Spirited Traveler: Cocktails in Vancouver's Gastown

Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:23am EST
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By Kara Newman

NEW YORK (Reuters) - It seems fitting that some of the best tippling to be found in Vancouver is in an area noted for its boozy past.

Indeed, historic Gastown is named after "Gassy" Jack Deighton, a Yorkshire seaman and barkeeper who arrived in 1867 to open the area's first saloon. As late as the 1930s, Gastown also was the center of the city's drinking life.

According to some estimates, as many as 300 licensed establishments dotted the 12-block area formerly known as Granville before the area collapsed into seedy disrepair.

But now, after a revitalization campaign started in the 1960s, the area has returned to its former bibulous vibrancy and in 2009 was named a National Historic site.

With its hipster vibe, Gastown has become a hub for high-tech and other indie businesses housed within grand Victorian buildings, including a number of bars and restaurants.

"It's a small city and the bartenders here are all friends," says Shaun Layton, Head Barman at Vancouver's L'Abattoir ().

"Especially in Gastown, where arguably five of the country's best bars are all within walking distance. Instead of seeing each other as competition, we draw maps for customers showing them where to go next."

In addition to L'Abbatoir, Layton also recommends Gastown favorites The Diamond () and Boneta () (Mark Brand, who owns both, is notorious for his "off the cuff" cocktails).   Continued...