The Alchemist’s tasting panel revels in the complexities of made-in-B.C. amaros, vermouths and aperitifs
Consider them the supporting actors of the cocktail world: complex, helpful and a little bitter. Vermouths, aperitifs and amaros are typically fortified wines—though some are sweet enough to be considered liqueurs—flavoured with botanicals such as citrus peel, spices, roots and herbs. They typically have a somewhat bitter profile, hence the name “amaro,” which means bitter in Italian.
It takes a sophisticated palate to appreciate a good bitter drink, so not too surprisingly, Vancouver bartenders were eager to sample the best of B.C. amaros. We sat down with Alex Black of Tableau Bar Bistro, Amber Bruce of The Keefer Bar, cocktail consultant Sabrine Dhaliwal, Robyn Gray of the Rosewood Hotel Georgia and The Botanist’s Jeff Savage to get at the bitter truth.
This refreshing cocktail recipe from Odd Society Spirits makes an ideal patio sipper.
• 1.5 oz Odd Society Elderflower Liqueur
• 1 oz Odd Society East Vancouver vodka
• 1 oz fresh lemon juice
• 0.3 oz simple syrup
• 1 egg white or 1 dash of Ms. Betters Bitters Miraculous Foamer
Raise a glass to the supporting cast of B.C.’s cocktail scene—local craft syrups, sodas, tonics and other mixers
Forget the genie. Professional bartending expertise is captured in each bottle, can and jar of these B.C.-born cocktail mixers, which are often natural and preservative-free, too. To let loose your cocktail creativity, just add craft spirits.
Made with Vancouver Craft Beer Week’s 2018 Collaboration Beer, Sea To Sky Double Dry-Hopped Pilsner, by bartender Shaun Layton of Backcountry Brewing.
If you’ve been following the burgeoning cocktail scene in Vancouver over the past decade, there’s a good chance you’ve come across bartender Shaun Layton and his spirited creations. Having managed the bar programs at hotspots like George, L’Abattoir and Juniper, Layton has a well-earned reputation as one of the West Coast’s top cocktailiers. He’s been named Vancouver’s Bartender of the Year by Vancouver Magazine, Westender, Western Living and Georgia Straight, and coming this fall, he’ll be opening his own Spanish-themed bar in Mount Pleasant, Como Taperia.
The Alchemist’s tasting panel searches for the best B.C. gin to enjoy with your tonic
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.
This British-inspired cocktail was created in 2017 by Justin Taylor, in Vancouver.
• 1 oz Odd Society Wallflower Gin • 1 oz sloe gin • 0.75 oz fresh lemon juice • 0.25 oz honey syrup (see note) • 0.75 oz pasteurized egg whites • 3 dashes Bittered Sling Kensington Bitters • 3 drops rose water
Chill a coupe glass with ice. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Fine strain cocktail into the chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with dehydrated rose petals. Serves 1.
Distillery tasting rooms are some of the hottest cocktail bars in B.C. Here are a few to try in the Vancouver area.
Distillery visits aren’t just for spirits geeks—although staff (even the distillers) are usually keen to tour guests through the production line. Even micro-distilleries now offer flights, cocktails and tastings, some spiked with snacks or entertainment. More reasons to visit: You can buy bottles right from the source, including seasonal and limited releases, only-at-the-distillery products (such as collaborations with local brewers or food producers) and even cocktail accoutrements. Since many distillery tasting rooms are small, family-run affairs, call ahead or check social media for hours, especially if your group is more than a few or would like a tour.
• 1.5 oz Odd Society Wallflower Gin • 0.5 oz Sheringham Akvavit • 0.4 oz Martini Bianco Vermouth infused with vanilla (see note) • 0.25 oz Rose Wintergreen syrup • 0.5 oz citric acid • 4 dashes Dillon’s ginseng bitters • Garnish: Lemon zest