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Remember back in the olden days when appetizers were always full price, and you couldn’t find yourself a late afternoon beer for $5, no matter how hard you tried?
Thankfully, those days and their archaic policies are long gone, and Vancouver has become a Happy Hour mecca, with many pubs and restaurants not only offering one, but multiple hours each day for people to find libation-induced cheer. Here are six particularly stylish spots to visit in downtown and Gastown, each with their own exclusively curated cocktail, wine, and beer lists. Sidle up to these well-polished bars and get happy:
It’s tough to beat the view from this bar. To the left is the bustling kitchen, visible if one sits up high enough in her bar stool; to the right is a window looking out over Gassy Jack Square; and straight ahead is a wall of playfully slanted shelves, making the booze bottles themselves appear tipsy. Each day from 5:30-6:30 pm, it’s first come first served at the bar, with half-priced appetizers, daily red and white wines for $6, beer for $5, and cocktail specials by Bar Manager Thor Paulson for $7.
Italians are pros at pairing late afternoon drinks with salty snacks, and Uva is no exception. Daily from 2:00 – 6:00 pm, treat yourself to cocktails by head Bartender Lauren Mote for $10, glasses of wine for $8, and beer for $6.50. Bar snacks include the satisfyingly creamy/crunchy arancini (3 for $5), crispy polenta ($3), and buck a shuck oysters. In mid-afternoon the room is quiet and relaxing, perfect for lingering over a drink.
Royal Dinette’s take on Happy Hour is also European, but this time in the French tradition. Monday through Saturday from 4:30 – 6:00 pm, they offer “L’Apero,”a way to whet one’s appetite for a larger meal. Though their menu changes regularly, the aperitifs typically include drinks like the Americano, Pastis et L’eau, “Apero” Spritz, and Kir Royal for only $6, mixed up by Bartender Kaitlyn Stewart. Pair these with snacks like Beyond Bread sourdough with olive oil, harissa, and sunflower seed oil. Once your appetite is piqued, stay on from 5:00 – 6:00 pm, when they have daily pastas and a glass of wine (or beer) on special for $22.
While most restaurants require you to arrive early for Happy Hour, Medina’s “Golden Hour” requires diners to stay on after their brunch or lunch. From 2:00 – 3:00 pm daily, Bar Manager Trixie Blumel offers up $7 house cocktails, $5 local craft beer, and $4 coffee spikes, which include combos like Bourbon + Crème de Cacao. Then, then you’ll get on with your highly productive day, right?
With its big, colourful room and lengthy bar, Tacofino’s Gastown location is a popular place to catch up over drinks from 3:00pm-6:00pm during weekdays. Specials include featured classic cocktails like the Batanga and Caipirinha (both $8), with a daily featured cocktail for $7 from Bar Manager Julia Diakow. There are also rotating beer selections on tap ($5), glasses of red and white wine ($5), and once your drinks are ordered, a variety of share plates to choose from.
Go and be swanky. Boulevard, located in the Sutton Place Hotel, puts on daily Stanley Park beer, highballs, and feature cocktails for just $5, select wines for $6, and an appetizer menu full of inventive but casual Happy Hour bites ranging from $1 to $10. Enjoy snacks like octopus ceviche or house smoked salmon pâté in plush banquette booths under sculptural, glowing chandeliers.
Hapa Izakaya’s “Hapa Hour” wins for best name, with three Vancouver locations to choose from (weekdays in Coal Harbour from 3:00 – 5:30 pm, and on Robson and in Yaletown everyday from 5:00 – 6:00 pm). Featured draft beers are on for $4, red and white wines for $5, with dishes like Hapa Hot Wings and Renkon Gyoza Tempura to appease your late afternoon hunger.
For an intimate and trendy Happy Hour experience, try Clough Club in Gastown. Weekdays from 5:00 – 7:00 pm and 12:00 – 1:00 am Sunday to Thursday, this low-lit, brass-finished bar serves up $7 select classic cocktails, and $4 Jameson, highballs, and Fernet Branca (for those in need of a digestif). If you’re peckish, order a hot dog for $5, or take advantage of the complimentary snacks, set out for those enjoying a cocktail at the bar.
That’s just a small sampling of some of the many fantastic places to enjoy Happy Hour in downtown Vancouver! What are your favourites?
Featured image: Vancouver aerial. Photo: Tourism Vancouver