Food & Drink

Don’t Drink & Drive When You Can Cruise & Booze

Sip and sail? Here’s a fun way to visit some of Vancouver’s small-batch distilleries by water in five easy steps.

By Charlene Rooke   |   July 05, 2021

  Tourism Vancouver
The Aquabus and False Creek Ferries are two fleets that sail passengers around downtown Vancouver.

Two underappreciated attractions of Vancouver: 1) Some of its waterside neighbourhoods are connected by charming little passenger ferries, and 2) It’s home to a handful of indie craft distilleries. Combine the two, and you get a safe way to sample the local drinks scene—as long as you can keep your sea legs. Check websites for tour and tasting hours and bookings, as well as health and safety info.

STEP 1: The Liberty Distillery
1494 Old Bridge Street, Granville Island
This cozy tasting room fits right in with the artisan shops on Granville Island, with its century-old antique wooden bar and a big window for viewing the shiny German-made copper still at work.
Spirits to Sample: Whisky nerds can compare the unaged White “Whiskey” to a flight of mature barley, rye, corn and ancient-grains whiskies.
Must-try Cocktail: The Whistle Punk, with vodka, ginger, lime and basil.
Insider Tip: Ask for limited-edition releases like oat vodka or a whisky aged in Madeira casks.

STEP 2: Granville Island to Hornby Street
Beside the Granville Island Public Market, hop a rainbow-coloured Aquabus for the two-minute cruise over to Hornby Street. Since you’ll head back here to catch a different ferry to your next stop, consider buying a day pass.

STEP 3: Long Table Distillery
1451 Hornby St.
Vancouver’s first small-batch distillery is a “ginsmith” making award-winning London Dry, barrel-aged and cucumber gins, plus infused spirits like Texada Vodka (lemongrass), Långbord Akvavit (fennel and caraway), anise-tinged absinthe and a lightly bitter amaro. The live-edge timber table is the centrepiece of a tasting room selling cocktail supplies, books and killer charcuterie snacks—plus spirits, of course.
Spirits to Sample: Try bespoke vegan ice cream containing Long Table London Dry Gin (a collab with Earnest Ice Cream).
Must-try Cocktail: The Seventh Seal, with akvavit, lime, strawberry and smoke.
Insider Tip: Ask about seasonal releases like limoncello. Watch for the distillery’s future move to a commercial space in the cool Vancouver House architectural landmark nearby.


STEP 4: Granville Island to Yaletown
Return on the Aquabus to Granville Island and switch boats to Yaletown, a former warehouse neighbourhood turned hip restaurant and nightlife district. Check out the massive yachts parked in Yaletown’s Quayside Marina as you walk three blocks up Davie Street. Then turn right.

STEP 5: Yaletown Distilling Company
1132 Hamilton St.
A local craft-beer pioneer now makes a full back-bar of small-batch spirits, shaken and stirred into raspberry or espresso vodka Martinis, jalapeño Bloody Marys or cucumber gin and tonics at the Yaletown Distillery Bar + Kitchen, a block away. Most Canadian distilleries mature whisky in American bourbon barrels, but Yaletown uses tony French new-oak casks for its golden single-malt, with rich apple and pear notes like Cognac.
Spirits to Sample: Get a tasting flight that includes the house gin, a flavoured vodka (jalapeño!) and the whisky.
Must-try Cocktail: The Sparrow, a sweet, savoury and smoky mix of Yaletown whisky, vermouth, Campari, Aperol and peaty Laphroaig Scotch.
Insider Tip: Call 604-669-2266 to see if the tasting room is offering tours.

Charlene Rooke
Charlene is a travel, food and drinks writer who has visited 55 countries. Her favourite place to drink is Tokyo, in any bar with hand-carved ice. No matter what city or country she’s in, she always orders a Manhattan.

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