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Unveiling Vancouver: The Best Chinatown Cocktail Bars

Unveiling Vancouver: The Best Chinatown Cocktail Bars

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Alright, Vancouver. It’s hibernation season again and we know the temptation to stay in on the weekends is tenfold… but just because the sun is going to bed early doesn’t mean you’re under any obligation to follow suit. Sure, summers are ideal for hikes at Dog Mountain, bike cruises along the seawall, and evenings spent strolling around English Bay, but the winter season and shorter days bring out another side of our city that you won’t want to miss: the nightlife.

While we still can’t get enough of our go-to bars in Gastown, lately we’ve been venturing out to investigate adjacent neighborhoods to help us help you get through these shorter days. After a couple nights of hard work and research (haha - yeah right) we compiled a list of our top 3 cocktail bars in up-and-coming Chinatown.

Spread these out over a few weekends or knock ‘em all out at once by following our bar crawl guide.

THE KEEFER

Recently named the 83rd best bar in the world and it’s easy to see why. The combination of dim, cozy lighting, chinese-inspired decor with apothecary accents, and unusual futuristic touches creates a memorable space that’ll keep you coming back. Top that with signature craft cocktails and you may have found a new favorite.

Stop #1 on the Wallace Hamilton Crawl:

Stop in just after sundown for your first drink of the night and a comfort-food appetizer. We recommend the dim sum or steam buns because, you know, when in Rome - errr - Chinatown.

What’s good:

With a rotating menu, The Keefer is sure to keep you on your toes and just on the edge of your comfort zone. Whether you like your drinks sweet, smoky, or strong, you can’t go wrong with one of their seasonal signature cocktails.

Our favorite alumni cocktail:

Northern Exposure
Collinwood whisky, pineapple, maple, yun zhi, lemon, lapsang tea tincture.

KISSA TANTO

An unexpected combination that went oh-so right. Serving Italian-Japanese fusion fare and cocktails in a 1960s Tokyo jazz lounge setting, this is the place for dinner and drinks. Pro tip #1: Make a reservation if you’re planning to eat. Pro tip #2: Plan to eat.

Stop #2 on the Wallace Hamilton Crawl:

You heard - plan to eat. With a menu offering carne cruda, octopus salad, and tajarin, you’ll want to take advantage of more than their sublime cocktails. If you’re not hungry, you can always saddle on up at the bar… but when you’re eying the lasagna at the table across the room, don’t say we didn’t warn you.

What’s good:

Ol’ Satchmo
Mezcal, ginger chestnut honey vermouth, Green Chartreuse, lime, toasted sesame rim

THE EMERALD

Keep your eyes peeled for a green door that’ll lead you to this tucked away gem on the second floor. Three words: moody, low-key, authentic. One thing we love about this place is that it isn’t trying too hard. The classic drinks and mid-century vibes will have you feeling like Season 1 Don Draper… you know, before shit got weird.

Stop #2 on the Wallace Hamilton Crawl:

Chill out in leather lounge seating as you wind down the evening with another cocktail (or two) in an environment so cosy you’ll hardly notice you left the house… but with a major incentive: waffle fries. Need we say more?

What’s good:

New York Sour
Jameson Irish Whiskey, fresh lemon juice, red wine float

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