Vancouver's best bartenders share favourite fall cocktails and bars

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      After one of the most gorgeous Vancouver summers on record, a West Coast fall is right on the horizon. Goodbye, patios and Pisco Sours; hello, roaring fires and a smoky 30th Century Man or three.

      In anticipation of the crisp weather ahead, we asked some of the best bartenders in the city for their top fall-cocktail recommendations, along with great places to imbibe when the line is out the door at the places where they work their magic.

      Now take off those shorts and get looking for that umbrella.

      Amber Bruce, The Keefer Bar

      (135 Keefer Street)

      Recently named Giffard’s Iron Mixologist 2017, Amber Bruce manages the magnificently innovative Keefer Bar, where certain Straight staffers spend so much time they now have their own designated barstools.

      Best fall cocktail: “Around this time of year I’m usually reaching for something with a little age and a bright soul. Cognac and rye are a couple of my autumn faves. To help you through the equinox, this version of the Quaker cocktail is perfect: rye, cognac, fresh raspberries, and lemon. Thanks, Simon Aukett, for introducing that one to me!”

      Best bar besides yours: “You will most likely find me at the Diamond sipping on tequila while making fun of the bartenders. Either that or the good ol’ Fairview Pub for some beers and Big Buck Hunter.”


      Juniper's Max Borrowman.
      KK Law

      Max Borrowman, Juniper

      (185 Keefer Street)

      Since first stepping behind the bar at an Earls in Kelowna, self-described mad extrovert Max Borrowman has worked his way up the ranks in Lotusland to become head bartender at the forward-thinking and much-loved Juniper in Chinatown.

      Best fall cocktail: “My fall drink is the Forester—sorrel-infused gin (we use Tanqueray No. Ten), Cocchi Americano, fino sherry, fir-tip-infused Ketel One vodka, and green Chartreuse, garnished with a juniper sprig.”

      Best bar besides yours: “My favourite place to unwind would be Grapes & Soda—by far my favourite bar in Vancouver. Great cocktails, good biodynamic wine list, excellent food as well. And the staff is always friendly. I would also add that I just had my wedding reception there, too, and they did a fantastic job.”


      Bittered Sling Bitters' Lauren Mote.

      Lauren Mote, Bittered Sling Bitters

      Award-winning bartender Lauren Mote wears many hats, but she’s perhaps best known as the Diageo Reserve & World Class Global Cocktailian, and the coproprietor of Bittered Sling Bitters—an internationally successful portfolio of award-winning cocktail bitters and culinary extracts.

      Best fall cocktail: “I love to drink autumnal flavours—fall is one of my favourite times of year. The cocktail that I’m drinking now, being a long-standing fan of Islay whiskies, is the Peater Rabbit, with Johnnie Walker Black Label, Lagavulin 16-year-old, sweet vermouth, German herbal liqueur, and Bittered Sling Cascade Celery bitters. It’s a deep-contemplation, chin-in-the-hand ‘thinker’ of a cocktail.”

      Best bar besides yours: “I’ve always been a fan of hotel bars—from meetings to hangouts, special events and service standards, there’s something about luxury hotel visits that are so special. My favourites are Yew seafood + bar for the Ceylonese Monsoon cocktail with Bulleit bourbon, and the Botanist for their Pretty Bird cocktail with Tanqueray No. Ten Gin.


      Uva Wine & Cocktail Bar’s Sabrine Dhaliwal.
      Allison Kuhl

      Sabrine Dhaliwal, Uva Wine & Cocktail Bar

      (900 Seymour Street)

      Sabrine Dhaliwal’s passion for hospitality and bartending is no secret—she’s currently bar manager at Uva Wine & Cocktail Bar, where her program is complex without being complicated while showcasing her team’s creations.

      Best fall cocktail: “Fallen Angel—a refreshing concoction of Cutty Sark Prohibition Scotch whisky, falernum, and lemon juice, with a hint of Bittered Sling Denman bitters.”

      Best bar besides yours: “My go-to bar changes often—I go to places where I get to see my friends while they are working. I have been spotted at the Diamond, L’Abattoir, and Prohibition, to name a few.”


      Donnelly Group's Trevor Kallies.
      Carlito Pablo

      Trevor Kallies, Donnelly Group

      Trevor Kallies is the beverage director for Donnelly Group. When he’s not developing menus and training staff, he also serves as the president of the Canadian Professional Bartenders Association and helps manage the Tales of the Cocktail CAP (Cocktail Apprentice Program) team.

      Best fall cocktail: “When fall/autumn hits I typically turn my pre-order of a Negroni into a rum old-fashioned. This is typically my go-to while I look at the menu to see if there’s a house cocktail that catches my eye.”

      Best bar besides yours:Alibi Room and Brassneck Brewery take a lot of my beer money, but if we’re talking cocktails, I’d say Keefer Bar is my local favourite.”


      Prohibition's Brad Stanton.
      KK Law

      Brad Stanton, Prohibition

      (801 West Georgia Street)

      The lucky among us get to do jobs that never feel like work. Count Prohibition’s Brad Stanton in those ranks—in his own words, “I revel in the opportunity to engage with guests and provide refined service from behind my dream bar that I helped to build, Prohibition at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia.”

      Best fall cocktail:  “Nothing says ‘winter is coming’ more than ordering a Sazerac cocktail at my bar.  You won’t be disappointed, I guarantee! We use Sazerac 6Yr Old rye and my recipe won the coveted Seal of the Sazerac at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, so it’s legit.”

      Best bar besides yours:Mamie Taylor’s in Chinatown, where I can pull up a barstool and chat up my old sailing buddy Simon and have a bite and a tasty local beer. Okay, and maybe a nip of bourbon or two…”


      Royal Dinette's Kaitlyn Stewart.
      Diageo World Class

      Kaitlyn Stewart, Royal Dinette

      (905 Dunsmuir Street)

      Kaitlyn Stewart saw her mixology stock continue to soar this August when she placed first in the prestigious Diageo World Class Global Final competition in Mexico City. When not basking in the glow of being named World Class Bartender of the Year, she can be found heading up the bar at Royal Dinette.

      Best fall cocktail:  “Like any Vancouverite, fall has to be my favourite season. The changing leaves, the rain, the cozy sweaters, and the feel-good cocktails. I typically go for a dark-spirited cocktail come fall. A Zacapa 23 Dark ’n’ Stormy will always pique my interest. At the Dinette we do a variation on the Dark ’n’ Stormy called Views from the Drink. It combines Bulleit bourbon, amaro, coffee orgeat, pressed lime juice, bitters, and ginger beer. Great for fall or winter sipping.”

      Best bar besides yours: “One of my favourite places to unwind after work would have to be the Gerard Lounge at the Sutton Place Hotel. It’s one of those few gems in the city that you can hide away and sip on a delicious cocktail in an old leather chair, in front of a fire. It kind of feels like you’re stepping back in time, which I absolutely love.”