Brewer-distillers have unique advantages over their still-only colleagues
Early visitors to Yaletown Distillery on Vancouver’s Hamilton Street may have tripped to—or rather, over—its connection to Yaletown Brewing, a block away. Originally, the fermented base for the spirits came through a hose in the sidewalk. “The wash comes through this pipe now,” says brewer-distiller Tariq Khan, pointing toward the ceiling.
That supply chain of fermented-grain wash is a key advantage of local businesses that make both beer and spirits, including relative newbies The 101 Brewhouse + Distillery in Gibsons and Moon Under Water in Victoria, as well as veterans like Deep Cove Brewers and Distillers in North Vancouver. Brewing on site guarantees a pipeline to so-called distiller’s beer, the essential raw material for making spirits.
It’s not even available for sale yet, but already Christos Kalaitzis’ new bitters line is reaping the kind of recognition a crafty bartender could only dream of.
Bitters by Christos, created by the spirits brand ambassador and mixologist for Central City Brewers & Distillers, just took home not one, not two, but three double gold awards at the prestigious San Diego Spirits Festival, the premiere West Coast celebration of spirits and cocktails. (Central City’s Lohin McKinnon Peated Whisky also won double gold.)
Glance up at the sloping green roof of the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, and you might just catch a flash of scarlet at one of the windows. Wave hello to the Lady in Red, a gracious spirit said to haunt the halls of this grand dame of a hotel.
The Alchemist’s tasting panel revels in the complexities of made-in-B.C. amaros, vermouths and aperitifs
Consider them the supporting actors of the cocktail world: complex, helpful and a little bitter. Vermouths, aperitifs and amaros are typically fortified wines—though some are sweet enough to be considered liqueurs—flavoured with botanicals such as citrus peel, spices, roots and herbs. They typically have a somewhat bitter profile, hence the name “amaro,” which means bitter in Italian.
It takes a sophisticated palate to appreciate a good bitter drink, so not too surprisingly, Vancouver bartenders were eager to sample the best of B.C. amaros. We sat down with Alex Black of Tableau Bar Bistro, Amber Bruce of The Keefer Bar, cocktail consultant Sabrine Dhaliwal, Robyn Gray of the Rosewood Hotel Georgia and The Botanist’s Jeff Savage to get at the bitter truth.
Sometimes we think November might actually be our favourite month. Unpopular opinion, we know! But think about it… In this dark and dreary month alone there’s returning faves like Whistler Cornucopia, EAT! Vancouver and Hawkers Market, as well as a caviar festival, a dumpling fest and something called Swine Out Vancouver, just to name a few. It’s a smorgasbord of food and drink par-tays. But the granddaddy of them all might have to be Hopscotch Festival.
It’s back to the future with de Vine’s Ancient Grains
It’s been a minute since we’ve had to worry about those pesky little things called grades, but for distillers like Saanichton’s de Vine Wines & Spirits, report card day still comes around each year with the release of Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible and the reviews and scores therein.
Another day, another competition under the belts of Vancouver’s extraordinary bartenders.
To chants of “Back to back!” on Thanksgiving weekend, Chris Enns of the Lobby Bar at the Fairmont Pacific Rim made it into the top-20 round at the Diageo Reserve World Class competition in Berlin. Australia’s Orlando Marzo took home the overall title this year, but Enns made it all the way to number eight in the world, with a trio of Vancouverites cheering him on—last year’s global winner, Kaitlyn Stewart of Royal Dinette, as well as previous World Class Canada winners Lauren Mote and Grant Sceney. “Until next time, friends,” Enns said on Facebook. “May your hearts be filled with love and your glasses filled with World Class cocktails.”