Vancouver Guides: Discover The Cocktail Scene with Shaun Layton

Dec 19 2017, 9:18 pm

It’s time to be merry in this holiday season. Families get reunited, companies have their Christmas parties and friends gather to celebrate a great past year and wish for an even better new one. This is the time when we enjoy going out and sharing the spirit with everyone around us.

For this special occasion, Hayo Magazine has interviewed the well-known Vancouverite mixologist Shaun Layton to show us where to enjoy the best cocktails in the city. Shaun is the Head Barman at L’Abattoir in Gastown, has participated in competitions in the U.K. and France, toured distilleries and cellars throughout Europe and the United States, and participated in internationally recognized seminars and bar education programs.

Shaun was recognized in 2012 as the Bartender of The Year by Vancouver Magazine and he also runs his own bar consulting company. If someone in town knows where to find a good cocktail, that’s Shaun Layton.

What are your three all-time favourite cocktails?

American Rye Manhattan, Hanky Panky and Margarita.

As a person involved in the food industry, how do you see Vancouver’s restaurant and bar scene?

I think we have a fantastic cocktail and food scene, they are both very diverse and have lots of options. I wish we had a few more casual, and fun bars with good food though. The late night and club scene in Vancouver are pretty non existent, something that hopefully will improve in the future. With the addition of happy hour our city is getting better at going out earlier and creating a daytime, early evening drinking culture which has been great.

Can you share with us what your favourite thing about living in Vancouver is?

I live in the West End. I love getting up in the morning and going for a jog in my hood, it’s quiet and near lots of parks. It’s also right downtown so I’m close to everything, especially good coffee and sushi.

This is Shaun’s list of favorite places in Vancouver to go for a drink, for dinner or to keep it mellow with friends. Check the map below to discover his selection and you can also save this list clicking on the SAVE icon right beside the heart.

Favourite places to go for great cocktails?

  • Pourhouse – Most consistent cocktail bar in the city.
  • West – David Wolywidnyk is an OG.
  • The Keefer Bar – Busy fun spot with cool events happening, and some of the best young guns in the business.
  • The Diamond – They pump ’em out and have a lot of fun.
  • Hawksworth – The closest thing to a quality NY or London style high end bar in Vancouver.
  • Notturno – There is no H in wizard, but there should be…

Top three restaurants?

  • La Mezcalería – Great mexican food, always a great vibe, really cool staff, and most important, always a fun time.
  • España – Always changing menu, best value in the city, small and cool wine program, and right down the block.
  • Hy’s – My special occasion place, I love a good steak. Old school waiters, charcoal grill, the cheestoast!, table side caesar salad!

One (or two) things visitors need to try in Vancouver? 

Sushi is a must, for old school Miko, for modern Miku, for every day quick and easy Sushi Mart.
Late night Izakaya scene, think Gyoza King, Kingyo, Zakkushi, Guu.

A place where you can’t stop going to?

The Score on Davie, in my hood, sports on, great drink specials, great food and staff.

An afterwork spot you love?

The Winking Judge Pub, an industry spot that pours a good Guinness.

A place where you love to hangout with your friends?

Mamie Taylor’s, also owned by a couple of my friends. It’s always busy after work and the crowd is great. The staff are all vets and they take care of you.

Preferred brunch spot?

Wildebeest, that Croque Madame is ridiculous!

The best bar scene in Vancouver?

Gonna catch some heat for this, haha. Here’s five, and yes I have to include L’Abattoir, The Diamond, Keefer, Pourhouse and Hawksworth.

Favourite coffee shop?

Greenhorn, Revolver, Matchstick.

Which is the best cocktail you’ve tried in Vancouver and where?

Whatever the last drink I had at the original Boneta, one of my all-time favourite spots.

Your go-to place when you want to go for a beer?

Brassneck (they make the best beer in the city), Black Frog (my go to pre work beer), or The Score (home base).


‘Vancouver Guides’ is an exclusive series of interviews created by Hayo Magazine for Vancity Buzz to discover the city through the eyes of its people. We have selected personalities from various disciplines to show us what Vancouver is like for them.

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