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Sunday morning brews, Monday karaoke, Friday ping pong rallies and everything in between.
There are a million places to wet that whistle, catch-up over a pint or dance the night away—but only seven night a week to do it. So allow us to help narrow the field with recommendations for Manic Mondays, TGIF and beyond.The Boxcar
There’s no better place to raise a toast to the start of the week than the Boxcar. The narrow wood-panelled room features 24 rotating craft beer taps alongside cocktails, but more importantly, the laid-back staff is totally cool if you bring in a pizza from Pizzeria Farina next door. (The carbonara pie pairs beautifully with a Berliner Weisse—just sayin’.)
The Boxcar’s other neighbour is big-sister venue the Cobalt, which offers up some rowdier Monday-night fun in a delightfully dive-y 100-plus-year-old space. Mondays mean no-cover karaoke on the low-slung stage, and the event is an industry fave for chefs and servers from the city’s hottest restaurants. So grab a $4 PBR, belt out some George Michael (RIP) and canoodle with a cutie who might just be able to snag you a reso at Savio.
Upstairs at Campagnolo
A secret bar is a good bar. Head through the unmarked green door and up the staircase to Upstairs at Campagnolo, where the mustachioed bartenders pour stiff drinks that play on the classics—the French 125 pairs cognac with cava—and the music is turned low to accommodate actual conversation.
Peach Cobblah bills herself as “the Baddest Bitch of East Van,” but it’s 1181 in the West End that’s been home to her weird and wild weekly storytelling-meets-drag show Shame Spiral for three years and counting. Buff bartenders serve up cocktails through the lip-sync roulette and into the wee hours.
Some may write off the impossible-to-pronounce Clough Club for its Donnelly Group pedigree, but the Craig Stanghetta–designed room is unlike the rest of its pub brethren. Enter the moody, artfully shabby tavern and sip any of the inventive (and highly boozy) cocktails on the menu—though on Wednesdays, it may be best to stick with the weekly agave special: select top-shelf tequilas and mezcals are just $5 or $10.
Think of the Imperial as the spiritual successor to Richards on Richards: a music venue big enough to attract solid acts (Jon and Roy, Thurston Moore) but small enough to maintain an intimate vibe. The current design takes cues from the building’s history as a Chinese-language theatre, featuring koi aquarium and chinoiserie; terracotta warriors stand guard at the two well-stocked bars.
Skip the patio Thursdays, and find your spot inside the Keefer Bar. DJs are spinning soul all night, and between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., it’s happy hour: two-for-one food (Peking duck sliders!) and any of the weekly cocktail specials ($5 rosemary gimlets!).
At Revel Room, live boogie piano accompanies “Sour Hour” most afternoons (variations on the traditional sour cocktail, like the Lime Sorbet or the gin-based Last Word, are just $6 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.), but stick around Thursday nights for an extended bout of key-tickling as duelling pianists duke it out.
Back and Forth
The Diamond’s brick-lined lounge offers a birds-eye view of Gastown to go along with its oh-so-Vancouver combo of craft cocktails and sushi. So come sunset, station yourself and your date by the oversized windows—if you can manage to juggle your Yoshikazu (made with shiitake-infused cognac) and spicy tuna roll long enough to hold hands.
Paddle the night away with pals at Back and Forth, the Chinatown ping-pong bar that cheekily channels a rec-room vibe with menu items like Pizza Pockets and instant noodles. Pair these juvenile snacks with $5 sleeves of beer (from local faves like Twin Sails and Parkside) and wine-on-tap offerings between rounds.
Lobby Lounge at Fairmont Pacific Rim
At the sleek Lobby Lounge at Fairmont Pacific Rim, the moneyed West Van regulars dress to impress , but it’s the venue that steals the spotlight with soaring ceilings and a white-marble-everything design. Snag a Japanese-inspired cocktail (like the sesame-bourbon Sesame Street) and a spot by the fire to soak in the nightly musical act and prime people watching.
Though a select portion of the population may pine for the venue’s previous iteration as a porno theatre, the rest of us are busy dancing at Fox Cabaret. Fun theme nights—a Daft Punk–inspired party, Motown dances, Y2K jams—helmed by stalwart DJs like Trevor Risk and Common People keep the unpretentious space bumping every night of the week.
Irreverent brown-bag tasting challenges led by David Stansfield and Lisa Cook—the core curriculum at their consistently sold-out Sunday School wine seminars at Vancouver Urban Winery—take the term “Sunday Fun Day” to heart.
Though the neighbourhood is full of top-notch tasting rooms, 33 Acres has the edge on Sunday morning. The beer waffles with a scoop of Earnest ice cream (plus avocado toast made with Nelson the Seagull bread) almost distract from the real appeal of brunch at a brewery: swapping coffee for a flight of ales.
Check back for more from our Good Libations package (our June 2017 cover story!) for more on the hottest bars, best happy hours and beloved local watering holes.