Editors’ Picks: The Best Things We Drank in 2023

Raising a glass to 2024 with our favourite beverages of 2023.

If you saw our 2022 end-of-year drink compilation, you know we’re a thirsty bunch. And over the last 52 weeks, we’ve managed to continue to imbibe with glee—whether a bev is boozy, zero-proof or packed with caffeine, let no one say we’re not committed to staying quenched. To wit, our favourite drinks of 2023.

The Vanmag Editors’ Favourite Drinks of 2023

egg-white-topped cocktail on a wooden table
Photo: Bao Bei

The Chino Margarita from Bao Bei

Sometimes, a drink menu can be paralyzing. What’s a girl to do when she loves margaritas and drinks with egg whites? But at Bao Bei (recently added to the Michelin Recommended list), women can have it all: the chino margarita is a tequila-based, deliciously citrus, ginger-spicy cocktail finished with both egg white and a chili-salt and sugar rim. In other words, the perfect drink for an indecisive lush. And if you pair it with the brasserie’s always excellent Chef’s Choice meal (a steal in this economy at $65 per person), it’s the last decision you’ll have to make all night. —Stacey McLachlan, editor-in-chief

READ MORE: Chinatown’s Best Restaurants

Martin’s Lane DeHart Vineyard Pinot Noir 2020

I’ll cop to a bit of recency bias here—Martin’s Lane winemaker Shane Munn was in town a few weeks back with his yet-to-be released slate of 2020 Pinots, so the tasting is still front and centre in my mind. That being said, I’m pretty sure that, had I tasted these wine in February, it would still be front and centre in my mind for the fact that one of the single-vineyard wines—the DeHart—was the greatest bottle of BC Pinot I think I’ve ever tasted. I don’t say that lightly, as I’ve had some wonderful bottles over the years: an early 1990s (1991?) Pinot from Blue Mountain stands out, as do countless bottles from Meyer, from Foxtrot, from Tantalus. I had a 2020 Rathjen Cellars Saison Vineyard that sommelier Savannah Robinson poured me at Victoria’s  Marilena earlier this year that might rank as the best Vancouver Island Pinot I’ve had. But the second I swirled the DeHart in my mouth I was taken: by its balance, its restraint, its structure. If I had to bring a bottle of BC Pinot to taste blind anywhere in the world, I immediately thought that not only would I be proud to bring this, but that I’d blow people away when they found out where it’s from—it’s that good. Awesomely Munn’s entire line-up of single vineyard are significantly different (as they should be, but so rarely are up here) and I think I was the only one how loved DeHart the best, but I couldn’t be more confident in my love. I should mention that it ain’t cheap: finding these wines can be tricky if you’re not a member of their wine club and if you do, it’ll be $100 or so, but I assure you when you put these with their Pinot peers from around the world, it’s a bargain—Neal McLennan, wine editor


The Late Harvest Cocktail from Maxine’s Cafe and Bar

My most memorable cocktail of the year found its way into our December/January issue—24 Things to Eat and Drink in 2024—and not just because it’s pretty in pink. (Though it certainly had me turning to a neighbour’s table and asking, ‘What’s that?!‘) The Late Harvest Cocktail ($18) is basically an updated Old Fashioned with a pretty and purple twist. It’s made with high-proof Wild Turkey 101—so it’ll quickly warm you up on a chilly winter night—and then made bright, lively and just a little earthy thanks to housemade beet shrub. With a dash or two of Fee’s celery and black walnut bitters, plus a twist of orange peel, this is the drink you want to both start and end the night with. —Anicka Quin, editorial director


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The Painted Spritz from The Painted Ship

A night out on the town is getting more and more pricey, so whenever we can, my partner and I try to take advantage of happy hour deals (yeah, of course “not going out” would be the best way to save money, but studies prove that abstinence-only restaurant education doesn’t work). Happy hour is the responsible solution. But finding one that has actual deals ($1 off a $25 cocktail? No thanks) is held at a reasonable time (2:00pm to 3:00pm? I’ve got a magazine to edit—and come on, everyone knows happy hour should be more than an hour) and is easy to get to (walking distance only) is a bit of a puzzle. Our new neighbourhood bar, The Painted Ship, happens to fit all three of the above conditions. There, I always get the Painted Spritz—a summer-y cocktail made with tequila, elderflower liqueur, lemon, passionfruit, prosecco and soda (plus rosemary and dehydrated lemon to garnish). It’s $12 from opening until 6 p.m. every day, meaning on Saturdays and Sundays, six hours are happy.—Alyssa Hirose, managing editor