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A Very Merry Mulled Wine Recipe

The spicy, warm beverage is infused with flavours iconic to the holidays — cloves, star anise, oranges — mixed with sweet red wine in a comforting, Christmassy blend.

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Christmas has come and gone, but the season for cozying up at home has just begun.

One of my favourite things to enjoy with friends at this time of year is mulled wine. The spicy, warm beverage is infused with flavours iconic to the holidays — cloves, star anise, oranges — mixed with sweet red wine in a comforting, Christmassy blend.

The smell of mulled wine instantly transports me to my parents’ home on Christmas Eve, where I first tried the drink several years ago. We let the mixture sit on the stovetop for hours, simmering and filling the house with notes of cinnamon and fruit.

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For me, a glass of wine is the perfect signal to my body that the work day is over and it’s time to unwind. So when I have the time to mull my own wine, it’s an even more powerful signal that I’m on vacation.

That said, it only takes about 30 minutes to brew a batch of mulled wine, making it a simple recipe for relaxation on a winter weekend. It’s also extremely customizable: apples, oranges, pomegranates, berries and peaches can all be substituted in, depending on which flavours or combinations you prefer.

This year, Alison, Melissa and I tried a new mulled wine recipe, inspired by this one from By Emma With Love. The addition of the cranberry juice adds a richness to the drink that cuts through the sweetness of the apple cider, bringing a beautiful balance to the bevvy.

The result?

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A tall mug of rich, comforting mulled wine, perfect for an evening in with the gang!

Feel free to use the recipe below for inspiration, and let me know what delicious concoction you end up with.

Very Merry Mulled Wine

  • 2 750mL bottles red wine
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 2 cups cranberry juice
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 apple, sliced
  • 1/2 cup cranberries
  • 8-10 whole cloves
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 3-4 star anise
  • 1 cup brandy or dark rum
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar (to taste)
  1. Combine all ingredients except brandy in a large pot or Crockpot. Stir to combine.
  2. Simmer for 30 minutes, though it can sit for longer.
  3. Stir in brandy and white sugar, to taste.
  4. Garnish with extra fruit and cinnamon sticks, and serve. Happy holidays!

Adapted from By Emma With Love

Happy Places: Living Life on #ThePortside

An east coast pub in a west coast city, we explore the seafaring ways of Portside Pub.

Portside Pub Vancouver Happy Hour

Happy Hour: $5.75 craft beer from 5-8pm

Walking into Portside Pub kind of feels like stepping down into the belly of a ship — a well-loved, rum-soaked ship. Exposed wooden beams line the ceiling, and glass mugs with regulars names hang above the bar. The aesthetic is wood, rope, and more wood.  

Portside is located at 7 Alexander Street, just steps away from where Gastown legend Gassy Jack’s first bar, the Globe Saloon, once stood. The Gastown area is always bustling, with tourists and the tech startup after-work crowd hustling in search of a patio or a photo opportunity.

With so much happening around this central location in Gastown, Portside’s entrance can be easy to miss. But locals know the spot well, and weekend guests will often find themselves lined up to enter along the cobblestone sidewalk. The unassuming entrance gives little indication of what lies beneath, as visitors delve downstairs into the belly of this local fave.

Great beer, friendly staff, comforting food, and good music.” – Sarah Whitney, events and marketing coordinator

Tucked beside the biggest patio in Gastown, at the corner of Carrall Street and Water Street, Portside is an “east coast pub” in a west coast city, according to Sarah Whitney, their events and marketing coordinator.

“The goal with the Portside Pub is to be the friendliest bar in Vancouver. Great beer, friendly staff, comforting food, and good music,” says Whitney.

Portside Pub Vancouver Happy Hour

Portside lives their friendly motto through a wide range of east coast-inspired events that lure thirsty visitors into the bowels of the pub. Regular “appie hours,” huge east coast boils with mountains of fresh seafood and beer flowing, whisky and beer tastings, and live acoustic performances from bawdy local talent are mainstays.

Regulars also flock to favourite nights like the weekly “Rock, Paper, Portside!” competition, an adult take on the schoolyard classic that features an official referee, prizes, and lofty bragging rights.

