These 8 Vancouver bars made Canada’s 50 Best Bars of 2019 list

Botanist Dining/Facebook

In mid-April, Canada’s 100 Best revealed their 2019 restaurant rankings. Now for the second year, they’re following up with a list of Canada’s 50 Best Bars of 2019, and for this ranking, Vancouver has an impressive eight spots worth raising a glass or two to.

In fact, Vancouver’s imbibers can pour one out for the always-popular Keefer Bar, which nabbed the number two spot, behind Toronto’s celebrated Bar Raval in the top rung. This is also the second year The Keefer Bar was ranked in the second spot.

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The New Ice Age

Oversize cubes, spheres, sticks, flakes and pebbles: It’s not just frozen water anymore—artisanal ice is a full-fledged cocktail ingredient

Istockphoto.com photo

The artisanal iceman cometh, and he’s not at all cold. With a short reddish beard, bright blue eyes and a friendly face, Dex James is downright warm, as he performs what looks like a magic trick. In the Dang Good Ice storefront in the Fraserhood, he pours water on a mammoth, crystal-clear, square-sided stick of ice in a highball glass and…it disappears.

Artisan ice can be the nearly invisible ingredient that helps deliver cocktail perfection—including king cubes so beautifully clear, one of the tenders behind the Fairmont Pacific Rim lobby bar tells me that imbibers of its white Lucky Negroni frequently ask, “Where’s the ice?” Juleps with flakes or pebbles from a Scotsman ice machine, rocks drinks over chunky Kold Draft cubes or cocktails crowned with a flawless diamond or sphere are just a few of the signs of the new ice age in B.C. bars.

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Whisky raid

Why did BC LCLB agents seize an estimated $150,000 in whisky? And could it happen to your favourite tipple, too?

Provincial liquor inspectors remove bottles of whisky from Fets Whisky Kitchen in Vancouver. Fets Whisky Kitchen photo.

It was a scene that might have been straight out of Prohibition—were this not 2018.

On the morning of January 19, 2018, plainclothes teams of B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch agents descended upon two licensed establishments in Vancouver and Nanaimo: Fets Whisky Kitchen and The Grand Hotel. Later that day, in Victoria, they visited The Union Club and Little Jumbo Cocktail Bar. What were they after? Illicit booze, grey market goods being sold as the real thing, or maybe something even more heinous?

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Elderflower Tom Collins

Robyn Gray’s Elderflower Tom Collins. Dan Toulgoet photo

Recipe by Robyn Gray, head bartender at Prohibition in the Rosewood Hotel Georgia.

• 2 oz (60 mL) Old Tom gin
• 1 oz (30 mL) lemon juice
• ¾ oz (20 mL) elderflower liqueur
• Soda water

Shake gin, lemon juice and elderflower liqueur in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a Collins glass filled with fresh ice, then top with soda water. Garnish with 3 lemon wheels. Serves 1.

—by Robyn Gray

Van Isle Iced Tea

Van Isle Iced Tea—created by Brad Stanton and Robyn Gray, head bartenders at Prohibition—taps into several of the top cocktail trends of 2017. Viranlly Liemena photo (courtesy of Prohibition).

This drink – created by Robyn Gray and Brad Stanton, head bartenders at Prohibition in the Rosewood Hotel Georgia – taps into several of 2017’s cocktail trends: infusions, new white spirits, and mixing multiple spirits together. Note that you can purchase jars of hibiscus flowers in syrup at stores like Gourmet Warehouse, or make your own using the recipe below.

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Five top cocktail trends for 2017

Van Isle Iced Tea—created by Brad Stanton and Robyn Gray, head bartenders at Prohibition—taps into several of the top cocktail trends of 2017. Viranlly Liemena photo (courtesy of Prohibition).

Well, thank goodness that’s over. This past year was enough to drive a person to drink. Luckily, the city’s best bartenders know just what we’re craving right now and in the year ahead. Here are the top-five cocktail trends they say we’ll be enjoying in 2017. Cheers!

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Bittersweet symphony

The latest twist in the tale of the Negroni

Classic, White or Boulevardier­—a Negroni is a sexy, sophisticated drink. Alexa Mazzarello photo

For a drink so simple, the Negroni is one impressively complicated cocktail.

It contains only three ingredients—equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and Campari—but those three ingredients comprise a world of flavours and aromas: bitter, sweet, citrus, floral, herbal, spicy, medicinal. It has a sexy backstory, except that it isn’t true.

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