Bartender David Wolowidnyk, Bar, Restaurant, West, Vancouver, Fairview, Where to eat, Where to drink, Where to shop, Bars, Recommendations, Liquor, Stores, Bitters, Spirits, Drink Recommendations, Bartender Recommendations, Bars, Restaurants, Cocktails, Best Cocktail Bars in Vancouver, Best Places for cocktails, Most Creative Bartenders, Insider Recommendations


Eat | Restaurants

Diva At The Met | Blue Water Cafe

Photographs courtesy of Diva At The Met | Blue Water Grill (John James Sherlock)

Northwest | Diva at The Met

For whatever chef Hamid Salimian cooks.

Seafood | Blue Water Cafe

For the raw bar and chef Frank Pabst’s ‘Local Heroes Menu.’

Pasta at CinCin | Pizza Farina

Photographs courtesy of CinCin | Pizza Farina

Italian | CinCin

For a wonderful Italian experience -- chef Andrew Richardson is a marvel.

Italian | Farina

For their pizza.

Maenam | Shao Mai at Kirin

Photographs courtesy of Maenam | Photo Credit: Kent Wang [Flickr]

Thai | Maenam

For everything they cook.

Chinese| Kirin

Go for the dim sum.

Izakaya at Kingyo | Miku Roll at Miku

Photographs courtesy of Kingyo | Miku

Izakaya | Kingyo

It’s a Japanese izakaya... order everything.

Sushi | Miku

A Japanese sushi restaurant and order the sashimi.

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Q & A with Bartender David Wolowidnyk

Q. Tell us about your cocktail program at West.

A. At West, our diverse cocktail list is a collection of many different styles of drinks, so that there are a variety of options to suit everyone, and when our guests still can’t decide, we are happy to guide them with recommendations. Of course, before we do, we find out a little about what that particular person is looking for. In a day of electronic communication, I think that the human interchange is welcomed, and it certainly introduces an element of fun.

Q. What is more fun for you -- when someone orders from the menu or by a concept? For instance, saying I like gin, or bourbon, what can you make?

A. I love when people order by concept. You’re able to translate their answers. It’s really quite rewarding to be able to come up with something that people enjoy. It maybe after asking those questions that it is something we do have on the list or maybe not. It may be something you have in your portfolio of recipes from over the years, something from a bygone era, or you may say I’ve had this idea lately and I think this is the right person to try it on.

Q. Since many people have a difficult time articulating their own flavor palate, how hard is that for you and how did you learn to decode what they’re asking for?

A. It just comes naturally. Most bartenders will ask a few easy questions, ‘do you like sweet, sour, salty, bitter, savory, anything you’re allergic to, strong dislikes,’ these things will narrow it down a bit.

Q. Is there one drink you like to order as a great “tester” of a bartender’s skill?

A. I love a good pre-Prohibition Manhattan with rye whisky. Although the list of ingredients is few, the balance between the whisky, sweet vermouth and bitters is a window to a bartender’s skill set in how they balance each component. It also tells me if that particular bartender treats every single cocktail they make with the same love and respect. Too often the simple ones are the easiest ones to mess up and the hardest to master. Here’s my recipe for the West Manhattan.


Q & A


West Restaurant


American / Northwest / Cocktails

2881 Granville Street

Vancouver, BC V6H 3J5, Canada

T: 604.738.8938 (make a reservation)



Fairview - Vancouver, BC



Photo Credit: Find. Eat. Drink.

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Tips | Soda

When using a carbonated mix, don’t pour it directly over ice, but pour it beside the ice to help preserve the carbonation that would otherwise be depleted.

Bartender’s Tips

David’s Favorite Spirits

Q. As the craft cocktail movement grows, more and more indie spirit producers are coming to market. What are the qualities you look for when selecting a new spirit and what have you found recently that are or will be featured on your shelf?

A. I love it when new spirits and liqueurs are introduced to BC, and I feel fortunate that representatives bring them by for me to taste and invite my opinion. I’m always honest when tasting spirits, even if my opinions are not completely favorable. When tasting a new spirit I look for smooth character and cohesion between the nose and palate, analyzing its beginning, middle and finish.

Ferrand Cognac | Plantation Rum | Bombay Sapphire East

I’m excited about the future availability of a few new products, such as Ferrand Cognac, Plantation Rum and Bombay Sapphire East, because they expand our repertoire and allow for fresh opportunities.

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Drink | Bitters

Scrappy’s Bitters

Photograph courtesy of Scrappy’s Bitters

Scrappy’s Bitters

They’re a brand new label from Seattle. They’re doing a bang up job, I’m really quite happy with their product. They’re very hands on with an artisanal approach.

The Bitter Truth

I like the Bitter Truth out of Germany. They do a fantastic line. I love all of them.

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Bartender’s Recs | Vancouver, BC

Legacy Liquor Store

Photo Credit: Find. Eat. Drink.

Find | Farmers Markets

Kitsilano and Trout Lake Farmers Market

The local Farmers’ markets (Trout Lake and Kits Farmers’ Market in particular) are one of my favorite places to obtain produce throughout the year because the quality of products is amazing. I like to support local businesses whenever possible, and the seasonal fruits and vegetables are inspiring.

