Vancouver’s Gastown creates a safe, social outdoor oasis for the return of cocktail culture this summer. It makes perfect sense for the neighbourhood founded on the bar that helped build a city.
Under some welcome umbrella shade on the Jules Bistro patio, live music wafts over from a nearby performer, the all-day-happy-hour Chambord kiss of French Martinis flow for $14, while cocktailians sip under vintage lamposts festooned with lush flower baskets. It almost feels like the “before times.”
As life slowly returns to normal this summer, Vancouver’s Gastown—the neighbourhood where the city started, and where our most famous bar ever was started by its namesake, nicknamed Gassy Jack (aka John Deighton) more than 150 years ago—has embraced pandemic conditions to enhance its reputation as patio central.
For the second time in only four years, a Canadian bartender has taken home the title of World Class Bartender of the Year.
After a gruelling four-day virtual final, Edmonton’s James Grant triumphed over his colleagues from 50 countries to win the world’s biggest and most prestigious cocktail competition, Diageo World Class.
Diageo World Class is back with a thrilling competition and big new plans
Michael Armistead thought organizing the 2019 World Class Canada finals in Whistler—where he had to transport all the bars, people and gear to the top of a mountain—was the hardest thing he’d ever do. Then along came COVID-19 and the 2021 finals in Toronto.
“Having done it, I know we can do anything now,” says Armistead, who oversees the Diageo World Class Canada Bartending Competition as National On Premise, Reserve and Sponsorship Manager. “With all of the external factors, this was the most complex event I have ever put together.”
Proceeds from special bottles to benefit Pacific Assistance Dogs Society
BC Distilled—Canada’s largest spirits festival devoted exclusively to local artisan distilleries—remains on hiatus until 2022. But in the meantime, its organizers have partnered with five of the province’s top artisan distilleries to benefit a cause that has long been dear to their hearts.
Beginning Saturday, May 15, and for one month only, five limited-edition spirits will be made available exclusively from each participating distillery. $45 from each bottle sale will go directly to Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS), which breeds, raises and trains fully certified assistance dogs for individuals with mobility and hearing disabilities and PTSD.
The hospitality industry has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic. Now a new initiative is aiming to help those who’ve experienced employment setbacks due to COVID-19. Call it a photo finish to a brutal year.
The food service industry support hub Breaking Bread, in collaboration with restaurateur Brad Roark (Nook, Oddfish) has launched a photography fundraiser called “Beyond the Plexi” that will raise funds to directly help hospitality works whose careers have been affected by COVID-19.
Celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8 by buying or drinking a woman-made spirit, such as these global brands that have women master blenders, distillers and more.
Down in Tullahoma, Tennessee, master distiller Nicole Austin is shaking up the nearly 150-year-old George Dickel whiskey brand. One state north in Kentucky, although legendary Michter’s master distiller Pamela Heilmann retired in 2019, she passed the torch to master of maturation Andrea Wilson. At Woodford Reserve, Elizabeth McCall is the assistant master distiller, at Old Forester Jackie Zykan is master taster and Eboni Major is the master blender at Bulleit.
For the fourth year in a row, a B.C. craft spirit has won the Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition: raise a toast to Vancouver Island’s Ampersand Distilling, makers of Nocino!
The Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year is the Nocino! from Ampersand Distilling Company on Vancouver Island. Founded by the Schacht clan, Ampersand operates from a Duncan-area farm, using stills that were designed and built by father and son Stephen and Jeremy; Jessica Schact is instrumental in product development; and Ramona Froehle-Schact manages the farm and more—a true family affair.
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.
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.”