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Top Canadian Bartender David Wolowidnyk Picks Vancouver's Best Cocktail Spots

Top 10 Spots for Original & Artisan Cocktails in Vancouver, BC


When it comes to Vancouver's best cocktails, no one is a better judge than West Restaurant's bartender / mixologist extraordinaire David Wolowidnyk. Not only has David won multiple awards, he's also a co-founder and director of the Canadian Professional Bartenders Association (CPBA) and one of Vancouver's indisputable top bartenders.

Where does an insider and connoisseur like David go for cocktails in Vancouver? Find out with this list of David Wolowidnyk's Top 10 Vancouver Cocktail Spots!

See also: Top 10 Vancouver Cocktail Bars

1. West Restaurant & David Wolowidnyk

David Wolowidnyk picks Vancouver's best cocktails
Photo by Dana Lynch

When it comes to Vancouver's best cocktails, we have to start with David Wolowidnyk himself. (David is too modest to include himself on this list, so I'll do it for him.) As West's lead bartender / mixologist, David conceives and executes original and traditional cocktails that are as out-of-this-world as West's award-winning cuisine. His combination of instinct, molecular gastronomy know-how and deep knowledge of cocktail history allows him to create drinks that have garnered international acclaim: his "Passage to India" cocktail was served at the Slumdog Millionaire Oscar party!

More: West Restaurant Review

2. MARKET by Jean-Georges

The super-hot MARKET by Jean-Georges at the landmark Shangri-la Hotel is one of Vancouver's "destination restaurants." It's also home to some of Vancouver's best cocktails, thanks to Lead Bartender Jay Jones. A Vancouver native, Jones is both one of Vancouver's top bartenders and one of its most famous; he also co-founded the CPBA alongside David Wolowidnyk.  As someone who knows him personally, David says, "despite the accolades, Mr. Jones is a humble, accomplished bartender who guides both his colleagues and guests admirably." He also makes a superb cocktail!

3. UVA Wine Bar

Voted Best Bar / Lounge in the 2010 Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards, downtown Vancouver's UVA Wine Bar is a sophisticated alternative to the typical pick-up bar and one of Vancouver's go-to spots for great cocktails. You can often see David at UVA after his own work day is done; he enjoys both UVA's classic cocktails and, as he puts it, "their contemporary-based cocktails with a classic influence."

4. The Keefer Bar

Vancouver's historic Chinatown may not seem like a go-to destination for Vancouver's best cocktails, but The Keefer Bar is a hot-spot for discerning drinkers. David describes Keefer's drinks as "delightful and interesting contemporary cocktails with an Asian influence," and he should know: David is a connoisseur of Asian cocktails! Try the "China Doll," a mix of vodka, Yuzu marmalade, grapefruit, sparkling wine, and red ginseng.

5. Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar

Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar is best known as one of Vancouver's best--if not the best--seafood restaurants. With its ideal location in the heart of Yaletown's nightlife district, Blue Water Cafe is also a perfect spot to grab one of Vancouver's best cocktails. David describes Blue Water as "one of the busiest spots where precision and speed work hand in hand....Great sushi too!"

More: Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar

6. CinCin Restaurant

What earns CinCin--one of Vancouver's best Italian restaurants--a place on the list of Vancouver's best cocktails?  "A reliably well-crafted cocktail and the most incredible, and probably largest, list of Grappas you will find anywhere," David says.

More: CinCin Restaurant Review

7. L’Abattoir

This Gastown restaurant / bar is home to bartender Shaun Layton, who--like David Wolowidnyk--has won Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards Bartender of the Year. L’Abattoir's original cocktails include the "Slaughterhouse", a mix of Cognac, sugar, Elixer Vegital orange oils, aromatic bitters, and green chartreuse mist, and the macho "Meat Hook," a combination of bourbon, maraschino, Punt E Mes, and Ardbeg malt scotch whiskey.

8. Granville Room

Downtown Vancouver's Granville Street entertainment district may be better known for cocktails that get you wasted rather than the kind you savour, but there are a few bastions of (literal) good taste, and the Granville Room is one of them. Cool and elegant, the Granville Room is a great spot to sip a truly old-fashioned cocktail; head there on Saturday night for their $5 Punch, based on one of the oldest-known cocktail traditions!

9. The Refinery

When it comes to sheer numbers, The Refinery is the leader in Vancouver's best cocktails: in 15 months they created over 200 original contemporary cocktails! Lead bartender Lauren Mote is famous for her unique flavour combinations and modern mixology techniques, both of which make her perfectly suited for The Refinery, an ultra-trendy restaurant and bar in the heart of downtown Vancouver's Granville Street entertainment district.

10. Calabash Bistro

Celebrated for its Caribbean cuisine and "Reggaecentric" environment, Gastown's Calabash Bistro is the complete package: great food, live music and fabulous cocktails. They also have the largest selection of rums (over 70) in Vancouver.
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