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Top five bars in… Vancouver, Canada

It may have spectacular scenery but the glory of Vancouver’s nature is more than matched by its supreme bar scene. James Lawrence reports.

*This feature was originally published in the July 2018 issue of The Spirits Business

For visitors to Vancouver, it is the city’s breathtaking scenery that strikes them first. To the north are snow-covered mountains, perfect for winter sports, while the city itself is studded with sandy beaches, forest trails and the celebrated green oasis of Stanley Park.

But barflies should fear not, for the city is equally renowned for its cultural pursuits, catering to both the needs of the sybarite and the outdoor enthusiast. Please don’t break it to Toronto or Montreal but Vancouver is the real nightlife capital of Canada. From sophisticated cocktail lounges to dive bars and hipster haunts, Vancouver’s drinking scene is incredibly diverse.

Moreover, the city is largely considered very safe and traversing its downtown area is much less daunting than in many other North American cities.

However, downtown is just the start – walk or hop onto public transport and within minutes you’ll be hanging with the locals in one of the city’s many distinctive neighbourhoods, each with something unique to offer. Granville Street is the number­-one destination for clubs – the area between Nelson Street and Robson Street is jam-packed with lively venues, making it easy to hop from one place to another. Yaletown, in contrast, attracts a more sophisticated clientele, while iconic districts Gastown and Main Street are hipster­-centric, offering a more casual and relaxed vibe that will appeal to those put off by Granville Street’s ‘meat market’ ambience.

In addition to its bars, Vancouver has a booming craft beer and spirits scene that is sure to capture the interest of any true drinks fan. There may be no such thing as a perfect city, but for cocktail lovers Vancouver comes pretty close.

Click through the following pages to see our top five bars in Vancouver, Canada. 


120 W Hastings St

This Gastown haunt is located in a 19th-­century heritage building and is famous for its unique Old Fashioned menu, featuring nine variations of the classic drink.

To quote the owner: “World-class spirits shine in four of the Old Fashioned variants that stick close to tradition, while five Refashioned updates add fresh twists.”

Guilt & Co

1 Alexander Street

The lighting is soft, the cocktails are first rate and the staff members are utterly charming. What’s not to love about Guilt & Co? Situated in a dark, intimate basement, this bar is arguably Vancouver’s best small live music venue.

Whisky lovers should try the Holy Smoke cocktail, featuring Bulleit Bourbon, Laphroaig Scotch and black tea.

The Diamond

6 Powell Street

Despite the unsubtle moniker, The Diamond is one of Vancouver’s most sophisticated cocktail bars. A glittering chandelier hangs ostentatiously in the centre of the room, while drinks are served in crystal glasses, because… why not?

This is Gastown’s liveliest den of superlative mixology.

Alibi Room

157 Alexander Street

A craft beer aficionado’s paradise, Alibi Room has been serving fantastic brews from its Gastown location since 2006.

The constantly rotating taps are the real draw for beer lovers, as are the excellent bars snacks.

Uva Wine & Cocktail Bar

900 Seymour St

Located in the chic Moda Hotel in the heart of downtown Vancouver, Uva Wine & Cocktail Bar offers an elegant gathering spot for wine and spirit connoisseurs seeking a sanctuary that tempts both eye and palate.

Pairing Italian­-inspired cuisine, delicious charcuterie and artisanal cheese with an eclectic menu of cocktails, refined wines and imported and local craft beers, Uva is a relaxed-­yet-cosmopolitan destination for discerning barflies.

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