10 Events for Delectable Imbibing During Vancouver Cocktail Week

Photo: Botanist martini

Vancouver’s first cocktail lounge, the Tilting Room, opened in 1954 at the iconic Sylvia Hotel in the West End. Medieval themed, the lounge quickly became a favourite with famous patrons including the likes of Errol Flynn.

In the early 2000s, the city’s cocktail scene experienced a considerable awakening as talented bartenders began experimenting beyond the mundane and becoming well-versed in cocktail lore and technique. Roughly 15 years ago, establishments such as The Diamond and Pourhouse opened, bringing even more vitality, creativity, and expertise to the cocktail scene. Since then, Vancouver has truly become a destination for cocktails due to the level of innovation and craft evidenced at establishments around the city. Today, 8 of Canada’s 50 Best Bars of 2022 are found here, including Botanist (#2), The Keefer Bar (#3), and Laowai (#4).

This is all to say that Vancouver Cocktail Week (VCW) is a highly anticipated annual event that spotlights an award-winning cocktail scene. This year’s VCW promises to be diverse, informative, and convivial.

Presented by The Alchemist Magazine, VCW runs March 5 to 11, 2023, and has something for everyone, from cocktail enthusiasts looking for a lively evening out, to industry folk seeking to deepen their existing knowledge.

Here are ten events worth checking out during VCW 2023:

Punch Brunch

Photo: Botanist Restaurant

VCW is presenting signature events, basically grand events for those wishing to celebrate VCW in style.

The first signature event happening in Vancouver is a Punch Brunch ($150 plus fee) at the elegant Botanist Restaurant (Fairmont Pacific Rim), happening March 5. This kick-off event features some of the top bartenders in the city crafting cocktails to pair with dishes from executive chef Hector Laguna’s brunch menu. While the menu is still to be released, Laguna is known for elevated brunch items such as a Dungeness crab and avocado Benedict and an oven roasted sablefish cassoulet with white beans, arugula, and bacon jus. Brunch cocktails at Botanist include the Spindrift with aged rum, local IPA, rosemary, grapefruit sherbet, and lime juice. Tickets can be found here.

Golden Era Cocktail Revival Gala

Get out your most glamorous outfit for VCW’s marquee event: a Golden Era Cocktail Revival Gala, taking place March 11 (General Admission tickets $195 plus service fee) at the Pacific Ballroom at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. In this late 1930s era room, be transported back to the Golden Age of cocktails post-Prohibition where the drinks flowed and the spirits were heady. The night starts with VIP hour where guests can mingle with national and international VIPs over canapés and cocktails. After, watch the speed round of the World Class Canada bartender competition and see the 2023 Canadian Bartender of the Year get crowned.

Then, the main part of the evening starts with food and drink stations providing a tour of the various exciting cocktail eras. Entertainment for the evening will be live music, a DJ, as well as a silent auction to raise funds for the BC Hospitality Foundation. Legacy Liquor Store will have a pop-up shop in case you want to enjoy something from the drink stations at home. And the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver will also be featuring special room rates for those who want to stay the night after the festivities. Tickets for the Golden Era Cocktail Revival Gala are found here.

Old School Cool with Fords Gin

Photo: Brass Fish Tavern

There are currently 24 unique events during VCW, with more being added in the lead-up to March 5. Old School Cool at Brass Fish Tavern ($30 plus service fee) on March 7 is a night devoted to all things gin, hosted by Fords Gin. The evening will feature a gin aromatic demonstration table, a DIY gin and tonic menu, and a selection of favourite and inventive gin martinis. Each guest will enjoy a G&T as well as a martini, along with two freshly shucked oysters for pairing. Other food items will also be available for ordering to enjoy with your gin. Tickets are available here.

Chef’s Table Dinner with Amari Cocktail Pairings

Photo: Nightingale Restaurant

Nightingale welcomes Campari Canada to host a night (March 7, $169 plus service fee). exploring and tasting the world of the Italian liqueur Amari. Head chef Alan Tam and Campari Academy Canada representative Priya Shah will be the hosts for the event. In addition to a historical overview of Amari, Shah will lead guests through the various regional variations of Amari in terms of flavour profile and other distinctions. Amari cocktails will be paired with Nightingales’ delicious cuisine. Tickets available here (almost sold out so don’t delay).

