Four’s the charm: Results of the 2021 Canadian Artisan Spirits Competition

For the fourth year in a row, a B.C. craft spirit has won the Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition: raise a toast to Vancouver Island’s Ampersand Distilling, makers of Nocino!

Ampersand Distilling Company’s Nocino! is the Canadian Artisan Spirit of the year for 2021. Supplied photo

The Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year is the Nocino! from Ampersand Distilling Company on Vancouver Island. Founded by the Schacht clan, Ampersand operates from a Duncan-area farm, using stills that were designed and built by father and son Stephen and Jeremy; Jessica Schact is instrumental in product development; and Ramona Froehle-Schact manages the farm and more—a true family affair.

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DEVINE Distillery’s Glen Saanich

Ken Winchester’s single-malt legacy

Besea photo

The fifth and largest-ever release of DEVINE Distillery & Winery’s coveted Glen Saanich Single Malt Whisky (1,016 bottles) quickly sold out this fall. “Ken [Winchester] and Kevin [Titcomb] put that beautiful whisky into the barrel in 2017,” says general manager Kirsten Titcomb of the ultra-local Saanich Peninsula bottling. Winchester, a trained winemaker and master distiller who founded the Island’s first craft distillery and created Victoria Gin, is a legendary name in B.C. distilling. Although he plans to step down by the end of 2020 at DEVINE, his legacy will endure.

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Cinnamon Smoked Old Fashioned

Cinnamon Smoked Old Fashioned. Supplied photo

Here is a simple twist on a spirit that is typically sipped neat. This recipe was developed by Soren Schepkowski, head bartender at Wind Cries Mary in Victoria.

• 1 cinnamon stick
• 2 oz DEVINE Glen Saanich Single Malt Whisky
• 0.25 oz toasted pumpkin seed orgeat (see note)
• 10 drops Ms Betters Chocolate Bitters
• 2 dashes Angostura bitters

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Sipping la bella vita: Four places to drink Italian cocktails in Vancouver

Italian cocktails have taken over Vancouver

Bar manager Nico Tognon shakes up Italian-inspired cocktails at the new Tutto Restaurant and Bar in Yaletown. Supplied photo

Cocktail culture may be thriving in North America, but you could say Italy invented it with the aperitivo. Drawn from the Latin aperire, meaning “to open,” the term implies much more than a drink to whet the appetite; it’s a ritual of gathering with friends and unwinding after work over drinks and small bites and opening up conversation.

Here in Vancouver, several Italian hot spots are serving aperitivo-inspired cocktails, putting their own spin on la bella vita.

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Playin’ Cello

Playin’ Cello. Alison Kuhl photo

This bright, elegant cocktail is by Nico Tognon at Tutto Restaurant and Bar.

• 1.5 oz Tanqueray gin
• 0.5 oz Luxardo Limoncello
• 0.5 oz Aperol
• 0.5 oz lemon juice
• 1 oz homemade raspberry syrup (see below)
• Garnish: lemon twist

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Violetta

Violetta cocktail. Photo courtesy of UVA Wine & Cocktail Bar

A floral variation on the classic Negroni, this pretty “up” drink comes from UVA Wine & Cocktail Bar.

• 1 oz Bombay Sapphire Gin
• 0.75 oz Bitter Bianco
• 1 oz Cocchi Americano
• 3 sprays crème de violette (violet liqueur)
• Garnish: Dehydrated lemon wheel

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The new home bar

Getty Images photo

Even before we found ourselves hunkering down at home trying to flatten the curve of a global pandemic, home bartending was already a growing trend. Once COVID-19 hit, though, we were all living in a world of cocktail kits and mixology livestreams and tutorials on how to arrange your bar cart.

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La Colmena

La Colmena. Origami Social photo

Recipe courtesy of Bodega on Main

• 0.75 oz Tanqueray No. Ten Gin
• 0.75 oz Appleton Estate Reserve Blend
• 0.5 oz Aperol
• 0.5 oz Lime
• 0.5 oz Honey Ginger Syrup
• 2 dashes of Lavender Bitters
• 2 oz Cava
• Grapefruit Peel

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