Let’s face it, if you’re between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, chances are when you hang with friends it’s going to involve booze (oftentimes a lot of it). If you’re anything like me, even the lightest of beers leaves your face scrunched up like you’ve just bit into the world’s sourest lemon. For some, a glass (or three) of a favourite beverage or a well-made cocktail is the preferred way to unwind from a long day at work or enjoy a night out with friends.

However, for some of us, the taste of alcohol provides feelings of repulsion rather than relief. Not to fear, here’s the list of local joints that serve up drinks tasting more like your favourite dessert than your dad’s nightcap.

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1. Anejo 

2116 4 St SW #2 // Cliff Bungalow

Starting off with one of the best, Anejo is sure to impress your alcohol-inclined friends while allowing you to enjoy one of the world’s most drinkable cocktails: the margarita. With their selection of premium tequilas, you can be sure that a few pitchers shared among friends won’t leave you forcing a smile and an “mm tasty!”. What’s more, with concoctions including ginger, guava, or chilli coconut, you’re sure to find a drink that you’ll enjoy (I personally recommend the blood orange margarita). Don’t forget to get a flight of their awesome tacos on the side too.

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2. Julio Barrio

1110 Memorial Dr NW // Hillhurst

Okay, you’ve probably been to this restaurant before (likely on your eighteenth birthday), but it's undeniably one of the best places to throw back a few (or a few too many) with friends. Indulge in some great Mexican food while you’re at it, but you cannot miss the classic Bulldog - a huge cauldron-like glass filled to the brim with crushed ice, margarita, and an upside-down beer. Despite sounding like a trainwreck, this cocktail will leave you wanting another, and then another…do I need to go on?

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3. Proof

1302 1 St SW // Downtown

Often rated one of the best cocktail bars in the city, you impress your wannabe-mixologist friends by bringing them to this classy joint. While they indulge in the classic cocktails and finest spirits the lounge has to offer, you can rest easy enjoying one of their many cocktails that will leave you wondering if there really was any liquor in it at all. 

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4. Cannibale

813 1 Ave NE // Bridgeland

Anyone fancy a haircut? This cocktail bar/barber fusion often tops many lists as the best place for a drink in the city. While it will serve up all the classics with their own modern twist, for those avoiding that stinging taste of booze, mixes like “One Night in Budapest” or “Lime Porfo-Four” will let you throw them back without throwing them up. 

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5. The Nash

925 11 St SE // Mills Estate

This place is hell-bent on providing the best damn cocktail, and is the place to bring your alcohol-enthusiast friends if you wish to make a great impression. My friends say their Old Fashioned is second to none, but if you’re looking to avoid that old-fashioned alcoholic taste, try the Caesar or the Moscow Mule. Set in an old-fashioned hotel, this place is great to impress your date while not letting off that you’d rather be drinking apple juice than an appletini. 

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6. National

550 17 Ave SW // Downtown

Don’t get National confused with Nash, yes they are two separate places. National serves up an excellent variety of sweet tasting alcoholic drinks. Their “boozy slurpees” will satisfy your inner child with flavours like Banana Colada and Strawberry Lemonade. Pro tip: get a side of chicken nuggets to get the full experience, they are UNREAL. 

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7. Moxies

888 7 Ave SW // Downtown West End

While Moxies is generally a dinner date destination, it is also a great spot to have a cocktail for happy hour. They offer house-made hard lemonades that are to die for, as well as tasty bellinis that will both cool you off and satiate your thirst. 

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