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As you stroll through a modest doorway, the noise of Kingsway fades and a mixological phoenix named Crowbar rises. The space previously housed a thankfully short-lived, half-baked marijuana-pizzeria concept with the unfortunate name “Mega Ill.” It was a place that spawned a hundred “only in Vancouver” news stories—and very few covers. Crowbar is the anti-Mega Ill: a sweet reno has turned a punchline into a handsome 30-seat cocktail bar that takes a more serious approach to hospitality.

Owned and operated by a pair of L’Abattoir alumni, Jeremy Pigeon and William Johnson, both industry veterans but first-time restaurateurs, the inviting wood-walled establishment blends modern design touches (many outlets for guests electronics) with a homey, natural West Coast feel.

The Fraserhood (we’ve given up fighting the name) is an apt habitat for Crowbar’s confident approach to intricate-yet-unpretentious cocktails. Johnson takes a classic like a pisco sour and adds Fernet-Branca and wood sorrel, and then renames it “Johnny Utah” after Keanu Reeves’s FBI agent character in Point Break.

In the kitchen, “the two Scotts”—Chris Scott and Scott Korzak, ex-Wildebeest and L’Abattoir, respectively—are equally mixed between focused and fun. Expect reinventions of bar snacks like beef crackling and “white boy yakitori” such as veal tongue with chimichurri.

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