young people drinking at a bar on commercial drive in vancouver

The Best Bars in Vancouver for 2020 by Thirsty Locals

In compiling my list of best bars in Vancouver I realized this is without a doubt the most well researched article on Vancouver Planner.

Don’t believe? I have the bank statements (and possibly the memory loss) to prove it.

From award winning cocktail bars to singles bars to dive bars that keep it cheap and cheerful I’ve got you covered.

But! If you have any questions, comments, or even insults about Vancouver bars or anything else regarding my favourite city please use the comments below.

The Best Bars in Vancouver

The Keefer Bar

Fire alight above cocktail at the Keefer Bar, Vancouver
Instagram: @thekeeferbar

$$$$ | Area: Chinatown | 135 Keefer St | Skytrain: Stadium | Website

Located in historic Chinatown, Keefer Bar offers an extensive list of award-winning cocktails inspired by ancient remedies served in the neighbourhood’s surrounding apothecaries.

Never mind Vancouver bars – this was recently ranked second best bar in Canada and it’s can’t miss stuff for cocktail hounds of all ages.

I always go for the Aperol spritz or old fashioned but why not go for one of their unique ‘seasonal prescriptions’? The herb-infused remedies found on their apothecary themed menu will cure whatever is ailing you – hangovers included.

If Keefer were so included they could probably be one of the best restaurants in Vancouver for their Asian-inspired small plates using the freshest ingredients from the local markets. Think Peking duck sliders and crispy Shanghai pork belly.

Factor in an affordable happy hour and you quickly learn why this Chinatown haunt is one of the most highly regarded bars in North America.

The Morrisey

Friday night at the Morrisey, Vancouver
Instagram: @morrisey_pub

$$$ | Area: Downtown | 1227 Granville St. | Skytrain: City Centre | Website

If you’ve tired out looking for downtown Vancouver bars along the Granville Strip only to get half-pints, weak whiskies, and watered down cocktails then here’s the remedy.

This self-anointed rock n roll hideaway is one of the few remaining spots in the entertainment district with fantastic specials (Industry Night on Monday is huge) and an unpretentious vibe.

The music at the Morrisey is typically of the post-punk, gothic, and alternative variety and there’s a dark, eclectic decor to match.

Modern pub food and some of the best wings in Vancouver round it out.

Rock legends Imagine Dragons, Pixies, and even Dave Grohl have stopped in for drinks so why not you?

The Alibi Room

Beer at the Alibi Room, Vancouver
Instagram: @alibiroomvancouver

$$ | Area: Chinatown | 157 Alexander St | Skytrain: Waterfront | Website

After a long day seeing Vancouver’s top sites sometimes all you’re looking for is a chill spot to grab a couple of pints and some great food.

Located in a hundred year old heritage building on the edge of trendy Gastown, the much vaunted Alibi Room is a self professed modern tavern offering one of the best craft beer selections in British Columbia.

That’s right – there’s over 50 taps of local and imported craft beer.

The Alibi Room also features a unique wine list with local boutique and organic wines.

Pair your drink with a shared plate, such as the meze or charcuterie platter, or one of the numerous comforting entrees found on their fresh sheet.

It’s all locally sourced, organic, ocean wise, or free range.

The Metropole Community Pub

A couple stands outside the Met pub, Vancouver
Instagram: @metpub

$ | Area: Gastown | 320 Abbot St | Skytrain: Waterfront | Website

Out of all of Vancouver’s top neighbourhoods, Gastown’s ongoing gentrification makes it quite unique. Unfortunately, it has also had the unintended consequence of making a cheap pint hard to find.

The Metropole Community Pub is one of the few neighbourhood hold outs that still offers cheap drinks and affordable pub grub crowd 7 days a week.

While the tap selection won’t blow you away, the amazing $3.00-$5.00 beer and highball specials are some of the best deals in the city.

One of the only Vancouver bars you can challenge your friends to fun games like beer-pong, pool, darts, pinball, Big Game Hunter (yass!), and skeeball.

