Dangerous drinks

10 things not to do at home—or anywhere, according to CocktailSafe’s Camper English

Writer Camper English, the San-Francisco-based founder of Alcademics, created cocktailsafe.org when he saw the risky techniques being used by some bartenders. Bastian Bochinski photo

The Roof is on Fire! That was the name of a dangerous-drinks seminar that San Francisco writer Camper English (of alcademics.com fame) and Bittermens co-founder Avery Glasser gave in 2016 at Tales of the Cocktail. Their warnings on potentially dangerous bartending ingredients, equipment and techniques were so eye-opening, English later nabbed a grant to develop cocktailsafe.org, a geekily helpful website packed with deeply researched information and resources.

“Bartenders on Facebook were chatting a lot about potentially dangerous drinks … and I thought it would be useful to put all this information, and a lot more, in one place as a reference to bartenders everywhere,” he says.

Here are his top 10 red flags for home mixologists—and pros, too.

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Power Tools

Shake and mix like a pro with this starter list of essential bar gear

Essential tools include jiggers, barspoons, muddlers and strainers—and these days they come in a variety of finishes such as stainless steel, rose gold and gunmetal. Fifth & Vermouth photo

Ask a pro bartender for their must-haves, and the answer might be practical: bar mops (a cheap pack of these thin, absorbent white towels is smart, even for home) and pens. However, the essentials below look more aspirational on your home bar cart: always chic in stainless steel, they’re especially envy-inspiring in on-point finishes from gold and rose gold to gunmetal and matte black. (For a roundup of additional tools for the advanced bartending pro, read here.)

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Big Flavours, Little Packages

B.C.’s small-batch distillers got crafty in this season, releasing new bottled cocktails, gift packs, special editions and other little goodies—from vermouth to liqueur—ideal for stuffing stockings, or treating yourself to new tastes.

Odd Society’s Joel McNichol with the distillery’s collection of limited edition brewery collab whiskies. Katharine Manson photo

Cocktail lovers have a whole back-bar of B.C. craft cocktails and spirits to taste this holiday season. Mini-bottle sets are a hot commodity: Shelter Point’s 12 Days of Christmas advent calendar sold out, direct from the distillery, in hours. More common are spirit trios, which you can break apart into three little presents, or sample without investing in full-size bottles. Sheringham’s gin trios sell out at Legacy Liquor Store, where Remy Letendre, the buyer for the extensive B.C. craft spirits section, says, “This year, I was excited to see a few brands take part in the ‘tri-pack’ Christmas selection. I think it’s a great way for these craft distilleries to get people to try a wider range of products. The early success of the Esquimalt vermouth tri-pack just shows how people are willing to branch out … for home bartending.”

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2010

Looking back at the year that changed Vancouver’s cocktail culture

The Olympic flame isn’t the only legacy of 2010—so is Vancouver’s vibrant cocktail scene. Istockphoto.com photo

When Vancouverites look back at 2010, we think of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, a rain-soaked Wayne Gretzky and all those red mittens. But the really big news that year could be found at the bottom of a cocktail glass.

Proper cocktail bars were finally opening all over town. Global spirits brand reps started showing up to dole out samples. The organizers of Tales of the Cocktail reached out to see if Vancouver would be a good site for Tales on Tour. (Spoiler alert: Yes, in 2011 and 2012.) And Imbibe  magazine discovered “a Galapagos of mixology, a place where cocktails have evolved independently from the rest of the drinking world.”

Ten years later, we revisit the year that changed the city’s cocktail culture.

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Zero-sum game

Don’t call them mocktails: #spiritfree and #placebo drinks are a growing wellness trend

Lumette! alt-gin from Sheringham Distilleries.

It gathered speed last year with Sober October before the holiday rush. After ringing in 2020, the trend was undeniable: #Dryuary was in full swing on social media and in the bars and living rooms of the nation, as the so-called sober curious or mindful drinking movement reached a new level of maturity.

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Shhhh…

Peek inside Vancouver’s secret (and not-so-secret) bars within bars

Step through the secret entrance to the luxe private room at D/6 Bar & Lounge. Photo courtesy of D/6 Bar & Lounge

Vancouver is home to countless cool bars, some dive-y, some hip, some themed—and some full of surprises. A few house separate, completely different rooms that you might not even be aware exist. Here’s a handful of the city’s best bars within bars.

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Thai One On

Southeast Asian flavours and a pretty purple hue make this cocktail from The Diamond (and Elk Room) irresistible.

• 1.5 oz yuzu sake
0.5 oz Wray & Nephew overproof rum
• 0.5 oz butterfly pea flower syrup
• 0.75 oz lime juice
• Tonic water
• Garnish: sprig of mint

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Sangria

The classic Sangria at Bodega on Main. Supplied photo

The classic—and sessionable—red wine punch from Bodega on Main

• 1 lemon
• 1 orange
• 1/2 apple
• Handful blackberries
• 1 bottle (750 mL) Spanish red wine
• 1.5 oz Triple Sec or Grand Marnier
• 1.5 oz brandy
• 2 oz lemonade
• 2 oz orange juice
• 6 to 8 oz soda water or 7Up

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Forgotten Temple

The Forgotten Temple at Campagnolo Upstairs. Supplied photo

At Camp Up, smoky and bitter flavours combine in an appealingly dark sipper.

• 0.75 oz Los Siete Misterios Doba Yej mezcal
0.75 oz Cazadores blanco tequila
• 0.75 oz El Bandarra vermouth
• 0.3 oz Legend Naramaro
• 0.3 oz Odd Society Mia Amata amaro
• Dash Apothecary Bitters Darkness Coffee and Cacao Bitters
• Garnish: orange twist

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La Granada Cocktail

La Granada Cocktail and D/6 Bar & Lounge

At D/6 Bar & Lounge, manager Tianna Brammer combines her appreciation for tequila and lemonade in this elegant drink.

Campari-pomegranate ice cube:

• 0.5 oz Campari
• 0.5 oz pomegranate juice
• 3 oz water

Cocktail:

• 1 oz Volcan blanco tequila
0.25 oz pisco
• 0.5 oz orgeat
• 0.5 oz citric acid
• Garnish: dehydrated lemon slice, pomegranate seeds

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