This Cole Benoit, from Vancouver, owner and head bitter maker of Apothecary bitters.
Cole is 37 years old and is originally from Kamloops. He lived there up until he was eleven years old, then moved to Vancouver for four years, moved to Edmonton for seven years and then came back to Vancouver some fifteen years ago. While doing Apothecary, Cole also does online cocktail and vermouth seminars through Airbnb, he consults with Long Table Distillery and he has a less than one-year-old baby at home. Yep, pretty busy guy.
Cole got into hospitality through food. He got into cooking when he was about eight or nine years old and worked in restaurants through high school. At that time, he used to live North of Edmonton on a 28-acre property. His dad has a degree in agriculture, so they had 2 acres of gardens and a greenhouse where they used to grow their own food. So teenager Cole was a skateboarder and a punk foraging for greens for dinner.
Eventually, Cole got into craft beer, which didn’t really exist at the time in Canada. He fell in
love with brewing, with a specific interest in the botanical aspect of it. This led him to start making spirits and infusions, which in turn led him to start making bitters. To put things in perspective, this was in 2004 and at that time, there was pretty much no artisanal bitters on the market, nor much information around on how to make them. Cole was basically experimenting with the stuff that he wanted to taste. He started selling his bitters to a few key people in Vancouver, and it kind of took off from there. After some time, he started working with Long Table Distillery. He still does about half of their cocktail menu and has done a lot of different products with them, such as BC’s first amaro, an absinthe with botanicals that he mostly grew, a dry curaçao that’s more dry and old school, and much more.
Overall, what we got from meeting with Cole is that he does what he does because he’s very passionate about it and loves teaching it. He’s still very much guided by passion and creativity, and makes sure to keep experimenting with new botanicals to be playful and keep loving what he does. If you haven’t had a chance to taste one of his bitters, we highly recommend you go get some. They are available across Canada and are frankly delicious.