Cocktail-focused, upscale bar lounge to open in Vancouver this month

“We’re trying to do something a little bit different,” says the owner.

Currently under renovation, The Watson, an upscale bar lounge, is set to open near the end of July 2023, at 3080 Main Street next to the recently-opened burger joint Street Hawker. Maria Diment/Vancouver Is Awesome photo

A new cocktail-focused bar lounge is getting ready to open in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood.

Nestled in the perfect middle between casual and fine dining, The Watson will bring a refreshing, upscale element to Main Street – something that Michael Gayman, who owns the wine and charcuterie bar Bartholomew in Yaletown, feels has been missing in the area for some time.

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You can sip infused spirits and cocktails on tap in an old auto repair shop

Take a peek inside the brand new cocktail and snack bar in Vancouver

Infused spirits made in-house are at the core of the menu at Please! Beverage Co’s brand-new tasting room and production facility in Mount Pleasant. Photos by Lindsay William-Ross/V.I.A.

When you think bottled or canned cocktails—those commercially-produced beverages known in industry shorthand as “RTD” for “ready to drink”—you might conjure up the same imagery as Vancouver’s Please! Beverage Co.’s founder, Noel Steen: shotgunning a can on a boat.

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Three cool reads for hot days

The Ice Book: Cool Cubes, Clear Spheres, and Other Chill Cocktail Crafts by Camper English

As you’re sweltering under yet another heat dome, let this renowned expert in all things cocktail cool you down with his treatise on the unsung hero of every drink. This handy guide offers everything you need to know about directional freezing, carving ice into diamonds, embedding it with garnishes and dozens of other frosty projects.


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A pretty drink to put you in the pink

Pink & Pretty is just one of several new cocktails created by Trevor Kallies of Freehouse Collective. Photo courtesy of Freehouse Collective.

This is the season of celebrations—weddings, graduations, Mother’s Day, coronations—and that makes it a season that cries out for something pretty and sparkly in a glass. Luckily, Trevor Kallies, the bar and beverage director of Freehouse Collective, has just what we’re craving.

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High on rye

Sons of Vancouver pins the future on whisky

SoV’s winning whisky features tropical notes of banana, pineapple and demerara sugar. Photos courtesy of Sons of Vancouver.

In January, a B.C. craft whisky was named the country’s best for the first time in the 13-year history of the Canadian Whisky Awards. The rye-based Palm Trees & A Tropical Breeze was only the third whisky released by Sons of Vancouver. But it offers an aromatic taste of the future for this North Van distillery better known (until now) for its amaretto and other liqueurs.

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Tidbits: news from the spirits world in Canada and beyond

The Aperol Spritz is one of Google’s 10 trendiest drinks for 2022. Getty Images photo

Barrels of Awards

Spring is awards season, and B.C. bars and distilleries have been picking up shiny gold trinkets all over the place. Just a few of the honours: Botanist Bar won the prestigious Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award from North America’s 50 Best Bars and at #19 was the only B.C. bar to make the list. Clive’s Classic Lounge in Victoria was named World Whisky Hotel Bar at the World Whiskies Awards, which also recognized Macaloney’s Island Distillery with a trio of top prizes. The Keefer Bar was nominated Best Canadian Bar by the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards. And Okanagan Spirits was named Artisanal Distillery of the Year at the 2022 Canadian Whisky Awards.

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New wine-cask finished Irish whiskey features pinot noir from B.C.

Quails’ Gate becomes the first Canadian winery to collaborate with Green Spot Irish Whiskey, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day

Photo courtesy of Green Spot Irish whiskey

What do Irish whiskey and Pinot Noir wine from the Okanagan have in common? Until this week, not much, aside from both being aged in oak barrels. Regardless of if you’re a whiskey enthusiast, oenophile, local business supporter, or just want to pick-up a bottle of Irish whiskey for St. Patrick’s Day, there’s a new wine-cask finished whiskey now available that offers something for everyone; until it’s gone, that is.

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Smoke in style

Supplied photo

At $434.95, the Crafthouse by Fortessa Cocktail Smoking Box may seem like a frivolous purchase, especially when you can just follow Matthew Benevoli’s easy tips for smoking cocktails instead. But the fact that this gorgeous, Art Deco-ish gadget was designed by world champion bartender Charles Joly makes us give it a second look. It comprises a sturdy stainless-steel frame, glass sides, walnut base, handheld smoker and easy-to-use door latch, making it as ergonomic as it is stylish. Available at Williams Sonoma.

Cocktails with true grit

The late, great actor John Wayne was often quoted as saying that if he was going to have a drink, “It had better be a good one.” Well, there are plenty of those in John Wayne: The Official Cocktail Book by André Darlington (Insight Editions). The book features more than 70 cocktail recipes, inspired by the Duke’s most famous characters, such as Rooster Cogburn and Davy Crockett. “My dad appreciated a well-made cocktail, and this book offers readers tips and recipes to create some very beautiful drinks,” says his son Ethan Wayne, president of John Wayne Enterprises. So saddle up, pardner, and enjoy this spirited gallop down memory lane. 

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Vancouver Cocktail Week, Round 2

James Grant pours his winning Pathfinder cocktail at the Vancouver Cocktail Week Fun City Gala in March 2022. Jana Bizzarri photo

Hosting Vancouver’s first-ever cocktail week back in March, just as we were coming out of pandemic restrictions, was definitely a leap of faith. But we quickly learned that Vancouverites were thirsty for good cocktails, especially when they could enjoy them with each other. 

Now Vancouver Cocktail Week presented by The Alchemist is coming back for a second round March 5 to 11, 2023—and it’ll be even bigger.  

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