Vancouver has always been a drinker's town. Even before the craft-cocktail movement kicked into high gear, you could easily find a decent tipple. Now, of course, the city boasts many fine bars and has its own satellite Tales of the Cocktail conference, which took place last week. I was at the event and got to check out the local mixological scene again. Here are the establishments I recommend visiting. Cheers!
Whether you want a Belgian beer, a big Bordeaux wine, or a stiff drink, Chambar has it all. It also offers unpretentious fine dining. Barman Jacob Sweetapple, recent winner of the Beefeater 24 Gin and Tea Cocktail Competition in London, creates a warm and welcoming environment for patrons.
What to Drink: The Bitter Saint (rum, La Chouffe Blonde Ale, passion fruit, fernet)
The Diamond is the bartender’s bar. (It helps that it has a variety of classes for pros as well as home mixologists.) Its sharp cocktail list groups drinks under the headings "proper," "delicate," and "notorious," plus punches.
What to Drink: Diamond Cup (Cinzano Orancio Vermouth, Amaro Montenegro, lemon, ginger ale, fruit)
The Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel was the host of Tales of the Cocktail on Tour, and its Lobby Lounge (pictured above) definitely upped its game for the occasion. The extra-special treats, including barrel-aged creations and Perlini-carbonated concoctions, are still available.
What to Drink: Sniper (Mount Gay Rum, apricot, Yellow Chartreuse, house-made pimento dram)
This tavern is run by the Donnelly Group, which operates 13 establishments around Vancouver. The whiskey-heavy menu is long and detailed, and has both classic staples and recipes from acclaimed bartenders like Kirk Estopinal of Cure in New Orleans, and Audrey Saunders of Pegu Club in New York.
What to Drink: Old Pal (Alberta Premium Rye Whisky, dry vermouth, Campari, lemon peel)
You can find culinary star David Hawksworth’s eponymous restaurant in the recently refurbished and legendary Rosewood Hotel Georgia (it counts Elvis Presley, Katharine Hepburn, and Nat "King" Cole as former guests). Bar manager Brad Stanton is in charge of the cocktail list, which features house-made bitters and syrups.
What to Drink: Georgia Flip (whole egg, Madeira, Havana Club Añejo 7 Años Rum, spiced fig syrup, pimento dram)