Spring is in!

As thermometers around Vancouver begin to creep into double digits and sunsets creep towards 8pm, patios around the city are starting to earn their keep by hosting patrons excited about the change of season. The style of drinks sliding across the wood at The Keefer Bar are unmistakably making a shift towards Spring. The Bar Team has been hard at work coming up with a selection of cocktails designed to help us shed the callus of Winter and slip into something a little more comfortable, ie. sunshine.

This seasons menu plays host to a tonne of new tantalizing flavour combinations such as pineapple and pink peppercorn, kalamansi and chili, hibiscus-rose honey and licorice root spearmint to name a few.  While pollen in the air and blooming flowers are causing chaos for those suffering from allergies, we have been hard at work turning the culprits into classics.

The Winter saw Bar Manager Dani Tatarin spending a few weeks honing her skills in traditional Mexican drinks while on tour in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Oaxaxa. Our spring menu is reflective of her trip, incorporating Mezcals from Los Siete Misterios and Findencio in fresh creations.  The Mezcal revolution is only set to continue at the Keefer Bar as 3 of our team head to Oaxaca next month to take part in a Canadian invasion of the Mezcal producing regions in the areas… look out!

Dani’s take on the Mexican staple, Agua Loca, blends Findencio Joven (young) Mezcal with a heavy lick of Chinese fruit water, crusted with the intriguing rim of Sal de Gusano y chili; A traditional accompaniment of Mezcal, it consists of roasted worms from the maguey plant, dried, crushed and blended with salt and chili.  This drink is as destined to turn heads as it is to have patrons begging for a second.  Her other new Mezcal creation is the classically driven, booze heavy ‘Non Stop’ , featuring Los Siete Misterios Espadin Mezcal, Lillet Rouge, Calvados, Hennesy VS, Maraschino liqueur and orange bitters. This cocktail is perfect for those fans of the Vieux Carre or the Martinez that aren’t afraid of a little smoke.

chinese fruit water

chinese fruit water

The Winter also saw our boys Keenan Hood and Gez McAlpine head up to Big White ski resort to compete in the first annual Absolut Big White Bartending competition. Keenan placed fourth with the Keefer winter menu favorite ‘Fantasy Island’ and Gez came in second with his new spring menu debut – ‘The Green Run’, utilizing Absolut Elyx, Martini Bianco, Lime, Coconut gomme and a Kaffir lime and vanilla bitters. Both drinks will no doubt be going out like hot cakes as the city prepares for summer!

The Green Run

The Green Run

There is no shortage of Keefer Classic reworks, the Whiskey Sour and nouveau New York classic by Audrey Saunders, ‘The Old Cuban’ falling victim this spring. Wild Turkey Bourbon, kalamansi juice and birds eye chili take the sour on a new adventure, while the Old Cuban learns some new tricks with spearmint tea and licorice root spagyric tincture. An ancient approach to medicine, spagyric tinctures are made following the moon cycles and involve the re-introduction of the burnt ash of plant matter after the infusion has taken place.

Kalamansi chilli sour

Kalamansi chilli sour

Free Lee and the team in the kitchen have been experimenting ith new and exciting sharing dishes to accompany the perfect drink. New additions to our tapas selection include a Chinese anitpasto plate with home-made diakon pickles, chilled blanched green beans with a sweet sesame sauce, marinated button mushrooms and house cured quail eggs. Then there’s the delicious Keefer twist on shrimp tacos, smothered in black bean sauce and Keefer slaw.  This Spring we are launching our “2 for 1” Tapas special from 5pm to 8pm Sunday to Thursday, so if you haven’t tried our Chinese inspired tapas menu now is the time. A large portion of the menu now boasts gluten free options with some incredible flavours so there is no missing out for our friends with specific diet requirements!

Dumpling platter

Dumpling platter

Chinese Antipasto

Chinese Antipasto

There is only so much we can cram into a blog post as the spring menu really is bursting with great new drinks we are excited to share! Drop by and see which remedy is for you…


Our 3 year Anniversary – Chinese New Year

Nearly 3 years ago The Keefer Bar opened its doors to a city abuzz with excitement about imminent decent of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Since then we have mastered the use of our space to optimize good times! From food and drink to entertainment and ambience, 3 years of striving for perfection has resulted in one of Vancouver’s most delicious and entertaining nightlife experiences. Its safe to say that The Keefer Bar’s events are not to be missed, all have their own unique spins depending on the celebration!Selection1-1

Sunday, the 10th of February will be no different. We invite you to join us in celebrating three years of service and contribution to the Vancouver cocktail and nightlife community, as well as the Chinese New Year – welcoming the year of the snake!

