Better with bitters

Add your own unique flavour to cocktails with homemade bitters. Here’s how

A variety of spices, herbs and other botanicals give bitters their intense flavour. Dan Toulgoet photo

Making your own bitters at home is a lot easier than you may think. However, we need to understand a few things first. Cocktails, by definition, are made up of four essential ingredients: spirits, sugar, water and bitters. Spirits are self-explanatory. The sugar and water elements can be exactly that or they can take on other forms, such as syrups and juices. Bitters are much more complex, though. Bartenders use bitters to bridge the flavours of spirits, sugar and water so they come together. The key to selecting the right bitter is to use one that complements the other three components in the cocktail.

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Punch it up with oleo saccharum

This ancient ingredient adds zest to your party drinks

Before you start, assemble your ingredients. Dan Toulgoet photo

Holiday entertaining is right around the corner and having a couple of easy, bold and delicious punch recipes on hand will really help set any party off on the right foot. It all starts with oleo saccharum.

Now, you might be wondering: What the heck is oleo saccharum? It is the Latin term for “oil sugar,” an ingredient that will change your home bartending.

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Spirit Free Gin & Tonic

Justin Taylor’s Spirit-Free G&T uses a homemade gin syrup. Dan Toulgoet photo

This zero-proof G&T will ensure all your friends can enjoy summer’s quintessential cocktail.

• 1 oz. spirit-free gin syrup (recipe below)
• 0.75 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
• 5 oz tonic water

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DIY Gin & Tonic

Make summer’s favourite cocktail your very own with these bespoke ideas

Before you start, assemble your ingredients. Dan Toulgoet photo

Gin is unlike any other spirit. Simply put, gin is a distilled grain mash that produces a neutral alcohol or vodka. The spirit is then redistilled with botanicals, herbs and spices to achieve the final product. It doesn’t rely on aging in oak barrels like whisky, and it doesn’t rely on one agricultural product to achieve its flavour, like agave for tequila. The infusion process will determine the flavour profile of each gin.

In other words, gin is essentially a botanical-flavoured vodka. And that means, even though not very many of us will ever have access to a still, we can make our own quality gins by working with infusions.

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Perfect Pears

Fall’s favourite tree fruit makes a great addition to autumnal cocktails

Perfectly preserved pears, from left, as purée, in syrup or dehydrated into chips. Dan Toulgoet photo

There is a sublime comfort in autumn, as the breezy aroma of fallen leaves wafts away the smoke of our sultry summer. One of my favourite things to do in the fall is to cruise out to the local farmers markets and fill my basket with delicious local fruits and vegetables. As a cocktail maker, I love loading up on things that I can preserve and keep around through what is sure to be another cold, wet and dreary Vancouver winter.

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Party in a bottle

Batch the cocktails for your next gathering, and you can be part of the fun, too

Bottling cocktails for your next social event makes for impressive presentation—and it’s much easier than you might think. Dan Toulgoet photo

Let’s face it: Making cocktails for a crowd is quite easy, but executing multiple different drinks over and over can be a tedious chore, especially when you want to enjoy the fun, too. The solution? Bottle these crowd pleasers in advance of your next party or backyard barbecue.

Your guests will be blown away with your attention to detail and this fun way of serving iconic cocktails.

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Rule Britannia!

These British cocktails are worthy of a royal celebration

Istock photo

Wedding bells will be ringing this spring at Windsor Castle and you are going to need some cocktails to celebrate, too. With this as inspiration, let’s take a glance at some iconic British tipples and learn how to make them.

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