3 daring cocktails inspired by Vancouver's rum-running past

Dec 19 2017, 10:33 pm

Vancouver’s rich history never ceases to inspire me in my quest for unique cocktail creations, and for this week’s post, I drew inspiration from the city’s role as a rum-running hub during the United States’ prohibition era (from 1920 to 1933). In an effort to lend a hand to our thirsty neighbours to the south, three Canadian vessels delivered contraband alcohol up and down the Western Seaboard, forming part of the infamous “Rum Row” of the Pacific coast.

The Chief Skugaid, which is still afloat today and remains moored in New Westminster, B.C., was the most successful rum-running vessel in the country. Commissioned in 1912 and built in Coal Harbour, the Chief Skugaid was originally designated as a fishing boat, but sailed for 11 years as rum-running vessel without ever getting caught. While the Chief Skugaid is the longest serving ship in Canadian history, its future is uncertain as development in the area currently threatens its place of rest.

Alongside the infamous Chief, two other bootleg-bound ships from Canada were associated with the Rum Row — a five-masted schooner called the Malahat, and a British-built freighter known as the Lillehorn. These three ships eluded US authorities from the Panama Canal right up to Vancouver, and the stories of their spirited journeys serve as my muse for the three rum-based — and needless to say, fully legal — cocktail recipes featured below.

1. The Chief Skugaid

Photo Courtesy Tealeaves

Photo Courtesy Tealeaves


  • 2 oz. Diplimatico Reserve Rum
  • 1 barspoon Pure Infused Lavender & Chai Maple Syrup
  • 3 dashes Tealeaves BC Forestea Rum Tincture*
  • Orange Peel

*Tealeaves BC Forestea Rum Tincture

  • 4 tbsp Tealeaves BC Forestea Blend
  • 8 oz. 151 Proof Rum

Combine all ingredients in a Mason jar. Let soak for 24 hours, strain tea from rum and bottle tincture.


  • Add all liquid ingredients to a mixing glass and stir for 20 seconds.
  • Pour ingredients over fresh ice into an old fashioned glass.
  • Garnish with an orange peel.

2. The Malahat

Image courtesy Tealeaves

Photo Courtesy Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar


  • 1.5 oz. Havana Club 3 yo Rum
  • 0.5 oz. Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur
  • 0.25 oz. Okanagan Spirits Cherry Liqueur
  • 1.0 oz. Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 0.25 oz. Orgeat Syrup


  • Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, and shake thoroughly.
  • Strain over crushed ice.
  • Garnish with a lemon peel.

3. The Lillehorn

Photo courtesy Tealeaves

Photo Courtesy Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar (Credit: KK Law)


  • 0.5 oz. Angostura 7 yo Rum
  • 0.5 oz Amaro Nonino
  • 0.5 oz. Aperol
  • 0.5 oz. Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 3 oz. Cava


  • Combine all ingredients (except Cava) in a cocktail shaker, and shake thoroughly.
  • Double strain to a pre-chilled cocktail glass.
  • Top with Cava.
  • Garnish with a mint sprig.
DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

+ News