The Keefer Bar has become a haven for some of Vancouver’s most highly regarded performing artists as well as a breeding ground for new and emerging talent. On Sunday we will be bringing not one or two of our weekly acts, but all of our Keefer Bar performers will be celebrating with us! Alex Maher, TGLTP Dj’s, Dj Dubconscious, Jellyfish Recordings, Sweet Soul Burlesque and our very own Jared Fontaine! Make no mistake – we have an evening jammed full of amazing music, performance art, delicious food, cocktails and unparalleled service!

Best of all The Keefer Bar’s third anniversary falls on Family day eve, so regardless of a Sunday evening party- we have a work free monday! I think we can all relate to the benefits of this coincidence!

See you Sunday Evening! Doors open at 5pm as always!

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Winter Menu 2013

2013 has arrived in spectacular fashion and the unmistakeable chill in the air has been a constant reminder that Winter is here! The heat is cranked and our fireplace is getting a serious workout to keep some of our more dedicated outdoor cocktail connoisseurs toasty while sipping some Keefer classics on the patio.

This season we intend to warm and liven up your evenings the only way we know how – by sourcing the best local ingredients, highest quality Liquor and calling on some of Vancouvers top Mixologists to tailor a menu that will make you wish winter was longer than six months (sigh).
For the last month, Dani Tatarin and the Keefer Bar team have been in the lab tinkering and collaborating on drink ideas to put together a list that draws on some of the most tried and true winter classic recipes whilst improvising in ways only the Keefer bar can, utilizing ingredients that have been used in eastern medicine for

thousands of years to boost vitality, immunity and general well being during the colder months of the year. Lets just say we have some pretty special creations to share this winter.

To add to the excitement of a new drinks list busting with exciting concoctions to wet your whistle, The Keefer Bar is proud to announce that along side our favorite Chinese herbal ingredients we are adding a Davids Tea fresh sheet to our menu. Not only w

ill we have a diverse and ever changing list of interesting tea for single or group consumption, but as you might see, a few of our favourite teas have made their way into the Keefer kitchen and undergone a few different transformations into versatile, bespoke ingredients to be used in Keefer original cocktails.


Jared Fontaines ‘The great white buffalo’

To start things off nice and strong we have the perfect concoction to kick that cough, the ‘Lăoshi’ utilizes the traditional chinese medicinal cough syrup – Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa. This highly effective and natural cough reliever employs healing power herbs such as Ladybell root, Coltsfoot flower, Milkwort root and Apricot kernels in a menthol and honey base. Strangely enough, it blends perfectly with a heavy lick of Bulliet bourbon, a touch of Shaoxing Aperetif and a tiny pinch of black sea salt to create an old fashioned style cocktail that has no problem satisfying that itch in the throat.
The Fēngshu Sour takes the same supply of Bulliet bourbon, introducing lemon juice, Grand Marnier and a Yun-Zhi mushroom infused Maple syrup to create a sour drop perfect for sharing.  It  is split and served in sets of 4 in chinese teacups, the Ideal way to commence a flight of new winter drinks.

Drawing on the wisdom of classic drinks is key to finding guidance in which direction to take when testing new creations. winter drinks are no exception and this year we have revived and re-worked some our favourite Cognac classics into contemporary creations with that special Keefer twist.  The Brandy Alexander, using Hennessy VS, Giffard Chocolate, Almond Milk and grated Nutmeg. The Keefer Bars first listed hot drink, the Zhi Toddy combines Hennessy, Lemon, Hot water and the (Davids tea) – 911 cold relief tea syrup, and the Winter Sidecar Hennessy VS, Grand Marnier, house mulled wine and lemon with a spiced sugar rim have elevated Cognac in ways not before seen at The Keefer Bar, It seems that the legendary french spirit is the flavour of the season!

Jared Fontaines ‘The Great White Buffalo’ Takes the light, Vegetal notes of Zubrowka vodka deep into the winter flavour spectrum with black pepper and cardamom sweetener, cloudy apple juice, Nigori Sake and a tiny touch of citrus. creating full and bold mouth feel that will definitely have you ordering more than one! And in an attempt to leave a light on for when spring finally arrives, take a trip to Keenan Hoods ‘Fantasy Island’ , boasting the brand new – Absolute Elyx, Pomegranate, chinese happy wine, (Davids tea) Fantasy island tea syrup, citrus and egg white, creating a creamy, tart, flavour explosion.

