5 Must-try Local Artisanal Spirits

Vancouver distillers are shaking things up with extraordinary small-batch spirits, cocktail recipes and tasting rooms to fit every taste

Credit: Clinton Hussey

We’ve selected five local bottles that you need to keep stocked in your home bar

Before shaking and stirring, think local: these Vancouver-area distillers have small-batch spirits, cocktail recipes and tasting rooms to fit every taste.

Click through to discover the best locally produced spirits and our favourite artisan mixes.


What is craft?

The Craft Distillers of Canada says “true craft” local spirits are:

  • Made from 100% B.C. grain, fruit and produce
  • Made from 100% on-site fermentation and distillation, using traditional methods
  • No additives, preservatives or artificial flavours
  • Total annual production cannot exceed 50,000 litres per year
  • No neutral grain spirit (bulk alcohol produced by industrial distilleries, sometimes used as the base for other spirits)

Bourbon Barrelled Gin – Long Table Distillery, 1451 Hornby Street

The first of the new crop of Vancouver micro-distilleries at a mature two years old, Long Table is an innovator, producing not only a Cucumber Gin but an amber-coloured variety aged in bourbon barrels with a smooth finish. Tasting it at the namesake 14-foot redwood table at the distillery somehow makes it seem even woodier.

Use It: In place of bourbon in an Old Fashioned or a whiskey sour (recipe variation below).

Buy it: Long Table is one of a few craft spirits you’ll find at most Signature and some regular government liquor stores (typically its London Dry gin and Texada Vodka are available, but request the Bourbon Barrelled Gin using BCLDB number 649905). Or buy it at the distillery, near the north foot of Burrard Bridge.

Try it: The Diamond, Grain Tasting Bar, Forage and at the distillery’s own cocktail laboratory, which has Saturday cocktail hours (3-9 p.m.) and Gin & Tonic Fridays (4-9 p.m.).


cocktail recipe: The Bittered Smash Sour

By Donnie Wheeler

  • 1 1/2 ounces Bourbon Barrelled Gin
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • dash pink Himalayan salt
  • 4 basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters

In a cocktail shaker, gently muddle basil leaves with gin, then add egg white, lemon juice, syrup and bitters. Shake vigorously, without ice, for a minute. Add ice and shake again, then double-strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with salt and a basil sprig.

Chili Vodka – Sons of Vancouver, 1431 Crown Street, North Van

Founders James Lester and Richard Klaus are experienced home brewers and bartenders who rocked a goofy Indiegogo video appeal that raised $10,000 toward putting their vodka, chili vodka and amaretto into production.

Use it: In Bloodies or Caesars – it’s a natural fit – but the bespoke Birds Eye (recipe below) cocktail cools the chili heat with caramelized fruit and dark chocolate.

Buy it: At private liquor stores including Cedar Cottage, Toby’s North Shore and Legacy Liquor Store in Olympic Village.

Try it: Grain Tasting Bar, Edible Canada, The Brighton and at the Sons of Vancouver tasting room.


cocktail recipe: The Bird’s Eye

By Mitchell Kerr, Grain Tasting Bar

  • 3/4 ounce Chili Vodka
  • 3/4 ounce wheat-based vodka*
  • 1 ounce grilled-pineapple juice (grill a peeled quarter pineapple until golden brown; cool, juice and strain)
  • 1/2 ounce Triple Sec
  • 6 drops Apothecary The Darkness (or other chocolate-coffee flavour) bitters

Combine first four ingredients in a cocktail shaker glass with ice. Shake hard for 10 seconds. Double-strain into a coupette. Finish with bitters. Garnish with a pineapple frond on the side.

*such as Absolut, Russian Standard, Svedka, Danzka, Grey Goose, Ketel One

Credit: Clinton Hussey

Rosemary and Olive Gin – Deep Cove Brewers and Distillers, Unit 170-2270 Dollarton Highway, North Van

The dirtier you like your martini, the more you’ll love this. With a built-in burst of savoury, it barely requires mix. Deep Cove is a brewery that excels at spirits, too (its vodka was Best in North America at the 2014 American Distillers Festival).

Try it: Have it with a squeeze of lime and a drop of simple syrup and you’ve got a gimlet; a splash of white vermouth and a dash of bitters make a mouth-watering martini. We like the Donkey for its sharp kick. 

Buy it: Get it at the distillery’s tasting room. Consider the seasonal spirits (from akvavit to absinthe) or invest in a cask of whisky, being barrelled this spring and available in three years or so.

