We couldn’t help but wonder, does Victoria really have great cocktail bars? The answer: Yes.
Aperol you’ve been through this past year and a half, you deserve a stiff one. And why not make it a double? Whether you’re saying cheers to friendship with a long overdue cosmopolitan or hitting up the local watering hole and sipping on a classic G&T, Victoria has some great hidden gems to keep you staying for another round. Keep reading to discover some of the most favourited spots to sip in the [Capital] city. And just like that…you’ve got Friday night plans!
Did we miss something?! Tell us your local reco!
Down the Hall, 506 Fort St, Victoria, BC
Tucked at the harbour end of Victoria’s Fort Street, you can hear the buzz of conversations, laughter, clinking glasses and cocktail shakers that bellow from a friendly glowing door down a dimly lit hallway. As you open the portal you step into a room that transports your senses to the prohibition era and immediately feel the warm and hospitable welcome from the team at Little Jumbo. Experience the cocktail creativity that’s driven by their talented mixologists and discover a new favourite bevvy with their ever-changing menu that’s aimed at delighting all tastes and set new standards for finely crafted classics! For over 8 years our Little Jumbo has emphasized the fine craft of preparing fresh local food with a focus on continental and contemporary, and pairing it with fine wines and the best of classic and modern mixology. Some of their past creations include Little Jumbo’s Hazelnut Shaft, Akavit Basil Smash, Cristalino Mango, and Wildflower Old Fashioned. Follow them on Instagram at littlejumbobc for their weekly set of innovative cocktails and menu items!
Bodega Tapas Wine Bar
1210 Broad St, Victoria, BC
Tapas, wine, and bar. Say no more, you have our attention. Carefully nestled on the corner of Broad Street and [the ever so charming] Trounce Alley, Bodega is one of the city’s hidden gems of wine bars. With a robust and worldly wine list, sweet sherry selection and a stiff cocktail line-up you can easily find yourself comfortably passing the time at one of their high-top tables or on their alley-facing patio. If you end up having an Il Cantinori Carrie Bradshaw birthday moment (IYKYK) we can say with confidence that you’ll be delighted and entertained by their unique cocktails list and Spanish tapas. Try their appropriately named Do It Again (Empress Gin, house made tonic syrup, soda and rocks), or their Glamour Profession (Gobernador pisco, rhubarb fennel syrup, marrow sweet red vermouth, lemon, grapefruit juice, grapefruit bitters, absinthe spritz, and rocks).
Sherwood Café & Bar
710 Pandora Ave, Victoria, BC
Day and night – Sherwood serves up wicked breakfast, lunch, dinner, and our favourite hour – happy hour [and of course, late night]. A perfectly curated space with natural light, emerald-green hues, brass accents and black finishings that come together to create an aesthetically pleasing [and most Instagramable] space. Their motto: Designed for a fresh-faced and recklessly optimistic downtown community. Enjoy one (or a few) of their creatively named handcrafted cocktails like It Has Pockets! (Beaufort Bianco, juniper-lime oleo, lemon-lavender stock, sparkling wine), Nice Tea W.E.E city (Citadelle Gin, lemon-honey oleo, sour cran-cocktail, chai tea, (b)Otters), or a Laurentian (Aperol, rhubarb shrub, bourbon, lemon) – You don’t have to ask us twice! Warm up with beer or wine during their daily happy hour then get shakin’ with their creative cocktail menu.
Q at the Empress
721 Government St, Victoria, BC
Experience the fresh and contemporary atmosphere that pays homage to the building’s unique iconic heritage – Just like Charlotte York, it’s tradition with a twist. Located in the most storied room in Victoria The Q represents queen and country, a nod to Queen Victoria, with a modern twist on royalty. And, they have a cocktail menu worth celebrating! Try some of their iconic purple-hued beverages like Q1908 (empress gin, lemon juice, sugar, egg white & butterfly pea flower) or Empress 75 (empress gin, st-germain, cointreau, lemon juice, sugar, prosecco, grapefruit pearls). Both created with their exceptional Empress 1908 Gin – Micro-distilled in small batch copper-pot stills, Empress 1908 is handcrafted using eight carefully selected botanicals. Pull up and get a front row seat to the mixology magic that ensues right before your eyes or tuck away in one of their plush intimate corner loungers as you sip the night away.
Clives Classic Lounge
740 Burdett Ave, Victoria, BC
Don’t let its location in a hotel deter you. If we’ve learned anything, some of the hottest cocktail bars in Victoria are adjoined to a hotel. Conveniently located lobby-level at The Chateau Victoria, Clives Classic Lounge is legendary, and the staff take their craft of mixology very seriously (as one should). Their motto: Bartending is not a lifestyle. Bartending is a profession, a craft, an opportunity to express creativity and passion through flavour and hospitality. With the goal of offering guests a unique experience; tell the bartender or server what you like and we will create something that you will love. And yes, they’ll even share the recipe with you! So go ahead and order that Samantha Jones approved cosmopolitan and experience one of Victoria’s best cocktail bars!
Clarke & Co
1002 Blanshard St, Victoria, BC
Come where the locals drink! Clarke and Co offers sophisticated craft cocktails and comfort food with a friendly neighborhood atmosphere. A real Steve Brady and Miranda vibe. And, if Whiskey is your thing, they boast one of Victoria’s most extensive Whiskey selections, so you’re bound to discover a new favourite. Whether you’re enjoying a casual post-work bevvy with colleagues or looking to let a little loose on a Friday, you’ve come to the right place. Serving up creative cocktails like a S’mores Shaft, 3oz Negronis, and if you’re willing to roll the dice try the Bartenders Choice and have the talented bar team whip up something just for you. Their friendly, genuine and attentive crew will have you feeling right at home.
Please keep in mind, starting September 13, 2021, proof of vaccination will be required for those 12 and older to access certain social and recreational events and businesses to help protect people from COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic, tourism businesses have continued to implement stringent protocols to keep staff and visitors safe, and will continue to do so at every stage—including the latest requirement to verify proof of vaccination for guests (where applicable), and visitors are asked to return the favour by travelling responsibly. We encourage all residents and visitors to know before you go and familiarize yourself with the health & safety protocols and requirements at each business you plan to visit. As businesses continue to navigate and adjust daily operations, train staff, and implement new requirements to keep us all safe, please be patient—we’re in this together!