Join us every night from 5pm and let us aide you in soaking up those winter blues with something delicious! see you soon!

New Years Eve – A Nautical Shipwrecked Adventure.

Can you believe its that time again already?

New Years Eve 2011 saw the birth of the Keefer Bars ‘New Years in Narnia’ trilogy.  Where the bar was transformed into a winter wonderland complete with ice sculptures, snow, an Ice Queen and (what seemed like) champagne falling from the sky!
This year we’re back to do it all again, though this time, we’re taking it deep – and maybe getting a little wet. The Keefer Bar presents: New Years in Narnia II, The Return to Narnia: A Nautical Shipwrecked Adventure Brought to Life

For the first time, The ladies of Sweet Soul Burlesque will be collaborating with creative forces of the Keefer Bar to bring you a new years for the record books.  The Keefer bar will be transformed into an underwater wonderland, complete with seahorses, mermaids (even the possibility of a couple of mermen) and a Wardrobe entrance into the fantasy we are creating!

The will be a night filled with the same incredible drinks that The Keefer Bar is famous for, on top of 3 sets of sexy sassiness of the Sweet Soul Godesses and the best beats by DJ Micro Douglas. Champagne toast at midnight is included in ticket price and your favourite, most creative nautical costumes are highly encouraged!

NYE at The Keefer Bar is not to be missed! Join us to celebrate all that 2012 was, and all that the coming year will bring!



The Changing face of 135 Keefer St

For those that have spent a considerable amount of time on the lower east side of Vancouver, Gastown, Chinatown and outwards to Victory Square, you are more than aware of the particular character this part of town possesses. Once the central shopping district of the city, the DTES boomed in the 50’s and 60’s with department stores like Woodwards and Eatons along with other retail and services creating prosperity and affluent culture in the historic district of Gastown. Sadly, over the past thirty years the increased levels of homelessness, poverty, sex trade and drug abuse, have lead to the steady decline of financial investment in the community. Many business owners turned their backs on the DTES in the late 70’s, opting for tenancies in areas closer to the current shopping hubs of the central downtown area, away from the challenges that this community was beginning to face.


Ye old Chinatown Circa 1950

But the times they are a changing, with the last 5 years playing clutch to the transformation. The gentrification of Gastown is in full swing, with some of the cities hottest new bars, restaurants, designer boutiques for clothes, furniture and appliances not to mention the host of new design firms, calling the former ghetto home. The lower east side is quickly becoming ground zero for all things trending in  Vancouver, a movement that The Keefer bar is proud to be a part of.  The renewal of our neighbourhood working closely with the city and neighbours to rebuild the area to its former glory, is something our team takes on with a huge amount of passion.
(Sharps disposal bins previously attached to the rear of the keefer building, vancouver was the first city in north america to implement a needle exchange program in 1989, leading to the fast decline of new cases of HIV)

chloe costa rica and picnic016

“Let us take that used rig for you” – sharps bin previously at the rear of the keefer building

135 Keefer St holds a tremendous amount of historical importance for the history of Chinatown, and this whole area of the city. The building is the last remaining structure of the gas manufacturing complex of the BC electrical company.  serving as the gateway to provide energy to the rest of the East side through its strategic access to False creek and ferry services hauling coal across to the mainland from Vancouver Island. It served the city with power under the disguise of a glossy bricked office building from 1910 through 1957, when the technology it used was made redundant by piped in natural gas.  Below are some images that remind us of just how far we’ve come.


Pre facelift Keefer – the White Rhino of Chinatown

chloe costa rica and picnic023

After 1957 the building was abandoned, it fell into disrepair and though the upper levels were deemed too dangerous and inaccessible, the ground floor was turned into an illegal booze den.  Hosting an array of underground parties and raves right up to its purchase by Keefer Entertainment in 2007.

chloe costa rica and picnic001

Floor Level showing the bare essentials for running an illegal booze operation, four years later the sweet smell of liquor still fills the air.

Operating as a Hotel for short and long term residences for 2 years after opening, all suites are now privately owned and no longer available for rent.

