Let’s give a warm welcome back to guest writer Jen Kirsch. This relationship expert has a column in Toronto’s 24 Hours, pieces published in Flare and many other publications and multiple television and radio appearances, and now moonlights as our JUNO Correspondant! Jen’s scouted the best places to hang for Juno Weekend just for you lovely readers.
Hey there you music lovers and rockstars. As you know, this year the JUNO’s are taking place in the #YYC, the itty-bitty city out west where police officers rock cowboy hats, and oil money is (or was) made.
We rolled into Calgary early to scout the city to find all the must-see spots, so you don’t have to do the work. So, without further ado, here’s a list of our fave boozy spots we recommend hitting up when in town for Juno weekend.
Well Crafted Cocktails
- For the romantic: Milk Tiger. It’s one of those places where a tattoo artist crushes cans of PBR and well-heeled socialites drink Kir Royals. It’s two part Woody Allen, one part punk rock, with a dash of no fucks given. Authenticity hangs in the air like cigarette smoke in a blue collar dive bar. In a world in search of realness, Milk Tiger achieves this without even trying, which is the true magic and beauty of this bar.
- For the adventurous drinker: Cleaver. Come for the handsome, bearded bartenders and stay for the original cocktails, endless varieties of bourbon and incredible food. Rustic vibe. Great playlists. Some of the best cocktails in the city, with the most unique accouterment garnishing ‘em (like crispy chicken skin and torched limes.) The menu is pretty impressive too in case you need to water down your booze. Bottoms up!
- For the music lover: Model Milk. This trendy spot houses an over 300 vinyl collection. The cocktails are stiff, well-rounded and well thought out. The space is pretty open (there’s a dining room in the back,) but if you sit by the bar in the front, you’ll find benches lined were fur throws. We recommend sitting at the bar and talking with Travis, who moonlights as a drummer in a well-known local band. His stories almost as epic of the drinks he curates and pours.
- For the cocktail connoisseur: Proof. The most upscale of all the cocktail bars, Proof has an extensive list of whisky, bourbon, and everything in between. Each cocktail is carefully curated and presented in old-fashioned style glasswear. The bar is basically from floor to ceiling, and a moving ladder is connected to the bar, Beauty and the Beast style. There are a few couches there if you’re with a group that are draped with Classic Hudson Bay blankets. This place fills up après work, and doesn’t die down until close. If you’re looking to tempt your tastebuds with some epic cocktails, this is the number one spot in Calgary for you.
- For the hipster: Cannibale. This spot is a bit off the grid, but is worth the visit. In the front is a little barber shop, and then the wooden bar is through another door. It boasts an eclectic patio which is perfect to sit and catch some ray’s while downing a Manhattan.
Quick and Dirty drinks:
- For the musician that wants to keep it casual: Ship & Anchor This super casual bar is on 17th Ave, a.k.a. the “it” strip in the city. Huge outdoor patio and large space inside for basic drinks and beer. It’s a no frills spot, and is frequented by local bartenders and servers when their shift is over.
- For the gays: Backlot This bar is through an alley and is aptly called Backlot. The deep red bar has screens that play a montage of handsome, nearly-nude men on it (when they aren’t playing sports.) The drinks are basic and cheap, and if you meet someone there, they have a case of condoms and lube for free for you to grab upon your exit. What fun!
- For the naughty at heart: Boudoir Rouge. This strip club – in the heart of downtown – has the to-be-expected over-priced drinks and plays a selection of Top 40 tunes. There are poles at different tables where women dance in bras and panties while you sit, drink, and watch. They have a main stage behind the bar where a woman suggestively sits naked with a funnel “down there” where you are encouraged to throw loonies at. Perfect pervy spot if you want to hone in on your basketball skills and see some Calgary-ass to boot. $20 for men. Free for dem ladies.
- For the one who wants to dance it out: Hudsons on 5th SW., is the go-to spot on Monday nights for industry peeps. It gets hella busy around 11pm, and you can hilariously watch a dance floor form, while the DJ “spins” a mix of old-school rap and top 40 tunes. The duo-male bartenders in the backroom dress up in different costumed looks each Monday. We’ve seen ‘em in everything from head-to-toe vintage basketball player outfits, and Chip’n’Dale attire (or lack thereof.) It’s the kind of spot you feel embarrassed to be a part of, yet find yourself saying “one more drink,” at least three or four times before actually leaving. No cover charge.
So if you’re looking to toast Canadian music this weekend, you’ve got a mighty list to drink your way through. Cheers!