The Martini

The murky past of a clear favourite

Martini. istockphoto.com

Plenty a tall tale has crossed the polished oak; after all, bartenders like to dish out lively anecdotes along with the gin and spiced nuts. But when it comes to boozy myths, legends, outright lies and wholesale whoppers, “more cling to the Martini than any other cocktail.”

So writes Robert Simonson in his IACP-nominated book The Martini Cocktail (Ten Speed Press). He is fascinated by the outsize role the Martini has played in popular culture ever since its invention in 1849, or maybe it was the 1880s, or possibly 1906, who knows?

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Turf Cocktail

The Turf Cocktail. Istockphoto.com photo

The Turf Cocktail emerged around the same time as the Martini, and some believe it was an early version of it (not likely, but you never know).

• 1.5 oz Plymouth gin
1.5 oz dry vermouth, preferably Noilly Prat
• 2 dashes orange bitters
• 2 dashes maraschino liqueur
• 2 dashes absinthe
• Garnish: olive

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Martini

Martini. istockphoto.com

The classic, as it has evolved over more than a century of opinionated drinking.

• 2.5 oz London dry gin
• 0.25 to 0.5 oz dry vermouth
• Garnish: lemon peel twist or olives

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Island time

For the third year in a row a B.C. distillery has won the Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year—and for the second time, it’s Sheringham Distillery on Vancouver Island.

Sheringham Distillery’s Kazuki Gin won 2020 Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year. Supplied photo

The best artisan spirit in Canada for 2020 is a Japanese-inspired gin, delicately flavoured with cherry blossom and yuzu, which was also awarded Best in Class spirit in the Contemporary Gin category. Though its name and inspiration may sound exotic, Kazuki Gin, made in Sooke on Vancouver Island, won Excellence in Terroir for its use of local ingredients that evoke a stylistic sense of place, like the only grown-in-Canada green tea (and green tea blossoms), from at the Island’s Westholme Tea Company. The hat trick of CASC awards this year joins a growing list of accolades for the Sooke distillery founded by Jason and Alayne MacIsaac, which also won Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year in 2018, for its Akvavit.

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Purple rain

Purple Rain by Cam Brown uses BC Blueberries. Dan Toulgoet photo

• 1.5 oz Beefeater London Dry Gin
• 0.75 oz blueberry and black pepper milk syrup (see note below)
• 0.75 oz lemon juice
• 0.25 oz Noe Pedro Ximenez Sherry
• 1 oz egg white
• Topped with soda

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Blue Rose Sour

The Blue Rose Sour was created by James Grant at Black Lodge. Supplied photo

This aquafaba-based fizz-style cocktail was created by mixologist James Grant at Black Lodge.

• 1.5 oz gin
• 0.75 oz Bols Blue liqueur
• 1 oz lemon juice concentrate
• 0.5 oz simple syrup
• 1.5 oz aquafaba (chickpea water)
• 1 to 2 oz soda water

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The Fire at the Mill

The Black Lodge's The Fire at the Mill cocktail.
The Black Lodge photo

This cocktail was created by Edmonton’s James Grant, and is featured on the list at The Black Lodge.

• Mist/rinse of peaty whisky
• 1 oz rosemary-infused gin (see note)
• 1 oz Scotch whisky
• 0.5 oz medium dry sherry
• 0.5 oz ginger syrup
• 0.5 oz lemon juice
• 2 dashes Angostura bitters

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A botanical bonanza

The Alchemist tasting panel gathers for a round of international gins

The lineup featured gins from Japan, Italy, Spain and Canada, as well as the spirit’s traditional UK home. Dan Toulgoet photo

Summer is the season for refreshing gin cocktails, so it was only natural to think juniper for this issue’s tasting panel. Juniper, of course, is the signature flavour that defines gin, which is typically a grain spirit (though there are some fruit-based ones) that has been infused with botanicals that can include citrus peel, flowers, herbs, spices, stems, roots, seeds and fruits.

Think gin and you tend to think London Dry, the crisp, juniper-forward style developed in London in the 1830s. But there are a wide range of styles from all over the world. To sample a selection of them, we gathered at Tableau Bar Bistro with some of the city’s top barkeeps: Alex Black, bar manager of Wildebeest; Sabrine Dhaliwal, cocktail consultant and Pourhouse bartender; Adam Domet, bar manager of Pourhouse; J-S Dupuis, beverage director of Wentworth Hospitality; Robyn Gray of the Rosewood Hotel Georgia; and Ryan Johnson, bar manager of Tuc Craft Kitchen.

The panel blind-tasted 12 international gins. Here’s what they had to say.

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At RauDZ, gin is in

Raudz Gin. Supplied photo

At RauDZ Creative Concepts, it’s not just about farm to table, but farm to glass. That’s why the Kelowna-based restaurant company has just launched its own craft gin, The Whole Truth, made by Okanagan Spirits and flavoured with locally grown botanicals.

It was inspired by The Truth, a variation on the G&T featured at RauDZ Regional Table on opening day a decade ago, back in spring 2009. The gin has plenty of refreshing cucumber and floral aromas, as well as the citrusy notes of mock orange, a native B.C. shrub that was foraged by Tyler Dyck, the CEO of Okanagan Spirits, at nearby Poplar Point.

The gin is available exclusively at RauDZ Regional Table, micro bar & bites, Sunny’s Modern Diner, and Terrafina at Hester Creek by RauDZ.

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