The Union Bar – Vancouver, BC

When I was visiting Vancouver back in early March, my foodie friend, Grayelf, told me about a new bar called, The Union Bar, that had opened on the edge of Chinatown on Union Street. This bar is unique in that they feature a southeast Asian food menu as well as an extensive list of southeast Asian themed cocktails. The southeast Asian themed cocktails sounded really intriguing and some local foodies have raved about it so we decided to go and check it out.

Since we had just finished a huge dinner at The Red Wagon Cafe just prior to going to The Union, we decided to skip the food menu on this visit and just have one of the exotic cocktails as our dessert.

Grayelf decided to try the Tom Yum Collins ($10). The Tom Yum Collins was named as such because it contained vodka, coconut milk, fresh lime, gomme, galangal, lemongrass,
Thai basil, kaffir lime leaf, cilantro, and red chili pepper. Basically, all the ingredients except for the vodka would normally be used for a Thai Tom Yum Soup. Our server told us this was actually one of the popular cocktails. Because it is a savoury and sweet combination, people usually either love it or hate it.  Unfortunately, both Grayelf and I fell into the latter category. I couldn’t get my head wrapped around the flavours  in the cocktail as they truly reminded me of Tom Yum Soup but yet had a sweet component to it. This cocktail tasted just too bizarre for me.

I decided to try the Boracay Hangin ($10), which was made with vodka, cucumber juice, pandan syrup, calamansi juice,
atomised kaffir lime rum and garnished with toasted coconut. Albeit it was a bit too sweet for my liking, the flavours in this cocktail were more my style. I liked how refreshing the cucumber juice tasted. The calamansi juice and kaffir lime rum really helped to bring out the citrus notes in the cocktail.  I’ll be first to admit that I’m not a cocktail expert as my beverage of choice is usually wine and I rarely drink cocktails.  However, I thought the Boracay Hangin was actually  quite tasty.

Grayelf ended up getting them to customize a drink for her as she really wanted a gin-based cocktail and there weren’t many to be found on their drink menu. Hence, she asked for them to add gin to the Lapu Lapu, which normally is a non-alcoholic cocktail. This gin-based Lapu Lapu ($10) contained gin, cucumber juice, coconut water, galangal, calamansi, pandan syrup, and was topped with pieces of young coconut. This cocktail tasted actually quite similar to the Boracay Hangin that I had ordered except that the Lapu Lapu contained coconut water and galangal while the Boracay Hangin contained atomised kaffir lime rum.

Overall, I’m really glad I went to try it out. Conceptually, the southeast Asian themed food menu and cocktails are definitely a novel idea as I don’t think there is any other place in Vancouver that serves Asian themed cocktails. I really enjoyed the ambience and feel of The Union Bar. If I were looking for a place to have a drink, The Union Bar would be one of my choices.

The Union Bar
219 Union Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 568-3230

This entry was posted in British Columbia, Chinese, drink, Indian, Late Night, Pan-Asian, Thai, Vancouver, Vietnamese and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Union Bar – Vancouver, BC

  1. gastronomydomine says:

    The bartender at The Union, Arthur Wynne, is a Filipino-Australian hence all the Filipino references in the drinks menu (e.g. Boracay and Lapu Lapu, etc.)

    A number of bars specialize in Asian cocktails – namely Bao Bei and The Keefer both of which have an extensive list of Chinese styled cocktails. The Keefer has an “apothecary” menu the last time I was there that was very Chinese influenced. Bao Bei’s signature cocktail (Kai Yuen Sour) uses dried plum as an ingredient. It’s actually quite good. They also have things like Sichuan peppercorn infused rum, dried tangerine infused tequila, white pepper infused gin, Thai-basil syrups, etc. Actually, come to think of it, L’abattoir (which is one of the very rare restaurants in Vancouver that isn’t tinged with Asian fusion) has tinctures and bitters made from Asian ingredients as well. Another is the bar at Oru at the Fairmont.

    Check them out next time you’re in town!

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