Seven fall and winter cocktail events you don’t want to miss

With so many exciting events coming up, you won’t have a moment of boredom all winter long.

Art of the Cocktail. Supplied photo
Toronto Cocktail Week

Get your kicks in the Six this fall: The six-day festival of all things boozy returns
October 15 to 20, bringing together bars, brands and bartenders—as well as consumers, of course—to celebrate the city’s evolving cocktail scene. TCW will be shaking things up with a neighbourhood-focused bar guide, themed gala events, guided, seminars and pop-up bars featuring familiar faces from Vancouver. torontococktailweek.ca


Art of the cocktail

The Alchemist is pleased to sponsor Western Canada’s most important cocktail festival October 19 in beautiful downtown Victoria. Some 900 attendees will gather at the Grand Tasting to sip and sample cocktails and products from 40 exhibitors pouring more than 60 spirits. Plus there will be masterclasses, guided tastings and more fun than you can shake a cobbler at during this fundraiser for the Victoria Film Festival. artofthecocktail.ca


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Bottled Up! with Alex Carruthers

Alex Carruthers. Adam Chilton photo

This wild child has carved his own path in the industry, securing his place in the bar scene at an early age after passionately needing to be around live music. Currently working the wood in Gastown’s beloved music spot, Guilt & Co. as well as repping the new and alluring spirit called Trakal, he doesn’t stop there, concurrently pursuing acting, music, and his motorcycle license. He’s so damn charismatic, I can’t help but think of Brian Flannagan from the movie Cocktail, but don’t ever tell him I said that. This month’s feature bartender is the one and only Alex Carruthers.

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Variations on a theme

Five Vancouver bars that offer immersive fun along with your cocktail

Key Party interior
At Key Party, the 1970s are in full swing with retro-inspired cocktails like the B52 and a vegan Grasshopper. Photo courtesy of Key Party

Step into ABQ London bar and you’re no longer in the city’s Hackney district but an RV where people in goggles and yellow hazmat suits “cook” their own molecular cocktails. Taking its name from an episode of Breaking Bad, ABQ is a trip inside lead character Walter White’s mobile meth lab.

With its dry ice and gas masks, the spot is just one example of the kinds of immersive experiences that are making theme bars so popular around the globe. In Paris, for instance, there’s L’Urgence, a medical-themed bar that uses test tubes as tumblers. And New York’s Oscar Wilde pays homage to the playwright through marble statues, Victorian-era furniture and drinks that go by names like the Selfish Giant and Ugly Peacock, nods to his life and work.

In fiercely competitive markets and uncertain times, places that serve their slings and sours with a chaser of escapism have an edge, a draw that sets them apart and helps keeps them afloat.

Vancouver, too, is home to several bars that do more than pour masterfully mixed drinks by creating otherworldly settings. The Shameful Tiki Room was one of the first, its kitsch décor and Mai Tais having rekindled the city’s passion for tiki culture.

The city’s growing collection of theme bars extends far beyond Polynesian beaches, however. Here are a few to consider next time you’re looking for a delicious liquid getaway.

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Cool Canadiana

At Timber, Jonathan Dennis plays with flavours that hail from coast to coast to coast

Dan Toulgoet photo

As an all-Canadian pub-style restaurant, it’s no surprise that Timber has a pretty great beer selection. “But with the Canadiana theme, you can do so much more,” says restaurant manager Jonathan Dennis, who also oversees the bar program. “There’s a lot of people who want to have a killer Canadian cocktail as well.”

And that’s just what he is serving up at this friendly neighbourhood hangout on Robson at the gateway to Vancouver’s West End.

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Mark your calendars with these 5 cocktail events

The Weather Network has forecast a hot, dry summer for B.C., so get out and make the most of it at these upcoming events.

Harmony Arts Festival photo
Deighton Cup

Don your fancy chapeaux and hoist your glasses! The ponies hit the track once again on July 20 for the 11th annual Deighton Cup at Hastings Racecourse. Some 5,000 people gather at the track to gamble on the ponies while enjoying swish fashion, buckets of bubbly, fine cigars, gourmet cuisine and, of course, cocktails. The event includes an annual mixology competition, plus sweet summer sippers to enjoy trackside. deightoncup.com


Night on the pier

As the sun sinks to the west on August 8, some of Vancouver’s top bartenders will start shaking things up at this chill party on West Vancouver’s Ambleside Pier. This fundraiser for local arts programs is part of the Harmony Arts festival (August 2 to 11), and there will be food, fun, gorgeous views and plenty of great cocktails to enjoy. harmonyarts.ca

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The Alchemist Summer 2019

Keep cool: The summer issue of The Alchemist is out this week.

The Garden’s Keeper G&T by Jeff Savage of Botanist. Dan Toulgoet photo

The 12th edition of B.C.’s only magazine dedicated to cocktail and spirits culture returns with everything you need to quench your thirst this summer.

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These 8 Vancouver bars made Canada’s 50 Best Bars of 2019 list

Botanist Dining/Facebook

In mid-April, Canada’s 100 Best revealed their 2019 restaurant rankings. Now for the second year, they’re following up with a list of Canada’s 50 Best Bars of 2019, and for this ranking, Vancouver has an impressive eight spots worth raising a glass or two to.

In fact, Vancouver’s imbibers can pour one out for the always-popular Keefer Bar, which nabbed the number two spot, behind Toronto’s celebrated Bar Raval in the top rung. This is also the second year The Keefer Bar was ranked in the second spot.

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Science of Cocktails makes science both delicious and accessible

Amber Bruce won the cocktail competition for her riff on a Manhattan. Photo by Isabella Sarmiento for Science of Cocktails

There was ice and fire, CO2 and NO2, test tubes and copper tubing and all sorts of mysterious gadgets. Most of all, there was great food and drink in support of an even greater cause.

The city’s top bartenders gathered in February at Telus World of Science for the fourth annual Science of Cocktails event, where they demonstrated the myriad ways science contributes to cocktail culture.

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You can savour the best of B.C. whisky during a guided tasting this week

Two whiskey glasses. Istockphoto.com

Whisky & Words takes place this Friday, March 8 on International Women’s Day, and the event will feature some of the finest spirits from across the globe.

The Vancouver Writers Fest hosts the annual whisky tasting event, previously called A Dram Come True, in order to raise funds for youth education programming. Guests enjoy unlimited drams of whisky from distilleries around the world, as well as local craft spirits and beer. They also get to eat delicious food, enjoy live music, and partake in a silent auction that features rare and unique whiskies as well as experiences.

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