The Story Behind Two Rivers Distillery in Calgary

The founders use only ingredients that can be sourced locally, combined with waters from the glacier-fed Bow and Elbow Rivers, to produce spirits they deem “distinctly Albertan.”

The Distillers

Two Rivers founders Patrick Roy and Mark Freeland. Photograph By Jared Sych.

With an eye toward producing premium spirits with local ingredients and minimal environmental impact, Two Rivers’ Mark Freeland and Patrick Roy take on complementary roles: Freeland covers the production side of things and Roy oversees the tasting room.


The Place

Two Rivers’ distillery and tasting room has an atmosphere meant to bring to mind 20th-century colonial Britain. Freeland holds a degree in history and archaeology and has significant ancestral ties to the battle of Vimy Ridge, all of which inspired the look and decor of the tasting room.


The Philosophy

Calgary began where two rivers meet and so has Two Rivers distillery. Inspired by their settler ancestors, Freeland and Roy use only ingredients that can be sourced locally, combined with waters from the glacier-fed Bow and Elbow Rivers, to produce spirits they deem “distinctly Albertan.” Two Rivers strives to minimize its environmental impact, reusing water and sourcing as many ingredients as possible within a 100-kilometre radius of the distillery. They also give their spent grain to local ranchers to supplement their livestock feed.


The Spirits

Photograph by Jared Sych.

The Two Rivers 1875 Vodka (made with two-row barley and named for the year Calgary was founded) is triple distilled, but the distillery’s signature product is the Cockscomb gin, made with its vodka plus 12 botanicals. This year, Two Rivers will also start offering limited-edition seasonal varieties.


The Love:

“I’m quite excited to have Two Rivers’ gins and vodkas on our list. My favourite so far is their coffee vodka; it makes the perfect chocolate martini!” —Mel Bain, general manager, Original Joe’s, Quarry Park

453 42 Ave. S.E., 403-803-1319,


Recipe: Two Rivers’ Hibiscus and Bubbles

Hibiscus and Bubbles cocktail made with Two Rivers hibiscus-infused Cockscomb gin. Photograph By Jared Sych

1.5 oz. hibiscus-infused Cockscomb Gin
Juice of a quarter lemon
Splash of rose water
0.5 oz. Champagne (or other sparkling white wine)

In a shaker 3/4 full with ice, add the first three ingredients and shake for 20 seconds. Add to a chilled martini glass and top with chilled prosecco and five fresh blueberries.

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This article appears in the May 2020 issue of Avenue Calgary.

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