There is “eating local,” the effort to buy and consume food produced nearby, for both health and environmental reasons.
Now there is “drinking local,” an initiative encouraging us to support regional craft breweries and distilleries.
The main reason to “drink locally” is about quality. By supporting local spirit, beer and wine makers, you are in fact choosing a superior product. When you pick a hand-made product, you are choosing a beverages that has been made with far more care and refinement than that you would find from mega-distilleries.
The notion that our cocktails should be as handcrafted and picked with such care as our food is not a revolutionary concept. The idea, however, that we can access such fantastic products in our own backyard, is revolutionary.
Here in the mid-island, we are fortunate to have a special place for craft distilling.
Arbutus Distillery hand-picks its botanicals, at the perfect point in their growth, from the distillery’s own herb garden. Flavour comes from patient and experienced hands at the distillery, making sure the ingredients are at their peak intensity. Their preparation takes as long as necessary for that bottle to be perfect. Authenticity comes from careful sourcing of local ingredients.
Four years ago a new kind of licence was launched by the provincial government that allowed craft distillers to directly distribute their wares. This initiative gave the craft distiller a better opportunity for success. Thus encouraged, Mike Pizzitelli opened Arbutus Distillery in Nanaimo.
When it comes to blending, mixing, and crafting the tangible and intangible ingredients into an iconic brand, Mike Pizzitelli, head distiller, at Arbutus is the man to meet.
Trained in Scotland, Pizzitelli has been distilling and brewing for over eight years. He brings to the art of distilling a science and cell biology background.
Mike says it is nearly impossible for him to choose a favourite off the Arbutus Lounge menu.
But nothing really compares, he says, to the classic Negroni cocktail that features Arbutus Empiric gin. The Empiric gin, with its rich herbaceous notes and its bold botanical presence, is also delicious in a French 75 cocktail.
Arbutus has been open and operating for over two years, bringing craft liquors to the region. Its flagship product is its single malt Coven vodka, which makes the best Moscow Mule I have ever tried.
Eagerly awaited is Arbutus soon-to-be-launch single-malt whisky.
If you’re on the lookout to purchase Arbutus products, look no further than Lucky’s Liquor in Nanaimo’s Country Club Centre, where all Arbutus products are in stock. Ask our knowledgeable staff. They may even have a few Arbutus cocktail secrets up their sleeves for you!