Vancouver is a dynamic city with tons of things to do, offering a popular food and drink scene where you can fold back one page only to discover more interesting places to explore. There aren’t just “bars” in the city. Often it’s just as much about presentation and ambiance as it is about having locally sourced, expertly crafted cocktails. Get ready to be immersed into the colorful, intriguing and some times downright bizarre world of the coolest bars in Vancouver.
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The Black Lodge
If you’re a fan of the confusing and strange television series Twin Peaks, you’re likely pretty excited by the name, which means exactly what you think it means. Yes, this bar is an ode to Agent Cooper, Log Lady, Laura Palmer and everything people love about the show. Tables are made from sliced logs, velvety red curtains drape against the walls, character pictures dot the walls—The Black Lodge pays true tribute to Twin Peaks while serving up a huge selection of beer and cocktails.
The Storm Crow Tavern
Are you looking for a place to bond with Dungeons and Dragons fans while tossing back a few? The Storm Crow Tavern is the place to play nerdy games in a nerdy atmosphere, and I think most of us can admit that sounds like a pretty good time.
Gran Reserva is an underground bar beneath the hopping Main Street restaurant Bodega on Main. While events can be hosted down in this rustic, sleek space, you can also retreat down here for a drink or artisan Spanish fare to compliment the upscale cocktails. Perfect for a date night or just a relaxed time out, it feels like retreating to a secret spot in the city.
The Shameful Tiki Room
Like being in a hut somewhere in Polynesia, The Shameful Tiki Room is anything but shameful, with its exotic eats and island-esque cocktails, such as the highly praised Mai Tai. Poke bowls, crab dip, tacos and nuts with candied ginger are perfect to snack on while sucking down a Mystery Bowl for two—be sure to call an Uber after that one. Truly a unique find in Vancouver, it’s a guaranteed fun night out.
The Narrow Lodge
Does it get any better than tacos and margaritas? La Mezcaleria differs from many Mexican food joints thanks to efforts to stay close to the traditional way different regions in Mexico prepare their cuisine. Ceviche, queso and fish tacos pair effortlessly with real, authentic drinks made as close to true origins as possible. Savor a Smokey Mezcal Margarita or an Ancho Chile Old Fashioned.
Located within the popular district of Gastown, Wildebeest specializes in creating flawless small plates incorporating interesting flavor combos of locally sourced ingredients and divine meats. Creative, vibrant, urban and exciting, there’s an element of unexpectedness when ordering, but the chef always knows best. True skill goes into making their cocktails, which are typically classics, like the delicately prepared Old Fashioned, with a tiny twist, and they call it a “Refashioned”. Since the process to make the drink takes a minute, you get a free beer while you wait!
Jackalopes Neighbourhood Dive Bar
Grunge, rock, horror, delicious food and drink—if these things appeal to you, Jackalopes is your bar. They’ve put a fun twist on their bar by draping the place in thrift store decor with a heavy focus on all things rock n roll, and it’s a fun, edgy kind of place that even classical music enthusiasts would likely enjoy. Hilariously proclaiming their cuisine as comfort food with a “trashy” twist, organic locally sourced ingredients are the secret behind the mouthwatering creations. Mammoth sized nacho plates with gluten-free chips and a variety of toppings such as antibiotic-free taco meat, house-made cheese, ghost peppers and roasted yams are their specialty. As for the booze, there’s some interesting stuff to try, like the Beef Back shot, which is a Canadian Club rye followed by a shot of hot ‘n savory beef au jus.
Dark Manor Inn
Halloween night parties never have to end at this classic haunted house style bar. Lights are dim, a green glow shines through door cracks, the old school chandeliers flicker while the sound of thunder rumbles intermittently, and ambient lantern light provides just enough lighting to see the coffin-shaped tables and embossed wallpaper. While the food is tasty, the drinks are the focus, featuring creepy names and impressive presentations. The zombie is a refreshing yet potent blend that is served to the table with flames licking off the top. A lot of stylized spookiness has been squeezed in this tiny nook, and be prepared to wait a while for a table to open up on the weekend. But it’s worth the wait.