The Keefer Bar
By YP Contributor

Apothecary Inspired Cocktails 

A cocktail revolution is happening in Vancouver’s Chinatown under the skillful guidance of award-winning bartender Dani Tatarin and her trophy-bagging team at The Keefer Bar.

At this popular bar, traditional Chinese apothecary herbs meet classic cocktails with a twist in a delicious cross-cultural blend that draws a loyal all-ages army of locals and a regular influx of visiting cocktail fans from around the world, lured by the bar’s reputation and its many international magazine write-ups and awards. “The concept of the bar was to pay homage to Chinatown,” explains Dani. “We incorporate herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine into house-made bitters, teas, syrups and tinctures, which gives unique flavour combinations with classically inspired cocktails.”

The Keefer Bar’s cocktail list features beloved "alumni" drinks, classics like the herbacious Rosemary Gimlet or the Dragon Fly, a tart combination of magnolia bark tincture, dragonfruit gin, lemon, ginger syrup and pearl sake. Dani and the team also create new "seasonal prescriptions" at least four times a year to reflect the changing seasons and to reflect the mood of the city. “We draw inspiration from the seasons,” Dani says. “We incorporate different teas and herbs into our drinks, such as the cherry blossom-infused syrup that we make after harvesting blossoms in the neighbourhood. In winter we love using cinnamon, anise and immunity-boosting TCM herbs, and we’ll have hot drinks and our almond nog.”

We pay homage to Chinatown with unique flavours and classically inspired cocktails. - Dani Tatarin
Cocktails, beer, wine, dim sum, tacos, chinatown, keefer, patio, apothecary, herbs
Dani and her team concoct imaginative and award-winning cocktails but are equally happy to just pour you a beer.

The Place to Try Something New 

Although the bar draws a crowd of cocktail aficionados, cocktail newbies are welcome too, “We’re just a bar!” laughs Dani. “Beyond doing all the crazy things we do, we’re more than happy to pour a rum and coke if someone doesn’t want to go the cocktail route. And we have a fun selection of Asian beers, locals beers and a great local BC wine list too.”

But if cocktail newbies are puzzled by ingredients like Astragalus Orgeat Syrup or unfamiliar spirits like Appleton VX, Dani and the team are on hand to guide them through the list. “We’ll ask what flavours they like, what mood they’re in and then we’ll curate a drink that’s just right for them.”

Cocktails, beer, wine, dim sum, tacos, chinatown, keefer, patio, apothecary, herbs
Fascinating flavour combinations come together in the Keefer Bar's intriguing cocktails.

Live Music and Burlesque

Despite its petite size, the Keefer Bar serves up a hefty portion of live entertainment throughout the week with bands, DJs and a legendary burlesque show every Sunday night. The show came about after Dani hired the troupe to perform at her 29th birthday party. "I knew them through a friend of a friend,” she explains. “It was just good timing, when we opened we were looking at entertainment and they just happened to be moving from a space they’d been performing in for a while. People love the show, we’ve done it since we opened in 2010.”

While you’re sampling cocktails, don’t forget to make room to try the Keefer’s food menu. which features small bites to share including skewers, pork buns, spring rolls and the popular Peking Duck sliders. “It’s a really simple Chinese-inspired menu,” Dani says. “We’ve got a fun twist on a green onion pancake which we make into a pizza!” And if you’re drinking on a budget, the Keefer Bar can make for a thrifty night out thanks to the daily changing $10 Fountain cocktail which comes served from their old fashioned Absinthe Fountain, plus specials including $5 cocktails throughout the week from Sunday to Friday.

Cocktails, beer, wine, dim sum, tacos, chinatown, keefer, patio, apothecary, herbs
Weekly burlesque has become hugely popular at this Chinatown hot spot.
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