The Alchemist Spring/Summer 2024

iStock/Getty Images Plus/Beo88 photo

Sometimes—well, most of the time, really—all we crave is the clean, icy-cold flavour of a Martini, the botanical bite of the gin and delicate floral essence of the vermouth. And it seems we’re not alone. Although the Martini has been around for at least a century and likely longer, it has never been trendier than it is right now. (Unless you include the syrupy “tinis” of the 1990s, which we don’t.)

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Where to Drink Right Now in “Bourbon City”: Louisville, Kentucky

At Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, guests can tour the commercial distillery, taste signature whiskies and stop at the On3 cocktail bar. Photo courtesy of Heaven Hill Brands

On historic blocks in downtown Louisville, Whiskey Row along West Main Street is a modern drinkers’ paradise. Today, not just bourbon distilling but bourbon education is the thing: many distilleries now refer to themselves as “campuses” and tasting-room experiences often approach the level of masterclasses. Bourbon nerds abound.

The crop of downtown distillery tasting rooms means you don’t even have to leave Louisville to experience the range of Kentucky bourbon. Another bonus: these tasting rooms have great gift shops with brand swag, bourbon accessories and, of course, rare bottlings (more secret-stash stores are below, too). You can walk all of Whiskey Row in about 30 minutes, or hop on a Bird or Lime rental scooter to speed between stops — no impaired scooting, please!

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Honouring a Bartender Handshake

Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto represent Canada’s hot bar scene at North America’s 50 Best Bars 2024 in Mexico.

Vancouver’s Botanist Bar was number 24 at north America’s 50 Best bars 2024. Supplied photo

On a balmy night in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, a new North America’s Best Bar 2024 was crowned: Handshake Speakeasy in Mexico City. At the same time, 2024 represented a strong showing for Canadian bars, with seven places landing on the list from the Great White North. Dozens of Canadians representing several bars made the trip to San Miguel de Allende for the ceremony, busily making plans for collabs, guest shifts and pop-ups with their North American and global colleagues in attendance.

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Exploring BC’s best: Over 200 artisan spirits to be featured at BC Distilled

BC Distilled returns (this time at the Italian Cultural Centre) on Saturday, April 13. Photo courtesy of BC Distilled

BC Distilled, Canada’s leading artisan distillery showcase, is set to return from April 10th to 14th, offering a dynamic lineup of events for local enthusiasts of craft spirits. This year, the Main Tasting will be hosted at the Italian Cultural Centre, following the closure of its previous venue, the Croatian Cultural Centre.

Highlights for the week include the highly anticipated Distillers Dinner at Forage, guided whisky tastings with recent Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame inductee Davin De Kergommeaux, and the showcase of 30 distilleries’ products. Additionally, Legacy Liquor will host an on-site pop-up retail shop on April 13th, ensuring attendees can take their favourite spirits home.

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Where to drink right now in New Orleans

Post-Mardi Gras and before Tales of the Cocktail is the best time to visit NOLA: The cocktail scene is hot, and the weather not-yet swampy.

The Brandy Crusta is the crown jewel of Jewel of the South. Facebook.com/jewelfothesouthnola photo

Bar Stars

Jewel of the South

A 20-year vet of the New Orleans bar scene, co-owner Chris Hannah presides most nights over this restaurant bar, shaking up his perfected Brandy Crusta and other iconic drinks. Though you can hit it on a Wednesday for Casual Caviar happy hour, or dine lavishly on the likes of tripe, pig head and beef tongue made into savoury dinner plates, the bar itself hits hard enough to have landed at No. 5 on North America’s 50 Best Bars and be named the Best Bar in the South in 2023.

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A Vancouver Prophecy: New cocktail bar opening in historic downtown basement

It’ll open later this year.

Prophecy, a new cocktail bar in downtown Vancouver, will be opening under Hotel Georgia. Prophecy/Instagram/Kianna Panico/Pexels

A new cocktail bar is coming to downtown Vancouver.

All the way down.

Prophecy will be making its home in Rosewood Hotel Georgia, specifically the “hotel’s historic basement,” according to the new bar’s website.

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The Legacy of Julie Reiner

Raise an International Women’s Day toast to the Drink Masters bar star who inspired a generation of women in the drinks industry

Julie Reiner is a key player in the rebirth of American cocktail culture and an industry mentor. Daniel Krieger photo

Some of us encountered Reiner two decades ago, as the smiling face behind the curved bar at Flatiron Lounge, the first of her pioneering New York craft cocktail bars. Others know the transplanted Hawaiian from her now-shuttered tropical bar Lani Kai or perhaps Pegu Club, which she owned with fellow trailblazer Audrey Saunders. Many others have tippled at Brooklyn’s long-running Clover Club, or at her joyful revamp of vintage Soho bar Milady’s (both which placed on the North America’s Best Bars 2023 list) in Brooklyn.

Yet more fans met her as the voice-of-reason judge on Netflix’s debut 2022 season of Drink Masters (a second season is in the works). Along the way, she became a key player in the rebirth of American cocktail culture and a mentor to its next generation of stars.

I caught up with Reiner recently when her bars popped up for guest shifts at Kimpton Seafire’s Library by the Sea bar on Grand Cayman earlier this year. Reiner and her team gave an inspiring industry talk about mentorship, collaboration and creativity. She unpacked her impactful career while dishing out snacktail-sized Clover Clubs, a drink she helped popularize in the modern age.

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New 70’s ‘love motel’-inspired cocktail bar with snacks opening in Vancouver

An exciting project from a Michelin-starred team is about to debut

Meo is a new cocktail bar with snacks opening in February 2024 in Vancouver’s Chinatown. The project comes from the team behind Michelin-starred Kissa Tanto, which happens to be located right above the new nighttime venue.Left: Ian Lanterman/Right: Mark Yammine. Images courtesy Meo

The crew behind some of Vancouver’s most acclaimed – and sexy – restaurant concepts is at it again, this time revealing plans to launch an intimate cocktail and snack bar just steps away from their one Michelin-starred spot.

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Alberta whisky named Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year

The win marks an exciting shift in small-scale distilling across the country

The Fort Distillery’s Mountain Pass Whisky is the 2024 Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year. Photo courtesy Artisan Distillers Canada

After seven years of domination by B.C. and Ontario, an Alberta distillery has taken home the top prize at the 2024 Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition.

In a series of blind tastings, a cross-Canada panel of judges selected The Fort Distillery‘s Mountain Pass Whisky as the Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year. The Fort Saskatchewan distillery prevailed over more than 80 small-scale spirits producers from 10 provinces and territories, who entered nearly 300 products in the competition; its whisky was only the second ever to win CASC’s top award.

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