Post Opium Daiquiri

Post Opium Daiquiri. Andrew Kong photo

The base:
• 1.5 oz Havana Club 3-year-old rum
• 1 oz Ms. Better’s passionfruit purée
• 0.5 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice
• 0.5 oz Ms. Better’s demerara syrup
• 1 dash Ms. Better’s Lime Leaf Bitters

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Trëve De Noël

Jayce Kadyschuk’s Trëve De Noël. Byron Smith photo

• 1 oz Brandy
• 1 oz Glühwein
• 0.5oz Grand Marnier
• 0.5oz Blandy’s Madeira
• 0.5oz Orange Juice
• 0.5oz Lemon Juice
• Dash Angostura Bitters

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Sangria Rosé

Justin Taylor’s Sangria Rosé. Dan Toulgoet photo

Mix up this rosé-based sangria recipe ahead of your next outdoor gathering. 

• 3 cups dry rosé wine
• 0.5 cup brandy
• 0.5 cup Okanagan Spirits rhubarb liqueur
• 2 cups white cranberry juice
• 2 cups sliced strawberries
• 1 mango, peeled, pitted and cubed
• 2 cups soda water

In a large container such as a gallon-sized glass jar, combine all ingredients except soda water. Seal container and refrigerate for 12 hours or overnight. Remove fruit, place in ice moulds or freezer bags and freeze.

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Blood Orange Sidecar

Serve your cocktails in old-fashioned coupe glasses. iStock photo

Blood oranges are in stores right now, but not for long. They are delicious in any of the traditional sours, especially in this juicy variation on a classic Sidecar.

1.5 oz (45 mL) Cognac or brandy
1 oz (30 mL) Cointreau
0.5 oz (15 mL) lemon juice
1.5 oz (45 mL) blood orange juice

Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Fine strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Serves 1.

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How to stock your spirits cabinet

Nightingale head bartender Rhett Williams. Dan Toulgoet photo

Every cocktail starts with a base spirit. Every home cocktail bar should do the same. The question is, what spirits do you really need to stock at home? What’s worth spending money on (and what isn’t)? After all, those bright, shiny bottles can be expensive.

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Mulled Wine

Justin Taylor’s Mulled Wine. Lou Lou Childs photo

Turn the heat on under this cocktail an hour before your guests arrive and your home will be filled with wonderful holiday aromas.

750ml bottle red wine
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice, pulp removed
0.5 cup granulated sugar
0.5 cup brandy or Cognac
2 tsp whole cloves
3 unpeeled mandarins, washed and cut into quarters
2 apples cored and quartered
1 cup frozen cranberries
4 cinnamon sticks
3 sprigs of rosemary

Add wine, orange juice and sugar into a large pot over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Stud mandarins with cloves and add, along with remaining ingredients, to pot. Cook gently for two hours (take care not to boil off the alcohol). Remove from heat and allow to cool, then strain through a sieve, pressing down to extract the juices from the cranberries and mandarins. Store up to one week in fridge. To serve, heat in a crockpot on low, or in a pan over low heat. Do not boil. Garnish with mandarin segments, apple slices, cinnamon sticks and cranberries. Makes 12, five oz. servings.

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Tell Me What You Will

Shawn Soole’s Tell Me What You Will showcases locally distilled products. Shawn Soole photo.

Showcasing local ingredients in a classic style. 

• 50ml Merridale Whisky Jack
• 20ml Odd Society Bitter Sweet Vermouth
• 10ml Merridale Apple Cider Brandy
• Dash of Bittered Sling Suius Cherry Bitters

Stir all ingredients and strain into a small coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

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Arbutus Distillery

Head distiller Michael Pizzitelli brings both a background in science and his experience in brewing to Arbutus Distillery’s ever-growing range of botanical-forward spirits.

1890 Boxwood Rd., Nanaimo


• Coven Vodka
• Empiric Gin
• Juniperus Lupulus
• Baba Yaga Absinthe
• Grand Visco Brandy
• Espresso Vodka


Coven Vodka

FRAGRANCE: Very little alcohol vapour, mild caramel and vanilla.
FLAVOUR: Dark caramel, toast.
FEEL: Creamy.
FINISH: Long finish of dark toast and caramel.
BEST ENJOYED: Martini or mixed drinks.
THE BOTTOM LINE: With the strong vanilla caramel notes, citrus isn’t the way to go with this one. I’d be interested to see it in an Espresso Martini. 
—Trevor Kallies, July 2016

