Wayward Wine continues to search for drinks-related fun in “No Fun City”: Vancouver, BC. Where better to go than downtown’s Signature BC Liquor Store?
My wife heads to beer, while I find the BC Wine section. My goal is something more local than Okanagan, which is a five hour drive too far.
But even in this urban chic city center, the state-run store only offers the same old Okanagan brands (Wayne Gretzky wine…sigh). Prices all tend to the teens and above. Anything cheaper and “local” is Australian but bottled in BC (yes, they have a section for it). Thanks to brutal taxes, shelf price is twice what is stateside. There may be reason that people line up with empties and buy bulk wine pre-made from private home brew shops:
Thwarted, we walk to Stanley Park: the largest urban green space…in the world (1,001 acres to be exact). Today, we walk the perimeter of this peninsula. Along it, we taste various evergreen needles, because we learned First Peoples ate or boiled them to prevent scurvy, and for health. For us, we assume the bubblegum-tasting resin of cedar gives us a better sense of BC terrior…probably (although it does taste unique here, don’t get me into pine).
A path cuts in to Beaver Pond.
No beaver sightings, but back on the many mile perimeter we glimpse waterfoul feasting:
In a while, a massive tanker ship cruises by at full tilt, disturbing the wildlife:
A few hours of gorgeous open sea later, we head back to magic Granville Island. With the sun already setting, we stop by Go Fish: a blue shack that sources fish right off the docks. We order the Salmon Fish and Chips…and literally melt with it.
Yes, Vancouver is a brutally modern, urban city of steel, glass, CEOs, and heroin addicts. But the fish is fantastic.
Full of fry, we pop over Liberty Distillery.
The distiller munches vegan leftovers from Tupperware while making checks on his coppery, steam punk, masterpiece. We settle at a bench, exhausted, and watch him watch his system work.
Liberty only opened in 2013, after four years of construction and government haggling. A few years ago, Vancouver had no distilleries and no happy hours.
The space is tall, open but wood touches like the 19th century wood columned and mirrored bar render it cosy and retro. Another foreign bartender (this time from Ireland) slings us samples:
All of Liberty’s grain comes from organic British Columbia growers. Their wheat-based Truth vodka is all cream, fullsome, honeyed melon, while complex, saline, and lengthy enough to merit sipping: very good (4 of 5).
Their Railspur No. 1 White is basically an organic barley whiskey sans oak. It smells and tastes like a clean ale, with honey and graham cracker flavors, richness, but a grainy astringency and heat that will love barrel time (3 of 5).
Endeavor Gin, from organic wheat, tastes classically to type: juniper forest, lime peal, cardamon, but a notable notch of black pepper and body make for a fine, showy, homage (4 of 5).
Before we get to their other Gin, worthy mention must be made of Liberty’s sweet, delightful, Railspur No 2 White Wildflower Honey (since their whiskey awaits 2016 in barrels, honey tempers its aggression). Their Endeavour Old Tom (same gin but French oaked) is interesting, but edgy, too harsh, young, yet complex (3 of 5).
Now, Liberty’s Endeavour Gin Origins infuses 25 botanicals native to BC in their single copper pot still.
A deceptively mild nose soon draws out Stanley Park. Green cypress, angry pine, wood, and brine fight with milder forces of wild berry, apricot leather, vanilla, and dried rose petal. It feels cold, glacial and steely blue. Hardly too hot, Origins feels silky and plump. Flavors taste filigreed in their fine complexity and outstanding length. Liberty’s Endeavour Gin Origins is outstanding (5 of 5), if for the sole fact it is entirely of BC, and today, after our walk and days of adjusting our palates, we get it…so much so we buy one.
We find a local (but cheap) Tonic and close the night with G and Ts back at the YWCA:
Really enjoying your reflection on experiences in Vancouver. I’ve spent a lot of time there over the years and may be too close to truly see it, if you know what I mean. The liquor pricing is frightful, as you mention as it is in Ontario as well.
Ontario was similarly challenging when we went. Exciting wine regions though.