Build your home bar

The Alchemist tasting panel reviews their at-home essential spirits

Wonder what your favourite barkeep drinks at home? We did, too. Here’s what they had to say. Getty Images photo

For most issues of The Alchemist, we gather our tasting panel and sit in a room somewhere sampling our way through a dozen or so bottles of, say, rye whisky or vermouth. But with a pandemic upending everything, we couldn’t do that this time around. At the same time, since we’ve all been spending so much time chez nous, we wondered what our panelists were drinking at their own homes. So we asked them to recommend a bottle they consider essential for a home bartender, and what cocktail they’d make with it. This issue, our team comprises bartenders Sabrine Dhaliwal, Adam Domet, J-S Dupuis, Robyn Gray, Jay Jones, Trevor Kallies, Jeff Savage and Kaitlyn Stewart. Here’s what they had to say. Sip and shop accordingly.

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Jason Cheung, assistant bar manager at Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar, makes the Havelin.

As an aspiring newcomer in the cocktail scene, Jason Cheung, born and raised in Vancouver, draws on his extensive training with mentors in some of the industry’s top bars.

His bar style is young and fresh, while still bringing you the traditional cocktails you know and love.

Currently at Boulevard as the assistant bar manager, he hopes to shake up the paradigm of traditional mixology and start a new generation in the industry.

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Naked and Famous

Mica Rousseau, head bartender at Four Seasons Mexico City, serves a Naked and Famous cocktail to attendees at a mezcal master class at the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler during Cornucopia 2017. He is also hosting Mezcal y Maize, a series of “après” parties. Cornucopia continues to Nov. 19 in Whistler, Hannes van der Merwe photo

For his mezcal master class at the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler, Mexico’s Mica Rousseau demonstrated this classic cocktail created by Joaquín Símo at Death & Co. in New York.

1 oz (30 mL) mezcal
1 oz (30 mL) Aperol
1 oz (30 mL) yellow Chartreuse
1 oz (30 mL) fresh lemon juice

Place all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake well and fine-strain into a cocktail coupe. If you like, garnish with an ice cube. Serves 1.

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The Last Word

The Last Word cocktail. Joanne Sasvari photo

This Prohibition-era cocktail had been long forgotten until it was rediscovered by Seattle-based bartender Murray Stenson.

0.75 oz (22 mL) gin
0.75 oz (22 mL) green Chartreuse
0.75 oz (22 mL) maraschino liqueur
0.75 oz (22 mL) fresh lime juice

Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini glass or a coupe. If you like, garnish with lime twist. Serves 1.

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Chartreuse Milkshake

Lauren Mote’s Chartreuse Milkshake. Issha Marie photo

Crushable, complex and refreshing.

1.5 oz (45 mL) Tanqueray No. TEN Gin
0.5 oz (15 mL) Green Chartreuse
0.5 oz (15 mL) crème de cacao (chocolate liqueur)
0.75 oz (22 mL) orange juice
0.75 oz (22 mL) lime juice
0.25 oz (bar spoon) simple syrup (see note)
2 dashes Bittered Sling Malagasy Chocolate bitters
1 egg white

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail and dry shake (without ice) to emulsify egg white. Add ice to the shaker and shake vigorously for 10 to 15 seconds until well chilled and diluted. Pour into a tall Collins glass over fresh ice and garnish with crushed cacao nibs. Serves 1.

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Smoking Dog

The Smoking Dog cocktail at Vij’s. Dan Toulgoet photo

This cocktail created by bartender Olivia Povarchook of Vij’s updates the classic Salty Dog, but instead of rimming the glass with salt, flakes of smoked Maldon sea salt sit on top of the ice, giving the drinker a taste of smoky salt with each sip.

1.5 oz (45 mL) Bombay Sapphire East London Dry Gin
0.5 oz (15 mL) Yellow Chartreuse
2 oz (60 mL) fresh grapefruit juice
1 tsp (5 mL) Maldon smoked sea salt

Combine gin, liqueur and juice in a Collins glass or (preferably) a beautiful crystal tumbler with 12 oz (350 mL) capacity. Fill with ice cubes and stir. Top to overfilled with more ice cubes. Sprinkle salt flakes on the ice cube surfaces. Serves 1.

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Burrard Gimlet

The Burrard Gimlet cocktail, made with salt water, created by Justin Taylor, general manager of The Cascade Room in Vancouver. Cascade Room photo

Justin Taylor of The Cascade Room makes his own salt water for this refreshing update on a classic cocktail.

1.5 oz (45 mL) Long Table Cucumber gin
0.5 oz (15 mL) Green Chartreuse
0.5 oz (15 mL) chamomile cordial (see note)
0.75 oz (22 mL) lime juice
3 dashes Bittered Sling Lem Marrakesh bitters
1 tsp (5 mL) salt water (see note)
Pinch of sea salt
Garnish: Taboo absinthe mist; lime twist

Rim half of a coupe glass with sea salt. Place all ingredients except garnish into a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake for 15 seconds. Double strain into coupe. Spritz surface with a mist of absinthe and garnish with a lime twist. Serves 1.

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The Last Wall

The Last Wall. Tarquin Melnyk photo.

This Mexican-influenced variation on the classic Last Word cocktail was created by bartender Tarquin Melnyk to highlight the fresh, juicy Ms. Better’s Green Strawberry Mah-Kwan bitters. “It has the biggest wow factor when people are trying bitters for the first time,” he says.

• 1 oz (30 mL) mezcal, preferably Siete Misterios
• 1 oz (30 mL) green Chartreuse
• 1 oz (30 mL) Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
• 1 oz (30 mL) fresh lime juice
• 2 dashes Ms. Better’s Green Strawberry Mah-Kwan bitters

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Duke of Kidalton

Lauren Mote’s Duke of Kildalton cocktail. Dan Toulgoet photo

This cocktail, created by Lauren Mote, celebrates the region of Kildalton, on the Scottish isle of Islay, home to the elegant but powerfully smoky Lagavulin 16-year single-malt whisky.

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The Burrard Gimlet

The Burrard Gimlet. Issha Marie and Alison Page photo

A fresh twist on a classic

1.5 oz Gillespie’s Sin Gin
0.5 oz Green Chartreuse
0.5 oz wildflower honey water (1:1 ratio)
0.75 oz fresh lime juice
3 dashes Bittered Sling Lem-Marrakech Bitters
1 pinch Vancouver Island Sea Salt
Mist of Okanagan Spirits Taboo Absinthe

Combine all ingredients (minus Taboo Absinthe) in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake vigorously for 15 seconds and fine strain to a half-rimmed Vancouver Island Sea Salt cocktail glass. Using an atomizer or mister, spray a fine amount of absinthe over the glass for aromatics. Garnish with a lime twist.

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