Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Three Victoria cocktail bars internationally recognized as some of Canada’s best


It’s official, Victoria has some of the best bars and restaurants in Canada to find a finely crafted libation!

The Tales of the Cocktail Foundation (TOTCF) is an international non-profit which seeks to educate and celebrate cocktail culture around the world. 

They host the Spirited Awards every year in an effort to recognize the efforts of bars across the globe. 

The TOTCF picks the top ten bars or restaurants from a region and honours them at a celebration gala. This year, the 17th annual Spirited Awards will be taking place in New Orleans where the honourees will be celebrated in-person between July 23rd and 28th. 

Three bars from Victoria will be taking part in these celebrations as regional honourees from across Canada.

“We are so grateful for the contributions of each of these Spirited Awards Regional Honourees,” said Tales of the Cocktail Foundation CEO Eileen Wayner. 

“We are the sum of our parts in this industry, and it’s so fulfilling to see the bars on this list sharing their passion and unique approaches to hospitality with the global drinks community.”

The three Victoria cocktail bars being celebrated are:

Clive’s Classic Lounge at the Chateau Victoria Hotel

Clive’s Classic Lounge is the most celebrated of the three bars to be honourees at the awards. It is being honoured in two separate categories: Best International Bar Team – Canada and Best International Hotel Bar – Canada. 

It has been recognized in the Best International Hotel Bar every year since 2020, but this is the first year they’ve gained an award as Best International Bar Team. 

Clive’s was opened in 2008 and quickly became a pillar of the cocktail community across Vancouver Island, Canada and the world. 

They are known for their traditional french style absinthe which is served from a unique fountain that slowly drips absinthe over a sugar cube — an experience which can’t be found at many places in western Canada. 

Clive’s is also known for their drink ‘From the Rackhouse’, a 24-month aged boulevardier made with premium spirits.

Clive’s Classic Lounge at the Chateau Victoria Hotel is located at 740 Burdett Avenue and is open 5 p.m. until late from Tuesday to Saturday.

The Courtney Room at the Magnolia Hotel

Elevated dining experiences over shared plates can be found at the Courtenay Room and at many other places around town, but what sets them apart is their seasonal cocktail program. 

They serve six cocktails on their carefully crafted seasonal menu this spring as well as many signature cocktails and classics. 

Their ‘Hive Mind’ cocktail is made with Wild Mountain beeswax aged Hennessy VS, salted mint absinthe tincture and cane sugar. It is balanced, sweet and refreshing and will only be available for the season until the team behind the bar finds inspiration for the summer.

The ‘Hive Mind’ is only one of six seasonal libations and they are all equally balanced in different ways with vastly different flavour profiles. 

The Courtney Room is being honoured along with Clive’s Classic Lounge in the Best International Hotel Bar – Canada category, winning Victoria two of 10 spots on the prestigious list.

You can find this bar at 619 Courtney Street and their hours are 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. 

Wind Cries Mary

Tucked in a basement of the historic Bastion Square, Wind Cries Mary is somehow romantic and haunting at the same time. 


They are known for their cozy room, incredible food, delicious cocktails and late night fried chicken. 

Wind Cries Mary is being honoured for the first time at the 17th annual Spirited Awards for Best International Restaurant Bar – Canada, where they are among some long-time honourees and internationally renowned bars. 

They set themselves apart from the pack by utilizing local ingredients in all their signature cocktails, a feat which isn’t easy but does wonders to support the local economy. 

Their ‘Salish’ drink uses Salt Spring Island honey, the ‘WCM Old Fashioned’ uses Stillhead Whiskey from Duncan, the ‘Mainly Local’ uses Esquimalt Rosso vermouth and the list goes on and on. Every single cocktail uses at least one local BC made ingredient. 

“Our goal has always been to support the farms around us, using ‘in season ingredients, sourced as close as possible,” reads their website’s mission statement.

If you are looking for late night meals, they have the best deal in town with their ‘Winner Winner’ chicken dinner for $14 that comes with their signature fried chicken, slaw, pickles and ‘Birdman’ sauce. 

Wind Cries Mary is at 45 Bastion Square and is open 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. seven days a week. 

Where is your favourite cocktail spot in Victoria? Do you think the 2024 Spirited Awards need to add another Victoria Bar to their list? Let us know in the comments!

Curtis Blandy

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