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One Hundred Years Ago, This Was Vancouver’s Most Elegant Cocktail Bar

The Strand Hotel Bar – 1908 | CoV Archive | AM54-S4-: Hot P86

The ever-evolving Restaurant Graveyard series looks back at the countless, long-shuttered establishments that helped to propel Vancouver’s food and drink forward. Full A-Z with maps and photos here. May they never be forgotten!

For a few decades before the advent of ruinous Prohibition, the bar at Vancouver’s long gone Strand Hotel was – since its launch in 1889 – a magnet to the emerging city’s well-heeled ship owners and brokers. It was the place to see and be seen, to be well-served and thus transported back to the posh clubs and cafes of London. According to Michael Kluckner’s Vancouver, The Way it Was (1984, Whitecap), The Strand’s head barman, Doc, “had the suave manners of a diplomat” and the lunch counter was tended by a Maori import named John Bluntish, who treated his guests like children. The establishment went out in a “blaze of glory” on the night before Prohibition began. Kluckner writes:

In the dying wet hours, there was no way to get close to the bar. The supply of beer ran out, and the bartenders served only straight drinks “and had no time for the usual persiflage.” The Strand set an all-time record for bar receipts, even though some patrons, as closing time approached, wasted precious moments singing ‘Sweet Adeline’.

The hotel and the remnants of its famous bar would be remodelled in 1939 and ultimately demolished in 1951 for the Canadian Bank of Commerce’s regional office building expansion.

Strand, The
Neighbourhood: Downtown
624 West Hastings St.

On Liquor, Licensing and Loopholes, with Keenan Hood of The Keefer

We catch up with The Keefer Bar’s General Manager, Keenan Hood, for a recap on the closing of the Keefer Yard, and the successes of the past couple of years…

The Cozy Prairie Themed Bar Tucked Away on Cordova Street

This cozy, unpretentious Saskatchewan-themed Gastown tavern was a beer- and bourbon-lovers' living room, with a food menu that could have been featured entirely in Scout's 'Comfort Food Guide to Vancouver'.

The Slick, Pacific Rim-Inspired Restaurant Was a Yaletown Fixture for Five Years

Goldfish Pacific Kitchen was a professionally-run, West Coast meets Asian restaurant owned by the legendary Bud Kanke.

Remembering the West End’s Charming Ligurian Restaurant and Its Stunning Patio

The 110-seat restaurant and bar specialized in the regional cuisine of Liguria, with seafood dishes figuring highly.