On weekend nights, Portside takes visitors from casual afternoon beers straight ahead into the high seas of nighttime festivities with a bumping dance floor and a line that often stretches along the block. An upstairs bar and gangway-esque walkways provide ample space for revelers of every speed.

On event-free nights, the pub’s daily happy hour offers $5.75 pours of 22 local craft beer taps. Happy hour at Portside is all about allowing guests to “[blow off] some steam off after a long day at work, without breaking the bank! Or maybe just cooling down after spending a day at the beach,” says Whitney.

Portside Pub Vancouver Happy Hour

No Bun City? Where to Find A Dang Hot Dog in Vancouver

It’s really hard to find a dedicated hot dog restaurant in Vancouver. Show a weenie some support and go order one at any of these locations.

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Image by Andrea Hirji

No fun city? More like no bun city.

It’s really hard to find a dedicated hot dog restaurant in Vancouver. You might Google around and think, “Oh! Dougie Dog looks good!” Wrong. It’s closed.

Then you’re like, hey, what’s this other one about? Nope, it’s closed too.

Oh, MADdogs Gourmet Hot Dogs looks awesome, and it’s still in business! But wait, it’s in Vancouver, WASHINGTON. Sad.

By this time, you’re probably saying to yourself, “Hey, I live in an urban centre. Why aren’t there any hot dogs in this DANG city?” Well, it seems like our favourite little wieners just can’t survive on their own in Vancouver’s hip food scene.

Other than at What’s Up? Hot Dog, the only franks in YVR seem to exist as refugees on the menus of poutineries, pubs and food trucks. With that said, show a weenie some support and go order one at any of these locations.

Restaurants

Frenchie’s

If Frenchie is there when you arrive at his restaurant, he may regale you with tales about upcoming menu items or his family back in Montreal. He’ll also advise you to upgrade your $3 steamed dog (a steamie) into either the Le Junior combo (a steamie with fries) or the Le Senior combo (which comes with poutine instead of frites!). Local and French beers are available at this diner found at the intersection of Main and Kingsway.

What’s Up? Hot Dog!

This hip spot in Hastings-Sunrise is the last refuge for hot dogs in our fair city. Gourmet dogs include the Hanzai (topped with pickled ginger, sriracha sauce, wasabi mayo, and tempura crunch) and Matt and She’s (slathered with mac n’ cheese, bacon bits, and green onion). Bring some coins to challenge your friends at pinball (the Star Trek machine is super fun!) and check out their happy hour with $3 Lonetree, PBR, and highballs from 3-6pm.

Bestie

Bestie describes itself as “a friendly little sausage and beer parlour in the heart of Vancouver’s Chinatown.” Now, these aren’t your average hot dogs — they’re delectable turkey, bison and pork sausages served on a bed of sauerkraut or plate of fries. Not the wurst, eh? The best time of day to stop by is during their daily happy hour from 3-5pm, when a currywurst and mug of beer combo is just $10.

Counters

Jack’s Place

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I only recently learned that Army and Navy in Gastown has a small food counter operating out of the back corner of the store. Called Jack’s Place, it serves simple food like grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, and small hot dogs. The hot dogs are no different than the ones you’d make at home, but for $1.75 each, Jack’s Place is a great place to grab a bite on the go.

Costco

Yeah, we said it. But we had to, because Costco hot dogs are filling, delicious and come with chopped onions and hot peppers on top of the usual condiments. The Costco by Roger’s Arena in downtown Vancouver serves up quarter-pound franks with a fountain drink, all for $1.50 — so, what are you waiting for?

Food Trucks and Carts

Japadog

This food cart’s influence extends way beyond Vancouver. Although it originated here, Japadog now has carts in Los Angeles and at the Santa Monica Pier. Find any of the seven carts around the city and experience their East-meets-West creations; the Terimayo, with teriyaki sauce, mayo, and seaweed is a crowd favourite!

The Dog House

This truck is quintessentially UBC, with themed dogs like the Thunder Dog, which comes with bacon, caramelized onions, and cheese, or the Wreck Beach frankfurter. The Dog House can be found cruising along UBC streets from Monday to Friday between 11am and 3pm, but can also be booked for special events and catering.

Van Hot Dog

The most natural way to eat a hot dog is to purchase one from a street vendor and chow down as you watch the cars and people pass by. Van Hot Dog, which operates on Robson Street in downtown Vancouver, serves up the classic treat with fresh, traditional toppings — in the end, isn’t that what you were looking for all along?

