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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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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Global bar stars shake up Vancouver Cocktail Week 2024

Find these top bartenders at guest shifts, seminars and the Green Garden Gala.

From left: Jesse Vida, Tato Giovannoni, Bastien Ciocco and Diego Cabrera are among the many international bartenders attending Vancouver Cocktail Week 2024.

Vancouver Cocktail Week is your best chance to meet — and learn from — some of the world’s greatest bartenders, and you don’t even need to get on a plane to do it. From March 3 to 10, the third annual VCW welcomes some of the most skilled, talented and highly awarded barkeeps from London, Singapore, Argentina and other corners of the planet, and you will definitely want to sample what they are shaking up.

Among them is the legendary Jesse Vida, famous from NYC’s The Dead Rabbit (named World’s Best Bar by Tales of the Cocktail) as well as his days as head bartender at World’s 50 Best Bars-recognized Atlas in Singapore. He’s now partner in the agave-forward Singapore speakeasy Cat Bite Club, and ready to share all his hard-learned lessons at a seminar and guest shift at Laowai.

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Holiday cocktail tidbits

Two little bar bites: an elegant holiday host gift and facts about flaming rum punch

Oil from the orange peel fans the flames of a German Burnt Punch. Lou Lou Childs photo

Most Wanted: Decanters

It’s that time of year when we’re both hosting events and shopping for gifts, and there is one easy solution for both: decanters. An elegant decanter makes a lovely gift under the tree or even for a party host. It’s also a good vessel for your house whisky or brandy. But it’s best put to use for serving large-format cocktails—a decanter filled with pre-mixed Negronis or punch not only looks beautiful, but is easy to pour. Find some great options at: williams-sonoma.ca.

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Atomic age cocktails

The mid-20th century was the best of times, the booziest of times

The advent of Vodka in the 1930s begat a whole new cadre of cocktails like the Moscow Mule, Sea Breeze and Greyhound, pictured above. Getty Images photo

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.

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North America’s 50 Best Bars names Botanist Bar the continent’s most hospitable

Botanist Bar’s creative beverage director Grant Sceney and bar manager Jeff Savage reflect on their Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award. Supplied photo

We already knew it, but now so does the rest of the world. In a first for Vancouver and for Canada, Botanist Bar at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel has won the Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award, given by North America’s 50 Best Bars.

This prestigious award recognizes the single-best hospitality experience across the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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It’s a wrap for Vancouver Cocktail Week 2023

The second annual festival brought global bar stars and festive good times to the city

The Golden Era Cocktail Revival Gala at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver’s Pacific Ballroom may have been one of the best parties Vancouver has ever seen. Living Room creative photo

It began, as all good things do, with brunch, and wrapped with one of the best parties Vancouver has ever seen. Vancouver Cocktail Week 2023, presented by The Alchemist, has come to an end, so let’s raise a glass to the week that was, and to what’s ahead.

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World Class Canada crowns its 2023 winner

Jacob Martin wins the 10th annual contest on the closing night of Vancouver Cocktail Week 2023

Jacob Martin is hoisted on James Grant’s (left) and Jeff Savage’s (right) shoulders after winning the World Class Canada Bartender of the Year on March 11, 2023. Joanne Sasvari photo

Canada’s Best Bartender of 2023 is also a certified cheese professional with a refined palate and remarkable sensory appreciation. Congratulations to Ontario’s Jacob Martin, who won World Class Canada’s big prize at the closing gala of Vancouver Cocktail Week on Saturday night.

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