Weekend Getaway: Denver’s 3 Best Drink Districts

The Deviation Distilling space was formerly a firehouse. Reece Sims photo

If you’re someone who frequents Gastown, wears oversized glasses ironically, has at least a half sleeve of tattoos, or simply possesses a potent appreciation for craft cocktails, then Denver, Colorado is a must-visit destination.

Just a quick 2 hour 45 minute direct flight from Vancouver, the Mile-High City has become a haven for hipsters. Here we explore three of the most delicious neighbourhoods in this up-and-coming cocktail destination.

Continue Reading

Generation cocktail

Fairmont Pacific Rim launches a series of drinks inspired by Douglas Coupland’s new art exhibit

Dirty Harry. Photo courtesy of Lobby Lounge at the Fairmont Pacific Rim

Vancouver’s own Douglas Coupland is typically the creator, not the muse, known for 13 novels including the era-defining Generation X as well as numerous artworks, many of them displayed prominently around town.

But for now at least, he’s also the inspiration for a limited series of cocktails designed by the Fairmont Pacific Rim’s award-winning beverage director, Grant Sceney.

Continue Reading

Recognition for Vancouver bars

The Keefer ranks No. 25 at the inaugural North America’s 50 Best Bars Awards; Botanist places No. 2 on Canada’s 50 Best Bars

The winners at the 50 Best Bars ceremony in New York City. Supplied photo

We all know what a dynamic cocktail scene Vancouver has, and what a talented group of bartenders we have slinging drinks here.

Now the rest of the world is getting an idea, too. Well, sort of.

Two sets of “best bar” rankings have just been released, with nods to some of our favourite watering holes. But as always, some of our very best cocktail destinations couldn’t make the list because they just don’t qualify as bars. (Because of our licensing rules, they are often technically considered restaurants.) No matter. We know who you are.

Continue Reading

The Alchemist Spring/Summer 2022

Reece Sims photo

In the Spring/Summer 2022 issue of The Alchemist, we look back at our first Vancouver Cocktail Week, and look forward to an exciting summer of product launches, parties and openings.

Despite our anxieties over the pandemic, VCW 2022, held March 6 to 10, was a huge success, not just because we had so many great events (65 of them!), but because everyone was so darn happy to be out and about and socializing, many for the first time in two years. See our look back at the festival in this issue—with a hint of what’s to come in 2023.

Continue Reading

8 of Canada’s 50 Best Bars of 2022 are in Vancouver

3 of our favourite bars even made the top 5

Botanist was named the second-best bar in Canada according to the Canada’s 50 Best Bars list. Canada’s 100 Best photo

The absence of the Canada’s 50 Best Bars list (there hasn’t been one since 2020) means that this year’s entry has an extra celebratory zeal behind it. Canada’s 100 Best even declares “Pour us another. Bars are back!”

Continue Reading

‘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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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..

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading