Skinny Fat Jack’s provides big atmosphere in a small space

By Jessica Brodeur

CITY-SFJsVANCOUVER — Depending on where you are, brushing shoulders with strangers can be annoying, unpleasant, or downright awkward. Being squished on the Skytrain? The thought alone is dreadful. Trying to get a table at Taqueria? Only after tacos. The dancefloor at the Bourbon? Pass. Take that same proximity, but mix in exotic hand-shaken cocktails, retro decor, candlelight, and live music and you’ve got a cozy, pleasant, maybe even flirty night at Skinny Fat Jacks. This 300 sq. ft. nook is the size of a living room, somewhere on the festivity scale between “low key comfort food dinner party” and “after-hours jazz club in Brooklyn.”

Noted by the hand-painted wooden sign in an alley in Mount Pleasant, this back-room bar and venue plays host to any musical, theatre, or entertaining affair that can be dreamed up. Perhaps a band could form for a night to play SFJs and then dissipate once more, or a celebrated Juno award-winning act could secretly play here on a Tuesday – the options are limitless. “We have a dinner and movie combo night too, so we don’t just have music. It’s called Muscles for Dinner. One of the guys who works at the Rio, Tyson, hosts it. It’s a themed meal and cocktail with the movie that happens,” explains Chandler McMurray-Ives, booker and barkeeper for the space. “We have theatre on the last Friday of every month too with Spectral Theatre, and they’re awesome. They do radio theatre, so there’s actually 12 of them, one is an opera singer and it’s phenomenal.” Projection art, live talk shows, full bands, acid jazz trios and more have graced the comically petite stage, and acts are booked up for the next two months.

Dinner service runs from 8 – 10 p.m., with guests invited to show up early to have a bite with the band. Showtime varies, depending on how the musicians are feeling and how long it takes to cram a drum kit into the corner. “As we’re experimenting with other bands you can tell that people show up with their drum kits and are like ‘What?!’ and feel this little bit of nervousness,” elaborates McMurray-Ives. In close quarters, the music comes alive in a whole new intimate way. A few stiff-as-a-board drinks later and the nerves dissipate into a gin-soaked comfort. For a pop of bright red, try the gin & cherry combo in the Avalon, or to get straight down to drinking business with The Slickity: frangelico & bourbon. If there was one cocktail left in the world, please let it be the Fond of Tigers, with fresh squeezed orange, gin, and a Thai basil leaf that will help turn strangers into friends and Tinder dates into…

Skinny Fat Jack’s is open Wed – Sat every week and occasionally other nights, see listings at www.skinnyfatjack.com.

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