Honourable mention goes to Davie dog spots La Belle Patate and Fritz European Fry House.

To show your support for hot dogs in our city or to let us know YOUR favourite spot to grab a weenie, share this post with the hashtag #nobuncity and tag us at @vanhappyhours (Insta) or @yvrhappyhours (Twitter).

4 Summer Sangria Recipes for Any Patio Party

It’s finally a beautiful time to be alive and outside in Vancouver, a time when I’d rather be on a sunny patio with a glass of fruity, wine-y deliciousness in my paw.

Sangria is just what any patio party needs, we all agreed. So, we launched this very site on a perfectly wonderful cloudy Saturday in East Van among some beautiful friends — whom we bribed to be there with four different types of sangria.

Don’t worry, we did the researching, taste testing, and ratio refining for you. Here are four red and white (but mostly white, because of summer) sangria recipes to add some fruity summer vibes to your life.

Pineapple Mojito Sangria

  • 3 medium limes, thinly sliced
  • Mint leaves (around 30 leaves)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups fresh pineapple, cut into 1 to 2-inch chunks
  • 750 ml bottle dry white wine (a 00 on the BCL sweetness scale)
  • 1/2 cup white rum
  • 3/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 cups club soda (use lemon-lime soda if you’re in for something sweeter)
  1. Combine lime slices, 20 mint leaves, and sugar, then muddle together.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients, minus the club soda, saving some pineapple wedges and the leftover mint for garnish. Chill for a few hours or overnight.
  3. Remove original mint, which will go brown and soggy, and replace with fancy, still-green mint leaves. Top off with a club soda float.

Adapted from Kitchen Treaty

Strawberry Lemonade Sangria

  • 2 lemons, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 apple, sliced
  • 2 cups strawberries, sliced
  • 750 ml bottle white wine
  • 1/2 cup white rum
  • 1/3 cup simple syrup
  • 2 cups soda (or again, lemon-lime soda for your sweet tooth)
  1. Combine everything except soda. Save some fruit for the rim of your glass to be fancy!
  2. Chill for a few hours, or leave in fridge overnight.
  3. Pour in club soda before serving.

Adapted from Kitchen Treaty

Blueberry Mint Sangria

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 20 mint leaves
  • 750ml bottle dry white wine (get that 00 sweetness grade!)
  • 1/4 cup white rum
  • 2 limes (1 juiced, 1 sliced)
  • 2 cups club soda
  1. If you have the time/desire, you can simmer half of the blueberries, all the sugar, and 1/2 of water together to make a syrup for the sangria. Or, if you like to sometimes cut corners like I do, muddle 1 cup blueberries and the sugar in your pitcher.
  2. Saving the club soda and half your mint leaves for later, mix in the rest of your ingredients.
  3. Chill for a few hours, or overnight.
  4. Remove mint that has gone brown. Add new mint and pour in soda before serving.

Adapted from Girl in the Little Red Kitchen

Sweet Berry Wine

  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1/2 apple, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 3/4 cup fruit juice (orange is great)
  • 1/3 cup simple syrup or 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brandy or dark rum
  • 750 ml bottle red wine (something Spanish or Chilean that’s fruity and bold)
  • 2 cups club soda (optional)
  1. Combine everything except club soda.
  2. Chill for a few hours, or overnight.
  3. Option to top with club soda before you serve!

Adapted from Minimalist Baker

Let us know if you try any of these, or put your own fun twist on them. Drink up, babes!

Late Night Happy Hours in Downtown Vancouver

Happy hour diehards rejoice, because late night happy hour is real and it’s taking over downtown Vancouver. The area is home to upscale restaurants, casual pubs, and headbanging clubs, so there’s certainly something for everyone. And while the sun might set around 9pm or so in the summer, your night doesn’t have to end with it.

Swing by after a late night at the office or a dinner downtown (or try to line up your happy hours back to back so you can indulge all night long — we won’t judge).

Bin 941 Tapas Parlour

This quirky spot has been a Davie Village landmark for the last 17 years. Specializing in New York-style tapas (“tapatizers”) and unique wines, Bin 941 Tapas Parlour describes itself as “stylishly low-key” and “globally inspired”. Stop in from 11 to close to enjoy $4 draft beers, $6 wine, $4 shots, $6 highballs ($8 for a double), and select appies from $9-$14.

