Five craft colas to mix in your next cocktail

These cola brands give the popular soda an artisanal remake

Colas originated as medicinal beverages, but are now just sweet refreshers. Getty Images photo

Think of cola and you likely think of Coke, Pepsi and the rivalry between them. 

The two beverages were initially developed by pharmacists as patent medicines—one to aid digestion (Pepsi), the other as nerve tonic (Coke)—but today they are simply sweet, carbonated beverages with flavours of vanilla, citrus and spice, especially cinnamon. 

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The brandy re-brand

B.C.’s craft distillers breathe new life into an old spirit

A number of B.C. wineries, cideries and distilleries have recently released small-batch, terroir-driven brandies—and they’re good, really good. Reece Sims photo

Over the last few decades, brandy has developed a branding problem. Not the Brandy who rose to fame with hits like The Boy is Mine in the late 1990s; rather, the once-venerable tipple that today is often seen as old fashioned, dull and enjoyed exclusively by the elderly.

Perhaps you’ve had it before in your grandma’s flamed Christmas pudding, drunk an occasional Sidecar at a hip cocktail spot or heard a reference to it in a Drake or Megan Thee Stallion song. 

But outside of Cognac—a sub-category of brandy that has been embraced and promoted by the rap community—brandy has not been an intuitive or even conscious choice for most Gen Xers, millennials or Gen Zers.

Despite its waning popularity, there seems to be a trend emerging in British Columbia that just might clutch brandy out of the doldrums and back en vogue. Whether coincidental or created through circumstance, a number of B.C. wineries, cideries and distilleries have recently released their own small-batch, terroir-driven brandies—and they’re good, really good.

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Between the Sheets

Between the Sheets. Reece Sims photo

Thought of as a riff on a Sidecar, this inspired classic is amped up with the use of some higher-ABV craft spirits.

0.75 oz Wayward Distillery Cask Strength Apple Brandy

0.75 oz Wayward Distillery Drunken Hive Rum

0.75 oz Sons of Vancouver Quadruple Sec

0.5 oz lemon juice

Garnish: orange or lemon zest

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Whitley Neill Rhubarb Pie Fizz

Canadian Cake Hospitality photo

For the ultimate grown-up dessert, Whitley Neill Rhubarb and Ginger Gin is a wonderful base for a mouth-watering treat, whether served alone or paired with a scrumptious dessert. The Rhubarb Pie Fizz cocktail brings real pizazz to the table and great for a cheeky toast to the chef.

• 20ml Whitley Neill Rhubarb and Ginger Gin
• 10ml Lemon juice
• 50ml Apple juice
• Prosecco
• Slices of apple

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French Connection

French Connection. Reece Sims photo

Named after the Gene Hackman film of the same name, this two-ingredient cocktail is easy to make and pairs wonderfully with dessert.

2 oz Maple Leaf Spirits Lady of the Cask brandy

0.75 oz Sons of Vancouver Amaretto

Garnish: lemon zest

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Sazerac

Sazerac. Reece Sims photo

Originating from New Orleans, the original Sazerac used Cognac as the base ingredient (it was later replaced with rye whisky). Apple brandy provides a smoother, more fruity base for this locally inspired iteration.

1 sugar cube

2 straws Ms. Better’s Bitters Aromatic Bitters

2 oz Forbidden Spirits Adam’s Apple Brandy

Rinse: Okanagan Spirits Taboo Absinthe

Garnish: lemon zest

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On Point

B.C.’s Shelter Point Distillery becomes the first Canadian bottling by the prestigious Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

152.1, also known as “Vibrant and Vigorous,” is the first SMWS bottling from a Canadian distillery. SMWS photo

During the Victoria Whisky Festival on January 20, the Canadian chapter of Scotland’s Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) unveiled a new bottling, 152.1, also known by the name Vibrant and Vigorous. The “.1” identifies the first-ever bottling from a new-to-SMWS distillery, and the Society identifies whiskies only by number and their often-fanciful house names, because each whisky is a single cask bottled at house strength, and may be a unicorn that doesn’t align with the distillery’s house style.

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Corpse Reviver No. 1

Corpse Reviver No. 1. Reece Sims photo

The lesser-known sibling of the Corpse Reviver No. 2, this spirit-forward classic cocktail is renewed with an all-local lineup of ingredients.

1 oz Alchemist Distiller Duke Apple Brandy

1 oz Merridale XXO Brandy

1 oz Esquimalt Wine Rosso Vermouth

1 barspoon simple syrup (optional; see note)

Garnish: orange zest, cherry

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A secret bar is opening behind a Chinatown ‘betting shop’

There’s a new speakeasy in town!

The team behind Laowai is opening another hidden bar in Chinatown, Bagheera. Supplied photo

Getting inside Vancouver’s newest bar involves placing a wager on “King Louie.”

The team behind the hidden Chinatown bar Laowai is opening another underground watering hole, this time inside the (faux) Happy Valley Turf Club off-track betting shop (518 Main St).

Bagheera is an homage to India and the cultural crossroads of Three Kingdoms Hospitality co-founders Lewis Hart and Brij Rathi. While Laowai is modelled after Prohibition-era Shanghai, Bagheera is named for the black panther in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book and was inspired by India at the turn of the 20th century.

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