‘I don’t want to be a dreamer’: These former set decorators are disrupting the landscape of gin distilling in North Vancouver

Copperpenny Distillery looks like a stunning cocktail lounge but it’s the behind the scenes work that sets them apart.

You won’t find any wide shots of the room on social media because like with their gin, the couple aims to take people by surprise. | @copperpennydistilling/Instagram

One of the statement pieces of Copperpenny Distilling Co.‘s emerald and gold, peacock-esque cocktail lounge is a bunny lamp that made the 7,581 km trek from London to North Vancouver segmented in co-owner and mistress of distilling Jennifer Kom-Tong’s hand luggage. The shade, stashed under the seat in front of her, forced Kom-Tong to spend the nine-hour flight with her legs shoved to the side—but it was worth it.

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Saanich distiller changes names as whisky dispute settled

A Saanich distillery has settled a long-running branding dispute with the Scotch Whisky Association.

Graeme Macaloney with some of his distillery’s products. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

A Saanich distillery has settled a long-running branding dispute with the Scotch Whisky Association.

Graeme Macaloney, who has operated Macaloney Brewer and Distillers since 2016, is slightly changing his distillery’s name and re-labelling some of his brands, moving away from popular names and places in his native Scotland. The Scotch Whisky Association claimed the brands were misleading, making Canadians believe the whisky was made in Scotland.

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Drinks in the Desert: Coachella Edition

Whether you’re catching Coachella this weekend or heading to the Palm Springs area for some spring sun, here’s where to taste the hot drinks scene.

The vintage inspired bar at Bar Cecil is one of the most coveted seats in town. Photo courtesy of Bar Cecil.

Modern Cocktails

For proper cocktails, head uptown the small, dark and sexy new Tailor Shop (look for the vintage sewing machine in the green hedge). If they’re wheeling the cart, have an Old Fashioned mixed at the table, or declare your Canadian cred with a Spifflicated Butterfly starring Empress 1908 Gin. Japanese whisky and mixology fans should head straight to Sandfish (same owners), a sushi restaurant with inventive cocktails and a killer whisky list topped with Yamazaki. On the LGBTQ-friendly strip of bars on Arenas Road, choose Blackbook for a seriously comprehensive, bourbon-heavy whisky list.

The toughest reservation in town is Bar Cecil, where you want to be sitting at the pretty vintage-inspired bar ordering a French 75 Regal, topped with Moët & Chandon. Truss & Twine‘s big, horseshoe bar is a late-night industry hang, and serves an excellent Hanky Panky. In the same uptown ‘hood, the poolside Colony Club bar at the Colony Palms hotel and the house Negroni on Birba‘s patio are also worthy stops. In a town with few rooftop bars, the High Bar at the Rowan Hotel is a mountain-view, poolside spot to grab a drink..

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Beyond Mezcal: Distilled and Fermented in Mexico

Dip into the back bar, behind-the-counter and unlabelled jugs of fermented and distilled goodies on your next visit to Mexico or the southern U.S.

A flight of blanco or unaged agave spirits at Nómada in San José del Cabo. In a flight they can look benign—just several glasses of colourless liquid—but be prepared for weird flavours, aromas and textures. Charlene Rooke photo

Like many Western Canadians, I’ve been to Mexico too many times to count—but typically on holidays, not at work as a drinks writer and educator. On my latest trip, I was determined to go beyond margaritas, and way beyond even some of the excellent agave spirits we’re now able to purchase in Canada. Here’s what I found.

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Vancouver bar at centre of $40K whisky seizure denied procedural fairness, judge rules

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has order the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch to hand over documents about a seizure of alcohol from Fets Whisky Kitchen in Vancouver.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ordered the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch to give a Vancouver restaurant records relevant to the 2018 seizure of 242 bottles of scotch whisky.

Justice Nathan Smith ruled March 14 that Fets Whisky Kitchen had been denied documents the Commercial Drive eatery needed to address the seizures.

“I find that Fets was entitled to fully argue the issue based on a complete evidentiary record and that the denial of full access to documents relating to the branch’s investigation was a breach of procedural fairness,” Smith said.

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Choose A Woman-Made, Woman-Led Spirit Day

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.

At Ron Zapaca in Guatemala, master blender Lorena Vasquez is credited for pioneering the a “solera” aging method in rum. Photo courtesy of Ron Zacapa
Supplied photo

Though countless women contribute to the vibrant local, national and international distilling industry, for International Women’s Day each year we give a nod to some of the trailblazers in top production, management and ownership positions at distilleries.

For a fresh perspective on the hidden history of women in spirits and cocktail, we highly recommend the recently released book Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and Alcohol by Mallory O’Meara.

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Sip and help Ukraine

At The Alchemist, we’ve watched the humanitarian crisis unfold in Ukraine with heartbreak and horror, and like many of you, have felt the urge to help in any way we can. As it turns out, some of our favourite distillers and bartenders are way ahead of us.

Odd Society Spirits is donating 20 per cent of its East Van Vodka proceeds to World Central Kitchen to help their humanitarian efforts for Ukraine. Odd Society Spirits photo

Odd Society Spirits

Odd Society Spirits is donating 20 per cent of its East Van Vodka proceeds to World Central Kitchen to help their humanitarian efforts for Ukraine.
World Central Kitchen is first to the frontlines, providing meals in response to humanitarian, climate, and community crises. They build resilient food systems with locally led solutions and are currently serving thousands of fresh meals to Ukrainian families fleeing home as well as those who remain in the country.
The team at Odd Society Spirits has seen an uptick in sales of their vodka since the BCLDB pulled all Russian products from BC liquor stores, and they want to use those funds to support refugees fleeing Ukraine.
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Give Us Five

A B.C. spirit comes out on top for the fifth consecutive year in the Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition: cheers to DEVINE Distillery’s Ancient Grains, also the Best in Class Young Whisky.

DEVINE Distillery’s Ancient Grains is CASC Spirit of the Year. Photo courtesy of Artisan Distillers Canada

The grains may be ancient, but a globally unique, made-in-B.C. whisky is making modern history: Ancient Grains from DEVINE Distillery in Saanich is the Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year 2022.

The top-scoring spirit across every category of the national competition, Ancient Grains is also the Best in Class Young Whisky for the third time (so classified because it matures for less than three years, which is the minimum requirement for labelling as “Canadian Whisky”). The whisky was originally created by master distiller Ken Winchester in 2017, using B.C.-grown heritage barley, einkorn, emmer, spelt and kamut, and matured in smaller quarter-casks.

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London Calling

An on-trend bar crawl during World’s 50 Best Bars week recaps some top watering holes of the year, and what leading bartenders are mixing up for the coming year.

The legendary martini cart at The Connaught Bar. Charlene Rooke photo

Pandemic be damned, I went to London for the World’s 50 Best Bars event in December 2021. Here’s a curated crawl of award winners, bars to watch and insider hangouts that hints at what the bar world might deliver in 2022.

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B.C. Spirits Gift Guide: 2021 Edition

Start your festive shopping now.

Photo courtesy of Okanagan Spirits

In a holiday season with some international supply-chain blips, shop local—and shop soon!—for B.C. small-batch spirts holiday gifts. Limited-edition and seasonal items sell out fast, so if you happen to miss out this season, get on e-newsletter lists or follow distilleries on social media to watch for the next drop, and be very nice (not naughty) until next year. Many items from last holiday season are bound to be available again, so check out last year’s guide, too.

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