Maple Liqueur is great on pancakes, drizzled over grilled pineapple, or added to tea after a day of skiing. Pick up a bottle at Maple Leaf Distillery in Penticton.

Maple Liqueur is great on pancakes, drizzled over grilled pineapple, or added to tea after a day of skiing. Pick up a bottle at Maple Leaf Distillery in Penticton.

Recipes to get you into the SPIRIT of the season

This family distills Okanagan’s harvest into winter comforts like cocktails and desserts

The days are getting shorter, we’ve already had our first snowflakes, and Anette Engel has winter comforts on her mind.

“All summer long I’ve been telling visitors about Hunter’s Tea — a perfect cabin treat after a day of skiing or playing in the snow — but in 35 degree heat it wasn’t the right time! Now that the weather’s cooler there are lots of winter cocktails and desserts to enjoy with liqueur or spirits.”

Engel, her husband Jorg and their children have run Maple Leaf Spirits in Penticton since 2005. The distillery rescues end-of-season Okanagan fruits and grapes and turns them into award-winning liqueurs and spirits.

“We emigrated from Germany in 2001. We were so excited to be in Canada, the country we’d been dreaming of, and excited to start a business in the European tradition,” Engel says. “One of Jorg’s first recipes was a maple liqueur, and it’s been our most popular ever since.”

Tastings until Dec. 20, by appointment

This year Maple Leaf Spirits is offering private tastings until Dec. 20 to give locals and British Colombians visiting the Okanagan a fun outing in the Valley. Call ahead to book a tasting (even if you call 30 minutes ahead) or book online, and dress warmly to enjoy a great view while you chat with Engel.

“We have an indoor tasting room if the weather’s unpleasant, but we try to do tastings outside as much as we can,” she says.

Try the Wild Apple Brandy, one of the latest creations from Maple Leaf Spirits, or the traditional European-style Kirsch, made from cherries and used in German dishes like Black Forest Cake and cheese fondue. Engel will customize the tasting to your preferences, and offer recipe ideas for spectacular, easy-to-make cocktails and desserts.

“The beautiful, bold flavour of our Cherry Liqueur mixed with Prosecco is an easy holiday cocktail. Or soak your favourite berries in our wine brandy Lady of the Cask and put them on top of cheesecake. Our Maple Liqueur is so versatile — in winter I like to put it in my tea when I come back from the ski hill.”

The distillery is open Tuesday to Sunday, and sells hand sanitizer made from local wine and fruit, in addition to liqueurs and spirits. Call 250-493-0180 to arrange a tasting, or visit mapleleafspirits.ca to book and shop the online store.

Hunter’s Tea for Two:

  • 1/2 litre black tea
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • a few cloves
  • 30 mL (1 oz) Lady of the Cask wine brandy
  • 15 mL Kirsch cherry spirit
  • brown sugar to taste

Prepare black tea. Add cinnamon stick, cloves, brandy and cherry spirit. Sweeten with brown sugar to your taste.

“It’s best served immediately, before the cloves and cinnamon become too overpowering,” Engel says. When she serves Hunter’s Tea at Apex Ski Resort’s Ladies Day and Hoodoo Adventures snowshoe events, she brings hot water in a thermos and adds all ingredients when everyone is ready for an afternoon treat.

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Anette and Jorg Engel, owners of Maple Leaf Spirits, enjoy a drink on the tasting patio. Tastings are open until Dec. 20 by appointment.

Anette and Jorg Engel, owners of Maple Leaf Spirits, enjoy a drink on the tasting patio. Tastings are open until Dec. 20 by appointment.

Dress warmly for your Maple Leaf Spirits tasting so you can enjoy the spectacular view.

Dress warmly for your Maple Leaf Spirits tasting so you can enjoy the spectacular view.