The Keefer Bar continues to play its roll as an evolving art piece and canvas for the creative minds of the Dani Tatarin and her team, who focus on creating a progressive space that can delight all of the senses.


The spectacular rooftop views from the pool of the Keefer Penthouse


Dani Tatarin speaks at Pecha Kucha Vancouver

It has been a very busy couple of weeks for Keefer bar manager Dani Tatarin!
Having being invited to be a guest speaker at the most recent edition of Pecha Kucha night,  the Keefer Bar GM took stage in front of a sold out crowd at the Vouge theatre. Dani was given the opportunity to share her story with Vancouver through the medium of slide presentation. Each of the sixteen speakers can present twenty slides, with each cut of image, text or video afforded twenty seconds of screen time before the next arrives. This format is a fantastic way to keep the audience engaged and on their toes as to what might come next.


Dani spoke of the passion for cocktails that has fueled the fire of the Keefer Bar, how her early introduction to mixed drinks paved the way for an already influential career in the world of cocktails, and how the knowledge of how to balance the demanding industry life has played a huge part in the healthy evolution of her career.


To follow up to this end of year success, if you were browsing Sundays National Post you would have seen a familiar face in the list of the cities ‘Worthy 30’.  The cream of the crop of Vancovuers most eligible Vixens, criteria was quoted as “a modicum of attractiveness, some discernment, a dollop of accomplishment and that un-pin-downable thing we call ‘It.’” anybody that knows Dani is well aware that she possesses these traits in spades! check out the article here : Vancouver’s Worthy 30

Congratulations Dani!

Celebrating two years of Burlesque at The Keefer Bar

If you’ve been one of the lucky few that have joined us on a Thursday night, you’ll be well aware of the buzz surrounding the pre-weekend brilliance of sweet sip: live at the Keefer Bar, where we match the unique creative flair of drinks with Vancouvers most alluring and eclectic showgirls. making it one of the cities most ‘unique’ nights out.

Since its inception in 2010, shortly after the Keefer Bars opening, Bar Manager Danielle Tatarin and Crystal Precious (the infamous strip-hop MC of Sweet Soul Burlesque) joined forces to create a space in which the art of burlesque and fine drinks could meet in ways not seen since the heyday of the craft, circa 1950, when Cabarets such as Smilin’ Buddha, New Dehli, & Kublai Khan ruled the alleys and streets of chinatown. Not only did they succeed, but continue to build the Sweet Sip enterprise and have been a key player in the burlesque revival sweeping Vancouver..

Founded in 2002, Sweet Soul staked its claim as Vancouver’s first burlesque troupe , making it the longest running collective of showgirls in western Canada. To add to their accolades, the girls have performed in over 10 countries across 3 continents, co-founded the Vancouver International Burlesque festival, ran the infamous Dollhouse Studios underground cabaret from 2006 to 2010 not to mention, opening The Vancouver Burlesque Centre, created by our very own Lola Frost and Cherry on Top!

On Thursday night we intend to celebrate two years of the relationship that has brought so many great nights and fond memories to the Keefer Bar in the best way we know how, by removing clothes in front of large square windows and on bar tops while we serve up the best drinks in town. Giving you a large dose of strip-hop and debauchery from Vancouver’s sexiest and sassiest ladies!

This is set to be one of the most elaborate and extravagant shows at the Keefer Bar to date. with Performances by Crystal Precious, Lola Frost, Cherry on Top, Rita Star, Cara Milk and a very special Strip-tease by the Keefer Bar’s own Dani Tatarin! If your a Thursday night veteran of the Keefer Bar. or are looking to (in the words of CP) “lose your virginity” this is the night to come down!!

Check out the ladies of SSB on the web :
Crystal Precious:
Little Miss Risk:
Lola Frost

Seasonal cocktails : Fall 2012

In the spirit of keeping things fresh and interesting for both bartenders and patrons alike, Our cocktail List changes with the season. Its clear to see that the team have been energized from the lengthy summer and creativity is flowing, with this list holding some of our most interesting cocktails yet.

As the clouds settle in for the winter and that rain we all know and love begins to fall, we pride ourselves on making the transition from summer little more palatable. A usual we are bringing you the most unique drinks in the city using only the best and freshest ingredients available. We definitely have brought the obscure to the party, new ingredients like seahorse tincture, Chinese happy wine, healthy mushroom tea and new releases of amazing mezcal making appearances in our seasonal prescriptions.