Dinner at L’Abattoir with Esquimalt Vermouth and Apéritifs

Photo: L’Abattoir

A truly unforgettable evening awaits at L’Abattoir’s private dining room, hosted by chef Lee Cooper, bar manager Dave Bulters, and Esquimalt co-founder Quinn Palmer. Equimalt’s vermouths and aperitifs are the stars, alongside Cooper’s stellar cooking. The collaboration dinner (March 9, $198 plus service fee) features five courses, starting with albacore tuna crudo paired with Esquimalt dry vermouth with Rootside tonic, followed by chicken liver and foie gras parfait with bianco vermouth. Next is cinnamon smoked duck with rosso vermouth, and then pork belly with strawberry, beetroot, and pan juices—paired with kina salal with Sheringham Seaside gin and Rootside bitters. Finally, the night ends with a lemon tart paired with limoncello miele. Tickets are available here.

From Cognac to Barbados: A Renegade’s Voyage

Photo: Tableau Bar Bistro

Tableau Bar Bistro, in collaboration with Maison Ferrand is offering a four-course dinner (March 9, $181.16 plus service fee) that takes guests through an evolution of the famed spirits producer. The menu will pay tribute to the origins of Maison Ferrand four hundred years ago, and then to the fortuitous meeting with Alexandre Gabriel in 1989, which precipitated a renaissance of the producer. Gabriel was on a mission to draw upon the unique terroir of Grande Champagne in order to produce the finest craft cognac. He then shifted his attention to Citadelle Gin, Plantation Rum, and Dry Curaçao. The menu at Tableau Bar Bistro will be paired with craft cocktails using Maison Ferrand spirits. Tickets are available here.

Women and Spirits

Photo: Women in Spirits (Voula Delinis, Frédérique Leblanc, and Samia)

VCW currently has 16 seminars on offer, with more added closer to the big week. One of them will be held at Taste of Legacy in honour of International Women’s Day (March 8, $36 plus service fee). In Women and Spirits, three prominent women in the spirits industry will craft unique cocktails using Ketel One Vodka, Ron Zacapa Rum, and Johnnie Walker Scotch. The women, whose talent and achievement are being honoured, are representatives of Diageo: Voula Delinis, Frédérique Leblanc, and Samia. The cocktails will be paired with cheese and charcuterie. The event should be great way to meet women who specialize in spirits, as well as sample their cocktails. Tickets are available here.

Whitney Neill Gin Cocktail Master Class

Per se Social Corner will be the location for a Whitney Neill Gin Cocktail Master Class. Join Johnny Neill founder of Whitley Neill Gin, the UK’s most popular premium gin, for an informative seminar on March 9 (3-6pm, $170 plus service fee) on all things gin-related, including history, botanical info, and cocktail crafting. And of course, the event will feature cocktails with tasty tapas. Tickets are available here.

Chinese Dumpling Master Class with Johnnie Walker Cocktails

Photo: Tallulah

In this fun seminar (March 10, $195 plus service fee) at Propaganda Coffee, a dumpling expert, Judy Lam Maxwell, will be teaching the ins and outs of dumpling making, including the best fillings and wrappers, as well as folding techniques. The lesson will also feature Johnnie Walker cocktails. Tickets are available here.

Cinq à Sept

Photo: Carlino

Happy Hour is a big thing in Vancouver, with great deals on both drink and food. For VCW, establishments around Vancouver are taking part in “Cinq à Sept,” named after the French Happy Hour from 5pm to 7pm, which occurs after the work day before heading home. Note: the actual Happy Hour times will vary according to establishments. Places taking part will have special VCW signature cocktails, in addition to small bites, entertainment, and good company. The 28 participating restaurants and bars include some of the most notable places in the city for cocktails, including Bar Susu, The Diamond, and Uva Wine and Cocktail Bar. While Cinq à Sept during VCW is not ticketed, reservations are recommended at many establishments. A list of participants can be found here.

Many of these events are selling out, so don’t delay in booking your tickets. Further info and tickets are available on the VCW website.


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