The Alchemist Guide to Whistler Cocktails

Whistler at night. Tourism Whistler/David McCohn photo

Think about Whistler drinking and images of craft beers on sunny patios and fragrant steaming mugs of après ski Glühwein inevitably come to mind. But for some reason, Whistler has never traditionally conjured up much in the way of cocktail culture. Fortunately, the wave of thoughtfully crafted drinks and micro-distilled spirits has finally made its way up the Sea-to-Sky, and bars across town are shaking and stirring up some decidedly delicious creations.

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Capital Spirits

How a love of gin put Victoria Distillers on the map

Victoria Distillers’ Peter Hunt. Supplied photo

Almost a decade ago, Peter Hunt and his family made a decision that changed their business model forever: they bought a still. The family-run winery soon recreated themselves as Victoria Distillers, and their gin quickly became one of B.C.’s best-recognized local spirits.

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The Hunting Party

The Hunting Party. Victoria Distillers photo

Created by Katie MacDonald at Veneto in Victoria

• 1 oz Victoria Oaken Gin
0.75 oz Dubonnet
• 0.75 oz Amaro Montenegro
• Twist orange

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Hot Buttered Rum

Istockphoto.com photo.

In the 17th century, American colonialists replaced the whisky in their toddies with rum. Then some genius added a pat of butter to the concoction while another added baking spices, and so they created the gloriously unctuous drink we know as hot buttered rum.

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Winter Warmers

Justin Taylor, of the Cascade Room, concocts a hot buttered rum. Dan Toulgoet photo.

Brrrr – it’s chilly out there. Must be toddy time. With the mercury plunging below zero these past few weeks, Vancouver’s bartenders have been brewing up pots and pots of toddies, mulled ciders and other steamy beverages. Open the door to just about any drinking establishment – from the pop-up Winter Terrace at Reflections (in the Rosewood Hotel Georgia) to Juniper Kitchen & Bar in Gastown – and you’ll be greeted by the seasonal aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. And this is especially true at the Cascade Room on Main Street.

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End of an era

Tiffany Davis’ End of an Era. Lou Lou Childs photo.

Pablo Picasso’s Blue Period meets the Martini.

• 1.5 oz Grey Goose Pear
• 0.75 oz Hpnotiq
• 0.25 oz vermouth infused with lavender and sage
• 0.25 oz chamomile
• 0.25 oz fresh squeezed lemon
• Dash of Bittered Sling Denman Extract

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Seasoned greetings

The bartender’s salt and pepper, bitters are big in B.C.

At Market, Tiffany Davis uses bitters to bring balance and complexity to her drinks. Lou Lou Childs photo

After working for five years as a bartender on cruise ships, Tiffany Davis is well acquainted with the benefits of cocktail bitters.

“I went through so many bottles of Peychaud’s,” she laughs. “It was the best cure for seasickness.”

Now safely moored on dry land, as a bartender at the Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver’s Market by Jean-Georges, Davis still relies on bitters, but primarily for their cocktail applications.

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Donner & Blitzen

L’Abattoir’s Donner & Blitzen. Dan Toulgoet photo

Smoky and tropical, this cocktail created by Katie Ingram, bar manager of L’Abattoir, is a perfect pick-me-up for a chill day.

• 0.75 oz (20 mL) Del Maguey Vida Espadin Mezcal
• 0.75 oz (20 mL) French sweet vermouth
• 0.75 oz (20 mL) Heering cherry liquor
• 0.5 oz (15 mL) pineapple juice
2 tsp (10 mL) orange juice
1 tsp (5 mL) lemon juice
2 dashes Bittered Sling Autumn Bog Cranberry

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What’s Haskap’in?

Sabrine Dhaliwal’s “What’s Haskapin'” cocktail. Dan Toulgoet photo.

This tart, juicy and refreshing take on wintry flavours is created by Sabrine Dhaliwal, bar manager of Uva Wine & Cocktail Bar.

INGREDIENTS:
• 1.5 oz (45 mL) Taylor Fladgate White Port
• 1 oz (30 mL) Beefeater gin
• 0.25 oz (7 mL) Okanagan Spirits Haskap Liqueur
• 0.75 oz (22 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 2 dashes Bittered Sling Autumnbog Cranberry Bitters
• Tonic water

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Vancouver bartenders share their top cool-weather cocktails

We launch our new weekly cocktail column, The Alchemist, with the hottest drinks of the season

L’Abattoir head bartender Katie Ingram shakes up a Donner & Blitzen. Dan Toulgoet photo.

What’s the best way to get into the festive spirit? Why, with some festive spirits, of course.

All over Vancouver, the city’s best bartenders are shaking, stirring and mulling the best seasonal flavours into cocktails designed to warm body and soul. And truly, can you think of a better way to bring this cold, dreary year to a close?

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