It’s G&T time

The Alchemist’s tasting panel searches for the best B.C. gin to enjoy with your tonic

The G&T is a warm-weather classic. But which B.C. gin is the best choice?

Now that spring has finally sprung, we’re craving lighter sprits and fresher flavours. In other words, we’re craving gin, especially when it’s mixed with tonic water.

Our tasting panel comprising some of Vancouver’s top bartenders—Max Borrowman of Juniper Kitchen & Bar; Amber Bruce of The Keefer Bar; J-S Dupuis of Wentworth Hospitality (Tableau Bar Bistro, Homer St. Café); and Josh Pape of Gooseneck Hospitality (Wildebeest, Bells and Whistles, Bufala, Lucky Taco)—sampled nine B.C. artisanal gins, suggested the best cocktails to make with them, and then mixed them with tonic water to determine which worked best.

Here’s what they had to say.

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Gin fizz

The gin and tonic is sophisticated again

Whistler’s Bar Oso is just one of many drink-forward destinations elevating the traditional gin and tonic. Pat Allan photo

Jason Redmond expected to be impressed by many things about Spain, but he couldn’t have guessed the biggest takeaway from his trip last summer would be a new take on a humble highball.

“I was really surprised at the big signs outside all the little cafes and bars claiming they were selling the best ‘Gin Tonic,’” the bar manager of Whistler’s Spanish-influenced Bar Oso recalls.

“It was a really big deal, and one I had no idea about beforehand.”

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The Stump Gin & Tonic

Bar Oso photo

A West Coast take on a global classic

• 2 oz Fermentorium Stump Coastal Forest Gin
• 4-6 oz Fermentorium Artisanal Dry Tonic, depending on taste

Garnish with a sprig of rosemary smacked between your palms, a thin slice of lime,  and juniper berries.

Serve in a large (approx 20 oz) Burgundy bowl.

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Locovore libations

Island-to-glass cocktails rule the bar at Olo

The concept of “farm-to-table” isn’t new for B.C. restaurants. What’s served from behind the wood is now also joining the sustainable locavore movement for a more complete offering. Brad Holmes, owner and executive chef at Olo in Victoria, has long been a vocal proponent of this movement, and his cocktail program reflects that. “Our whole restaurant is seasonal; the menu changes with what’s available on any given day and season. I always wanted to bring that to the bar. And now, with all of the great gins and vermouths and other local products, we can offer something that was grown in B.C., produced in B.C. and served in B.C.”

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Funky Town

Could B.C.’s new spirits inspire a truly West Coast cocktail culture?

At Royal Dinette, Kaitlyn Stewart embraces the challenge craft spirits bring. Fred Fung photo.

Kaitlyn Stewart slides a mason jar filled with a disturbingly yellow liquid across her bar at Royal Dinette in downtown Vancouver. I hope it’s not what it looks like.

“Milk liqueur,” she says, beaming proudly. “Double strained after sitting on the shelf for 10 days.”

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Whisky Galore!

B.C.’s fledgling industry prepares for a bright future

Whisky is set to be the next boom in B.C. spirits. Thinkstock photo.

After just five years in business, British Columbia’s distillers have already confronted some mighty challenges. For one, it takes years of practice to make a quality product. Plus, craft liquor is expensive—not only for consumers at the till but for makers at the still.

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Fermentorium Distilling Co.

Fermentorium’s Stump Coastal Forest Gin is fast-becoming a signature B.C. spirit. Its collection of artisanal tonic waters elevate even the most basic of highballs.

2010 Government St., Victoria

Read more about Fermentorium Distilling Co.:

It’s G&T Time: The Alchemist’stasting panel searches for the best B.C. gin to enjoy with your tonic

Gin Fizz: The gin and tonic is sophisticated again

Recipe: The Stump Gin & Tonic



• Stump Coastal Forest Gin
• Handcrafted Tonics


Hop Drop Elixir

FRAGRANCE: Dried hops.
FLAVOUR: Lightly bitter, like concentrated IPA.
FEEL: Very even. Starts soft and expands.
FINISH: Dry and clean.
BEST ENJOYED: Added to your favourite lager.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Really cool product. Fun to play with in beer cocktails. —Josh Pape, July 2016

Stump Coastal Forest Gin

FRAGRANCE: Where to begin? Moroccan mint tea. Pine needle or fir. Pesto.
FLAVOUR: Rosemary and stalky herbs. Lavender.
FEEL: Bold. Hot. Kinda brash.
FINISH: A bit boozier than it needs to be.
BEST ENJOYED: As a seasonal Gin & Tonic or a French 75 over the holidays. With a sprig of thyme?
THE BOTTOM LINE: Sub in for your favourite gin classics that are easy on the citrus. —Josh Pape, October 2017