• Cascadia Cocktail Recipes

    As of March 8th 2024, we're actively photographing and testing Cascadia centric cocktails to add to our recipe database! Because that takes a wee bit of time, you can find our 'in-progress' recipes on this Google Sheet. Once photographed, they'll move over to the main recipe page.

    In essense, there are three ways to enjoy the apéritif/aromatized wine styles: Simply over ice, perhaps with a citrus peel garnish or a couple olives. Spritz! On ice, 50/50 with sparkling soda water and/or sparkling wine. Cocktails, coming soon! Check out the google sheet in the meantime.

Cascadia Botanicals

Apéritif Cascadia is a love-letter to Vancouver Island. Flavoured by the forests and meadows of coastal British Columbia using botanical species native to this region and foraged by our friends at Forest for Dinner. Predominantly flavoured by the catkins and leaves of the Sitka Alder tree, this apéritif style is bursting with berries, brine and pine, highlighting the vibrant botanicals growing on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish People.

Listed below you will find a complete list of all the botanicals used in Apéritif Cascadia as well as some personal remarks and tasting notes from the botanical extracts made. 

If you wish to forage your own regional botanicals, do so with with great care, research, knowledge, gratitude and respect for the land these plants grow on and for the First Nations people who have stewarded and cared for this land since time immemorial.

We recommend purchasing direct from regional specialists such as Forest for Dinner, reading many foraging books specific to your region and chatting with folks in your area familiar foraged foods.

To extract flavour, we cold steep each botanical individually in a fortified mead base at 24% alc./vol. In order to extract the best flavour, each botanical requires its own specific steep time and ratio, of botanical to base mead. If you'd like to try this at home, a white wine base or even just diluted vodka would work well to pull flavour. We chose 24% alc./vol. as a nice balance between alcohol soluble flavours and water soluble flavours. This base liquid, it's alcohol content, steep time and ratio is up to you and what you are looking to achieve, let taste be your guide. Once the extracts are made, they are added to the 'herb library' to be drawn upon during the blending of new and novel apéritifs.
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Alnus sinuata

Sitka Alder

The bitter botanical that defines the Cascadia apéritif style. The female catkins (cones) of the Sitka Alder Tree is the primary bittering agent used in this style. A short and shrub like tree commonly found at the interface between beach and forest. An important fast-growing nitrogen-fixing tree that rehabilitates disturbed soils turning disused land back into lush forest.

Parts We Use Female Catkins and Leaves

Tasting Notes Bright floral, citrus pine aromas are amplified by light fruity kiwi vibes with a peppery finish and bold bitterness and pleasant tannin.

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Rubus ursinus

Trailing Blackberry

British Columbia's only native blackberry species, which presents quite differently to the invasive and more well known Himalayan Blackberry. It has very thin vine like canes that are mostly ground cover and not too thorny, but often snag your ankles when walking in the woods. The berries are much smaller, but much more concentrated and bolder berry flavour, one ripe Trailing Blackberry is like eating 10 Himalayan Blackberries in one! Crazy good berry flavour and easily one of our favorite berries on Vancouver Island to pick. Small and low to the ground makes them time consuming however.

Parts We Use Leaves. We also use the berries at home to make our annual stock of the best blackberry jam ever!

Tasting Notes The berries are the most vibrant blackberry flavour we've ever had. The leaves smell like blackberry jam and kool-aid with a bit of black tea. The leaves are loaded with tannin! Blackberry meets hyssop with a nice level of acidity with crazy astringency. A fantastic tannin modifier for mead/cider or any beverage where a tannin addition is useful.

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Juniperus communis


Commonly known as the primary flavour in Gin, we also use this in nearly all our Vermouths as well as Apéritif Cascadia. Juniper has the largest geographical range of any woody plant on the planet and grows throughout British Columbia. Despite this, nearly all Juniper used in Canada is important from the Balkans. We use BC Juniper picked by Forest for Dinner. Juniper has a very high oil content (part of the reason it's so flavourful) which is why we chose this to smoke in our Smokehouse to create the Smoked Apéritif Cascadia, that oil content binds to the alder wood smoke much better than dry leafy material or other herbs. Also frequently used in sauces and meat rubs among many other culinary uses outside of gin.