On weekends the Met goes with local DJ’s spinning a variety of 90’s and 00’s hip hop and top-40. There’s a small cover but you can still expect the same casual, no frills atmosphere.

The best bar for students on a budget.

The Irish Heather

The bar at the Irish Heather, Vancouver
Instagram: @theirishheather

$$-$$$ | Area: Gastown | 210 Carrall St | Skytrain: Waterfront | Website

When travelling it’s easy to end up at a ‘plastic paddy ‘ pub – one Vancouver joint even went viral for pouring what was dubbed the “worst pint of Guinness ever”.

But as someone who has travelled Ireland I can say the Irish Heather is nothing for the sort. This place is even Irish owned and operated.

Go here for a proper pint of Guinness and a fantastic selection of local and international craft beers.

You’ll also find a massive whiskey list with hundreds of varieties from Ireland, India, Spain, America, and every region of Scotland.

What do I do? I grab a dram of Scotch with a selection from their unique charcuterie list with 4 meats, 4 cheeses, and 4 condiments for just $20.

You also have a pick of Irish and British classics, including house made corned beef, bangers and mash, and fish and chips.

This is the best Vancouver bar on my list for an older crowd.

The Tiki Bar

Tropical cocktail at the Tiki Bar, Vancouver
Instagram: @atthewaldorf

$$ | Area: East Van | 1489 E Hastings | Skytrain: Waterfront | Website

Get a small piece of island life in this quirky East Vancouver room decorated with palm trees, exotic art work, Polynesian carvings, and of course: boozy rum-based cocktails in extravagant glasses!

As the first Polynesian themed bar in the Pacific Northwest, the Tiki Bar has been providing Vancouverites with a slice of sunny paradise since the 1950’s.

OK, it sounds a bit corny. But you won’t be laughing once you try one of their signature hand-crafted cocktails like the pisco/tequila inspired beach game and  mint and lemongrass infused sweet thang swizzle.

Drinking in company? Did your straws into one of their vintage rum-based punch bowls. Get your cameras out because they even light them on fire!

Tiki Bar also counts a Polynesian inspired food menu with tuna poke, Maui ribs, and Polynesian fried rice as well as one of the best happy hours in the city.

Guilt and Company

Live music at Guilt and Company, Vancouver
Instagram: @guiltandco

$$-$$$ | Area: Gastown | 1 Alexander St. | Skytrain: Waterfront | Website

Think live music is a dying art? Well not if this Gastown haunt has anything to say about it!

Guilt and Co. offers nightly sets with an eclectic mix of jazz, swing, soul, reggae, and Latin from the region’s best local performers.

You’ll find an extensive list of inventive cocktails, craft beers, and international wines for that extra step on the dance floor.

If that wasn’t enough they also run a limited yet tasty shareable food menu with fine meats and artisan cheese platters.

The Emerald

The bar at the Emerald Supper Club, Vancouver
Instagram: @emeraldsupperclub

$$-$$$ | Area: Chinatown| 555 Gore Ave. | Skytrain: Stadium | Website

This unique cocktail lounge rubs shoulders with some of the best restaurants in downtown Vancouver and offers a mix of Vegas glamour with a pinch of anything goes – my kind of place!

Just walk in the Emerald’s non-descript entrance and you’ll feel old school vibes, the second floor lounge making you feel you may get bag-over-head-dragged into the back like some Scorsese picture.

The deference to 1970’s glamour extends right down to the antique chairs, dappled lighting, and period-appropriate decor.

Again, we’re looking at solid hand-crafted cocktails and local craft beers that have earned the Emerald a ranking as the sixteenth best bar in Canada.

If you’re worried your wallet will take too much of a hit at Keefer Bar then this is a great alternative.

The Blarneystone

The dance floor at the blarneystone
Instagram: @blarneystonevan

$-$$ | Area: Gastown | 216 Carrall St. | Skytrain: Waterfront | Website

Arguably the most recognized pub in British Columbia, Vancouver’s best answer to the Temple Bar has been slanging pints of Guinness and shots of Jameson at a reasonable prices since 1972.

