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Restaurants are the hub of Vancouver’s mature nightlife scene, but there are a few bars that where you can find a cocktail and lively crowd.
The Diamond is Gastown is often touted as the city’s hippest watering hole for both its location and ambiance (floor-to-ceiling windows, dark wood and exposed brick and lots of candles). Creative cocktails like the Buck Buck Mule (London dry gin, Fino sherry, cucumber, cilantro and ginger beer) along with retro classics like the Sidecar are crafted by a passionate bar staff and served to a diverse clientele.
Come 5 p.m., hotel bars are filled with locals nipping in for an after-work cocktail. The Bacchus Restaurant & Piano Lounge in the sumptuous Wedgewood Hotel is renowned for its intimate and luxuriously old-school setting; order a classic martini, a long-standing favorite. Yew in the Four Seasons Hotel is a contemporary, airy space with communal tables (perfect for rubbing elbows), and a sommelier-selected wine menu with over 300 offerings by the glass.
Other notables include the upscale and urban Keefer Bar, which serves apothecary-style cocktails with an Asian-influence and hosts a weekly burlesque show, Uva Wine Bar in the heart of downtown that has a sample-friendly flights menu (3 wine/2 oz pours) and George, the sleek Yaletown hotspot with a weekend DJ, as noted for its trendy crowd as it is for its drinks.
If you love an excellent cocktail, perch at the bar at The Pourhouse, in Gastown, where the masterful mixologists concoct distinctive drinks like the Cameron House (rye, lemon, maple syrup, bitters) or the Don't Go Near the Water (brandy, Cointreau, maraschino, sugar, lemon).
The small but sophisticated Uva Wine Bar downtown stocks an excellent selection of wines by the glass, primarily from producers in British Columbia and Italy, that you can pair with tasty bar snacks.
When the sun shines, one of Vancouver’s most spectacular patios is Dockside at the Granville Island Hotel, where you can sip a local lager and take in the downtown views.
In newly trendy Chinatown, The Union is more restaurant than bar, serving up fine Asian-style share plates, like sambal green beans or Vietnamese “cha ca” fish. But their cool Filipino-inspired cocktails-in-a-jar called bangas are earning kudos, too. Try Banga #4, that mixes cardamom-infused cachaca, pineapple, cilantro, and chili water, or #5, a sparkling blend of sake, prosecco, bitters, and lemon thyme.