Parts We Use Cones (frequently called juniper berries)

Tasting Notes Vibrant aromatic gin vibes. Very fruity start, but surprisingly bitter and punchy with a bit of funky umami going on and maybe a bit of cola and late summer flowers. Lots of pine notes with great complexity.

With a long water-seeking tap root, Juniper is very drought tolerant and can handle a wide range of conditions making it great on sloping ranges as it provides good erosion control. Very long living and slow growing.

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Epilobium angustifolium


Often found in open clearings after a forest fire or logging, Fireweed is one of the first initial ground covers at the start of a new forest and helps prevent erosion. It's also a critical pollinator for honey harvests on Vancouver Island. In order to get an adequate honey harvest, many island beekeepers will take their hives up into the mountains to feed on the abundant fireweed pollen.

Parts We Use Leaves and Flowers

Tasting Notes Fabulous nose of barbequed celery, lemon and funky spicy floral rosehips. A bit of tannin and lots of citrus tropical notes. One of our most used botanicals in Apéritif Cascadia.

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Pseudotsuga menziesii

Douglas Fir

The iconic giant of Vancouver Island forests and coastal British Columbia. These trees dominate our forests and define our landscapes. While Douglas Fir is a critical timber producing tree, the young tips are also deliciously edible and vibrant.

Parts We Use Young Tips

Tasting Notes Incredible aroma bursting with pine, citrus, key lime pie and tropical fruits. Tastes almost as good as it smells with a touch of tannin and high levels of acidity

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Pinus monticola

Western White Pine

Of the three pines that we use in Apéritif Cascadia, this one is by far our favorite. It's nuanced and complex, piny without being too much and surprisingly loaded with briny ocean tang. It just tastes so darn good! We break the long needles up into rosemary sized pieces to make handling and extraction easier. Perhaps it could even be a great rosemary substitute on meat rubs!

Parts We Use Needles

Tasting Notes If Doug Fir is the treble, this is the bass! Lost of ocean brine like eating salmon with a bit of lemon and fresh berries. Just a little tannin, but no bitterness. Very nuanced, it's one we keep going back to again and again. After, Sitka Alder, this is the second most dominate botanical used in Apéritf Cascadia.

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Picea sitchensis

Sitka Spruce

Arguably the most well-known edible spruce tips, these are loaded with astringent tannin, but super citrusy and vibrant pine flavour. The largest spruce species and fifth largest conifer on earth. Its primary range is exclusive to the west coast of North America with Vancouver Island being home to Canada's largest tree, the Carmanah Giant, a Sitka Spruce.

We love to use these Pickled Spruce Tips as a gibson martini garnish instead of the traditional pickled onion.

Parts We Use Young Tips

Tasting Notes Smells like the forest on the edge of an ocean bringing back memories of Tofino. Quite lovely. Very high in tannin compared to all the other conifers but really nice classic piney citrus vibes. Its delightful.

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Urtica dioica

Stinging Nettle

A terrible irritante when scratched unaware in the woods, yet when dried or cooked, made docile, edible and delicious, loaded with nutrients. Makes a great pesto or tea!

Parts We Use Young leaves and stem, dried

Tasting Notes Lovely aroma of dried seaweed and buttered popcorn. Loaded with barnyard funk yet balances with rose florals. Really has that salty dried seaweed crisp vibe with a bit of asparagus and corn. Very very interesting and honestly fantastic. Oxidizes quickly during extraction so stir frequently.

