Aki’s Tea

Aki’s Tea cocktail by Reece Sims. Reece Sims photos

The Audience Choice winner at Vancouver Cocktail Week‘s Fun City Gala, this cocktail is inspired by Aki Restaurant, which opened in Vancouver in 1963 and was the first Japanese-Canadian owned Japanese restaurant in Vancouver. 

Born in Steveston, Richmond, a young Aki Takeuchi and his family fled to Osaka, Japan, early in the Second World War, avoiding the internment camps. He returned to Canada as an adult, settling in Vancouver.

When Takeuchi opened Aki Restaurant he was the first to bring authentic Japanese food to Vancouver. At the time, the few other Japanese restaurants in existence only served cooked food and were more like a Chinese-Japanese fusion style of cuisine. Takeuchi was the first to serve raw fish in his restaurant.

The restaurant could not obtain a liquor license and so they would hide saké in teapots. This cocktail celebrates Japanese culture in Vancouver with a Japanese Gin, Saké and tea-focused drink.

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Sidecar

Sidecar. Getty Images photo

The proportions for this drink have changed since it was invented in the 1920s, so feel free to adjust them to your liking.

• 2 oz Cognac (or brandy, if you’re on a budget)

• 1 oz Cointreau

• 1 oz lemon juice

• Garnish: Optional sugar rim; lemon or orange twist

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20th Century

20th Century cocktail. Getty Images photo

The original recipe from 1937 called for Kina Lillet, which is no longer available—Lillet Blanc makes a good substitute in this Art Deco cocktail.

• 1.5 oz gin

• 0.75 oz Lillet Blanc

• 0.5 oz light crème de cacao

• 0.5 oz fresh lemon juice

• Garnish: Lemon twist

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Aviation

Aviation cocktail. Getty Images photo

Many recipes leave out the crème de violette, but it is essential, not just for the blue colour it gives the drink, but the way it balances the other ingredients.

• 2 oz gin

• 0.25 oz maraschino liqueur

• 0.25 oz crème de violette

• 0.5 oz lemon juice

• Garnish: Flamed lemon peel or brandied cherry

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Cinnamon-Cardamom Crème Cocktail

Cinnamon Cardamom Creme Cocktail. Photo courtesy of Mainland Whisky

This recipe from Mainland Whisky was inspired by the Surrey Spice Trail—and made possible by an unexpected gift of cardamom pods. Note that using oat milk makes it creamy, but still approachable for those who can’t consume lactose.

• 1.5 oz Mainland Cinnamon Whisky

• 0.5 oz cardamom simple syrup (see note)

• 2 oz oat milk

• 2 drops bergamot bitters.

• Optional garnish: Cinnamon stick

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Century Mule

Century Mule. Photo courtesy of Dominion Bar + Kitchen

At Dominion Bar + Kitchen, the food is “New Canadian,” or classics with a twist, and this cocktail is no exception. A tropical take on the classic Moscow Mule, it was meant to be an in-house “secret” drink named for the restaurant’s parent company (Century Group). Turned out the secret was too good not to share, and it has become a customer favourite.

• 1.5 oz vodka

• 0.5 oz Giffard Caribbean Pineapple liqueur

• 0.5 oz ginger simple syrup (see note)

• 0.5 oz passionfruit syrup

• 1 oz lime juice

• 4 oz ginger beer

• 3 dashes angostura bitters

• Garnish: Lime wedge

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Badam da Naasha (High on Almonds)

Badam Da Naasha. Photo courtesy of My Shanti

This recipe from Vikram Vij’s restaurant My Shanti in South Surrey is delicate and sophisticated with the subtle taste of almonds and saffron. It is also beautiful, thanks to its silver leaf garnish.

• 1 oz vodka

• 0.75 oz saffron simple syrup (see note)

• Pinch of cardamom powder

• 1 to 2 oz chilled almond milk

• Garnish: Silver leaf, crushed pistachios

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Band-e-Amir

Band-e-Amir. Photo courtesy of Afghan Kitchen

The blue hue of this cocktail from Afghan Kitchen comes from Victoria Distillers Empress 1908 gin and is inspired by the six deep blue lakes in Afghanistan.

• 2 oz Empress 1908 Gin

• 1 oz fresh lemon juice

• 1 oz Giffard passionfruit syrup

• 1 egg white or 1 dropper of vegan foamer

• Optional garnish: Dried butterfly pea flower

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