Try it: Stateside, Jackalope’s, Arms Reach, plus at Longhorn Saloon in Whistler; tours of the North Vancouver distillery come with a tasting (book through tastings@deepcovecraft.com). 


cocktail recipe: Deep Cove Donkey

  • 1 ounce Rosemary and Olive Gin
  • Fresh-squeezed lime and fresh-grated ginger, to taste
  • 3 ounces Dickies Ginger Beer

Mix all ingredients in a highball glass and stir to combine. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Credit: Clinton Hussey

Bittersweet Vermouth – Odd Society Spirits, 1725 Powell Street

Neither red not white, neither dry nor sweet: Canada’s only craft vermouth has 25 botanicals in its vintage Italian recipe, but arbutus bark from Mayne Island gives it West Coast cred. Scottish-trained distillers Gordon Glanz and Joshua Beach also turn out Wallflower Gin and East Van Vodka, plus a hairy Mongrel (“white dog” or unaged whisky).

Use it: Substitute it for the red or white vermouth in any recipe, particularly in classic or “perfect” cocktail recipes (Manhattan, Martini, Negroni) that call for both types of vermouth. It’s delicious in a Last Lot (recipe below), a play on the classic Last Word.

Buy it: Find a complete list of retailers at Odd Society’s website. The very thirsty can adopt a cask of single-malt whisky to pick up in three years.

Try itFarmer’s ApprenticeCampagnoloThe Narrow or at Odd Society’s own east-side tasting lounge, under the cool steampunk painting by neighbourhood artist Shwa Keirstead.


cocktail recipe: The Last Lot

  • 0.5 oz Bittersweet Vermouth
  • 0.5 oz Wallflower Gin
  • 0.5 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz Giffard white chocolate syrup

Shake with ice, strain into a coupe and garnish with a lemon twist.

Credit: Clinton Hussey

Endeavour Origins Gin – The Liberty Distillery, 1494 Old Bridge Road, Granville Island

A West Coast-style dry gin, this spirit has 10 wild-berry botanicals plus mint to complement the usual juniper and spices; its lightly floral, wild-rose nose will please Hendrick’s fans. Expect nothing less complex from a team that includes a wine expert (co-owner Robert Simpson), a former chef (co-owner Lisa Simpson) and a master distiller from France (Laurent Lafuente). 

Try it: In a newfangled G&T using a small-batch tonic syrup like Porter’s or in a Gem made from herbs and fruit (recipe below).

Buy it: Pick it up at Liberty Wine Merchants (Point Grey and Commercial Dr.); 16th Street, Hastings Street, Legacy, Crosstown, West End, Burrard, Granville, North Shore, Steamworks and Brewery Creek Liquor Stores; plus at the Granville Island distillery and tasting room.

Try it: Uva Wine Bar, Grain Tasting Bar, FETS Whisky Kitchen, Steel Toad Brewery, Notturno, West Restaurant, The Revel Room, La Mezcaleria, The Vancouver Fish Company, Blacktail Florist, Pronto Caffe, Pourhouse, The Sandbar, Edible Canada and the Shangri-La Hotel. Or at the 110-year-old bar at the distillery itself, which has a full cocktail lounge; weekend $10 distillery tours include a tasting.


cocktail recipe: The Gem

  • 1 ounce Endeavour Origins Gin
  • 1/4 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 8 blueberries, plus more for garnish
  • 2 sprigs tarragon
  • Club soda

In a cocktail shaker glass, muddle eight blueberries aggressively to extract the colour from the skins. Add gin, lime juice, simple syrup and one sprig of tarragon. Shake and double-strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Top with soda. Garnish with a sprig of tarragon and blueberries on a skewer or cocktail pick.

Credit: Clinton Hussey

Put some spin in your mixology with these artisan mixes and garnishes

Dundarave olives

Brined, marinated and hand-stuffed locally by the Dundarave Olive Company, these Vancouver Farmers Market favourites are the perfect martini garnish.
(Pictured: Anjou-pear-and-blue-cheese stuffed)


Sip Soda

How about a gin and lavender? Or a coriander orange soda to sweeten your next sangria? Jennifer Martin’s local, craft sodas contain less sugar and only 25 calories but are flavour packed.



Zack Silverman and Aaron Harowitz, childhood friends from Richmond, have made an all-natural, highly superior craft mix for the West’s native drink (invented in Calgary!). Available in Well or Mildly Spiced, Walter is so clam-friendly it’s the country’s first Ocean Wise approved Caesar mix.