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Find | Liquor Stores

Legacy Liquor Store

When I buy for personal use I prefer to shop at Legacy Liquor because they carry a vast selection of products not seen elsewhere.

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Drink | Cocktails

Where To Take A Visiting Bartender

Keefer Bar | The Pourhouse

Photo Credit: Find. Eat. Drink. | Photograph courtesy of The Pourhouse

Keefer Bar

I love it -- they consider the qualities and the character of botanicals and they are also the first to start experimenting with sound. Like bottle-aging or barrel-aging, over time the ingredients come together. Everything has a slightly different vibration, the longer they hang out together, they start to vibrate at the same frequency. Imagine if you apply sound to speed up that process and get a tuning fork with the tone of a C Sharp. You can make two identical cocktails side by side, go out of the room, someone tunes one of those cocktails, you come back and there is a difference. The one that has been tuned is smoother, rounder and the other one still has an edge to it.


The staff likes to mimic the cocktail recipes from a bygone era and replicate them to the best of their abilities to those original preparations, techniques and styles, occasionally adding in their own little twist. They really pride themselves on being that classic old saloon style of a bar.

L’Abattoir | Cocktails at Chambar

Photograph courtesy of L’Abattoir | Chambar


Shaun Layton and David Greig are so complimentary to each other. Shaun is technically the bar manager and David in his own right is an amazing bartender. Their cocktails are classically driven, but tweaked to a contemporary side to be a little more interesting. They are wonderful hosts,  their room is quite small, always very busy, yet they are always willing and able to take a moment to make each one of their guests feel like an individual and not just a number coming through the door. And it’s difficult to do that in a small and very busy environment.


I think the bar team is fantastic. I respect Brad Stanton’s skills immensely and I think he leads a good charge when it comes to heading up the program over there. I love the style of the drinks they make. It’s in an historical building and overall I think they just do a fantastic job.

Blue Water Cafe

I love to go there for the food, I also love to go there for the drinks. They are a perfect example of doing high volume and quality simultaneously. The cocktails are built for speed, but they’re balanced with their complexity and delicious.


I love grappa and CinCin boasts the largest grappa list in Canada. The cocktails that Colin Turner’s producing there are definitely of an Italian forward theme and you don’t often see that. When I feel like I want to travel somewhere, he has a great list with bitters and grappas and he doesn’t just have them on the shelf, he actually uses them. And I think he utilizes them well.


The wizard behind the bar is Jacob Sweetapple. He is an Australian transplant that fell in love with a beautiful Canadian girl and decided to make Vancouver their home. He is incredibly talented. His cocktails hit me in the right place. Every once in a while you’ll sit down at someone’s bar and three of them are good and one may be a miss, with Jacob everything I’ve tasted has been fantastic.

Union Bar

Arthur Wynne is such a character. At one point, he was one of the world’s most sought-after coffee judges and he was flown around the world to barista competitions. Only a few short years ago, he decided to step behind a bar and become the fantastic bartender that he is today. He has a wonderful view of ingredient use, the way that he balances different flavor profiles. He also likes to incorporate flavors that remind him of his to childhood growing up in the southern hemisphere, very different fruits and spices and combinations of those things. He is such a nice gentleman, I don’t like to sit at a bar where people have an attitude. I like when they enjoy what they do and they enjoy the company of others and giving people a wonderful experience and Arthur is one of those people.

Market by Jean Georges

When I consume cocktails, I really enjoy a booze-forward cocktails. Jay Jones, who runs the bar at Market, is a huge proponent of making spirit-forward cocktails. Very classically driven and I like that. I think he is a wonderful person and a fantastic bartender. He is somebody that I hold very high regard and I’m always thrilled to sit across the bar from him

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Off The Beaten Track

Clough Club

Photo Credit: Find. Eat. Drink

Jules Bistro | Clough Club

They are right beside each other and both are under the radar right now, but are turning out some really high quality cocktails.

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For Beer

Alibi Room

Photo Credit: Find. Eat. Drink

Alibi Room

I’m a beer fan and they have an amazing selection of beer at the Alibi Room. The staff is very well versed in it, as well. The bar manager is a wizard when it comes to beer and the selections that he likes to offer, what he is able to source and find, I think it’s one of the city’s best beer rooms. There are others, that have popped up that are excellent as well, I just always love the vibe and it has been one of the longest standing beer rooms in the city.

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When I’m Not In The Mood For Cocktails

The Waldorf

Photograph courtesy of The Waldorf

Bayside Lounge | The Waldorf | The Marquis

When I’m not in the mood for cocktails, I like to go to places where the ‘room’ adds something interesting to the evening. My usual order involves a simple bourbon and a beer.

El Camino

If I’m at El Camino, tequila is a must.

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Drink | Coffee

Revolver | A Cappuccino at Revolver

Photo Credit: Find. Eat. Drink.


Arguably some of the best coffee in the city.

JJ Bean

John Neate’s family has been in the coffee biz for 65/ 70 years and he decided to go on his own and that is when he started JJ Bean. I like to support local coffee whenever I can and I think they do a wonderful job.

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Cocktail Recipes

- Kakkoii

- West Manhattan


Details of David Wolowidnyk’s recommendations on where to eat, drink and shop in Vancouver, BC.

City Guides

- Vancouver City Guide: Download