Whether it’s for après or waiting out a no-snow day, the mountain village has plenty of fine drinking options. And if what you crave most is a beer while watching the game in good company, you’ll find the locals huddled at Stinky’s on the Stroll and other casual watering holes!
Wild Blue Restaurant + Bar
Whistler’s most-lauded new restaurant is fronted by a big, beautiful, boomerang-shaped bar, just as pleasant a place to while away an evening as the plush, shiny dining room: the full menu is available at the bar, and service is superb. Crush a plate of raw oysters with a Martini (there are six on the menu, but ask for one made with Copperpenny 006 Oyster Shell gin), and try creative mixology like the Phoenix, a Lot 40 Rye sipper fortified with Cocchi Americano Rosa and sherry, and topped with Laphroaig for a smoldering, savoury finish. A helpful glossary of “Intriguing Techniques & Ingredients” is your cheat sheet to deciphering some of the complex culinary-bar techniques used here. The B.C. edition of Fernet Hunter (a collab with Endeavor Snowboards) is available here, and would make an amazing amaro caldo on a chilly day.
Watch for: An eye-popping $49 deal this winter for a three-course menu during the week (Sunday through Thursday).
The passion project of two local couples (ravens are often found in pairs, though just one glowers from the back bar), the Pan-Pacific Whistler’s watering hole is that elusive blend of locals’ haunt and destination drinking and dining. The Apple of my Bullseye on-tap cocktail (bourbon, Granny Smith juice) makes an easy aperitif, and the justifiably famous Potato Puffs are the no-brainer bar snack of choice. The Night Dancer (chamomile-inflused Toki, yellow Chartreuse) warns you of its kick with a red-R embossed king cube: the house-made firewater cordial starts with passionfruit and ends with sparky chili. The “Treat Yo’ Self” menu offers three $60-plus cocktails (an elevated Espresso Martini, Bijou and Sazerac) made with top-shelf spirits, any one of which would be worth every penny.
Watch for: The Miracle holiday cocktail pop-up through December 31, from 3 p.m. daily
Closed for more than a year during renovations that dramatically expanded the dining and drinking capacity, Whistler’s bear of a tapas bar is still packing the new, larger space (no reservations, so ideally arrive near the 4 p.m. opening time). Snag a prime seat at the now horseshoe-shaped bar and order a hero cocktail like Smoke and Mirrors, a smoldering combo of reposado, mezcal, red Spanish vermouth plus Campari and Aperiol, garnished with a shishito pepper and a whiff of cacao bitters. Snack on classic pinxtos and bocadillos, or the chef’s signature octopus with confit potatoes. The irresistible homemade bread is served warm with a spread of crushed tomatoes in olive oil that eats like vegan caviar.
Watch for: Weekday (Sunday through Thursday) happy hour deals, including $20 drinks (a half-litre of wine, some of the menu’s eight gin tonicas or a sangria with Spanish brandy and vermouth) and housemade charcuterie specials.
21 Steps Kitchen + Bar
Just across from Bar Oso, find the energy to ascend not one but two staircases, to sample a cocktail in the top-flight Attic bar here (also available for private events). The seasonal Signature Cocktails menu has wintery-rich vitality and creativity, and at least one cocktail that lives up to its name. Clear and Present Danger (mezcal with the clear bitter The Woods Chiaro Amaro, aromatized with St-Germain and grapefruit bitters) is so quaffable it definitely deserves its own warning. In the Attic, the small-plates menu has a buy two, get one free special for easy snacking and snaring. Put the buttermilk fried chicken at the top of your order.
Watch for: A weekday (Sunday through Thursday) $47 three-course menu: your choice of a small/starter and large/meal plate plus dessert.
The Mallard Lounge & Terrace at Fairmont Chateau Whistler
With the cozy, woodsy-luxe atmosphere you’d expect from one of Fairmont’s luxe mountain properties, this all-day bar and restaurant caters to pre- and apres-ski and everything in between. The menu thoughtfully categorizes all the drinks on a matrix of light to rich, and on a suggested continuum of day to evening. For happy day-drinking, for instance, it suggests sippers like a black forest-ish Cherry Ripe (kirsch, fruit wine, coconut rum and vermouth with chocolate bitters) or the Port Royal Daiquiri, made winter-ish with a spritz of cinnamon aroma. If you’re rolling with a group, a mountain of Mallard Nachos (serves 4 to 6) are a must, as is the seafood tower (from 3 to 11 p.m. daily, $165) for the high rollers!
Watch for: Craft cocktails use B.C. spirits, like The One Legged Man, using Fairmont Chateau Whistler Blackcomb Mountain Gin, a bespoke collaboration with Whistler’s own Montis Distilling. Drinks like the Lip Sumac’ingly Good make use of local ingredients, like a bar-made sumac syrup.
Four Seasons Whistler Resort and Residences
If you’re in a letting-secrets-out-of-the-vault kind of mood, order a Volcan de Fuego at the bar at Sidecut. Unlatch this sherry and amari-kissed rum Old Fashioned from its glass chest to unleash wafts of fragrant rosemary smoke. To round out a cocktail session, the punch for two is a visually stunning margarita-inspired drink that comes in a clear, found flask-style infuser, packed with aromatics like lime, lemongrass, pineapple and basil. Find day-drinking options at Braidwood Tavern, where you’ll find wild and warming tiki-inspired cocktails plus Sea-to-Sky beer flights (four selections for $14, or a long board of all 14 selections for $50, shareable by at least three people) and a brilliant duck poutine.
Watch for: Tipsy Snowman, a seasonal spiked hot chocolate, to enjoy with s’mores around the firepit: look for the vintage-trailer “happy camper” mobile bar outside.
—by Charlene Rooke