This Vancouver bar turns into a weekend nightclub with house band Killarney playing a mix Irish classics like “Danny Boy” alongside top 40 and rock favourites.

Vancouver is criticized for being cold and cliquey but the Blarney Stone is an exception to the rule – this is one of the best bars for groups in Vancouver looking to meet people.

Your feet will stick to the floor and you’ll piss in a trough but this is the place to let your hair down in Vancouver.

The Diamond

Cocktails at the Emerald, Vancouver
Instagram: @thediamondgastown

$$ | Area: Gastown | 6 Powell St. | Skytrain: Waterfront | Website

In a century-old brick building overlooking Maple Tree Square, The Diamond is an unpretentious cocktail lounge that somehow manages to churn out top quality stuff regardless of its price point.

It recently came in at number 17 on the list of Canada’s best bars.

Their booze list is conveniently separated into cocktail categories reflecting your intentions and mood: boozy, refreshing, delicate, and overlooked.

Whether it’s a classic sazerac or old fashioned, or any of their unique creations like tiger breath (hibiscus, cachaça, lime, pineapple, and jalapeño honey) you’re in good, tipsy hands.

Add in a creative, Mediterranean inspired supper menu (48 hour short rib and a serrano ham quince bread, please!) and you won’t be leaving any time soon.

Prohibition

Women drinking champagne at Prohibition, Vancouver
Instagram: @prohibitionyvr

$$$$ | Area: Downtown | 801 W. Georgia St. | Skytrain: City Centre | Website

When we talk of cool bars in Vancouver it may not get any cooler than this throwback to a 1920’s speak easy and its unparalleled decadence and glamour.

Take one step through the unremarkable entrance marked by a small green light and you’re off to a scene from the Great Gatsby.

The opulent chandeliers, sophisticated decor, and luxurious seating are truly unique for bars in Vancouver – but there’s of plenty of substance to go with the style.

This cocktail bar’s signature the Hotel Georgia harkens back to one of Vancouver’s best hotels and its glamorous past. The drink of Brokers gin, lemon, orgeat, orange blossom water, egg white, and nutmeg has been served at this location since 1951.

They even have an absinthe fountain! Let your dripping booze gently caress a sugar cube before filling your glass while a rotating cast of live bands play a variety of period appropriate jazz and big band favourites.

If you wanna get dressed up and go for it then this is your Vancouver bar.

The Cambie

Partying at the Cambie, Vancouver
Instagram: @cambiegastown

$ | Area: Gastown | 300 Cambie St. | Skytrain: Waterfront | Website

Vancouver’s oldest bar needs no introduction.  Coveted awards like Vice Magazine’s “#1 Place to Get Wasted for Cheap” and the Georgia Strait’s “Best Place in Vancouver for Cheap Beers” have ensured its reputation proceeds itself.

This Gastown institution has been providing cheap drinks and a rowdy student atmosphere since receiving its liquor license way back in 1897.

If you’re willing to drink specials you’ll never pay more than $5 for a drink.

Every day you’ll find one beer, one shot, and one highball on special in the $3.00-$4.00 range. Trust me when I say this is really rare. It’s also a reason this is the best bars in Vancouver to meet singles – who are yes, more than ready to mingle.

Even better, it’s all connected to one of Vancouver’s best hostels.

Best Bars in Vancouver Map

If you need help getting around Vancouver by transport to your favourite bar then consult our easy Vancouver bar map – you may just be able to fit in 5 or 6 in one night.

As you can see, most of are just a short Vancouver taxi ride from each other.

Get One More Round in the Comments

That’s the best bars in Vancouver according to me but maybe you’ve got a different opinion? Fire away with any comments below.

Also remember I’m here to answer any question you have about your Vancouver visit ASAP so don’t be shy.

Bottoms up!

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