Cactus Club Café (Bentall)

We’ve all been to Cactus before for a birthday, night out on the town or lunch with coworkers. It kind of does it all, and that includes late night happy hour. Sip on $4 Longboard Lager and Gypsy Tears, $6 Monvin wine, $4 sunset soda, or $5 bellini.

JOEY (Bentall and Burrard)

This Vancouver chain is popular with the business crowd for a reason. JOEY is a nice enough spot to entertain a client, but relaxed enough to help you unwind with a beer among coworkers after a long day. Both locations host happy hour from 9 to close, Sunday through Thursday, where you can try $4 beer, $5 wine, $6 gin and tonic, and $6 summer sangria. Select appies like tuna tacos and sushi cones are just $3.50.

Moxie’s Grill & Bar

This spot has fully embraced happy hour. You can enjoy 23 ounces of beer for just $7 (23 ounces, people!), $6 vodka highballs, and an array of cheap snacks like street tacos, chipotle chips, and dry ribs. For summer, Moxie’s has added housemade lemonade to the late night menu, too.

Original Joe’s Restaurant and Bar

Those who know me know that OJ’s is one of my favourite spots in town. This casual sports bar has an amazing happy hour: $3.75 Original Joe’s Draught, $1 off wine, $3.25 well highballs, and 50% off a whole host of appies (Dragon boats! Poutine! Mussels!). You can basically get a full meal and a drink for under $10. Their early happy hour ends at 6pm but starts up again from 9pm to close.

YEW seafood + bar

YEW’s signature reverse happy hour starts at 8pm and runs ‘til 11pm, giving you plenty of time to experience this premier seafood restaurant (which you might not otherwise be able to afford). Five new dishes, all priced at $10, have been concocted for late night guests, and specially crafted cocktails are also $10 each.

Feature Image: Michael Discenza

7 (But Kinda 11) Happy Hours by the Water

Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink. I guess that’s what happy hour is for, right? To sate your thirst for a refreshing beverage on a hot summer’s day, as well as your appetite for stunning waterfront views.

Living in Vancouver, we’re blessed to be surrounded by the ocean on almost all sides. There are many fine restaurants and casual brew pubs that dot our city’s shores, some of which offer fresh seafood dishes that highlight our proximity to the sea. Stop for a beer by the bay and drink in the incredible views of the water.

1. Cactus Club Cafe (Coal Harbour and English Bay)

Several of the establishments on this list have not one, but two seaside locations with happy hours. Stop by Cactus Club Cafe in Coal Harbour after a long day at the office, or pedal over to their English Bay location to sip and watch the sunset over the water. Both locations offer $4 Longboard Lager and Gypsy Tears, $6 movin wine, $4 sunset soda, and $5 bellinis from 3-6pm, but only the English Bay location has late night happy hour from 9pm to close.

2. Mahony & Sons (Coal Harbour and Stamps Landing)

Whether you choose to watch the tankers and seaplanes in Burrard Inlet or the stand-up paddleboarders in False Creek, Mahony & Sons is the perfect seaside destination. Happy hour features include local pints, craft bottles, highballs, and select shots available from 3-6pm Monday to Friday.

3. TAPshack (Burrard Bridge and Coal Harbour)

Nestled under the Burrard Bridge, TAPshack boasts picture perfect views of False Creek from its patio. Swing by either location (its sister establishment sits in Coal Harbour) from 3-6pm to enjoy $4.50 beer, $5 wine, $4 highballs, and select appies such as Santa Fe chicken tacos and two for one popcorn.

4. Tap & Barrel (Olympic Village)

Meandering around the False Creek seawall, thirsty Vancouverites can find relief at Tap & Barrel in Olympic Village. This is one of the best patios in the city; it’s full of life, especially after work when the dragon boats and kayakers race through the water. Classic happy hour offerings include $5 beer, $6 wine, and $4 highballs from 3-6pm.

