Where B.C. was once a major barrel producer, today distillers are scrambling to find casks
There’s a spot on the Seawall of Vancouver’s northeast False Creek that should be a pilgrimage—or maybe mourning grounds—for B.C. whisky fans. Under the Cambie Bridge in Coopers’ Park, a plaque marks where the Sweeney Cooperage set up shop in 1889, becoming an important international manufacturer of wooden barrels. It closed in 1981, three decades too early for the current demand from B.C. distillers.
Five Vancouver bars that offer immersive fun along with your cocktail
Step into ABQ London bar and you’re no longer in the city’s Hackney district but an RV where people in goggles and yellow hazmat suits “cook” their own molecular cocktails. Taking its name from an episode of Breaking Bad, ABQ is a trip inside lead character Walter White’s mobile meth lab.
With its dry ice and gas masks, the spot is just one example of the kinds of immersive experiences that are making theme bars so popular around the globe. In Paris, for instance, there’s L’Urgence, a medical-themed bar that uses test tubes as tumblers. And New York’s Oscar Wilde pays homage to the playwright through marble statues, Victorian-era furniture and drinks that go by names like the Selfish Giant and Ugly Peacock, nods to his life and work.
In fiercely competitive markets and uncertain times, places that serve their slings and sours with a chaser of escapism have an edge, a draw that sets them apart and helps keeps them afloat.
Vancouver, too, is home to several bars that do more than pour masterfully mixed drinks by creating otherworldly settings. The Shameful Tiki Room was one of the first, its kitsch décor and Mai Tais having rekindled the city’s passion for tiki culture.
The city’s growing collection of theme bars extends far beyond Polynesian beaches, however. Here are a few to consider next time you’re looking for a delicious liquid getaway.
This cocktail from Key Party is sweetly spicy and just sophisticated enough.
• 1.5 oz chai-spiced rye (see note) • 0.5 oz apricot brandy • 1 oz egg white • 2 oz lemon juice • Generous bar spoon of apricot preserve • 0.5 oz simple syrup (see note) • 2 dashes orange bitters (available at Gourmet Warehouse, Welks or Modern Bartender)