Ever since “Gassy Jack” Deighton set up the city’s first liquor outlet (a barrel of whiskey set atop a crude plank “bar”) in the area that became known as Gastown , that part of the city has been a favorite drinking spot.
The Steamworks Brewing Co. (375 Water St., Gastown, 604/689-2739, daily 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m.) is the perfect place to relax with a beer from the in-house brewery. The atmosphere is casual yet stylish, and you’ll have great views across Burrard Inlet.
At the far end of Gastown, the lively Blarney Stone (216 Carrall St., 604/687-4322) frequently resounds with rowdy Irish party bands. The evening crowd here is older and often single.
Yaletown Brewing Co. (1111 Mainland St., 604/681-2739) is the premier drinking hole for the hip population of inner-city Yaletown. Also in Yaletown, the Opus Bar (350 Davie St., 604/642-0557) serves up strong cocktails and imported beer in a sizzlingly hip setting off the lobby of the Opus Hotel.
At the Royal Pub (1025 Granville St., 604/685-5335), join the throngs of young backpackers drinking up nightly specials before retiring to the upstairs hostel.
Nightclubs change names and reputations with regularity, so check with the free entertainment newspapers or www.clubvibes.com  for the latest hot spots. Best known as “the Fair,” Luv-A-Fair, (1275 Seymour St., 604/685-3288) is as popular today as when it opened in the late 1980s, especially on Thursday nights, which feature techno tunes.
Appealing to an over-30s crowd is Skybar (670 Smithe St., 604/697-9199), a mega-trendy nightspot with drink prices to match. At street level is a martini bar, the second floor is mostly a dance floor, and the complex is topped with a retractable roof that opens a palm-tree studded patio to the elements.
Away from the main entertainment district, Gastown  offers a selection of nightclubs, including Fabric (66 Water St., 604/683-6695), which has grown to become one of the hottest Vancouver  nightspots. Many DJs are imported from London, and although most nights feature the latest techno, hip-hop, and house music from across the Atlantic, the club’s appeal has broadened and weeknights occasionally feature soul and jazz. The scene here attracts serious dancers and those who want to be seen dancing.
Attracting a huge crowd every night of the week, the classic Roxy (932 Granville St., 604/331-7999), presents two house bands playing rock ’n’ roll music from all eras to a packed house during the week, and imported bands on weekends. The young, hip crowd, good music, and performance bartenders make this the city’s most popular live music venue, so expect a line, especially after 9 p.m. on weekends; cover charges range $5–10. The Railway Club (579 Dunsmuir St., 604/681-1625) is a private club where nonmembers are welcome (at a higher cover charge) to listen to acts that range from rock to country.
The Hot Jazz Society (2120 Main St., 604/873-4131) presents live jazz on a regular basis; cover charge ranges $7–12. The Coastal Jazz & Blues Society (604/872-5200, www.coastaljazz.ca ) maintains a listing of all the city’s jazz and blues events.
Serious blues lovers should head to the historic Yale Hotel (1300 Granville St., 604/681-9253), which has hosted some of the greatest names in the business, including Junior Wells and Stevie Ray Vaughan. The hotel offers plenty of room for everyone, whether you want to get up and dance or shoot pool in the back. Sunday is the only night without live performances, although a jam session starts up around 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.