The Best Bars in Banff, Alberta

The Bear Street Tavern is the place to go for pizza and beer in Banff
The Bear Street Tavern is the place to go for pizza and beer in Banff | © dpa picture alliance / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Jennifer Bain
29 September 2020

Banff, a beautiful resort town in Canada’s Rocky Mountains, is full of places to shop, eat and of course drink. Whether you want a quiet cocktail in a castle or the chance to bowl and drink, there’s a bar for you. Here are Culture Trip’s top picks.

The Radiant

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Craft Ale Bar, North American
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Created by a group of local friends and colleagues, the Radiant wraps its concept around arts and culture. It’s a parlor and lounge with a live entertainment stage. The drinks menu offers Roaring Radiant Cocktails such as the Little Black Dress and Chicago Overcoat, as well as #ginstagrams that all feature Canadian gin paired with artisan tonics and things such as rose petals, black cardamom and dehydrated strawberries. Food includes sharing plates and à la carte charcuterie, which even has a vegan cheese option.

Banff Ave Brewing Co.

Craft Ale Bar, American, $$$
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Enjoying beers on outside terrace of Banff Ave Brewing Co in Banff, Alberta
© Diane Modafferi / Alamy Stock Photo

Founded in 2010, this sister brewpub to Jasper Brewing Co. is part of the Bearhill family of craft-beer brands. On the food front, there are items such as poutine (fries, Quebec cheese curds and brown gravy) and soft pretzels with coarse sea salt, black pilsner cheese fondue and beer mustard. Beer ranges from Pond Hockey Pale Ale to Brewers Oar ESB (English-style extra special bitter).

High Rollers

Bar, American
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For active types who don’t want to sit still while they drink, High Rollers has a bowling alley. A DJ presides over Sunday Funday from 9pm, when there are deals on highballs, bomb shots and tallboys. At Wednesday’s Toonie Bowl, bowling is two Canadian dollars ($1.50) from 9pm, and mini beer jugs are 10 Canadian bucks ($7.50). Beer comes by the pint or pitcher, and fishbowls are deliciously sweet concoctions, such as the strawberry creamsicle with vanilla vodka, trip sec, Fanta and strawberry purée.

Park Distillery Restaurant and Bar

Bar, American, $$$
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The sign outside the Park Distillery restaurant Banff, Canada
© Julian Eales / Alamy Stock Photo

There is much to do at Park Distillery Restaurant and Bar. Here, you can drink small-batch spirits made with water from six Rocky Mountain glaciers, shop for spirits, gear and house-produced hand sanitizer or take a distillery tour (when tours are allowed to resume). Park aims to be Canada’s leading craft distillery for environmentally sustainable production, energy efficiency and water conservation. Food is inspired by campfires and sourced locally – think salads, bowls, rotisserie chickens, prime rib and smoked s’mores. It also offers gluten-free beers and vegetarian cocktails.

Elk and Oarsman

Bar, American, $$$
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This aesthetically pleasing sports pub is all timber and river rock and has space to socially distance. Elk and Oarsman’s frozen cocktails taste best in the summer on the rooftop patio with 360-degree views of the mountains, while its specialty coffees, such as the Irish, are perfect by the wood-burning, stone fireplace. It also offers three kinds of sangria – very berry, just peachy and rose – and the kitchen slings burgers, bar snacks and pizza. Since 2005, this has been the place to watch basketball, hockey, baseball and football with friends.

The Bear Street Tavern

Bar, Pub, Restaurant, Pub Grub, $$$
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Alberta/Banff Nationalpark: Banff, Restaurant "Bear Street Tavern", Kanada Westen | usage worldwide
© dpa picture alliance / Alamy Stock Photo

Pizza and beer are what you’ll find at this kid-friendly tavern, which even has a dog-friendly patio and a dog menu that includes cranberry energy bites, mountain dog bowls and bear cookies. Check out the garlic cheese fingers with donair sauce (very Halifax). On the non-alcoholic front, there are craft sodas and kombucha. The Bear Street Tavern also serves a little wine, a daily rosé, beer from Alberta and British Columbia, and classic tavern cocktails or seasonal features made with Park Distillery spirits.

Rundle Bar

Bar, American, $$$
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Inside the famous Fairmont Banff Springs, a luxury hotel that looks like a castle, is Rundle Bar. You need reservations to wander into the bar between 11:30am and 3pm for afternoon tea; otherwise, it’s walk-in only. Happy hour is called Rundle Rush Hour, and it runs daily from 4pm to 6pm, with beer, wine and cocktail specials.

These recommendations were updated on September 29, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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