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Cheers to this mocktail maestro and other winners at the North Van Chamber awards

Business has boomed for Christos Kalaitzis’s premium alcohol-free cocktail brand over the past year 🍸
Business Excellence Awards inners celebrating at The Polygon on Wednesday evening. | North Vancouver Chamber

As of August 2021, Opus had yet to sell a single case of its ready-to-drink cocktails. Now, the drinks are selling at 1,002 locations across Canada, shipping out 2,000-3,000 cases per month, says founder Christos Kalaitzis.

On Wednesday at The Polygon Gallery, Kalaitzis was recognized as Young Entrepreneur of the year at North Vancouver Chamber’s 2022 Business Excellence Awards. This year’s awards had a “meet the opportunity” theme that acknowledged the challenges posed by a pandemic-affected economy.

Previously, the award-winning mixologist was involved in beverage development for larger brands, while working a full-time bartending job. There, Kalaitzis said people were asking him for alcohol-free cocktails every night – they were either pregnant, on a diet, driving or didn’t feel like alcohol, but still wanted a fancy drink.

Then, COVID hit and he lost his full-time job. That’s when North Vancouver-based Kalaitzis, 32, worked on launching Opus, his sugar-free, premium mocktail business.

He said he’s thankful for the recognition from the chamber.

“Winning something like this makes me think that there is somebody out there watching what are we doing, and at the same time supporting us,” Kalaitzis said. “That makes me think that we did something right, and we should continue doing what we’re doing and even go harder.”

Here are the rest of this year’s winners:

Business of the Year – Deep Cove Kayak Centre and Coast Outdoors

Service Excellence Award – Ellison Travel and Tours

Sustainability Award – LifeSpace Gardens

Innovation Award – DarkVision Technologies

Excellence in Equity Award - Ava Music and Arts Centre Ltd.

Best Employer Award – Sunrise Lynn Valley