Is there anything better than summer in Victoria? The weather’s great, there’s so much going on and the evening light seems to go on and on. It’s the best time to be outside on Vancouver Island, whether you’re on a patio, camping or out for a picnic. While our staff picks for July take all this into consideration, they are also a bit on the eclectic side—just like the staff who chose them.
But that’s the kind of liquor store we are. We have a friendly labradoodle (Rufus) as a mascot, we love discovering new and interesting products to load our shelves with and, most of all, we want you to leave the store with the perfect bottle (or bottles). This month’s picks are some items we’ve tried that we’re excited about. They may not all be obvious summer picks, but sometimes we like to spotlight some incredible beverages that we want you to know about.
One last thing, for our craft beer-loving customers, we wanted to remind you that tickets for this year’s Great Canadian Beer Festival (Sept. 11-12) will go on sale Saturday, July 18 at 9 am and can ONLY be purchased online. Go to the GCBF website here for details.
Glenn Barlow & the staff at Cook St. Liquor
Lock & Worth Cab Franc Rosé $19.90
If you’re like me and typically buy wine based on the label, this one is easy to pass over. To call it minimalist is a bit of an understatement; even the rosé colour is barely visible. But if you want a slightly sweet wine with a light fruitiness and perfect acidity, this is definitely for you. It would go well with a salad or a good book and a porch umbrella!
Hidalgo 200 Solera Gran Reserva Brandy de Jerez $94.90
Cognac isn’t all there is to Brandy! This category offers tremendous elegance, diversity and value in our market today. I was recently inspired by this unreal Spanish example. Produced by the renowned Sherry house Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana, it’s made up of the family’s oldest stocks of spirit and matured for many years in solera. This method of fractional aging creates this brandy’s ultra-complex flavours and incredible length: candied almonds, antique oak, leather, burnt orange rind and a melange of spices all center around a rich raisinated grape base. Salud!
Breakside Lunch Break ISA 650ml $8.40
Breakside Lunch Break is the perfect backyard beer. Round flavours of grapefruit, sweet malt and lemon juice are balanced by a light, bitter finish. You’ll find yourself taking a few more Lunch Breaks than you were expecting.
Liberty Endeavor Pink Gin $59.90
The Liberty Distillery strikes again! This Vancouver distillery has outdone itself with its latest release. Eye-catching vivid pink in the bottle, the aptly named Endeavour Pink gin is delicate yet full of character. The classic juniper base is augmented with a proprietary botanical blend (including rosehip and rose petals), resulting in a slightly floral, citrusy gin that’s a delight…and pink! If you’re making a traditional martini, definitely use a lemon twist instead of an olive. If you’re leaning toward a G&T, this gin is best mixed with more of a citrusy tonic, like Fentimans or Fever Tree. Get your pink on!
Red Hook ESB 6-packs $15.90
In the same way that, for instance, a rock music fan should know and appreciate bands like Led Zeppelin or the Who for their role as important progenitors, craft beer lovers should know Red Hook ESB. Like those classic bands’ status as rock legends, Red Hook ESB has remained a craft beer mainstay for more than 30 years. While some “legacy” craft beers taste tepid compared to modern brews, Red Hook ESB is as sturdy, delicious and contemporary as any brew made in this style. Great price, too!
Synchromesh 2014 Riesling $19.90
My pick this month is a refreshing summer pleaser for under $20. Synchromesh Riesling is a blend of grapes grown in four different Naramata vineyards and features a modest 9.8% ABV. On the nose you’ll find prominent tree fruit notes of peach and orange, with juicy apple and peach on the palate. It has crisp apple acidity that stops this unctuous, off-dry sipper from being too sweet and it finishes on a perfectly balanced note. A super picnic choice with spicy Thai, fruit salad, and rich seafoods such as lobster or scallops. Delish.
Yukon Lead Dog Olde English Ale 6-packs $15.90
I like to think of myself as the “lead dog” around Cook St. Liquor, so of course this is my monthly pick. This strong, dark, malty brew may seem like more of a cold-weather sipper, but I’d recommend it to anyone in the mood for something less hoppy than a lot of craft beers are today. It has delicious, rich chocolate, caramel and raisin notes and it’s deceptively chuggable.