Juniperus Lupulus

FRAGRANCE: Forest and wood.
FLAVOUR: Extremely rustic.
FEEL: Quite soft.
FINISH: Slight sweetness on the finish.
BEST ENJOYED: Not your usual gin. Could add a rustic twist to a Negroni or work well for a Dirty Martini.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Very unusual and unexpected. The wet hops and aged oak add really intense flavours some may find overpowering in a gin.
 —Wendy McGuinness, October 2016

Espresso Infused Vodka

FRAGRANCE: Coffee! Roasted beans. 
FLAVOUR: Not overly sweet. Tastes like cold brew.
FEEL: Better than other products — less thick/rich/cloying.
FINISH: Pleasant. Some sugar but not out of control.
BEST ENJOYED: Really cold. Maybe over ice, but dilution isn’t necessary.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Excellent product. If you want an espresso-flavoured spirit, this is worth a shot. —Josh Pape, February 2017

Baba Yaga Genuine Absinthe

FRAGRANCE: Fennel, licorice, citrus.
FLAVOUR: Dash of water, fresh citrus and tons of anise.
FEEL: Medium to full body.
FINISH: Long, hot, super delicious.
BEST ENJOYED: Neat or with a dash of water. A fantastic rinse for your Sazerac.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A very enjoyable absinthe. But be careful! –Scott Barber, June 2017

Empiric Gin

FRAGRANCE: Full of juniper and lemony citrus aromas.
FLAVOUR: Lemon with a touch of coriander, moving into juniper.
FEEL: Thin, slightly oily. Some heat on the back end.
FINISH: All juniper with the other botanicals taking a step back.
BEST ENJOYED: Some playful Gin & Tonic opportunities here.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Not a bad addition to the gin shelf. —Trevor Kallies, October 2017

Merridale Craft Distillery

This Vancouver Island cider business applied their traditional fruit focus to distilling, creating a range that includes gin, fruit brandies, a rested whiskey and even a carbonated vodka.

PO Box 358, 1230 Merridale Rd., Cobble Hill


• Cowichan Gin
• Cowichan Copper Gin
• Cowichan Vodka
• Cowichan XXO Brandy
• Whisky Jack’s
• Stair’s Pear Brandy
• Cowichan Brandy
• Pomme Oh! Fortified Cider
• Winter Apple Fortified Cider


Cowichan Copper Gin

FRAGRANCE: Little hot, pear and apple on the nose.
FLAVOUR: Honeyed licorice, orchard fruit, slight caramel.
FEEL: Silky mouthfeel.
FINISH: Coriander and peppered bitter finish.
BEST ENJOYED: In a Martinez.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Very unique product, mix in stirred drinks. —Shaun Layton, April 2016

Cowichan Vodka

FRAGRANCE: Green apple and citrus, hints of floral notes.
FLAVOUR: Fresh attack, light and bright eau de vie.
FEEL: Cool clean apple.
FINISH: Coriander and peppered bitter finish.
BEST ENJOYED: Great over ice, or chilled neat. A great light choice for cocktails.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A delicious eau de vie, not necessarily for the hard line vodka drinker. Think outside the box and you will not be let down. —Wendy McGuinness, July 2016

Cowichan Cognac Style Brandy

FRAGRANCE: Cooked fruit and baking spice.
FLAVOUR: Warm mulled wine. Playful spices throughout.
FEEL: A lot of alcohol warmth.
FINISH: Finishes with some spiced brandy notes. Warmth carries through due to 47 per cent ABV.
BEST ENJOYED: After dinner or with chocolate.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Decent take on the iconic spirit. —Trevor Kallies, October 2016

Stair’s Pear Brandy

FRAGRANCE: Brilliant fresh pear nose.
FLAVOUR: Pear skin, almond and vanilla.
FEEL: Rich and deep.
FINISH: Long lasting fresh pear.
BEST ENJOYED: Neat at room temp.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A fine brandy with excellent fresh pear aroma and flavor. A great digestif. Aged six years. —Robyn Gray, February 2017

Cowichan Gin

FRAGRANCE: Mild apple and citrus aroma.
FLAVOUR: Slightly sweet with a botanical background. Definitely do not notice the 47 per cent ABV. 
FEEL: Almost viscous. Very pleasant. 
FINISH: Long and enjoyable. Orchard fruit shines through.
BEST ENJOYED: Long with soda or very cold over ice. Could be interesting as a sour. 
THE BOTTOM LINE: Fun gin showcasing the prowess and opportunity of foraged ingredients. —Trevor Kallies, July 2017