Whether for business or pleasure, over the years I’ve enjoyed exploring Vancouver’s social and dining scene. What’s my ideal outing, you might ask? Well, since fashion is my passion, my favourite nights out are those that allow me to rock whatever style in my wardrobe is screaming my name! I may want to throw on a sexy, new midi dress in cherry red with leopard print pumps. Other nights I’m feeling a casual chic look in a knit dress, chucks, and leather ball cap. Next up on the must-have list, is somewhere that has a great reputation to draw in a true, diverse Vancity crowd. People-Watching is my guilty pleasure. (You know you all do it too!) Next up, I crave a unique environment! We are so fortunate to have such a plethora of trendy spots here in Vancouver and it can be both a great thing and a terrible thing for indecisive people such as myself.
So in celebration of Vancouver and in support of my fellow indecisive sistas out there, I have put together a list of 5 of my favourite Cocktail spots in Downtown Vancouver. No matter our intention, our night of drinks seems to always turn into a night of nibbles as well! So don’t fret, I have included some of my favourite treats too! Join me as I walk you through 5 top-notch places right here in our beautiful backyard of Vancouver.
#1- Pacific Rim Lobby Lounge
Located in Coal Harbour; a place that exudes class and sophistication. Coal Harbour is right on the waters edge and the calm and relaxing vibe is unexpected. The Fairmont Pacific Rim exudes glamour and the Lobby Lounge doesn’t skip a beat. The chandeliers, stunning artwork, architecture, fireplace, and seating options draw you in. The second you walk in you feel this sense of confidence rush over you as you are surrounded with a crowd of class in an environment that has so effortlessly been so inviting and comfortable. I often come here to start off or end my night, but countless times it remained my all nighter. I am a sucker for live music and it’s very rare you find somewhere that offers that 7 days a week in such an intimate way. There is never a dull conversation with their witty coasters giving you a one-liner to kick off the night with a good laugh. The menu of hand-crafted award winning cocktails is to die for and paired with the Raw Bar sushi selection; be prepared for a toungasm!
+Vancouver Club: Victoria Gin, Lillet, Champagne Reduction, Grand Marnier, BS Orange and Juniper Bittersm (Inspired by the prestige Vancouver Club)
+Geisha: Absolut, Strawberry, Elderflower, Chambord, Lime (This was their opening cocktail 5 years ago and still going strong)
***Get your nibble on with the Sashimi Starter, Edamame, and Salmon Motoyaki Roll
#2- The Keefer Bar
Located historic and richly cultured Chinatown! Being in this busy part of the city you feel like you are somewhere else, and I love it! The Asian inspiration surrounding you is your build up to the soulful and sultry vibe The Keefer Bar exudes. The dark and intimate atmosphere, rich in the color red, automatically sets the tone for a unique experience. It doesn’t take long to get you in the mood for some exotic cocktails and Asian-inspired plates. With the ingredients coming from local Chinatown Markets & Herbalists you feel good about supporting local and intrigued with how these interesting concoctions will taste. This place is not for the conservative or faint-hearted. You need a bit of adventure in your DNA to experience it to the full extent. These apothecary-style cocktails are all hand crafted with ingredients made in house. If you are ready for some fun this is definitely a spot for you!
+WenXu: Finlandia Vodka, Grapefruit, Lemon, Ginger, Red Ginseng Tincture
+Northern Exposure: Collingwood Whisky, Pineapple, YunZhi Maple Syrup, Lemon, Lapsung Tea Tincture
***Cure the tummy growls with some Tacos (Smoked Pork, Peking Duck, Miso Shitake) and Marinated Olives
#3- The Diamond
This second story hidden gem overlooks the trendy and historic Gastown and once you walk the stairs, you immediately feel the desire to get cozy and nestle right into all this hot spot has to offer. Something about this space exudes comfort with class. The crowd is a trendy and artsy ‘over 30’ who seem to have a real genuine flare for socializing and enjoying every minute of it. Being Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood makes it effortlessly charming and the cobblestone roads make it ideal to explore on foot. Gastown has become a destination for the stylish combining old and new in such a unique way. On your walk to the Diamond, enjoy the scenery of cute little boutiques, art galleries, studios featuring many talents, and Victorian Architecture at every corner. I would be lying if the vintage lampposts didn’t give me the urge to swing and sing as if I was in a musical and nobody was watching. The Diamond is the perfect spot to complete your Gastown experience – Vinyl Mixes set the tone for our ears, while the talented bartenders take on our tastebuds!
+Anchorage: Sparkling Wine, Vanilla Salt, Pear, Ginger, Light Rum
+Victoria: XO Barbados Rum, Earl Grey Tea, Italian Vermouth, House Cherry Brandy, Pastis
***Tickle your tounges fancy with some Garlic Octopus and a Charcuterie & Cheese spread
Another beauty that Gastown has to offer! Located in a 19th Century refurbished building, it offers a unique and authentic atmosphere. The open concept kitchen and large wooden tables lining the long and narrow front cocktail lounge and dining area makes for an inclusive and social vibe. You feel like you are right in the mix of everything! The menu is carefully thought out and seasonally appropriate, leaving you intrigued to try it all. They tap into the local market by supporting farms in our community, ensuring each and every ingredient completes their simple yet delicious dishes and cocktails. It is definitely a place for the adventurous, as nothing here is ordinary, and that is what my complex palette loves! If you are planning an event, they offer a perfect space for private parties – sure to give you the best of all worlds. Let’s just say my mouth is watering writing this while thinking about some of my favourites this place has to offer!
+Horseradish Sour: London Dry Gin, Lemon, Horseradish, Honey, Egg White, Black Pepper
+Bourbon Decay: Bourbon, Cold Brew Coffee, Amaro, Honey, Black Walnut Bitters
***Tantalize your taste buds with a Beet Terrine and the Pork Belly & Scallops
#5- The Flying Pig
Although they have 3 locations in the Lower Mainland, my go-to spot is always the Yaletown location. First of all, how about that name? Pigs flying? Really? And no their menu isn’t a pork overload either. It’s just a catchy name that makes for a great start to an always, delightful experience. The open concept kitchen and cozy atmosphere makes you feel like you are part of the family. I love how their menu is short and sweet, yet every item is perfected to make it unforgettable. They carefully select ingredients to add a twist to the traditional, and boy do they ever do it well! The brick and wood décor mixed with neutrals and dim lighting make it very inviting. So inviting, it’s hard to leave! The team here does a great job a making you feel a part of the action and like you are just hanging out with the flying pig famjam for the night! If pigs could fly, they’d land here every time!
+TFP Bacon Bourbon Caesar: Bacon Bourbon, Worcestershire Sauce, Olive Brine, Sriracha Chili Sauce, and Clamato Juice.
+Black Walnut Old Fashioned: Crown Royal, Maple Sugar, Maple Bitters, Orange Peel and Candied Walnut to Garnish
***Fly with the pigs at the taste of their Crispy Brussel Sprouts and Lobter & Prawn Risotto
These 5 places have got me saying…I Like Your Style! I hope this has given some inspiration for how to spend your next night out. Cheers to destinations such as these that leave a lasting impression each and every time. And may all your evenings be filled with happiness and laughter as you indulge on what we are so blessed to have available to us! I’m ready for a drink…care to join me?!?!
Jody Belanger is the co-founder and creator of I Like Her Style Vancouver. For more information, read here.