Readers Choice
- Page 12
Readers' Choice Award Winner: Vessel Liquor Store

Winner: Liquor Store


A passion for drink culture


Since they opened their doors in December 2015, Vessel has welcomed and served a diverse and eclectic clientele. In addition to stocking the core products that their local neighbours rely upon, Vessel’s tight team offers a complete selection of quality products from around the corner and around the globe. They strive to provide outstanding service and value to each customer — from enthusiast to expert.


Managing partner and founder Ross Borland says, “We opened the store to fill a niche in Victoria. We couldn’t find a place where people passionate about drink culture could collaborate, learn and purchase interesting things at fair prices.”


Always evolving, Vessel has made a couple of key changes this year. All canned craft beer is now available as singles. Beer Program Manager Paul Smith says, “the essence of craft beer is experimentation, and our craft beer program allows customers to mix and match different producers and different styles without having to purchase a four- or six-pack”. Vessel has added hard goods to their line-up. They have everything for the home bartender to get set up, with all the gear to make their favourite cocktails at home. This includes shakers, glassware, ice cube trays, bitters and syrups.


What hasn’t changed this year — all members of Vessel’s staff have achieved a minimum of Level Two in the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (provided by Vessel), and the company funds ongoing beverage education for staff.


“We hire only people that share our passion, unpretentiously, for wine, beer, spirits and cider,” Borland says. The arrangement is aided by The Cru’s Nest, the classroom above the store. Sharon McLean, Vessel’s education director and one of Canada’s leading wine educators, oversees a busy schedule of classes in the space. There are classes aimed at everyone, from beginner to professional masterclasses, and from local beer to cocktails to wine.


“The updated calendar is published on our website and Facebook page, and we have many folks purchasing gift certificates for classes,” notes Borland. “It’s a rewarding feeling, helping grow beverage culture in this city and seeing the enthusiastic response.”