5. The Sandbar Seafood Restaurant

At Sandbar, they don’t call it happy hour. They call it #musselmania, and for good reason. Enjoy fresh mussels and a pint of Granville Island Beer in the lounge for just $15, available Monday to Friday from 3-6pm. Once you’ve had your fill, we recommend grabbing a bottle of vino and sitting on the dock as day turns to dusk over the Burrard Street Bridge.

6. The Boathouse (Kitsilano and English Bay)

The Boathouse has operated seven incredible waterfront locations, making it a must for our list. This upscale dining spot offers a whole menu of happy hour appies, including ahi tuna tacos, calamari for one, and coconut shrimp. Also: $5 draft beer, $6 wine, $5 spirits, $7 cocktails, and select oysters from $1.69-$2.59. It’s a full menu all on its own, so get there right at 3 and don’t budge until happy hour ends at 6pm.

7. Ten Ten Tapas

Vancouver’s waterfront is almost more beautiful at night than it is in the daytime. Night owls can stop for late night happy hour (10-midnight) at Ten Ten Tapas, a gorgeous seafood restaurant and jazz spot under the Burrard Bridge. Reservations are recommended, and all drink and food specials are only $5.

Feature Image: Scott Webb

 

Where to Find Cheap Beers for Under $5: Downtown Vancouver

For frequenters of Vancouver’s downtown core, here are the cheapest happy hour beers you can find.

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Sure, sometimes you go to happy hour to try something new, elevate your palate, or expand your boundaries. But a lot of the time, you go to happy hour looking for the quickest, dirtiest, cheapest beer you can possible find. Because really, what you’re needing after a long day at the office is the sweet satisfaction of cheap alcohol. For frequenters of Vancouver’s downtown core, here are the cheapest happy hour beers you can find.

Bin 941 Tapas Parlour

This quirky hole in the wall packs big French flavours into a small dining room. Let them lure you in between 5 and 6:30pm for $4 draft beers.

Butcher and Bullock

This darkened, lush pub atmosphere boasts a rich mahogany bar and pool tables, making it popular with the financial district’s after-work crew. Beers are $4 from 3 to 6pm.

Cactus Club Cafe (Coal Harbour)

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#cactusclubcoalharbour you are a pretty one //

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The flagship location of the casual dining giant has $4 Longboard Lager and $4 Gypsy Tears from 3 to 6pm. Nab a spot on the patio to enjoy views of landing float planes and the Stanley Park seawall with your drink.

The Greedy Pig

Despite the name, this downtown eatery’s specials are fairly generous. From Tuesday to Friday, you can get $4 sleeves from 3 to 6pm.

Hapa Izakaya

Izakayas are a type of informal Japanese gastropub, and Hapa delivers on complex Japanese flavours with a casual feel. Plus, beers are $4 from 3 to 5:30pm.

JOEY Bentall

Check out JOEY’s Bentall location for a slick patio and a fusion of Eastern and Western cuisines throughout the menu. From 3 to 6pm, beers are $4.

JOEY Burrard

A few blocks up from the Bentall location is JOEY Burrard, making the upscale casual chain one of the most accessible in the area. Just a few steps off Robson and next door to YYoga, JOEY Burrard is great for post-shopping and post-vinyasa imbibing. Beers are $4 from 3 to 6pm and 9pm to close on Sunday through Thursday.

Library Square Public House

Cruising past the downtown branch of Vancouver Public Library between 3 and 6pm? Stop by Donnelly Group’s Library Square for a chill patio and $4 beers.  

Original Joe’s Restaurant and Bar

Original Joe’s Robson location is right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Vancouver’s downtown shopping neighbourhood, making it a perfect choice after hitting the boutiques. Check out their 3 to 6pm happy hour for $3.75 Original Joe’s Draught — one of the best beer deals in the city.

Yagger’s Downtown Restaurant & Sports Bar

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Come swing by and grab a drink tonight 🍻

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Channel the ghost of Cinco de Mayo’s past during Yagger’s 4 to 6pm happy hour: Dos Equis are on special for $3.50, and draft beers are $4.75. In terms of vibe, expect a relaxed sports bar with plenty of comfort food on hand.

Vancouver’s downtown core is dense and always bustling, but there are still plenty of quiet oases where you can enjoy a relaxing drink. Head to the closest of these spots next time you’re needing a beer and craving the sweet satisfaction of paying less for it.

Feature Image: Lance Anderson