Kelowna is eastern B.C.’s playground. It’s about 90 miles north the border crossing located on the shores of the beautiful lake Okanagan. The weather is spectacular in the summer, hot and dry and sunny with cold winters. Perfect from growing grapes. As a matter of fact 84% of the vineyards in B.C. are located in this region with over 100 wineries within a short drive. Of course I was there sipping on spirits, but Kelowna truly has something for everyone.
The Forbidden Spirits distillery makes award winning vodkas from heritage B.C. apples. It’s about a 15 minute drive outside of town but worth the educational trip and the beautiful orchard views.
You may need some time here to taste through their incredible selection of liqueurs and spirits. Okanagan Spirits has a tasting room downtown which makes it very convenient. The make an award winning Aquavit that has a nice Canadian twist on a Scandinavian favorite. Known for their locally inspired liqueurs like sea buckthorn and haskap, you can really taste the whole province without ever leaving town. Their whiskies are popular and a bit scarce. Most bottles are sold through an annual release lottery. But you can still sometimes taste them in the tasting room.
One of my favorite places is actually not in Kelowna. It’s in the wine growing area known as the Naramata Bench. It’s about an hour’s drive south of Kelowna high up on mountainside above the lake. Legend makes whisky, amaro and gin. They also have this gorgeous outdoor patio where you can sip a cocktail or spirit and enjoy a light bite while you gaze at the lake. A perfect stop for lunch. The Black Moon Gin was a favorite of mine. Featuring juniper, citrus, indigenous wild sage and flame torched local rosemary. It had me at smoky, makes an incredible gin + tonic especially with a house made tonic syrup. I also loved trying their locally inspired Naramaro bitter amaro bursting with fresh flavors and a touch of bitterness. And the can’t-keep-it-in-stock Manitou orange liqueur with miles of orange flavor and a finish of tart sumac berries, wild foraged in Naramata. It’s truly a taste of B.C. all in one spot.
Now on to the places to get a great cocktail!!
This is one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. A killer brewery, great cocktails, delicious food, an old school bowling alley and pop up travel trailer bar are only a few of the fun things inside. There is quite literally something for everyone in this place. it’s a gigantic two story historic building different zones dedicated to each activity. The decor is eclectic with a trading post meets bar vibe downstairs and an old fashioned carnival feeling upstairs. A visit to BNA is worth your time.
Micro is a great bar and bites kinda place. Where both the cocktails and the bites are elevated. Housemade syrups, sauces and flavors with warm industrial decor makes it a great place to hang out with friends.
Raudz is the big sister of Micro. Go here if you are looking for a hearty dinner the focuses on locally raised food. It’s true B.C. farm to table including an incredible wine list. Cocktails are still solid to compliment the meal. If you love the food you can also pick up Chef Rod Butters cookbook.