Drinks like the Pagoda Soda (vodka, Nigori Sake, lime, simple syrup, immunity tincture) and the Lions Breath (Gin, Lillet blanc, lemon thyme syrup, chocolate bitters) are proving that this seasons list has some new major players at the keefer!

At this years Made with Love cocktail competition, our bar manager, Keenan Hood, delighted the judges with his cocktail, ‘unpredicted season’. So much so that he earned him self a trip to Halifax to represent British Columbia and show the east coast exactly how we throw down here in the west. Combining a generous dose of cazadores reposado tequila with fresh squeezed lemon juice and a bespoke chinese spiced sweetener, a touch of egg white for a delicious consistency and rimmed with a spicy Black Sea salt. This cocktail is not to be missed!

Our up and coming bartenders are beginning to shine, with Jared Fontaine (@gypsyfontaine for those of you playing on twitter) showing his development over the past year with the ‘Amaro Suissesse’ a twisted version of the classic New Orleans breakfast drink, this drink is truly something else, with rye whiskey, amaro Montenegro, almond milk, orgeat/astragalus syrup and egg white.

To add to this, we have some new beers and wines appearing this season. Yanjing Chinese lager, mirror pond pale ale, Baillie Grohman Gerwertztraminer and case Collee brut rose all making their keefer debut! As usual our midweek specials continue to please the causal patron, with $5 tiger beers, Yanjing and Singha along with a selection of American whiskey for bargain prices!

But rather than tell you all about our new creations, we think its best if you join us for one or three soon!
Happy drinking!


One our favorite and most commonly used spices at the Keefer bar is Cinnamon. not only for the delicious sweet spice we all know and love,  Cinnamon has far reaching medicinal properties that have been used in eastern medicine and western ceremony for thousands of years.

Cinnamon is one of the oldest known spices. It was mentioned in ancient Chinese writings of at least 2700 years old and also features several times in the Bible, Moses requested that it be used in sacred anointing oil and a main component of ceremonial incense. The Egyptians imported cinnamon from China and used it not only as a medicine and food enhancer but also as an embalming agent. although it is now a staple in pantry’s and kitchens around the world, it was once considered as valuable as gold. the Romans also considered cinnamon to be just as sacred and important. It was burned at funerals and it is said that the Emperor Nero burnt a whole years supply at the funeral of his wife Poppaea.

Cinnamon was one of the first spices to be traded between Asia and Europe and the fact that Venetian merchants controlled the entire cinnamon trade in Europe fuelled other European explorers to travel afar in search of other ways of obtaining the precious spice.

Cinnamon comes from an evergreed tree grown in hot, humid climates, so its no suprise that is is native to areas of south east asia, India, China and northern parts of the middle east.  it is manufactured by harvesting the inner bark of the tree and rolling into quills.

some of the common uses are:

  • Cinnamon soothes stomach and digestive complaints such as indigestion, heartburn and stomach cramps.
  • It is an excellent medicine for colds, congestion, temperature and flu.
  • Research has shown that cinnamon is effective against fungus and yeast infections.
  • used to lower fever by promoting seating.
  • Cinnamon oil can be used to treat chest infections and catarrh.
  • helps improve blood circulation around the body especially to the hands and feet.
  • aid for weak digestion.
  • It can help reduce pain caused by arthritis, rheumatism and muscle pain.
  • Cinnamon is a calming herb and can reduce anxiety, depression and stress.
  • help with sickness, nausea and vomiting.
  • It has been proved to lower high blood pressure.
  • Chewing cinnamon sticks can relieve toothache and freshen the breath.
  • effective in the prevention of blood clots.
  • Cinnamon has been proven to regulate blood sugar levels in people with type-2 diabetes and also to improve their response to insulin.
  • Cinnamon is a good source of manganese, iron and calcium, which are all vital minerals required for a healthy body.

How we use it

Every water bottle at the Keefer is infused with cinnamon, done simply by placing a single quill in bottles before filling, we change them every few days to ensure a consistancy of flavour and freshness. Along with being a staple ingredient in our house bitters we make a straight cinnamon tincture by macerating bark in a high proof liquor for 2-3 weeks. this tincture is used in drinks such as the honey pot shot. The bark is also used as an aromatic garnish for the incredibly popular ‘Milk and Honey’.

Honey Pot Shot

2oz Jack Daniels Honey
1oz Jack daniels
3 dash Cinnamon Tincture
stir down and pour into 4 shot glasses