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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Cocktails to go, go, go

Three drinks that bring new meaning to “one for the road”

The Aviation cocktail. Getty Images photo

If you’re like me, you’ve probably been dreaming of escape, of going somewhere, anywhere that isn’t your home. But it might be a while before it seems like a good idea to hop on a train or a plane just for fun.

Instead, let this trio of classic cocktails whisk you away on a spirited journey.

Cocktails have always tasted of travel and exotic places. A Kir Royale is a sip of France just as a Margarita is of Mexico. A bowl of punch carries memories of India. Tropical cocktails are the very essence of the Caribbean or South Pacific.

But some cocktails are about the journey itself, inspired by the modes of transportation that will get you there. Consider these three—the Aviation, 20th Century and Sidecar—the sour-based planes, trains and automobiles of cocktail culture.

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Sidecar

Sidecar. Getty Images photo

The proportions for this drink have changed since it was invented in the 1920s, so feel free to adjust them to your liking.

• 2 oz Cognac (or brandy, if you’re on a budget)

• 1 oz Cointreau

• 1 oz lemon juice

• Garnish: Optional sugar rim; lemon or orange twist

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20th Century

20th Century cocktail. Getty Images photo

The original recipe from 1937 called for Kina Lillet, which is no longer available—Lillet Blanc makes a good substitute in this Art Deco cocktail.

• 1.5 oz gin

• 0.75 oz Lillet Blanc

• 0.5 oz light crème de cacao

• 0.5 oz fresh lemon juice

• Garnish: Lemon twist

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Aviation

Aviation cocktail. Getty Images photo

Many recipes leave out the crème de violette, but it is essential, not just for the blue colour it gives the drink, but the way it balances the other ingredients.

• 2 oz gin

• 0.25 oz maraschino liqueur

• 0.25 oz crème de violette

• 0.5 oz lemon juice

• Garnish: Flamed lemon peel or brandied cherry

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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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Protector of the brands

As bourbon brand ambassador, Ray Daniel is living the dram

Ray Daniel admits he’s fortunate to represent Beam Suntory’s bourbon brands in Canada. “It’s not something i take lightly,” he says. Photos courtesy of Beam Suntory

When Ray Daniel applied for an after-school job at an unremarkable “country pub” in his native Ireland, he didn’t realize he was walking the first steps of his career path—after all, he was only 14 and his dream was to be a musician. But Daniel has since learned to expect the unexpected. He didn’t intend to settle permanently in Canada either, nor did he anticipate that a long tenure at an Irish-themed Toronto bar would eventually lead to his becoming brand ambassador for Beam Suntory’s American whiskey portfolio. Yet every development has been borne of the same impulse: a love of learning.

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Third-wave terroir

“Terroir” spirits define B.C.’s flavours, culture and sense of place

Comparing B.C. craft spirits from a decade ago to today is like comparing 1970s drip coffee to artisanal, fair-trade Chemex pour-overs. While B.C. has a long distilling and even rum-running history, the first wave of local, small-batch distilleries debuted not even 20 years ago. The second wave happened when 2013 B.C. liquor laws defined “craft” spirits as those using 100 per cent B.C. agricultural raw materials.

Now, a third wave of modern distillers is bottling the flavour and culture of the province, defining the future of B.C. spirits. Follow their progress through distillery newsletters and social media feeds.

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Sippin’ along the Spice Trail

Follow the fragrance of ginger, saffron and cardamom to discover Surrey’s burgeoning cocktail scene

The Badam Da Naasha cocktail from Vikram Vij’s restaurant My Shanti in South Surrey is delicate and sophisticated with the subtle taste of almonds and saffron. It is also beautiful, thanks to its silver leaf garnish. Photo courtesy of My Shanti

Exploring Discover Surrey’s new Culinary Spice Trail has been an excellent way to find terrific new eateries in this booming city, especially South Asian ones. But alongside the dosas, pakoras and momos, there is also an exciting cocktail scene developing here.

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