The 12 Bars of Christmas 2008

Ah, the 12 Bars of Christmas. Drinking at far too many bars in far too short a time. This is the 4th year my friends Erika & Paul have held this pub crawl and my 3rd year attending.

The rules:

  • You must consume at least one drink per bar.
  • You must finish your drink on time to get to the next bar on schedule (warnings will be giving in the form of “Drink up, we are leaving NOW!”)
  • You must sing the appropriate verse of “The 12 Days of Christmas” before leaving each bar.

I’m pretty small1 and have a pretty low alcohol tolerance, so in the interest of not dying, in my first year of 12 Bars participation, I went in with the game plan of having basically a relatively weak drink (Amaretto sour) and not doing any mixing. Although there were a few places I had to make exceptions (the dinner place only served beer and wine, the Fringe couldn’t fit us all in so we had to have a shot), I mostly stuck to this plan and it served me well. In my second year, I went in with the same game plan, but the group was so large that we ended up having to have a shot at the first few bars (since it took the whole half hour just to reach the front of the line to order our drinks!) and all the mixing did me in – I wimped out after bar 7. This year, I was determined to not make the same mistake – I would stick to my game plan!

3 p.m. – Bar 1 – Erika & Paul’s House


Erika enjoys a White Christmas2

So, yeah, I had a White Christmas here. Off the game plan at bar #1! In my defence, however, there was no option for an Amaretto sour here. And the White Christmas sounded sooo tasty!

Update: As it turns out Paul INVENTED the White Christmas!  This, I did not know.  It speaks to his professionalism as a mixologist that he invented a drink that I totally did not realize was his very own creation!

3:30 p.m. – Bar 2 – Las Margaritas


Linda at Las Margaritas, appropriately enough, enjoys a margarita.

Back on my game, I had an Amaretto sour here. I was tempted to go for a margarita, what with it being Las Margaritas and all. But it was just too damn cold outside for an icy drink, imho.

When we ordered our drinks, Linda said, “We’ll just settle up now, as we are only having one drink. And, just so you know, so are all these other people.” The bartender replied, “Oh yeah, I know. I’m just waiting for the song.” Apparently, our reputation precedes us!

4 p.m. – Bar 3 – Hell’s Kitchen


Casey enjoys an Amaretto sour, signals that this is our third bar and, I believe, demonstrates that he’s in a gang from the west side.

Linda remembered my claim that Hell’s Kitchen has the best Amaretto Sours of all of the 12 bars, so she and Casey agreed to join me in some A.S. goodness here.


3 Amaretto sours at bar 3. I’m pretty sure we won’t be getting scurvy.

4:30 p.m. – Bar 4 – Mandala Restaurant


Nina at Bar 4.

Since last year, Kitsilano Restaurant has renovated and changed its name to Mandala. It looks much nicer than it used to, but serves that same mish mash of inexpensive Chinese and Japanese food that we’ve come to know and love. A lot of people rave about the chicken chow mien here, but I go with the veggie Teriyaki box, as the veggie chow mien, I learned during my first year at 12 Bars, tastes like nothing. Also, your only drink options are beer or wine. Again, I went against the grain (most people got the bottles of beer that are larger than my torso), but I went with the wine.


Look how friggin’ big those bottles of beer are!

5:30 p.m. – Bar 5 – Tatlow’s


Martha about to “enjoy” her Dr. Pepper shot at Tatlow’s.

Every year at 12 Bars you have the same conversation and it goes something like this, “Oh, I don’t think we’ve met. Is this your first year at 12 Bars?” “Nope, I’ve been here every year. Also, hung out at Erika and Paul’s wedding.” This is approximately the conversation that I had at 12 Bars with, among others, Martha & her husband, Loren. And, for the record, I was back on the Amaretto Sour train.

6 p.m. – Bar 6 – Darby’s


Beth and John show us that we are at Bar #6.

Again, it’s Amaretto sour FTW.

6:30 p.m. – Bar 7 – Nevermind


Martha lets us know we are at Bar 7.

I fully intended to get a photo of different person at each bar. But apparently the Amaretto sours, which I have yet again at Nevermind, have taken their toll, as I really believed that I didn’t yet have a picture with Martha, despite having taken her picture two bars ago.

7 p.m. – Bar 8 – Gargoyle’s


Me and my sixth Amaretto sour of the evening, at bar 8.

Having this Amaretto sour at bar 8 meant that I exceeded last year’s ability to stick with the program. I actually look surprisingly alert in this photo, given that I’m on drink 8.

7:30 p.m. – Bar 9 – The Shack


Tanis at bar 9. Tanis and I have a hockey game to play today. It’s against the first place team and lots of our players are going to away. That should be fun.

The Shack was a new addition to the 12 Bars this year, as Brown’s was ditched because last year they weren’t very nice. Never heard of the Shack before and, honestly, I don’t remember too much about it. My Twitter stream (as I twittered at each bar) tells me that The Shack had the sourest Amaretto sour ever. I think I took this photo at The Shack, but I wouldn’t swear to that:


I believe this photo of Mike was also taken at The Shack:


This is hands down my favourite photo of the evening. The bartender started handing out random free shots to people and one got passed to Mike. He had no idea why there was a free shot in his hand or what was in it or why it smelled like the fluoride you used to get in elementary school. I think his facial expression says it all.

8 p.m. – Bar 10 – Elwood’s


I got two photos indicating bar 10. First one of Beth. Then one of two Beths. Perhaps this is where people started seeing double?

