The Best Bars in Vancouver
Vancouver’s cocktail bar scene is top notch, featuring award-winning bartenders, excellent hospitality, and some truly innovative cocktail lists. If you want to go really local, ask your bartender to use a BC-made spirit in your drink. The area’s microdistilleries are producing some of the world’s best liquors. Of course, the wine and craft beer scene offers plenty of delights too. Oh, there are plenty of happy hour spots worth popping into too if you’ve got food and drink on your mind. Stay an extra week. You’re going to need the time.
350 Carrall St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2J3, Canada
Pidgin may be known for their deceptively simple East-meets-West Asian-inspired menu with a decidedly French edge, but their cocktails are all kinds of fantastic too, and in a casual but cool spot like this, it’s most fun to combine the two. Try their addictive chicken wings finished with a gochujang-based BBQ sauce with a bourbon-based Van Horne, and the plate-lickingly wonderful smoked taramasalata with an onsen egg with their much-loved carbonated sake and gin-based Mary Ellen Smith. For dessert? Try the beautiful watermelon-infused tequila One Eye Samurai as it comes served with a spoon of silky granita.
1120 Hamilton St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2S2, Canada
New to Yaletown, I adore this hidden speakeasy of a bar that has no sign and is tucked away down two flights of stairs on Hamilton Street in the corridor next to the barbers. Once you’ve managed to track it down, you’re in for a treat, there’s an open mic night on Tuesday, Rebel Bingo on Wednesday, and the London Calling cabaret perform twice a month on Thursdays. If you’re boozing on a budget there are daily drinks deals from Tuesday till Friday, but if money is no object, maybe try their bottle service or ‘Champagne Parade’. I recommend their Gincident, a herbaceous-citrus cocktail with gin, chartreuse and basil.
6 Powell St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1E9, Canada
A clandestine spot to imbibe in Gastown, the Diamond is the speakeasy when you’re in Vancouver. Bar none, one of the best bars I have been to on recommendation from Nathan at Judas Goat. They will make you anything here, like a tasty pisco sour. Plus, they give you these really cute glasses with flowers on them. We didn’t try the menu, but if it’s anything like the drinks, I’ll be returning for a meal.
217 Carrall St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2J2, Canada
You’ll find people queuing outside the doors in Gastown throughout the week to take advantage of L’Abattoir’s excellent bar-only Happy Hour from 5.30-6.30pm which offers half-priced appetizers from their award-winning menu, daily red and white wines for $6, beer for $5, and cocktail specials for $7. Away from the Happy Hour the bar program at L’Abattoir is one of the best in the city with an exceptional bar team shaking (and stirring) up classics and their own creations. My tip? Start the night with a light, bright Gastown Swizzle and end it with a deliciously boozy Donald Draper.
801 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6C 1P7, Canada
Possibly one of the finest cocktail bars in North America, everything about the Hawksworth Bar experience dazzles: from the Damien Hirst artwork on the walls to the soft cream leather couches, and the exceptional hospitality and wonderful quality of the drinks. No, it’s not an inexpensive experience, but it’s one worth having if you’re a fan of excellent cocktails created with love. I adore their Hotel Georgia, a beautifully frothy kiss of gin, orgeat and orange blossom water.
900 Seymour St, Vancouver, BC V6B 3L9, Canada
There are plenty of things to love about Uva, but one of my favourite things is its daily happy hour which lasts from 2-6pm, offering buck a shuck oysters, delicious bruschetta (my favourites are the ricotta, and the devilled egg), and excellent prices on well-crafted cocktails, beer and wine. Must-trys on the regular cocktail menu include the herbaceous Chartreuse Milkshake, and the superby smoky spirit-forward Peater Rabbit. Live music at the weekends and a buzzing late night scene make this idea for fun in the evenings, but it’s a fantastic place to chill with a book or your laptop during the day when it’s quieter.
1154 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6E 1B2, Canada
There’s no better place than Vancouver to try a Vancouver cocktail, it’s the perfect pre-dinner sharpener, although it works rather well as an after-dinner treat too. It’s said to have been created at the Sylvia Hotel down on English Bay in the 1950s and its fans included Errol Flynn. It’s a riff on the Martinez, made of gin, Benedictine, sweet Vermouth and orange bitters. Although the Sylvia is, of course, the most authentic place to try it, I have to recommend you make for the all-weather patio at Cin Cin to sip bartender David Wolowidnyk’s version which is smooth, delicious, and really far too good to just have one...