Canada wins again

A Canadian wins World Class for an unprecedented third time. So what’s next for our talented bartenders?

Bartender Jacob Martin shakes things up at the World Class Global Final in Brazil. Photos courtesy of World Class Canada

On September 29, amid confetti and cheers, Toronto’s Jacob Martin became the World Class Global Bartender 2023, the third time a bartender from Canada—or any country—has won the world’s biggest, most prestigious cocktail competition. It’s an extraordinary accomplishment, and a fitting finale to Canada’s 10th year of competing in the event.

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The cocktail matchmakers

Nikka brings Coffey, chemistry, and collaboration to Vancouver Cocktail Week

Nikka’s Coffey range demonstrates the versatility of the column still. Photo courtesy of The Nikka Whisky Distilling Co.

When B.C.-based importers Enoteca Bacco first approached the Nikka Whisky Distilling Co. to participate in Vancouver Cocktail Week, it was an immediate and enthusiastic “yes.”   

“We wanted to create a unique experience … and add excitement for the people of Vancouver,” says Naomi Kamiyama, the global marketing and sales department representative for Nikka Whisky. “The first thing that came to mind was to bring one of our favourite bars, Bar Trench, to Vancouver. We also knew that The Keefer Bar is one of the most amazing bars in the world, and if these two fantastic bars could collaborate, their chemistry would deliver something memorable.”

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Raincity’s mountain spirits

After only a year, the Squamish distillery is already earning international recognition

Raincity Distillery’s locally inspired spirits include, from left: Barrel Aged Gin, Last Garden Gin, Iron Buddha Gin, Loving Dusk Raspberry Gin and Black Tusk Smoked Vodka. Alenka Mali photo

At Raincity Distillery, founders Alex Mumm and Johnny Xu are bringing new, award-winning spirits to the mountain community of Squamish. Spirits flavoured with the delicate notes of tea and spring flowers, emboldened by the aromas of smoke and oak, and underpinned by the crystal clear taste of glacial water.

Mumm is the distiller, with Iron Buddha Gin his baby—a first-of-its-kind Chinese oolong-tea-infused gin. Xu is head of sales, with eyes on producing his beloved baijiu.

At Raincity, they make quality craft spirits, mostly gin, from scratch. They also have whisky aging in barrels; the first batch is expected to be ready in two to three years. Unlike many small producers who buy their neutral grain spirit from larger corporations, Raincity makes their own base in house from B.C. winter wheat following a triple distillation and two-week long proofing process. “We choose quality over speed, every step of the way,” Mumm says. “This is noticeable in the flavours that come through that often get lost in a more hurried process.”

This slow and steady approach has paid off. This year, they picked up a barrel of awards at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2023: a trio of silvers for the delicately floral Last Garden Gin, caramelly Barrel Aged Gin and smooth, subtle Iron Buddha Gin (which won bronze in 2022) as well as a bronze for the smouldering Black Tusk Smoked Vodka (which won silver in 2022).

Added to the lineup this June is their first bottled ready-to-drink cocktail in a bottle: the Ginseng Rye Old Fashioned. It’s a twist on the classic cocktail, featuring spicy rye whisky infused with the earthy bitterness of ginseng, an Asian root with healing properties. The drink is sweetened with maple syrup, made complex with their own housemade aromatic bitters and best served on ice with an orange twist.

Come taste all they are producing at their world-class cocktail lounge and tasting room, nestled in the heart of the Coastal Mountains. Or purchase your favourites through the online shop on the Raincity website.

Raincity Distillery

Meet your new Bartender of the Year

Toronto’s Jacob Martin wins World Class Canada with a breathtaking final at Vancouver Cocktail Week

Ontario’s Jacob Martin is the World Class Canada Bartender of the Year. Living Room Creative photo

World Class Canada celebrated its 10th anniversary in the best possible way—with a blowout final at Vancouver Cocktail Week that saw Jacob Martin of Toronto’s Bar Banane take home the title of World Class Canada Bartender of the Year 2023.

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Mastering Gin at Copperpenny Distilling Co.

North Van distillery reaps the rewards of craftsmanship

Jenn Kom-Tong and Jan Stenc founded Copperpenny after tasting gins around the world. Photo courtesy of Copperpenny Distilling Co.

Winning a prestigious Global Gin Masters Medal—only a few months after they opened their doors—is just one of the exciting things happening at North Vancouver’s Copperpenny Distilling Co.

“Our key focus here is that we recognize, as a distillery, we are more than a maker of spirits, we are a purveyor of experiences,” says Jan Stenc, co-founder of the distillery along with his partner in work and life, Jennifer Kom-Tong. “The whole idea that it is a meaningful social interaction is super-important to us.”

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The secret’s out at Wind Cries Mary

Follow the signs to great food and drink in Victoria’s Bastion Square

At Wind Cries Mary, the brick walls create a welcoming space, and the well-stocked bar promises fine drinks to enjoy. Photos courtesy of Wind Cries Mary

A sign pointing you to fresh oysters and another just above the door are the only clues that one of Victoria’s most exciting food and drink experiences can be found here, tucked away in historic Bastion Square. 

Follow the stairs down to find a dark and moody candlelit space, where the canopied bar gleaming with bottles of local and international wine and spirits is a sure sign that this is the right place to come for a good drink. 

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The Godfather

Disaronno Originale and The Busker offer a classic cocktail you can’t refuse 

Supplied photo

It’s rare that a cocktail is made from only two ingredients, without a third to provide balance and support. It’s even rarer that a two-ingredient cocktail is so perfectly crafted that it can withstand the test of time. 

The Godfather is just that drink.

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Black Pine Social

Discover elevated après-anything cocktails at the heart of SilverStar Mountain Resort

At SilverStar’s Black Pine Social, the cocktails will tempt you off the hills.
Photos courtesy of Black Pine Social

Upstairs from the Red Antler at the heart of SilverStar Mountain Resort, the new Black Pine Social restaurant has two natures—like an urbanite-turned-weekend-warrior. 

The alluring room has shades-of-grey walls and floors, and a swishy copper chain mail curtain screening a sexy supper club. It’s also got rustic barnboard panelling and a wood-burning stone fireplace fronted with deep leather couches for enervated skiers and cyclists. There’s a wrap-around patio and a long bar, “comfortable and deep enough for dining and to encourage chat and questions as you taste and order,” says Jacob Sweetapple of Notion Concepts, the brain trust behind a selection of back-bar gems like Eagle Rare bourbon or Don Julio 1942 tequila.

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