This is a continuation of the post of My Eating Favourites in Victoria with recommendations of my favourite places to grab a delicious cocktail in the city. Pre-pandemic, I felt the cocktail scene in BC’s capital city was stronger and less pretentious than many of the comparable establishments in Vancouver. I’m not sure what happened, but over the past 2 years a couple of my favourites in Victoria have changed ownership and have fallen off my list, and in Vancouver the scene is improving almost by the month. So a post soon on Vancouver is in order, but I will stay on the hunt to keep my cocktail-ing list for Victoria current & robust.
Clive’s Classic Lounge is now THE cocktail bar in Victoria. Lounge Manager Shawn Soole takes his bar program seriously and it shows. I also appreciate that they do a lot of very cool events working in collaboration with bartenders near and far. I know that I’ll consistently have an amazing cocktail at the Clives (and probably get it in the most ridiculous glass). Clives Classic Lounge now sits at the tops of my Victoria list. I find the decor to be a bit stodgy, with it’s retro (not chic) vibe but the best seat is always at the bar anyways.
The Q at the Empress Hotel is the most well known for visitors in the city looking to sit somewhere pretty while imbibing in a drink. A major plus is that that their cocktails are very good. You’re hard pressed not to order something made from their pretty purple Empress Gin. An added bonus is their addictive charcoal popcorn served alongside the drinks.
The Bar at the Courtney Room Hotel has my favourite Happy Hour in Victoria where you can sip a very well made classic cocktail to go alongside their duck fat fried potatoes (amongst other deliciousness). Outside of Happy Hour, the bar is still worthy of a stop as their seasonal creations are creative, perfectly balanced and incredibly delicious.
Little Jumbo was the first cocktail bar in Victoria to pique my interest on the scene in the city. A little bit hidden, Little Jumbo has great old Victoria feels with its long wooden bar and exposed brick, It only takes a moment in speaking to the bartender(s) to understand that this place takes its beverage program seriously.
Citrus & Cane is a remodelled space upstairs of what used to be a seedy motel. As you walk in, you’re treated to a tropical vibe, with cocktails to match. I love how Citrus & Cane can make you feel like you’re in a sunny locale on a cold winter’s day with their vibrant and colourful creations. Their menu leans heavy on rum-based cocktails (which I can’t drink), but there are enough non-rum cocktails on the menu to keep it interesting for me.
Cenote is never my first choice for a drink but it’s a really great second choice if you’re can’t get into one of the others on this list. Maybe I’m not being fair, because I haven’t visited that many times, and always somewhere that other reputable bartenders in the city recommend. Another re-visit soon is in order to reassess my feelings.
Wind Cries Mary is very good restaurant with an even better bar experience. As with the others, the cocktail list changes with the seasons, and I’m always delighted in their offerings. Best of all is that it’s open later during the week than everything else on this list and you’re feeling peckish, their fried chicken or tater tots make a great accompaniment to their drinks.
End Dive is the newest addition to Victoria, and it’s very hard to find out any information on it in advance. I trusted the sources that sent me to End Dive and gave it a try on my last visit. I found the food to be creative and delicious, and was glad to be seated at the bar surrounded by locals and where you can interact with the friendly staff. I’ve only been once but appreciated the knowledgeable bartenders who steered me in excellent directions with my choices. I can’t wait to return soon to sample more from their food and drink menu.
My Favourite Places to Cocktail in Victoria BC: