Almost every restaurant will happily serve up drinks—alcoholic or booze-free—regardless of whether there’s a food order. But there are times when something extra special is necessary when it comes to what’s in the glass and the atmosphere. Raise a glass to these dozen Vancouver spots that all offer something standout in the drinks department, from the city’s most innovative cocktails to more casual haunts for game day.
Botanist (Coal Harbour)
Nested inside the Fairmont Pacific Rim, Botanist honors the bounty found in British Columbia and off its coast. Organic and biodynamic wines are always available, as are cocktails—traditional, specialty, and those designed for brunch. When Botanist first opened in 2017, sampling the chemistry-inspired drinks concocted in its glass-fronted cocktail lab quickly became a sought-after way to spend a Vancouver evening. Botanist’s head bartender and mixologist, Jeff Savage, also offers a multi-course cocktail tasting menu experience. Savage leads the table through six courses of cocktails describing each drink’s inspiration and tasting notes.
The Victor – Parq Vancouver (Stadium District)
Imbibe in style at The Victor, with its opulent interiors: the green leather banquettes and velvet chairs take cues from London’s chamber of the House of Commons. Combined with views of the downtown skyline, False Creek, and Parq Vancouver’s 30,000-square-foot rooftop park, the atmosphere here is decidedly regal. The Victor boasts one of Vancouver’s best wine cellars, plus a killer local craft beers and signature cocktail selection. Try a modern twist on a tropical classic this summer—the Tiki Kahiki, made with three rums, spicy falernum, lime, pineapple, and bitters. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, sip to live music; Tuesdays also feature pairings of sparkling wine and Champagne with caviar from the Sunshine Coast.
Grapes & Soda (Fairview)
There are just 25 seats at this tiny tapas spot. Choose from organic and biodynamic wines by the glass and bottle, sake, and whiskies from Canada and abroad, plus imaginative cocktails. For nibbling, there are sharing plates, charcuterie, small-farm cheeses, and sweets. Much like its sibling restaurant, Farmer’s Apprentice next door, Grapes & Soda prioritizes fresh and local ingredients wherever possible.
Torafuku is Vancouver’s go-to spot for pan-Asian plates with an innovative bar program to match. Owner Steve Kuan designed the cocktail menu and it shines the spotlight on Asian ingredients such as sake and chrysanthemum. Have a seat at Torafuku’s concrete bar with peekaboo views into the kitchen and sip on riffs of classics and house-curated signature cocktails—try the Torafuku Sour with oolong-infused rye, lemon, elderflower syrup, and yuzu juice.
Frankie’s Jazz Club (Stadium District)
Considered Vancouver’s live jazz and blues headquarters, Frankie’s hosts local, national, and international musicians on its Beatty Street stage. For younger music fans, Frankie’s welcomes minors until 10 pm (as long as an adult accompanies them). In addition to house-made pastas and hearty entrees from Frankie’s Italian Kitchen & Bar next door, choose from a decent wine list, beers, ciders, and classic cocktails, plus a selection of Italian aperitifs and martinis. Doors open at 6:30 pm; performances begin at 8 pm from Thursdays through Sundays.
Wolf & Hound (Kitsilano)
Named to honour Belfast-turned-Vancouver musician Danny Burns, who died shortly before the pub opened in 2002, the Wolf & Hound is the quintessential Irish pub. The vibe is spirited with live music. Every day of the week, sip on properly poured Irish cider made from 17 apple varieties, along with local beers. Pair your drinks with traditional pub grub, such as Irish potato soup with soda bread.
Fable Diner & Bar (Yaletown)
Though this Fable outpost focuses more on the bar than its two sibling restaurants, the comfort food certainly delivers. The wooden bar here, one of the oldest in Vancouver, moved from Gastown to Fable’s newest Yaletown digs. Many of the cocktails, including the Fabled Virgin mocktails, feature the bar’s house-made ginger, root beer, and juices squeezed in-house. Count on game day specials and local drafts.
The Diamond (Gastown)
Perched on the second floor of a century-old brick building in Gastown, this neighbourhood cocktail parlour divides its menu into boozy, refreshing, and delicate categories—and also notes what year the cocktail was first served. The Brooklyn, crafted with rye and dry vermouth, is a boozy classic from 1908. Most offerings were invented in house, such as 2022’s refreshing Red Sky At Night made from vodka, amaro (made with 40 botanicals), plus raspberry, lemon, and balsamic. A wide selection of old fashioneds, beers, wines, plus non-alcoholic beverages are also on offer. Note that The Diamond does not have a phone, so use OpenTable to make reservations.
Reflections – Rosewood Hotel Georgia (Downtown)
This exquisite courtyard patio is hidden from the street on the fourth floor of the Rosewood Hotel Georgia—only those in the know realize the elevator off the hotel lobby gives access to its splendour. Summer 2022 brings a new cocktail menu with names and flavours evoking Vancouver’s warm season, such as the Secret Garden Fizz with rye, Italian liqueur, grapefruit, lemon juice, and a rosemary and rhubarb syrup. Reflections’s top-notch bartenders also prepare sparkling cocktails and reimagined classics. Wines are available, too—some by the glass—including the very best Champagnes.
The Stock Room (Yaletown)
This new speakeasy, with tropical island vibes, opened in March 2022. Find it in a brick-walled hallway through a door marked “private” behind Hundy, the new burger bar on Homer Street. Craft beers, wines (including sparkling, rosé, and even an orange), and classic cocktails are on the menu, but the Stock Room’s focus is fruity cocktails. The cocktail menu, from Canadian Professional Bartenders Association president Trevor Kallies, features creations such as the peachy-lemony Dangerous Liaison made with gin and butterfly pea blossom. International bar snacks, such as Thai potato chips, are sourced from Lucky’s Exotic Bodega; burgers, chicken sandwiches, and fries come from the burger joint next door.
The Chickadee Room (Chinatown)
This laidback, 1980s-themed bar is managed by Sabrine Dhaliwal, who holds the current title as Georgia Straight’s Golden Plates Best Bartender. She and her top-notch team mix up classic cocktails and new inventions, plus host a Cocktails for a Cause program featuring three new cocktails monthly; a dollar from each purchase goes to worthy causes, such as the Red Cross Canada’s Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal. Order the Dealer’s Choice—specify a spirit and a style—and Chickadee’s bartenders will concoct something bespoke.
Mahony’s Tavern (False Creek and Convention Center)
Both locations of this West Coast pub have heated and covered patios with water views; patio reservations are available until 5 pm weekdays and are otherwise on a first come, first served basis. Both also have live music on Friday and Saturday evenings; select sports events are aired with the sound up. Enjoy happy hour specials, rotating local beers on tap, ciders, wines by the glass and bottle, and classic cocktails including the Mahony’s version of the Caesar—with Montreal steak spice and horseradish added to its vodka and clamato, plus edible garnishes.
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