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Spring / Summer

An Ode to Ladies Night in Edmonton

by Courtney Higgins

A girls night out—it’s as essential as the perfect motorcycle jacket to any wardrobe. Lucky for you, Edmonton is one of the best cities in Canada to let loose with your girl squad.

It's ladies night, and the feeling's right.

If you think your girls are in need of a serious night out, but can’t quite put your finger on why, there are probably several reasons for your suspicions. Maybe you've caught Leslie weeping while looking at her phone, muttering, "I wish I knew how to quit you". Maybe Sally keeps bailing on brunch at Little Brick because her babysitter is late again, or, even worse, Maureen has been mistakenly double-booking herself during your YEG Cycle spin meet-ups. Rise to the occasion and rally the troops, these girls do in fact need a night out. Swap out yoga pants for your brightest duds, contour those cheeks and hit the town!

Don’t know where to take the squad? Not to worry, follow this list and you’ll be dubbed royalty in your inner circle. Warning. All the hot spots listed are extremely Instagram-worthy, so don’t be surprised if the girls drop off for a few low-key selfies throughout the night.

Like all great epics, this night out needs to start with a bang. For some excitement and delicious cocktails, head to Baijiu (pronounced “Bye Joe”, let’s get that out of the way now). Downtown’s newest addition is uber-chic and the perfect spot to show off those on-point outfits, nibble on devilishly good oysters and sip champagne cocktails. With Biggie spinning on vinyl and a swoon-worthy décor, you know this night is off to a good start. Featuring Asian-inspired dishes that are built to share, I recommend the Sichuan Confit Chicken, Kung Pao Chickpeas and Char Siu Pico Fried Rice—you can’t make a bad menu choice here. Kick back in the swanky leather couches at the front and take it all in! But beware, this is a place you could spend all evening, so if you want to get to the next destination before the night is over, gather the crew and walk approximately 50 steps to the right. Hot tip: The ladies room, with the coolest wallpaper around, is the perfect place to snap a picture (or two).

Mercer Tavern
Built in 1911, The Mercer Warehouse has seen some of the city’s original movers, shakers and has even survived a fire. Mercer Tavern re-opened its doors to become one of YEG’s principal gathering spots. Exposed brick, wooden floors, chandeliers and old school table top games—this is one great place to hang out! Snag a high-top table and order a couple rounds of Yellowhead pints to enjoy while you take it all in. Good looking bartenders don’t hurt either. Stick around until the dance floor warms up, order some snacks and live it up in this historical haunt!

The trick is to keep things interesting during a precious night out, so settle up the tabs and summon your Uber, you gals are heading across the High Level Bridge to Old Strathcona.

Have Mercy
No, you haven’t had one too many cocktails and boarded a WestJet flight to Texas, you’ve just walked into one of Old Strathcona’s coolest establishments. Opening its doors last summer, Have Mercy is quickly becoming an esteemed venue with all the makings of a cool and quirky YEG staple. From neon signs with Willie Nelson lyrics to a life size cut out of Alan Jackson from the 80’s, Have Mercy is a great southern joint to catch up and cut a rug to blues, country and good old fashion rock’n’roll! Order a round (or two) of the Strathcona Sours, munch on the pretzels and snap some ‘grams of the neon signs. Bonus points to those ballsy enough to get on stage for piano karaoke.

El Cortez
Right below Have Mercy is El Cortez Mexican Kitchen + Tequila Bar. What goes up must come down and in this instance, you’ll want to head to the basement for a fiesta like you never knew existed! The Tequila Cellar is where some seriously cool DJs spin hip hop classics to keep you on the dance floor long into the night. Known to host secret shows, you can stay in the loop by following them on twitter or Instagram. This is the perfect place to cap off the evening with great jams and even better friends.

For the kind of evening where great stories are made, assemble your girl gang and hit the town… totally worth the two-day hangover.