Tidbits: news from the spirits world in Canada and beyond

The Aperol Spritz is one of Google’s 10 trendiest drinks for 2022. Getty Images photo

Barrels of Awards

Spring is awards season, and B.C. bars and distilleries have been picking up shiny gold trinkets all over the place. Just a few of the honours: Botanist Bar won the prestigious Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award from North America’s 50 Best Bars and at #19 was the only B.C. bar to make the list. Clive’s Classic Lounge in Victoria was named World Whisky Hotel Bar at the World Whiskies Awards, which also recognized Macaloney’s Island Distillery with a trio of top prizes. The Keefer Bar was nominated Best Canadian Bar by the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards. And Okanagan Spirits was named Artisanal Distillery of the Year at the 2022 Canadian Whisky Awards.

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New wine-cask finished Irish whiskey features pinot noir from B.C.

Quails’ Gate becomes the first Canadian winery to collaborate with Green Spot Irish Whiskey, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day

Photo courtesy of Green Spot Irish whiskey

What do Irish whiskey and Pinot Noir wine from the Okanagan have in common? Until this week, not much, aside from both being aged in oak barrels. Regardless of if you’re a whiskey enthusiast, oenophile, local business supporter, or just want to pick-up a bottle of Irish whiskey for St. Patrick’s Day, there’s a new wine-cask finished whiskey now available that offers something for everyone; until it’s gone, that is.

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Smoke in style

Supplied photo

At $434.95, the Crafthouse by Fortessa Cocktail Smoking Box may seem like a frivolous purchase, especially when you can just follow Matthew Benevoli’s easy tips for smoking cocktails instead. But the fact that this gorgeous, Art Deco-ish gadget was designed by world champion bartender Charles Joly makes us give it a second look. It comprises a sturdy stainless-steel frame, glass sides, walnut base, handheld smoker and easy-to-use door latch, making it as ergonomic as it is stylish. Available at Williams Sonoma.

Cocktails with true grit

The late, great actor John Wayne was often quoted as saying that if he was going to have a drink, “It had better be a good one.” Well, there are plenty of those in John Wayne: The Official Cocktail Book by André Darlington (Insight Editions). The book features more than 70 cocktail recipes, inspired by the Duke’s most famous characters, such as Rooster Cogburn and Davy Crockett. “My dad appreciated a well-made cocktail, and this book offers readers tips and recipes to create some very beautiful drinks,” says his son Ethan Wayne, president of John Wayne Enterprises. So saddle up, pardner, and enjoy this spirited gallop down memory lane. 

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Vancouver Cocktail Week, Round 2

James Grant pours his winning Pathfinder cocktail at the Vancouver Cocktail Week Fun City Gala in March 2022. Jana Bizzarri photo

Hosting Vancouver’s first-ever cocktail week back in March, just as we were coming out of pandemic restrictions, was definitely a leap of faith. But we quickly learned that Vancouverites were thirsty for good cocktails, especially when they could enjoy them with each other. 

Now Vancouver Cocktail Week presented by The Alchemist is coming back for a second round March 5 to 11, 2023—and it’ll be even bigger.  

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Ungava Margarita

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The wild Arctic botanicals in Ungava Gin add unique colour and flavour to this spooky big-batch cocktail.

• 5 oz Ungava Gin

• 3.75 tequila or mezcal 

• 2.5 oz orange liqueur

• 4 oz lime juice 

• 1 oz agave syrup

• Garnish: Fresh mint, lime slices (fresh or dried)

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Expect some Hanky Panky at Botanist

Hanky Panky bartender and GM Gina Barbachano joins the Fairmont Pacific Rim team for a special Día de los Muertos celebration. Photo courtesy of Hanky Panky

Continuing its thrilling series of guest cocktail bar collabs, this November Botanist Bar’s executive chef Hector Laguna and head bartender Jeff Savage will welcome Mexico City’s acclaimed Hanky Panky cocktail bar (No. 13 on the World’s 50 Best Bars list) for a Día de los Muertos celebration.

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Bar world gathers in Berlin

Attendees enjoyed a taste of Spain at the aperitivo bar hosted by the 14 De La Rosa Barcelona team. BCB / Roland Justynowicz photos

If there are any lingering doubts that the bar world has bounced back from the pandemic, the recent Bar Convent Berlin should put them to rest.

The trade show is the world’s largest for the bar and beverage community. This year 12,505 attendees from 88 countries and 533 exhibitors from 44 countries travelled to Berlin for the October 10 to 12 event. Among the crowd were some of the biggest names in cocktails, including Portland’s Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Jesse Vida of Singapore’s ATLAS bar and Ruben Neideck, the Berlin-based Bartender of the Year, eager to share new ideas, taste new drinks and discuss solutions to the big issues that still face the industry.

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Rose Grapefruit Spritz

Photo courtesy of Glendalough Gin

Garden party in a glass

This is the season of celebrations, of graduations, weddings, reunions, garden parties and festive brunches. It’s also the season of light, fresh drinks best enjoyed outdoors.

Bringing all that together is a new rose-flavoured gin from Ireland’s Glendalough Distillery. Head distiller Rowdy Rooney created it to honour his late mother, Rose—and used rose petals she planted herself, along with wild roses, mountain herbs and other botanicals. It’s beautifully floral and complex, perfect with tonic or citrus in a spritz. Find Glendalough Rose Gin at private retailers for a suggested price of $58.

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Sweet taste of success

The Watermelon Drink at JOEY uses Simps’ fresh mint syrup. Photo courtesy of JOEY Restaurants.

Since 2015, star bartenders Dave Simpson and Gerry Jobe have quietly been building a growing line of syrups, Caesar mixes, kegged cocktails and other bar supplies from their home base in Kelowna. Now Simps Modern Beverage is getting national—even international—attention for their products.

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