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Between the use of classic staples in inventive ways and the introduction of fresh ingredients, the city's bar scene is offering up some captivating new cocktails.
While this city hasn’t been shy of cocktail-forward bars in the past, Vancouver recently entered a golden age of properly mixed drinks. These five fine establishments are leading a growing population of bars that have set the new standard, providing not only brilliantly conceived and prepared drinks—but also a sanctuary of great ambiance and service to match.
Led by bartender Sabrine Dhaliwal, Uva’s cocktail menu has earned the admiration of patrons and industry tastemakers alike. The Matinee Marnier—one of Dhaliwal’s Campari- and juice-forward concoctions—is at first familiar, the touch of soda providing a splinter of carbonation that makes the boldness of the Grand Marnier pop. “It creates complexity without being complex,” says Dhaliwal.900 Seymour St.
With its gorgeously arranged and expertly curated back bar display, the Keefer in Chinatown might just be a portal to East London. Televangelist John Hagee claimed 2015’s blood moons signalled the end of days, and the Keefer’s Bloodmoon cocktail, concocted with gin and blood orange syrup by long-time barman Gez McAlpine, is a supremely smooth apparatus of a drink to welcome the apocalypse—if it means another round.135 Keefer St.
Giancarlo Quiroz Jesus, one of the Diamond’s cocktail maestros, let his long-time love of disco take the mixology wheel with the I Will Survive, his response to a particularly savage hangover. Utilizing green Chartreuse, a liqueur so complicated you could write a thesis on it (there are 130 ingredients), with tomato and lime juice, the drink is an elevated Bloody Mary. And it might catch on. “I’m on the hunt to spread the word and make the I Will Survive a thing,” says Jesus.6 Powell St.
Crowbar absolutely murders (because, you know, crows) the concept of a dynamic drink list. With a focus on creativity, the bar plays with ingredients rarely seen in more common cocktails. Take the Walter Sobchak—a nod to The Big Lebowski—in which the herb and citrus notes of the Aperol play foil to the big, smoky, complicated riddle that is the top-shelf mezcal. “It’s a delicious, bold little drink,” says co-owner William Johnson, “done margarita-style.”646 Kingsway
This one’s for G&T lovers. With gin at the heart of Juniper, lead bartender Olivia Povarchook recommends ordering a Wimbledon, a modern take on the British tennis tournament’s signature beverage. Made with Citadelle gin, Pimm’s and elderflower liqueur then garnished with a bouquet of local fruit and herbs and topped with a bird’s nest of seasonal berries, the Wimbledon is a trophy of a drink. (Even if you’re not Andy Murray, surely you deserve it.)185 Keefer St.