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Sambucus Racemosa

Red Elder

Oh Elderflower, the darling of the florals. How we love thee. When spring comes, our entire team heads out to our individual 'secret spots' to harvest fresh elderflower for cordials and home liqueurs. We don't tell eachother where our spots are, they're secret. Elderflower is that valuable to us. It's so good we use it in almost all of our Esquimalt products in one fashion or another. A tree-like shrub and lover of wet riparian areas, the stems and uncooked berries can be toxic so pay extra attention to removing the stems if using fresh. During extraction of fresh elderflower the flavours can go a bit musty with oxidation so use the flowers quickly and only steep for 24hrs. If more elder flavour is needed, steep again with more fresh flowers.

Parts We Use Spring Flowers

Tasting Notes Fresh pears, and fruity florals and light tropical notes paired with peaches and just delicate loveliness all around

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Myrica gale

Sweet Gale

Before hops in beer, there was sweet gale, also known as bog-myrtle. Loves to grow in acidic wetlands and bogs across the northern hemisphere. The leaves make a lovely tea and the dried fruits are incredibly aromatic with bold resiny fragrance often used as a spice when ground.

Parts We Use Leaves

Tasting Notes Smells like a cross between bay, marjoram, mint, nutmeg, cardamom and eucalyptus. Equally complex flavour along with rhubarb and more bay leaf and sweet fruit and berry undertones. Good amounts of tannin too!

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Athyrium filix-femina

Lady Fern

The mighty fern, quintessential to the forest floors of coastal British Columbia and Vancouver Island. Picked in the spring during a tight two week window where the new leaves are just emerging from the ground and are tightly wound into fiddleheads. These young shoots are often a seasonal delight cooked and eaten like asparagus or pickled for a quick treat.

Parts We Use Fiddlehead, dried

Tasting Notes Grape gummies and toffee on the ocean with a briny sea breeze. Very neat, A little bit of tannin, but flavour is very much like it smells.

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Polypodium glycyrrhiza

Licorice Fern

Typically found clinging to the sides of moss covered trees and rocky outcrops, the roots of these tiny ferns pack a giant punch! They are gushing with big pungent licorice notes and are incredibly sweet tasting. In fact, Licorice Fern Root contains two sweet compounds called Osladin and Polypodoside A, known to be 500 times sweeter than sucrose!

Parts We Use Root

Tasting Notes Sweet anise and licorice abound!

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Salicornia sp.

Sea Asparagus

A succulent sea vegetable full of crunch and salt. Great sauteed or blanched in many a favorite dish on the West Coast. When dried, they make for a great salty chip or ground into a salty spice for popcorn. One of the few native succulents to Vancouver Island, this tasty treat lives in salt marshes and tidal flats all along the coast.

Parts We Use Stems

Tasting Notes Briny and salty with some very light ocean funk mixed with berries, fruit and green vegetables.

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Rubus parviflorus


It's a toss up between Thimbleberry and Trailing Blackberry for which is our all-time favorite coastal berry...Thimbleberry might just take the cake, but the berries are very fragile and difficult to handle so are often just eaten on the spot while picking. They are just a true delight, kind of like a sweeter raspberry meets fruit roll-up.

Parts We Use Leaves

Tasting Notes The leaves have a surprising amount of berry vibes with a little campfire smoke and green vegetables along with hay and funky bright citrus

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Alnus rubra

Red Alder

Our most dominate hardwood variety in the Pacific Northwest and an ideal wood for smoking. Produces a very light and delicate smoke traditionally used for fish smoking, particularly salmon. We use Red Alder wood in an old-fashioned Smokehouse we built specifically for the Smoked Apéritif Cascadia, a product defined by its use of Sitka Alder, we felt smoking with Red Alder would be a great compliment.

Parts We Use Wood

Tasting Notes Neutral, well balanced delicate smoke that doesn't scream barbeque or peat, but evokes memories of campfires on the beach. It's a smoke flavour you just want to keep coming back to explore.

Fast-growing nitrogen fixing tree, prefers moist areas and is excellent for erosion control and soil rehabilitation.

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