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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Demystifying vermouth

The Alchemist tasting panel samples the fortified, aromatized elixir

Vermouth ranges from palest straw to deep ruby red, with flavours to match. Dan Toulgoet photo

Vermouth is not just an essential ingredient in many cocktails, it is already a cocktail, a wine fortified with spirits and flavoured with herbs, spices and other botanicals. And it’s enjoying a major comeback right now.

Five of Vancouver’s top bartenders gathered on a rainy afternoon at Tableau Bar Bistro to taste this beguiling product: Sabrine Dhaliwal, bar manager of Juke Fried Chicken and Beetbox; Adam Domet, bar manager at Pourhouse; J-S Dupuis, beverage director of Wentworth Hospitality; Robyn Gray of Elisa Steakhouse; and Katie Ingram, bar manager at Elisa Steakhouse.

They all love vermouth. “It’s rich in flavour and lower in alcohol,” Ingram said. “And we’re all flavour junkies. So we get that fix of citrus and bitterness and everything you’re looking for.” Besides, with prices as low as $12 for a litre bottle, vermouth is also a complete bargain.

The panel tasted 16 local and international vermouths. Here’s what they had to say.

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