With one small step, Neil Armstrong changed the way we see the world. With the release of his latest book, “Drinking Vancouver: 100+ Great Bars in the City and Beyond”, John Lee could arguably have the same effect on anyone with a thirst for something spirited.
As an expat Brit with a sense of wit that is far from dry, Lee has parlayed a propensity for pints and print professionalism into a pocket-sized self-pronounced booze bible. If the last bit offends, Lee has the perfect spot to have a conversation it over a pint or whatever spirit moves you.
An awarded travel writer by trade, Lee gets about, having written or co-written 15 Lonely Planet guidebooks since 2004. Author of the latest Vancouver City Guide, a purposefully pedestrian affair, his latest is also best appreciated on foot.
“Drinking Vancouver” is a book for the right city at the right time. Vancouver’s bar culture has been transformed by local talent, taps and vines and Lee captures it with succinctness and style. Pacing himself admirably, Lee has kept the pulse of the city’s taps, squeezed its grapes and compiled a crafty canon of Vancouver cocktail culture.
“A quiet revolution in Vancouver’s bar scene in recent years has replaced lame boozers serving fish and chips and Bud specials with a full round of character pubs, wine bars, cocktail lounges and sunset-hugging patio drinkers. It’s a transformation that has paralleled the rise of BC’s wine sector and the no-less-exciting renaissance in our regional microbreweries. You can still sip tipples from around the world here, of course, but now’s also the time consider a lip-smacking 100-mile liquid diet.”
Putting the same shine on the taps as he does on the vine, “Drinking Vancouver” brings much deserved attention to British Columbian brewers and should have more than a few tourists and locals alike delving into a little something other than the proverbial “beer out here”. Lee effectively elevates the craft and provides an appendix detailing B.C.’s award-winning and regional brewers.
A back-of-the-book bar index makes for simple sourcing and maps of eleven neighbourhoods lead the way with equally easy reference. “On the Road” sections take in Victoria and the Okanagan, but it is Vancouver that receives the full polish.
From the best-reviewed to the perhaps-eschewed, the newest to the bluest, Lee has lapped it up. The distillate of his adventures makes both superb diversion and the perfect excuse for a highly civilized and well-routed pub crawl.
As for the day after?
A good walk can work wonders. That’s what his other book is for.