Vinegars have an extensive history dating back to the early days of the ancient Babylonians when it was known as vin aigre, or sour wine. The locals used it as a preservative to extend the life of food and enjoyed it as a beverage, typically mixed with honey and water. Vinegar was also popular in China during the Zhou Dynasty for both culinary and medicinal purposes.

Grocery stores have always carried a basic selection of vinegars for simple uses like making marinades, vinaigrettes, pickling or disinfecting your countertops. The last couple of years we’ve seen the rise of artisanal vinegars that will put your ACV to shame. They come in a variety of shapes and flavours and one local distiller; Paul Poutanen is leading the charge.

With a well-rounded career as world-traveling engineer, early game-app developer, tech-preneur and distiller, Poutanen knows a thing or two about complex solutions.

He started Tippa Distillery making gin and rum then pivoted to hand sanitizers and vinegar when the pandemic hit. Under the brand name Alchemist, Poutanen’s small-batch vinegars are made naturally using birch bark and local honey with no preservatives, artificial colours, flavours or additives. Natural sediment, known as “the mother” and rich in probiotics can occasionally be seen on the bottom of the bottle.

Vinegars brighten up flavours and cut through richness plus, like most fermented food, they have a plethora of health benefits.

This season Alchemist has released some new vinegar flavours and we’re sharing some tasty ways to enjoy them.

Candy Cane is tasty when poured over vanilla ice cream or in cocktails.

Gingerbread gives a whole new meaning to ginger ale when added to sparkling water.

Add Mulled Apple Cider to gin and tonic or use in a salad dressing.

Frankincense and Myrrh: Add a splash to rum and coke or mix into a dressing for your holiday salad.

Maple Black Truffle is a natural source of glutamate and flavour enhancer. Mix a little in to spaghetti sauce or with olive oil and drizzle on steamed or roasted vegetables and scrambled eggs.

Honey Porcini can be mixed into pizza sauce or on an Italian Antipasto salad.

Try Honey Tarragon in a Bearnaise sauce, added to a casserole, as a marinade to tenderize meats or to finish grilled meats or vegetables.

Our mom always added a splash of vinegar to spaghetti sauce and chili.

Purchase Alchemist vinegar’s online and look for them at the markets this winter.