Welcome to the Time Out DRINK List, our handpicked ‘best of’ Vancouver's drinking scene. Vancouver's restaurants, fairly tame weather, and thriving arts scene make the bars in Vancouver varied and colorful. These are our handpicked best bars in Vancouver, from Granville Island, sit on the dock of the Vancouver Fish Company (#5), to funky East Van, where you can sip a cheeky brew at R&B Brewing (#9). Along the way, you'll find upscale bars you might recognize from TV (The Clough Club, #8), and spots brimming with board games and nerds (The Stormcrow Ale House, #11). So grab your umbrella (just in case, this is the PNW afterall) and check out the best bars Vancouver has to offer. Just remember to check out the best brunch in Vancouver on Sunday morning.
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Best bars in Vancouver
Vancouver's best-kept secret is located underneath a mattress store on Main Street. The Narrow has no signage so you have to know it's there. Look for what appears to be a shady bus stop; If you see a red light on, the bar is open. Head through a metal door, walk down some sketchy stairs and you'll find yourself in a beautiful, prohibition-style bar (yes, even thought Canada never had a Prohibition). The cocktails are classic, from g&ts to cosmopolitans.
This small, underground bar in Gastown features live music by local bands. Weekend can get crowded, so prepare to stand while you sway to the music while sipping the sultry Holy Smoke cocktail, made with Bulleit Bourbon, Laphroaig whiskey and black tea.
Located just on the edge of Gastown, the Alibi offers exclusive brews in a relaxed, traditional bar setting. The constantly rotating tap list features tons of local micro-brews and craft beers and the sampler beer flights are the perfect way to try them all.
A historic landmark located on the beach, this building and bar were built in 1912, and converted from an apartment building to a hotel in the 1930s. The bar itself is a bit dated, but that's what gives it its character. Indulge in a platter of fish and chips, cocktail in hand, while you take in the ocean view.
Granville Island is filled with independent, locally-sourced shops and restaurants, but the Vancouver Fish Company has the best happy hour. Local beers and wines and highballs are all $5 paired with reasonably priced, fresh seafood dishes like fresh shucked oysters ($2 each) and fish tacos ($3 each). Sit on the patio if you want to converse with pirates. (Yes, really).
Inspired by Disneyland's the Haunted Mansion attraction, the Dark Manor claims to be haunted by a ghost named Constance-Dee, the manor's former co-owner who disappeared after poisoning her husband. Bar fare continues the theme with 19th century snacks like warm olives, devil'd eggs and meat pies. The bar is whiskey focused and includes punch-bowl sized cocktails like Beneath the Floorboards (bourbon and malt whiskies, sherry, lemon, orange and maple) meant to be shared with friends (alive or ghostly).
A tiny room attached to a donair spot, Uncle Abe's looks like your grandma's basement, complete with tacky wallpaper, furniture from the late '70s and thrift store art covering the walls. The tap list if augmented by their own in-house craft beer. There's a payphone at the back that you should definitely pick up. There's always someone or something on the other line.
This classic speakeasy, offers spectacular drinks and tasty food. Don't miss the The Apiary, with walnut bitters and honeycomb, or The Port Authority, a bourbon-based cocktail with housemade chocolate liqueur. Food comes in the form of mushroom pies and the Hoola Dog, a teriyaki-glazed hot dog with pineapple relish and jalapeno. While many of Vancouver's bars are intimte spaces, The Clough Cub's cozy private back room is perfect for groups, and you can even order a group cocktail served in a pineapple.
This bustling brewery features beers named after the East Van neighborhood: Dude Chillin' Pale Ale is named after the infamous Dude Chillin' Park down the street and the Raven Cream Ale is named after the thousands of ravens that swarm East Vancouver. Pizzas, also made in house, make for perfecting pairings. We particularly like the the mushroom bianca pizza with a Stolen Bike lager. If you're lucky, a live pianist will add some tunes to the dude chillin' vibe.
When in the Pacific Northwest, drink IPA. Most of the beers on tap at this colorful, funky brewery are heavy on the hops. But don't worry, there's plenty of variety within that category. Equinox hops in the Paddy's Goodbye brew gives the beer big citrus and pine notes while Galaxy hops in the Galaxy IPA lend it a pineapple flavor. But be warned: Those afraid of clowns should scurry pass the wooden characters outside the brewery.
This is probably the nerdiest bar in Canada. D&D fans will recognize the Beholder head mounted above the bar, while sci-fi connoisseurs will notice a TARDIS and a full-sized sculpture of Han Solo in carbonate among the mythical weapons mounted on the wall. The cocktial menu preserved the theme, from the Romulan ale to the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster. Try your luck with a wide selection of boardgames and a D-20 shot—You roll a D20 and get whatever shot that correlates to. No arguing.
This proper Irish pub goes from a quiet respite on weekdays to a lively party on the weekends, when the beer flows and live bands take the stage. Named after the late Danny Burns, a member of the popular Northern Irish band The Wolfhounds, Wolf & Hound is one of the few places in Vancouver where you can get a proper pint of Guinness.
Located in the old industrial area of East Van, Parallel 49 Brewing has a food truck literally inside the bar. It's one of the older craft breweries in the city, and Parallel takes care to make sure that all their beers have character and go down easy. They have a large selection, several of which can only be tasted at the brewery itself like their seasonal brews.
Playful, tacky and beautiful, the Tiki Room is a local haunt offering Polynesian eats like tuna poke, prawn cocktails and pork tacos as well as a wide variety of rum-based tropical drinks. But one of the best things about it is the live entertainment, from mysic to comedy to burlesque there's guaranteed to be a different act every night of the week.
Brickhouse is easy to miss. Located in Chinatown, the front entrance is blocked and you have to enter from the alley in the back. An old-school dive bar with billiards and a silver screen history—several films and TV shows use this bar as a location—make sure you check it out before it gets demolished to make room for condos.