By Sonu Purhar
Wild and wacky cocktails have their place, but sometimes an old-fashioned (or Old Fashioned) classic is all you need. Among the dearth of eateries and bars pouring Manhattans, Martinis and other historic drinks for every Tom Collins, Dick and Harry, it can be hard to find a place marrying well-made libations with an atmosphere conducive to memory lane wanderings. We’ve rounded up a selection of venues across Metro Vancouver that don’t disappoint – so what are you waiting for? Step into your Sidecar, and let’s go!
900 West Georgia Street, Vancouver
In celebration of Fairmont Hotel Vancouver’s 80th anniversary in 2019, the luxe property’s stylish lounge has introduced a nostalgic lineup of nine popular cocktails from each decade. If you’re feeling rakish, we recommend starting in the ’30s and working your way to the present.
Our pick: The Cable Car, first shaken up in 1999 at the Drake Hotel in San Francisco, where the city’s iconic cable cars could be glimpsed from the windows. Well-rounded and citrus-forward with a sensuous body, the brew incorporates spiced rum, Cointreau and lemon juice, and is served in a coupe rimmed with cinnamon sugar.
Notch 8 is near the Vancouver City Central and Granville SkyTrain stations.
680 Columbia Street, New Westminster
This buzzy contemporary eatery is known for dishing up inspired Mexican fare, though rest assured the cocktail list doesn’t end with margaritas.
Our pick: El Santo’s classic Daiquiri isn’t anywhere close to the sugar-bomb poured poolside at your average resort. A refreshing and subtly powerful blend of rum, lime juice and sugar, the Daiquiri was invented by a U.S. mining engineer attempting to ward off yellow fever among his workers. Famously, Ernest Hemingway was a fan, and we’re sure the pros at El Santo could whip you up a Hemingway Daiquiri (with the additions of grapefruit and maraschino liqueur) in two shakes.
Read about El Santo’s chef, Sam Fabbro, here.
El Santo is near the New Westminster SkyTrain station.
15023 Marine Drive, White Rock
Uli’s water-facing patio is a fine place to settle in for a long sojourn with historic cocktail in hand, especially since the restaurant has its own longstanding history. Part of the White Rock strip for more than three decades, the family-owned eatery takes inspiration from founder Ulrich Blume’s travels across Europe.
Our pick: The Mint Julep, originally prescribed for medicinal purposes, and sometimes taken by farmers in the morning as a type of pseudo-coffee. In modern culture, the drink is intrinsically associated with the Kentucky Derby – in fact, nearly 120,000 are served annually at Churchill Downs. Uli’s stays true to the classic with Kentucky bourbon, fresh mint and a splash of simple syrup.
Hungry? Read about Uli’s burgers here.
Uli’s is a 10 minute drive from the Peace Arch USA-Canada border crossing.
13475 Central Avenue, Surrey
Situated along Surrey’s Civic Plaza, Dominion Bar + Kitchen serves as a social hub where tasty cocktails and well-made food fuel hours-long conversations and leisurely evenings.
Our pick: The Clover Club, which rose to popularity during the pre-prohibition era, originated with a Philadelphia men’s group who fittingly called themselves the “Clover Club”. By the ’50s, men considered the delicate drink more suited to ladies – but the current resurgence of the Clover Club supports the idea that people should drink what they want to drink, regardless of colour or constitution. Dominion’s version is crafted with gin, lemon, raspberry syrup and an egg white, resulting in a frothy brew that makes for delightfully light sipping.
Dominion Bar + Kitchen is near Surrey Central SkyTrain Station. Watch more in this video, featuring the restauraunt.
2364 200 Street, Langley
Distinguished by its horse paddock, the Artful Dodger Pub is a true neighbourhood watering hole, frequently staging karaoke, trivia and open mic nights for loyal visitors; as well as offering courtesy shuttle service on Friday and Saturday nights.
Our pick: Historic cocktail crawls in Canada cannot be considered complete without indulging in a Caesar. Originating in 1969 at the Calgary Inn (now the Westin Calgary), the drink was inspired by Italian pasta dishes that combine tomato sauce and clams. Within five years of debuting, the Caesar had become Calgary’s most-ordered mixed drink, and word was spreading across the rest of the country. The Artful Dodger offers two variations: a classic Caesar served with pepperoni, pickled onion and jalapeno Havarti cheese; and a veggie alternative that swaps vodka for gin.
Artful Dodger Pub is a 20 minute drive from the Peach Arch USA-Canada border crossing.