Spooky by Design

As legend would have it, architect Sir Francis Rattenbury haunts the halls of the Empress Hotel. Getty images photo

Come the dark, gloomy days of fall, it’s easy to imagine ghosts all around us, especially in a historic building like Victoria’s Fairmont Empress. Several spirits are said to roam its venerable halls—and one in particular.

“When you have thousands of people in a building for more than 50, 60, 100 years, with all of those collective experiences, the residue they leave behind and the wake—we all leave a wake like a boat behind us—allows the past to invade upon the present,” says Dan Aykroyd, host of the T+E show Hotel Paranormal. “At the Fairmont Empress Hotel, which opened in 1908, guests report seeing the hotel’s architect, Sir Francis Rattenbury, roaming the halls.”

Rattenbury designed some of B.C.’s most famous structures, including the Parliament Buildings. But by 1935 he was back home in England, living in disgrace with his scandalous second wife, Alma, when his chauffeur (who was her lover) beat him to death with a mallet.

He was buried in an unmarked grave in England, but has apparently chosen this hotel across the globe as his favourite haunt. So if you spot a thin, dapper, mustachioed gent swinging a cane in the vicinity of the Empress’ former lobby, chances are that’s just the ghost of “Old Ratz” checking in.

True, he designed several other hauntable buildings, but wouldn’t you choose to stay at the Empress, too?

Make the Nightmare Before Christmas Cocktail. 

Boozy reads for cosy days

Pour yourself a cocktail and curl up with one of these new releases.

B.C., distilled

If you’re looking for a guide to the province’s distilleries, the spirits they produce and the cocktails you can make with them, then Shawn Soole is the guy to take you there. The bar manager of Clive’s Classic Lounge in Victoria is an award-winning mixologist, hospitality entrepreneur, podcaster (Post Shift) and author of several books, including his latest, The BC Spirits Cocktail Book (FriesenPress). It’s got everything you need to know about 57 of B.C.’s artisanal distilleries, with creative cocktail recipes to enjoy along the journey.

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Campaign to lift spirits

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Canada’s craft distillers have had it with what they see as an unfair federal excise tax on spirits production, and they just won’t take it any more.

They have created a coalition called Lift Canada’s Spirits and have launched a petition urging the federal government to make the excise tax on small volumes more in line with that on domestic craft beer production—and, significantly, with what small U.S. distilleries pay.

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Hospitality helper

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Since the BC Hospitality Foundation was created in 2006, it has become a go-to lifeline for the industry. And this October, the organization passed a significant milestone: It reached $1 million given to hospitality and tourism workers facing financial crisis due to a health condition experienced by themselves or a family member.

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The Alchemist is seeking a part-time advertising representative

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Want to work with a dynamic group of magazines? Vitis, The Alchemist and The Growler B.C. Craft Beer and Cider Guide are seeking an ambitious and energetic advertising sales representative to join our team. You would need to connect with wineries, distilleries, breweries, brewpubs, restaurants, bars, B-to-B and retail business that suit the demographic of people who go out socially, stay on trend, and support our local businesses and communities.

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Tropical tripping

Ottawa TIki Tours photo

Parliament Hill is all well and good, but this summer, there’s an even better reason to visit Ottawa. (Assuming, of course, that we’re able to travel.)

Floating tropical party bars.

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In the mix

Photo courtesy of Volcan

When it’s hot out, nothing tastes better than a bright, citrusy Margarita. But who has the energy to squeeze all those limes? Luckily for the lazy among us, Volcán De Mi Tierra Tequila has come to the rescue with a new made-in-Canada Margarita pre-mix designed to perfectly complement the tequila’s citrus, cherry and white pepper flavours.

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Bring your beach bucket

Photo courtesy of Beetbox

We couldn’t love this more. Beetbox, the plant-based casual eatery in the West End, has introduced a new “Beet the Heat” slushie bucket that is just what we want for all our backyard gatherings this summer. The four-litre bucket is filled with a cantaloupe-apple slushie mix, ladle, four cups and garnishes ($29). Plus you can add on 375 mL mickeys of Cazadores Tequila Reposado ($20) or Bombay Sapphire gin ($17) or a 200 mL bottle of St-Germain elderflower liqueur ($17). Slushies are also available by the glass (16 oz) for $5, with mini 50 mL bottles of vodka or gin available as add-ons for $5 each.

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Cocktails to go wherever you do

Photo courtesy of Hawksworth Restaurant

The first pandemic summer introduced the “walk-tail” and propelled the already booming RTD market to new heights. This summer promises to offer even more exciting portable pops to go. Here are three new products to toss in your backpack.

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Sip and support the BCHF

Univins and Spirits photo

Even before the pandemic devastated bars, restaurants and the people who work in them, the BC Hospitality Foundation was there to help with scholarships and financial aid for those dealing with medical issues.

Now the BCHF has partnered with Univins and Spirits on a fundraiser that will quench both thirsts and financial needs.

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