Diageo World Class: More than a competition

How the esteemed bartending contest is shaking up the cocktail world

Competitors and previous winners celebrate at the Diageo World Class Canada final 2019 in Whistler. Leila Kwok photo

Diageo World Class is more than just the biggest, most prestigious cocktail competition on the planet. It is also a major source of education for bartenders.

“We’re really trying to play our part in driving the industry forward, focusing on educating and giving bartenders the tools they need to achieve their goals, at home and around the globe,” says Michael Armistead, who oversees the Diageo World Class Canada Bartending Competition as National On-premise, Reserve and Sponsorship Manager.

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Shaking it up at Science of Cocktails

The fifth annual event was a whizz-bang success

Science of Cocktails, held February 6 at Science World, surpassed a cumulative milestone of $1.2 million raised for the Class Field Trip Bursary Program. Tara Rafiq photo

“This is just what we do,” says Trevor Kallies, president of the B.C. chapter of the Canadian Bartender Association and the creative force behind one of Vancouver’s most dynamic cocktail events. “This” isn’t just making great drinks, although it’s that, too. Mostly, though, it’s coming together to help those who need it most.

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A Scotch like no other

As an independent bottler, Andrew Laing is “bringing something else to the party”—unique bottlings of rare whiskies and other spirits

Andrew Laing is the export director of Hunter Laing, one of Scotland’s finest independent bottlers. Supplied photo

Take an Islay journey with Andrew Laing.

The glass of Scotch he pours has a vegetal, almost mezcal-like scent, with whiffs of salty, mineral sea and fishy kelp and a distinctly ashy after taste. It’s a blended malt representing the vivid flavours of five of the finest distilleries what is perhaps the most coveted of Scotland’s whisky-producing regions. And it’s exactly the kind of exquisite, unique bottling in which his family’s company specializes.

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Bar Basics

What you need to know for making the recipes in The Alchemist.

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Essentials

Measurements: For the most part, our recipes are in imperial volume (fluid ounces, teaspoons and cups). We might occasionally use weight (for instance, an ounce of tea leaves for an infusion); in those cases, it will be noted.

Tools: The essentials are a cocktail shaker (cobbler or Boston), mixing glass, jigger, citrus juicer, Hawthorne and fine mesh strainers, muddler, bar spoon, sharp knife and vegetable peeler. Any special tools will be noted.

Glassware: You could fill your cupboards with different types of glassware, but you only really need three (aside from wine and beer): a stemmed “cocktail” glass, either the V-shaped martini or curved coupe; the short, stubby rocks or Old Fashioned; and the tall, narrow Collins.

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Island time

For the third year in a row a B.C. distillery has won the Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year—and for the second time, it’s Sheringham Distillery on Vancouver Island.

Sheringham Distillery’s Kazuki Gin won 2020 Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year. Supplied photo

The best artisan spirit in Canada for 2020 is a Japanese-inspired gin, delicately flavoured with cherry blossom and yuzu, which was also awarded Best in Class spirit in the Contemporary Gin category. Though its name and inspiration may sound exotic, Kazuki Gin, made in Sooke on Vancouver Island, won Excellence in Terroir for its use of local ingredients that evoke a stylistic sense of place, like the only grown-in-Canada green tea (and green tea blossoms), from at the Island’s Westholme Tea Company. The hat trick of CASC awards this year joins a growing list of accolades for the Sooke distillery founded by Jason and Alayne MacIsaac, which also won Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year in 2018, for its Akvavit.

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Vancouver bar claims government seizure of $40K in whisky breached charter rights

Fets Whisky Kitchen on Commercial Drive was raided in January 2018

In January 2018, Fets Whisky Kitchen was raided by B.C.’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch. Photo Fets Whisky Kitchen/Facebook

The Vancouver bar taking the B.C. government to court in an effort to recover $40,000 in whisky seized in 2018 has launched further court action alleging the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch breached its charter rights.

In January 2018, Fets Whisky Kitchen, a mainstay on Commercial Drive since 1986, was raided by B.C.’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch — 242 bottles of Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) single malt whisky were seized, and owners Eric and Allura Fergie were eventually fined $3,000.

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Thrilling open-bar event with 30+ drink stations mixes cocktails and science

The Science of Cocktails pairs some of Vancouver’s most accomplished mixologists with the wow-factor of physics, chemistry, and biology for a night to remember

With over 30 stations pouring exciting drinks made by top Vancouver bartenders, Science of Cocktails 2020 promises to be another thrilling night of drinks and fun. Photo courtesy Science World

It’s one of the city’s most dazzling drinking events: The Science of Cocktails pairs some of Vancouver’s most accomplished mixologists with the wow-factor of physics, chemistry, and biology for an epic open bar night to remember.

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This B.C. bartender placed second in an international cocktail competition

He brought a taste of the Okanagan to Mexico, with his cocktail, It Takes a Valley.

Jared Schmidt celebrates his silver at the 2020 Patron Perfectionists competition Thursday. Photo: Facebook – Patron Perfectionists

A local bartender has put Kelowna on the map after taking home the silver at an international cocktail competition in Mexico.

After winning his regional Patron Perfectionists competition in Vancouver last year, followed up by the Canadian nationals in Toronto, Patron flew Kelowna’s Jared Schmidt down to Jalisco, Mexico on January 17 for the international finals, to compete against 20 other bartenders from around the world.

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Labatt acquires Goodridge & Williams Distilling, makers of Nütrl vodka soda drinks

The distiller makes the Nütrl vodka and vodka soda drinks, along with several other spirits and ready-to-drink canned cocktails

Labatt Breweries of Canada has acquired Goodridge & Williams, a Delta, B.C.-based distillery known for its ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages — a growing segment in a struggling beer market. CP Photo

Labatt Breweries of Canada has acquired a Delta, B.C.-based distillery known for its ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages — a growing segment in a struggling beer market.

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A decade of great Canadian whisky

B.C. distillers scored big at the 10th annual Canadian Whisky Awards in Victoria last night.

The BC winners at the Canadian Whisky Awards included (from left to right): Grant Stevely of Dubh Glas Distillery, Kevin Titcomb and Ken Winchester of De Vine Spirits, Terence Fitzgerald and Jason MacIsaac of Sheringham Distillery, and Leon Webb and Jacob Wiebe from Shelter Point Distillery. Charlene Rooke photo

At a gala awards ceremony celebrating 10 years, the 2020 Canadian Whisky Awards recognized famous whiskies and big achievements of the past decade, while giving kudos to small-batch innovations from artisan distilleries, including four from B.C.

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