After the sourest Amaretto sour ever made, I was Amaretto soured out. I also felt like I was quickly reaching my limit, but I managed to get down most of a spiced rum and diet Coke at Elwood’s.

8:30 p.m. – Bar 11 – Coppertank


Loren, Paul and person whose name escapes me at the moment (Ty, maybe?) work together to show us that we are at bar 11.

Deciding that not drinking at all 12 bars was the lesser evil compared to dying of alcohol poisoning. Or puking. I hate puking. So I had a delicious cup of water at the ‘tank.

Coppertank always shows Canuck game and, at some point, I saw someone celebrating an Edmonton Oilers goal and had a conversation that went something like this:

Me (incredulously): Are you celebrating an Oilers goal?
Him: Alberta?
Me: Fuck Alberta!
Him: I get that a lot.

As it turns out, this guy was with our 12 Bars group. I hadn’t seen him before and just assumed he was a random Albertan hanging out at Coppertank.

9 p.m. – Bar 12 – Regal Beagle


Casey and guy who I think is named Allan show us that we have, in fact, made it all the way to bar 12.

By the time we got to bar 12, many of us were ravenously hungry, so we ordered food. I had a most delicious veggie burger and scrumptious French fries. And a diet Coke sans any form of ethanol. But then Steve won the 50/50 draw and in the spirit of giving, he spent the entire thing on a round of Broken Down Golf Cart shots, so I had that. Meaning I went 11 for 12, which really isn’t so bad for a half pint such as myself.

During our walk over to the Regal Beagle, we saw a few snowflakes coming down and, once we were there, it really started coming down. Steve (an Albertan) and the Albertan who I yelled at in Coppertank kept denying that it was really snow, since apparently anything less than 20 ft of snow doesn’t really count. But by the time I finished my veggie burger, the snow was actually sticking on the road3 and I decided that my nice warm bed sounded much more attractive than standing in the snow in the line-up at Lola’s (our unofficial 13th bar). Because despite the fact that it was barely after 10 p.m., there was a lineup. As I described it to a few people: “There’s a lineup to get into Lola’s, but there isn’t a lineup to get into my bed. Well, sometimes there is, but not tonight.”

Getting home, however, was easier said than done. I tried to call a cab, but the phone for every cab company I called was busy. I decided to wait at the bus stop and just flag a cab down if I saw one before the bus arrived. Lots of cabs went by, but every single one was full. People in Vancouver, it turns out, don’t like to drive themselves when it snows! The bus finally arrived, it was packed, but I managed to get on. And then the bus couldn’t go anywhere. It was stuck. There was about 2 cm of snow on the ground, if that, and the bus was stuck. Awesome. So I decided to walk home. Which was more than 3 km. In freezing cold and snow. An hour later, I was more happy to see my bed than you can imagine!

And so ended the 12 Bars, version 4.0

Oh yeah, Paul & Erika raised more than $300 for the Canadian Liver Foundation. Or, as we called it, an investment in our futures.

1Five foot nothing, to be exact.
2Like a White Russian, but with egg nog. Tasty!
3Which pretty much qualifies as a “blizzard” in Vancouver

Comments |7|

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  • Oh my gosh… you WALKED home in that weather, drunk, from the Regal Beagle? That’s iNSanE!

    I got a ride home from Leslie’s… yay ride!

    See, I would have gone back to the Regal Beagle and waited for a cab, even if I had to wait 2 hours.

    The notion that Casey is in a gang, and that there are gangs (complete with signs) on the West Side, is hilarious!

    That’s too bad you didn’t go to Lola’s… it was so much fun last year watching all the hot straight boys dance and torment me!

    You obviously need to train for the 12 Bars much like for your half-marathons. 🙂


  • You’ve reminded me that I really need to learn how to drink! I’m a journalist, for cryin’ out loud, and I never really got into the whole drinking scene. This looks like too much fun!

    Tanya sent me over to introduce myself. I’m glad she did: your blog as a complete hoot, and I look forward to reading more.


  • @Kalev – Clearly, I’m not sufficiently trained! And I must be getting old, as the warmth and comfort of my bed seemed so appealing last night. Would you really wait two hours (or more, as I imagine the cab scene would only get worse as the night wore on) in a restaurant by yourself rather than walk for one hour? Come to think of it, I should have ran home and called it a half marathon training run!

    @Carmi – Welcome to my blog! You’ve arrived during on of my best posts of the year, so I hope that my other posts measure up!


  • 🙂 Darlin’ – I totally enjoyed your tweets yesterday… I absolutely must be invited next year! (or, I’ll just steal the idea and you have to come twice! LOL)

    Thanks for the giggles — I loved the photos.

    ps: I sent myself!


  • Hooray for the “12 bars” report! I am not sure of which activity I am more jealous: your ability to drink Amaretto Sours (yum! Some day I will be able to have ethanol again) or your ability to take a bus (even one that is stuck). Stupid, stupid transit strike.


  • @Beth I would so NEVER walk an HOUR, drunk, in the weather we had Saturday night–especially since I was most definitely not dressed for it and I’m assuming you weren’t either. Weren’t there any 12 Bar-ers left at the Regal Beagle? They all were outside waiting in line for Lola?

    I’m just glad you got home okay.


  • @Kalev – You know what happens when you ASSume, right? Even before the snow, it was mofo cold out on Saturday and since 12 Bars involves so much walking from bar to bar I had my winter jacket, mitts and hat. So I was well equipped for the weather.

    As for the other 12 Bar-ers, I think there were a few left at RB, but no one who would stick around for 2 hours!


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