Calgary’s bar scene has grown up over the years. Once the town well known for cheap beer and line dancing, now there are dozens of high end cocktail bars to indulge in.
It’s a testament to how the city has changed, with a demographic that is just as comfortable line dancing during Stampede as they are sitting down for a craft cocktail in a dark speakeasy.
With that being said, Calgary is still a city that likes to hide its secrets well, so we’ve put together the 10 best places to search out for an excellent cocktail.
Wine, Japanese whisky, gin, cocktails, beer and digestifs; that’s all you really need to know about Bar Annabelle. Not enough? Fine. This funky little bar on Stephen avenue knows whats up. Not only do they curated an excellent list of wine and cocktails, but they’ve got a rotation of classic vinyl records playing in the tiny 22 seat bar.
Betty Lou’s Library
For those that know where to look, Betty Lou’s offers a true speakeasy experience. An intimate space modelled after the speakeasy’s of the 1920’s, the only way to find yourself at the bar is…well it’s a secret. We’d spoil it for you, but it’s better to experience it yourself. Make a reservation, get a password and find your way into Betty Lou’s.
Looking for a somewhere to get a trim and enjoy a cocktail? Look no further than Cannibale. One of those classic barbers turned cocktail bars, Cannibale has an excellent array of classic and reinvented cocktails along with a food menu that will set you up for hours.
Hawthorn is the grand lobby bar that every city needs at least one of. It’s opulent for sure and makes you feel like you need to be well dressed to fit in, but the cocktails are well worth it. Generally, lobby bar cocktails can be hit or miss, but Hawthorn punches well above its weight and offers cocktails to rival the aesthetic.
Milk Tiger Lounge
Another tiny little space to get lost in, Milk Tiger has style all its own. There’s sort of a retro-funk thing going on, and on special nights they even bring in retro arcade games! All that being said, we’re here for the cocktails, and they don’t disappoint.
Model Citizen is the cocktail bar associated with the brilliantly good Model Milk restaurant. At only 50 seats, you’re bound to get dedicated attention from the bartender. Model Citizen features a monthly rotating cocktail menu and weekly features with bar snacks from the Model Milk kitchen.
We’ve featured Proof before, as it’s one of those bars that has poured countless attention into its cocktails. There’s nothing more to be said about Proof that we haven’t already said before; if you only get the chance to visit one cocktail bar in Calgary, this is it.
Shelter is like stepping into an underground bunker decorated by a gaudy, wealthy megalomanic who also really loves cocktails. So obviously we love it. It’s weird, the cocktails are weird, everything challenges your perceptions and if you give in, you’re bound to have a great time.
The Wednesday Room
If we haven’t gone through enough “era” style bars, then let’s travel back to the 60’s at The Wednesday Room. Everything you loved/hated about 60’s style basements are here, from the carpet to the plush seating. Thankfully the cocktails are a blend of modern and classic, and you’ve got a creative food menu to pair.
Untitled Champagne Lounge
With a name like that it would be fair to assume that Champagne was the focus at Untitled, and while yes there is a wide variety of bubbles to choose from, there is also an expansive and creative cocktail list that is exceptionally technical. There’s a classic elegance to the space, and definitely makes you feel like a high roller.