Canadians rally to save restaurants with #TakeoutDay

Juke Fried Chicken’s bar manager Sabrine Dhaliwal has created pre-mixed cocktail bases to enjoy with your takeout. Supplied photo

In a historic move to save the foodservice industry, several hundred restaurant owners, chefs, culinary leaders and celebrities across Canada have joined forces to support Canada Takeout to make every Wednesday #TakeoutDay. This movement encourages Canadians to order from their favourite local restaurant offering takeout or delivery, with a nationwide kickoff on Wednesday, April 15, 2020 for #TakeoutDay.

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Demystifying vermouth

The Alchemist tasting panel samples the fortified, aromatized elixir

Vermouth ranges from palest straw to deep ruby red, with flavours to match. Dan Toulgoet photo

Vermouth is not just an essential ingredient in many cocktails, it is already a cocktail, a wine fortified with spirits and flavoured with herbs, spices and other botanicals. And it’s enjoying a major comeback right now.

Five of Vancouver’s top bartenders gathered on a rainy afternoon at Tableau Bar Bistro to taste this beguiling product: Sabrine Dhaliwal, bar manager of Juke Fried Chicken and Beetbox; Adam Domet, bar manager at Pourhouse; J-S Dupuis, beverage director of Wentworth Hospitality; Robyn Gray of Elisa Steakhouse; and Katie Ingram, bar manager at Elisa Steakhouse.

They all love vermouth. “It’s rich in flavour and lower in alcohol,” Ingram said. “And we’re all flavour junkies. So we get that fix of citrus and bitterness and everything you’re looking for.” Besides, with prices as low as $12 for a litre bottle, vermouth is also a complete bargain.

The panel tasted 16 local and international vermouths. Here’s what they had to say.

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A Bit Curious

Sabrine Dhaliwal’s A Bit Curious. Tara Rafiq photo

Recipe created for the Punch Brunch 2020 by Sabrine Dhaliwal, bar manager of Juke Fried Chicken in Vancouver.

The Punch Brunch, held at Botanist at the Fairmont Pacific Rim on January 26, was the official launch for the inaugural Vancouver Cocktail Week presented by The Alchemist magazine, which will be held March 7 to 10, 2021. For more cocktail recipes from the brunch, see: The Rye of the Tiger, Featherweight Punch Royale, Flapjack Punch and Morning Ritual.

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A knockout read

Blood, Sweat & Beers celebrates Aprons for Gloves, a noon-profit organization that provides community outreach in the Downtown Eastside.

In 2012, a handful of local bartenders slipped on some boxing gloves and started fighting for a cause. Aprons for Gloves, they called it, a non-profit organization with the aim of providing community outreach in the Downtown Eastside through the sweet science of boxing and the annual Restaurant Rumble charity boxing match.

Now there’s a gorgeous hardcover book celebrating the event: Blood, Sweat & Beers is written by wine writer and boxer Laura Starr and features some 450 photos by Guy Roland, who has been documenting the event since the beginning.

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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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The Bon Vivant

The patio scene isn’t for everyone, including our man about town

Ryan Mitson Illustration

In many ways, I’ve always been hilariously unsuited to Vancouver, despite having lived here for the best part of 20 years. While I enjoy observing nature from the distant vantage point of a high-rise apartment, actually venturing into it makes me anxious and irritated. I look upon the lifestyle cults surrounding yoga, spinning and clamshell salads—ostensibly expressions of joyful living, yet deadly serious—as if they were the Republic of Gilead.

But what situates me permanently at the fringe of the party that is this city (this beautiful, very expensive party) is my habitual response to the arrival of summer. When everyone else rushes hysterically into the streets, as if drawn by the promise of eternal youth and free poké bowls, I draw the blinds and cower until nightfall.

I don’t want to be this person, but I have no choice: I’m a ginger.

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Order up

How to get the right drink in a bar

At Coquille Fine Seafood, Shaun Layton has created a light, bright, classic-based bar list. Order accordingly. Dan Toulgoet photo

You’re thirsty. There’s a bar full of things to drink. You’d think nothing would be simpler than quenching your thirst, right? Not so fast.

We’ve all had those disappointing cocktails that left us wondering what went wrong. That’s because there’s an art to ordering a drink, a good drink at least, and it’s both simple and complex.

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On the Town: Speed Rack 2018

Women bartenders show off speed and skill for breast cancer charities at Speed Rack.

From left to right, Sabrine Dhaliwal, Uva Wine & Cocktail Bar; Reece Sims, Brix+Mortar/The Diamond; Liana Madera, The Diamond; Jasmine Radu, Tocador; Amber Bruce, The Keefer Bar. Cathy Browne photo

Bonnie Stewart of The Granville Room was the fastest qualifier and is going to nationals. Cathy Browne photo

Golden Oldie

The name may sound dated, but the Old Fashioned remains a classic for a reason. The Alchemist asked Sabrine Dhaliwal, Bar Manager at Uva, to let us in on its secrets.

Sabrine Dhaliwal stirs up a classic. Dan Toulgoet photo.

The Old Fashioned is amazing — simple and complex at the same time. On paper it is minimal — spirit, bitters, sugar and water (via the dilution of ice) — but what is critical for an Old Fashioned is getting that balance right. You get the balance right, you have a beautiful cocktail, but if you don’t, there’s nowhere to hide. The fewer the ingredients in a cocktail, the more skill needed to make it.

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