Standout sips. 


Tofino Distillery Old Growth Cedar Gin

I'm not afraid to say it: I'm a big fan of trees. They're majestic AND they give us oxygen! What's not to love?! Which is why it's so annoying that camping is such a terrible experience—what seems like it could be a perfectly good opportunity to hang out with trees is ruined by sleeping, eating and not-showering in the elements.

It's why I was pumped to discover this old-growth cedar gin from Tofino Distillery: it's a nice way to get a little taste (literally, I suppose) of nature without having to listen to my friends spew lies like "I actually like sleeping in a sleeping bag better." Much like infusing 90-proof gin with organic Western Red Cedar tips improves on the concept of spirits, electricity and a roof improve sleeping exponentially—that's just the facts. Wanna fight about it? Come find me sipping and swirling this earthy, aromatic number with some fizzy Fentimans tonic and lemon, enjoying the great indoors.—Stacey McLachlan, executive editor


Culmina No. 008 Skin Contact Gewurztraminer

I tried a new omakase spot in Marpole last week (it's phenomenal, btw) and as they don't yet have a liquor license (quel surprise in this dystopian province) I brought this bottle from home. I'm not generally one for Gewurztraminer as it's often too sweet, or too floral or too both for me, but Culmina is known to do wonderful things with interesting grapes (they single-handedly brought Gruner-Veltliner into the B.C. conversation) and the skin contact descriptor (that's the method used in oh-so-cool orange wine) was intriguing.

The restaurant didn't have a wine bucket so I got a steel tray from the prep line filled with ice and some stemless Reidel knock-offs for glasses, but after one sip I realized you could serve this wine in ceramic coffee mugs and nothing could hold back it's greatness. Where to begin? The nose has none of that cloying floral notes so common in Gewurztraminer—instead there's a melange between cut grass and cut hay...the smell of sitting on a porch in the summer while gardens and lawns are being tended to. And in the mouth there's an exceptional balance of acidity and fruit. People often use the word "tension" to describe a wine that's the opposite of flabby and it's the perfect descriptor here: on the one hand, you have a plate of ripe cantaloupe and honeydew, with the faintest drizzle of wild honey—on the other a flinty minerality that seems more Chablis than Alsace. And the integration between the two is simply seamless. Every sip was a flipping revelation. Weirdly, the wine didn't have the telltale sign of skin contact—the orange hue—but who cares? If this is what some prolonged exposure to the skins can do for this grape, then I urge every Gewurz winemaker in the Okanagan to adopt this practice.

Now the downside. You can't really buy this wine. The No.008 designation means it's part of Culmina's experimental series, made in miniscule quantities and only for members of their wine club. So maybe join their wine club. At $23, this is the most exciting Okanagan wine I've tasted in a long while.—Neal McLennan, food editor


Pourhouse Mimosa

On the hierarchy of fruits, cantaloupe is definitely, undoubtedly at the bottom. Let’s be real: no one gets excited about these hard-to-cut spheres of mealy, flavourless flesh, especially when they’re chopped into slimy cubes and incorporated into fruit salads, where they inevitably overpower actual juicy, delicious fruits with their offensive blandness. (There’s a reason melon-free fruit salads exist.) Even in its most ripe, in-season iteration, cantaloupe is, at best, painfully mediocre, something that should only be consumed as a last-resort source of vitamin C.

Given all this, I can’t really tell you what drew me to a cantaloupe mimosa during a recent brunch outing at Pourhouse. Novelty was probably part of it (how many orange and grapefruit mimosas can a girl have?), and the fact that I can’t turn down booze in any sort of breakfast setting. Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised: any waxiness in your standard cantaloupe is eliminated once the fruit has been freshly juiced (at the bar, no less!), and the addition of Aperol and lime juice helps to tease out the fruit’s sweetness. Plus, there's sparkling wine, which, really, has the power to make almost anything tastier. You may even find yourself asking for seconds—something that never, ever happens with fruit salad.—Lucy Lau, style editor          


J.P. Chenet Box Wine

First, I know what you're thinking: she's all class. But hear me out. Generally speaking, I'm all for the bottle—almost entirely because the box wine available to us in B.C. is nothing less than dire.

But come summertime, I'm in search of easy-drinking rosés that I pack up on the bike for afternoons on the beach with friends and a stack of beach reads. So said bottle ends up "decanted" into a 500 mL Swell bottle, leaving me with a fridge full of 250-mL leftovers. Solution: the box! Drink what you want, leave what you will, come back to it in its stay-fresh little bag for the month to come.

And I was pretty excited to see that BCL has added a new French rosé to its boxed offerings this summer. It's classic French-style—pale pink and dry, with a little strawberry and lemon—and tastes great paired with another French (Tana)...and sunscreen.—Anicka Quin, editorial director


Tofino Brewing Dimension Ascension Pale Ale

Did I know Stacey was going to go with a Tofino-related pick for this list? Yes. But I just couldn't resist. There are many different keywords that will automatically make me salivate for a beer. But few do the trick like “only available at the brewery.” You mean it’s going to be rare and exclusive and I can brag about having it to my friends? And that goes double for a brewery off the beaten path (read: two blocks east or west of Main Street).

Tofino Brewing Company qualifies in that regard. Yes, I was excited for Wolf in the Fog and the OG Tacofino, among other spots, but it was the brewery’s revamped tasting room that I was most looking forward to. And while one of the brewery’s two exclusive flavours—the Wonders of Nature Kettle Sour—was disappointingly sold out, the other was not.

If you like hops, you’re going to be into the Dimension Ascension Pale Ale. It’s full-bodied and super juicy for a dry-hopped beer. There are far worse ways to spend a day in Tofino than sipping on one of these bad boys and playing board games. We’re sure you think there are better ways, too (especially if Stacey and her gin pick have tainted your mind), but it’s OK to agree to disagree. —Nathan Caddell, associate editor