits has seen an uptick in sales of their vodka since the BCLDB pulled all Russian products from BC liquor stores, and they want to use those funds to support refugees fleeing Ukraine.
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Cocktails to go, go, go

Three drinks that bring new meaning to “one for the road”

The Aviation cocktail. Getty Images photo

If you’re like me, you’ve probably been dreaming of escape, of going somewhere, anywhere that isn’t your home. But it might be a while before it seems like a good idea to hop on a train or a plane just for fun.

Instead, let this trio of classic cocktails whisk you away on a spirited journey.

Cocktails have always tasted of travel and exotic places. A Kir Royale is a sip of France just as a Margarita is of Mexico. A bowl of punch carries memories of India. Tropical cocktails are the very essence of the Caribbean or South Pacific.

But some cocktails are about the journey itself, inspired by the modes of transportation that will get you there. Consider these three—the Aviation, 20th Century and Sidecar—the sour-based planes, trains and automobiles of cocktail culture.

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