10 Vancouver watering holes for the erudite, and everyone else




As the saying goes, what goes up must come down. We have previously covered caffeine in all of its liquid glory, and this week we will cover the countervailing substance – alcohol. Although you may primarily see alcohol as some combination of: soother of wearisome study sessions, eraser of nightmarish exam writing experiences, fuel of bad dance moves, instigator of questionable decision making, and facilitator of strangely intense 3:00am bonding with that weird girl in your contracts class, we can’t forget that alcohol has a highbrow side to it as well. I’m certainly not beyond Saturday nights spent crying tears of pure, undiluted whisky while eating greasy pizza and listening to bad music when life feels truly unbearable, but there are people with much greater expertise than I when it comes to cheap drinks in bountiful quantities, so I’ll defer to those authorities.

Anyone who’s spent virtually any amount of time in most other places in the world will recognize that Vancouver’s draconian liquor laws make drinking less fun (see, as a comparative example, Montreal’s numerous terrasses) and more challenging (see, as a comparative example, bottles of wine for pocketfuls of change across the border), but while we wait for the tides to turn, here are a list of places to enjoy a tipple and hopefully not have to re-evaluate your whole life the next morning. As always, be cool, stay safe, and keep hydrated.

  1. Pourhouse (162 Water Street). Pourhouse boasts a beautiful room and sophisticated ambiance, complete with live music on Sunday evenings. The bartenders here are awesome, and the drinks they craft are incredible and worth the expense. Try their house-made maraschino cherries – I know, I was skeptical too, but trust.
  2. The Diamond (6 Powell Street). Another great room combined with talented bartenders and skillfully mixed cocktails. Lovely view if you manage to score a window seat. Always busy in the evenings, and lots of industry types hang out here if you’re into the whole see-and-be-seen type of thing.
  3. The Cascade Room (2616 Main Street). The Cascade is one of my safety choices, as it is a consistently good place to spend an evening. Also, games night on Monday! The focus here, again, is on cocktails, although they also serve wine and beer. Generally I’ve found that it’s pretty mellow on weeknights (as in I’ve posted up in one of their booths sipping drinks for four hours on a Tuesday night) and bumping on weekends (as in I’ve waited 30 minutes just to get seats at the bar on a Friday night).
  4. Alibi Room (157 Alexander Street). Beer, beer, and more beer. The Alibi Room is one of the best places to visit for a rotating selection of many different microbrews, alongside a tight wine and cocktail list.
  5. St. Augustine’s (2360 Commercial Drive). A casual spot centrally located on the Drive near the Skytrain station. Check out their website for their live beer menu, which is also displayed on screens on site. 60+ taps which are rotated on a regular basis means that you will always find something new to try or old favourites to revisit.
  6. The Union (219 Union Street). The Union slings stiff, Southeast Asian inspired cocktails that may assist in easing pangs for Sangsom buckets and large bottles of Singhas quaffed on sandy beaches. Long tables and pocketbook-friendly weeknight specials mean that you can bring all your friends.
  7. 33 Acres Brewing Company (15 West 8th Avenue). A new local microbrewery, 33 Acres also has a tasting room where you can enjoy their beers on tap. I haven’t yet been, but I’m excited by these kinds of developments – if you go, let us know how it is!
  8. Shebeen (210 Carrall Street). Tucked in behind the Irish Heather is Shebeen, boasting what may arguably be the most comprehensive offering of whiskies in Vancouver. Whisky from Islay, whisky from Kentucky, whisky from Japan, they have it. Tasting flights are available if you’re feeling unsure, indecisive, or just looking to dabble.
  9. The Storm Crow Tavern (1305 Commercial Drive). Ever thought to yourself: gee, I wish there was a bar I could go to and enjoy affordably priced food, have a few drinks, and play some tabletop board games? Well, there is, and it’s The Storm Crow. It’s a nerd bar, and it is awesome. That is all.
  10. Firefly (2857 Cambie Street). Sometimes you just want to stay in and enjoy your fancy drinks and greasy pizza and whisky tears in the privacy and comfort of your own home. Firefly has one of the greatest selections of non-mainstream wine, beer, and spirits in the city. Their craft beer collection alone is truly impressive. The employees are super knowledgeable about all things alcohol and are happy to make recommendations.

Angela is a 2L who already needs a nightly drink this soon into the semester, and also feels the need to remind us all to be excellent to one another as we fight these collective battles against never-ending readings. You won’t find her on Facebook, but you can find her on Twitter at @ange7a or occasionally fleeing Allard Hall at top speeds if you ever want to talk about books, coffee, food, culture, the implications of technological innovation, the colonization of Mars, the meaning of life, or just about anything else. 

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