Blueberry Gin Smash

• 1.5 oz Queensborough Gin
• 0.5 oz dry vermouth
• 0.5 oz maple syrup
• 2 dashes aromatic bitters
• 5 fresh blueberries
• 3 lime wedges
• 1 mint sprig
• Tonic water

Add bitters, blueberries and limes into the glass and muddle them. Add Queensborough gin and dry vermouth and stir. Add ice cubes and top up with tonic. Add some crushed ice to the top of the glass and garnish with some blueberries and mint.

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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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B.C.’s gold medal gin: Central City strikes award-winning balance with Queensborough

Here’s a local spirit to add a tonic to your liquor cabinet

Christos Kalaitzis, mixologist and spirits brand ambassador (left), and Stuart McKinnon, head distiller at Surrey’s Central City Brewers + Distillers, showcase their award-winning Queensborough Gin and Double Gold Gin cocktail. Central City Brewers & Distillers photo

British Columbia’s artisan gins are in a tricky place.

Some are interesting, but not exactly delicious. Some taste good, but aren’t exciting enough to warrant the high price tag that the difficulty of making local hooch demands. Some have such powerful cereal notes you know the distiller really wants to be making whisky instead. Some taste like perfume, others like vodka.

And then there’s Queensborough gin from Surrey’s Central City Brewers + Distillers.

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Queensborough Gin “Double Gold” Cocktail

The Queensborough Double Gold Gin cocktail. Central City Brewers & Distillers photo

Christos Kalaitzis, brand ambassador and mixologist for Central City Brewers + Distillers, created this cocktail to celebrate their gin winning double gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

1.5 oz (45 mL) Queensborough gin
0.5 oz (15 mL) dry vermouth
1 oz (30 mL) maple syrup
3 dashes aromatic bitters
3 mint leaves
Ginger ale

Place all ingredients except ginger ale in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Double strain into a wine glass, add fresh ice and top up with ginger ale. Garnish with cinnamon stick and mint sprig. Serves 1.

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Spirited gifts

We asked some top B.C. bartenders which bottle of local spirits they would put on their Christmas list

L’Abattoir’s Katie Ingram longs to make a Rodney’s Roy, with Laird of Fintry Single Malt. Supplied photo

Katie Ingram

Lead Bartender, L’Abattoir Restaurant

I’d pick Okanagan Spirits Laird of Fintry Single Malt Whisky. It is a Scotch-style single malt made with 100 per cent B.C. malted barley using French and American oak, and finished in Okanagan wine barrels. The nose is unbelievable with plum, vanilla, raisins, berries, poached pears, nuts, and classic oak characteristics that continue on the palate. It has a dry finish with a hint of sweet vanilla and baking spices. I would make a twist on a Rob Roy — a Rodney’s Roy — with 2 oz. Laird of Fintry,
0.3 oz. Noilly Prat Rouge,
0.3 oz. Noilly Prat Ambre and two dashes Bittered Sling Cascade Celery Bitters.

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Royal Flush

Central City’s newly-released gin pays homage to its B.C. roots

Central City’s Queensborough Gin. Supplied photo

It’s not often the new kid on the block walks away with a major international award the very week of its launch, but that’s exactly what Surrey-based Central City Brewers and Distillers’ newest offering accomplished earlier this year; their Queensborough Gin garnered a gold medal at the Spirits International Prestige (SIP) Awards.

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Central City Brewers & Distillers

The successful B.C. brewer of the popular Red Racer beers, Central City began distilling after it moved into a giant new facility in North Surrey in 2013.

11411 Bridgeview Dr., Surrey

Read more about Central City Brewing and Distilling:

Bitter & Sweet: Why you should be drinking vermouth made in B.C.

Roll out the barrel: Where B.C. was once a major barrel producer, today distillers are scrambling to find casks

Sweet launch for bitters line

What’s gold and bronze and acclaimed all over: Local Lohin McKinnon Whisky launches to international accolades

Recipe: Blueberry Gin Smash

It’s G&T time: The Alchemist’s tasting panel searches for the best B.C. gin to enjoy with your tonic

Business in the back, party in the front: Distillery tasting rooms are some of the hottest cocktail bars in B.C. Here are a few to try in the Vancouver area

Recipe: Salted Caramel Rob Roy

Royal flush: Central City’s newly-released gin pays homage to its B.C. roots

B.C.’s gold-medal gin: Central City strikes award-winning balance with Queensborough

Roll out the barrel: Surrey’s Central City may have begun as beer brewers, but they are fast becoming one of B.C.’s most important distillers of single malt.

B.C. distilleries aim to produce world-class whiskies

Recipe: QB Spring Into Gin cocktail

Recipe: QB Blackberry Zest cocktail



• Lohin McKinnon Whiskies
• Queensborough Gin
• Queensborough Omakase Japanese Gin
• Queensborough Wine Barrel Aged Gin
• Queensborough Pink Raspberry Gin
• Sparrow Rum
• Peeled Orange Liqueur
• Fit Hard Soda
• Bitters by Christos


Queensborough Gin

FRAGRANCE: Spruce tip.
FLAVOUR: Spruce, juniper and citrus.
FEEL: Soft and smooth.
FINISH: Lasting botanical bouquet.
BEST ENJOYED: In a Last Word cocktail.
London Dry style gin with added spruce tip gives a unique West Coast flavor. Well rounded. —Robyn Gray, July 2016

Spirit of Merlot Liqueur

FRAGRANCE: Very light. Background of wine fruit.
FLAVOUR: Light and subtly sweet. Allspice and anise notes.
FEEL: Thin, with some alcohol warmth.
FINISH: Lengthy. Sits on palate with a background of fruity notes.
BEST ENJOYED: Chilled or alongside a warm beverage.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A fun, local eau de vie. –Trevor Kallies, October 2016

Lohin McKinnon Single Malt Whisky

FRAGRANCE: Stonefruit, honey, heather, slight oak.
FLAVOUR: Christmas cake, toffee, candied citrus.
FEEL: Lovely silky feel on the palate.
FINISH: Subtle spice, stewed fruit, charred oak.
BEST ENJOYED: As is, no water, no ice.
THE BOTTOM LINE: If this is three years old, we are in for a treat in the next ten years on the West Coast for whisky. –Shaun Layton, February 2017

Spirit of IPA

FRAGRANCE: Floral, mild hops, citrus, jelly bean.
FLAVOUR: Slightly sweet, some chocolate notes.
FEEL: Light to medium body.
FINISH: Super clean, spicy, delicious.
BEST ENJOYED: Neat. Would also make a fantastic Gin Sour.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Super-cool product. Not overpowering or as hoppy as you might expect. –Scott Barber, June 2017

Lohin McKinnon Barley & Rye Lightly Peated Whisky

FRAGRANCE: A touch of peated grain when you search for it.
FLAVOUR: Peat smoke more present on palate. Rye spice is nice.
FEEL: Spicy.
FINISH: Nice rye spice.
BEST ENJOYED: Neat at bottle strength or a touch of water.
THE BOTTOM LINE: They did a good job on this one. It’s a fun whisky to sip on. –Trevor Kallies, October 2017