By Wade Kinley
Stretched along the shore of glittering Semiahmoo Bay, White Rock is a seaside gem, seemingly made for lazy afternoons of sunbathing and people-watching – with a cocktail in hand for both. Book your next mini-vacation at one of these four happiest hours in White Rock.
A venerable institution around these parts, Charlie Don’t Surf has been serving hungry beachcombers along the White Rock strip and watching amazing sunset after amazing sunset for over 30 years. Grab a seat as close to the street as you can and enjoy one of the prettiest happy hours in the province. From Monday to Friday, 3 to 6 PM, post up with a Charlie Lager for $3.50. Highballs are $3 and a glass of the house wine is $5. When the fresh sea air stirs up your hunger, go for their signature house-made clam chowder – New England in style but all-local in its seafood and organic veg. Yam fries come with a spicy chipotle mayo and mini-pizzas come in three classic variations. All food on the happy hour menu is an easy $5.95. The show across the water is, as always, absolutely free. Best deal in town.
A relative newcomer to the White Rock scene, Barrique brings a touch of French cool to the Five Corners neighbourhood in the heart of the city. Chef Josiah Tam is Le Cordon Bleu trained and spins his mastery of the classics into dishes modern and West Coast. Take for example the happy hour menu that runs 5 to 6:30 PM, daily. The poutine features succulent duck confit and rich duck gravy ($13), while the house-cut potato chips are served with a caramelized onion and chive dip ($5). Even the popcorn is hit with herbes de provence for the most elegant bar snack this side of the Seine. Perfect with a Trading Post beer ($4) or a glass of bubbly ($7). Classic aperitifs, like an Aperol spritz ($8) or negroni ($9), complete the romance of a European bistro.
Mediterranean warmth and hospitality greets you as soon as you step into the quaint, comfortable dining room at Five, where the motto is, “sit, sip and stay”. You’ll find these easy tasks at happy hour every Sunday to Thursday, from 3 to 6 PM, where a glass of house wine or draught beer is $5. A selection of chef Gaya Tharanga’s smaller plates are $8 each. The oven-roasted bruschetta layers three cheeses with sun-dried tomato pesto and fresh basil on crispy bread, while the salt and pepper calamari is lightly dusted with flour and fried golden with jalapenos. Frites aren’t just fries when accompanied by a trio of dips with flavours of pesto, chipotle and dill. And once you’re happy and full, you’re in a prime position to take in the beach and the White Rock promenade, just steps away.
White Rock history is alive well at the Washington Avenue Grill. Some say too alive. The stately yellow building, built in 1913, has been in its time, a lumber mill, a church, a school and a final home to one Arthur Sharpe, who some say still hangs out at the popular beachside eatery. So if you like your happy hours slightly haunted, head over Monday to Friday, 3 to 5 PM and grab a seat in the airy atrium around the open fireplace and sip a signature cocktail like the spicy WAG Caesar ($5) or the Slim Soda with gin and cucumber ($3). Local brews are $3.50 and Pepperwood Grove wine is $5. Nibbles are $8 each and let you choose from crab cakes with tarragon tartar, chili-soy-glazed wings, and crispy Brussel sprouts with maple, garlic and siracha. Once decided, sit back near the windows and let the warm ocean breeze wash over you. At least… we think that’s what that was.