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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2010

Looking back at the year that changed Vancouver’s cocktail culture

The Olympic flame isn’t the only legacy of 2010—so is Vancouver’s vibrant cocktail scene. Istockphoto.com photo

When Vancouverites look back at 2010, we think of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, a rain-soaked Wayne Gretzky and all those red mittens. But the really big news that year could be found at the bottom of a cocktail glass.

Proper cocktail bars were finally opening all over town. Global spirits brand reps started showing up to dole out samples. The organizers of Tales of the Cocktail reached out to see if Vancouver would be a good site for Tales on Tour. (Spoiler alert: Yes, in 2011 and 2012.) And Imbibe  magazine discovered “a Galapagos of mixology, a place where cocktails have evolved independently from the rest of the drinking world.”

Ten years later, we revisit the year that changed the city’s cocktail culture.

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Scotch Rocks Punch

Justin Taylor’s Scotch Rocks Punch. Dan Toulgoet photo

This flavourful punch was created by Justin Taylor, general manager of The Cascade Room.

• 1 bottle (750 mL) blended scotch
• 1 cup Cynar amaro
• 1 cup apricot brandy
• 1 cup oleo saccharum
• 1 Tbsp Angostura bitters
• 4 cups cold water

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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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The Last Word: Homemade Irish Cream Coffee

Coffee + booze + cream = cold-weather bliss.

We say it’s time to bring the special coffee off the ski hill and back into our after-dinner repertoire, just in time for the chilly days ahead.

This recipe by Justin Taylor of The Cascade Room elevates the oft-maligned special coffee with high-quality ingredients. Dan Toulgoet photo
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