A spirited selection at the BC Distilled 2019 Audience Favourites Awards

Odd Society’s Prospector Rye Whisky was voted the audience-favourite whisky at BC Distilled. Gail Nugent photo

They came, they sipped, they chose their favourites, ranging from a delicately herbal absinthe to a boldly spiced rye whisky.

Some 600 people descended on the Croatian Cultural Centre on April 6 for the sixth annual BC Distilled festival, highlighting the best of the province’s artisan spirits. Some 180 spirits from 39 distilleries were poured over two tastings, and at the end of it all, the audience voted for their favourites in 13 categories.

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Monashee Ethos Gin for the Win

Triticale could be the craft-spirit buzzword of 2019, thanks to the B.C. winner that tops the 2019 Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition, with six other B.C. distilleries winning best-in-class honours.

Revelstoke’s Monashee Spirits won the Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year award for their Ethos Gin. Marissa Tiel/Revelstoke Review photo

For the second year in a row, a B.C. small-batch spirit is the Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year. Monashee Spirits Ethos Gin from Revelstoke was not only the best-in-class Canadian gin, but scored highest of any entry in the entire competition. (Last year, Sheringham Distillery’s Akvavit from Vancouver Island claimed that honour.) And B.C. distilleries swept bragging rights in the whisky categories, showing promising maturity in our young industry.

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Amour for amaro

The Alchemist’s tasting panel revels in the complexities of made-in-B.C. amaros, vermouths and aperitifs

The lineup (l to r): Long Table Distillery’s Linnaeus Amaro No. 1, de Vine’s Moderna Vermouth, The Woods Spirit Co’s Pacific Northwest Amaro, Goodrich and Williams’ Bitterhouse Rubato, Bitterhouse DaMan and Bitterhouse LaDame aperitifs, Legend Distilling’s Naramaro amaro, Odd Society’s Mia Amata amaro and Bittersweet Vermouth. Dan Toulgoet photo

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.

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Elder Sour

Odd Society’s Elder Sour. Supplied photo.

This refreshing cocktail recipe from Odd Society Spirits makes an ideal patio sipper.

INGREDIENTS:
• 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

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Bartender in a bottle

Raise a glass to the supporting cast of B.C.’s cocktail scene—local craft syrups, sodas, tonics and other mixers

Odd Society Spirits joins the craft soda trend with its zingy housemade ginger beer. RD Cane photo

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.

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SEA TO SKY RAD-LER BEER COCKTAIL

Shaun Layton’s Sea To Sky RAD-ler. Dan Toulgoet photo

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 MagazineWestenderWestern Living and Georgia Straight, and coming this fall, he’ll be opening his own Spanish-themed bar in Mount Pleasant, Como Taperia.

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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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Gins & Roses

Justin Taylor’s Gins & Roses. Jennifer Gauthier photo

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.

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