Celebrate Talented Local and International Bartenders During Vancouver Cocktail Week

VCW Gala, Kanomori Craft Gin; Photo: Living Room Creative

Vancouver has a thriving cocktail culture, with outstanding bartenders, restaurants with stellar drink programs, and both new and long-standing bars and lounges for sipping well-crafted cocktails.

Vancouver Cocktail Week (VCW) returns March 3 to 10, 2024, for its third annual celebration of the art of cocktail-making. Presented by The Alchemist Magazine, VCM features a wide variety of events, special dinners, seminars, crawls, guest shifts, and happy hours to interest those in the industry as well as anyone who just loves a good cocktail.

Below are some recommended ways to make the most of VCW 2024.

Green Garden Gala

Green Garden Gala; Photo: Living Room Creative

VCW 2024 features two signature events, one being their Green Garden Gala (March 9, Sutton Place Hotel, 7-11pm; 6-7pm reserved for VIPs; $175 + service fee per person, $50 + service fee for VIP hour). This spectacular gala takes place in the hotel ballroom, which will be festooned with greenery inspired décor. Meanwhile, bartenders will serve drinks that incorporate plant ingredients. You can expect over 35 premium spirit brands to sample, food pairings, and a DJ and live music for dancing. The Sutton Place Hotel is offering special room rates for those who want to imbibe safely—without the need to transit or find a ride home.

Signature Sunday Cocktail Brunch

Botanist; Photo: Tara Lee

The Signature Sunday Cocktail Brunch is also making a return appearance (March 3, Botanist Restaurant, 11:30am to 2pm; $160 + service fee per person). Bar staff at Botanist will collaborate with the team from Bar Swift from London to craft special cocktails to pair with chef Hector Laguna’s brunch dishes.

Guest Shifts and Pop-Ups

Photo: Courtesy of Vancouver Cocktail Week

VCW not only spotlights local talent, but also bartenders from around the world who will do guest shifts and pop-ups at bars around the city. For example, Chinatown’s Laowai is welcoming multiple guest bartenders, such as Jesse Vida, head bartender at Atlas in Singapore and partner of Cat Bite Club (March 3, 6-9pm, $135 + service fee, includes four cocktails and a round of dumplings) and Renato (Tato) Giovonnani of Florería Atlántico in Buenos Aires, Argentina (March 7, 6-9pm, $135 + service fee, includes four cocktails and a round of dumplings).

As part of the North Well Series, Pourhouse in Gastown will transform into OWL&ROOSTER with Hisatsugu Saito from Sapporo, Japan, presiding at the bar. Naoki Tomoyoshi and Nozomi Odaohara from Nikka Whisky will be joining Saito to share their expertise. The night should be unforgettable and informative (March 8, 6pm and 8pm seatings at the bar; $135 + service fee, includes 3 cocktails and snacks). Alternatively, you can drop by and order from the special cocktail menu.

Finally, VCW features two non-ticketed bartender pop-ups: Jeff Savage will be at L’Abattoir (March 5 from 5-7pm) and The Eight will be at Laowai (March 4 to 8).

Spirited Dinners

VCW – Old School Cool Vol. 3 Fords Gin; Photo: Living Room Creative

In addition to some really fun events (e.g., an Old School Cool Vol. 3 Fords Gin session at Brass Fish Tavern, March 5, $42 + service fee, includes 2 cocktails), VCW is presenting numerous Spirited Dinners.

For instance, Tableau Bar Bistro is holding a Cognac Ferrand Cocktail Dinner (March 5, 6:30pm cocktail reception, 7pm dinner; $165 + service fee), which entails four courses, paired with cognac-forward cocktails. Glowbal, meanwhile, is holding Old Bourbon, Modern Cuisine with Old Forester (March 5, 7pm; $180 + service fee). The evening, led by Joel Virginillo, Brown-Forman Reserve Spirits and Scotch Specialist, will entail a welcome cocktail and a four-course cocktail-paired dinner.

Other spirited dinners include Giro d’Ombra at Bacaro (March 6, 5-7pm; $210 + service fee), which involves a five-course cocktail-paired meal; Friuli Flavours Unveiled at Carlino, presented by Campari Canada (March 7, 6pm; $150 + service fee) with a five-course cocktail-paired dinner; Sip & Savour in the Brix & Mortar courtyard (March 6, 6:30pm arrival, 7pm dinner; $180 + service fee), involving a four-course dinner paired with Flor de Caña’s rum cocktails; and Birds of a Feather (March 6, $180 + service fee, five-courses paired with Nikka cocktails) at PiDGin with guest bartender Hisatsugu Saito from OWL&ROOSTER and Naoki Tomoyoshi and Nozomi Odaohara from Nikka Whisky.

Cinq à Sept Series

Who doesn’t love a good happy hour? Participating restaurants and bars in town are holding special VCW Cinq à Sept (5 to 7pm in French). You can expect special cocktails, tasty bites, and entertainment. So far, 31 establishments are taking part, including Aquafarina, Capo and the Spritz, Showcase Restaurant & Bar, Italian Kitchen, Clough Club, Per Se Social Corner, and Tacofino in Gastown. NOTE: check hours, which may vary depending on the establishments. As well, reserve ahead at some places to avoid disappointment.


VCW Seminar – Salmon Guru RESET; Photo: Diego Cabrera of Salmon Guru

If you’re looking to learn more about spirits, cocktail-making, and its lore and history, be sure to attend one of VCW’s educational seminars. For example, Carlino will be the site for a European Vermouth Lunch and Learn (March 5, 11:30am to 2pm; $90 + service fee), which will have participants sampling 6 styles of vermouth from 3 producers from 3 countries (Greece, Spain, and Italy), along with food pairings. Wine and vermouth educator Dr. John Volpe will host the lunch.

Or, visit The Watson for a Classic Cocktails Masterclass (March 6, 4-6pm; $30 + service fee, includes two cocktails) hosted by the World Class Team; or visit Bagheera for a Salmon Guru RESET (March 6, 1-3pm; $63 + service fee) with Madrid’s Diego Cabrera.

Neighbourhood Cocktail Crawls

Get to know a Vancouver neighbourhood and its cocktail scene through one of VCW’s Neighbourhood Cocktail Crawls. Demand for these crawls is high, with only waitlist options now available. Options include a Gastown Cocktail Crawl (March 3, 4-8pm; $96 + service fee), which starts at L’Abbatoir and then goes to Pourhouse, Arcana Spirit Lounge, and Clough Club; and a Main Street Cocktail Crawl (March 5, 4-7pm, $72 + service fee), with stops at Tocador, Como Taperia, and Zarak.

Make sure to buy your tickets asap for VCW, as events are selling out quickly. A portion of ticket sales will go to the BC Hospitality Foundation. Further information and tickets can be found here.

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