Things to do in Kelowna – Tips from a bartender

Things to do in Kelowna – Tips from a bartender

harry dosanj

Bartender and owner of Bar Travelling Man cocktails, Harry Dosanj, has lived in the Kelowna for the last nine years. We caught up with him to find out the top things to do in Kelowna and places to hang out. Originally from Southampton, England, Harry says the best thing about living in this part of British Columbia is the fantastic weather!

A creative and passionate bartender who loves working with local ingredients, Kelowna’s farms and orchards provide a bounty of local produce for Harry to get creative with new cocktail ideas for each season. Try his Tabjito cocktail recipe.

kelowna
Aerial of Kelowna (Photo: Tourism Kelowna/Shawn Talbot Photography), Carmelis Goat Cheese Artisan (Photo: Tourism Kelowna), Carmelis Goat Cheese Artisan (Photo: Tourism Kelowna/Jose Antonio Lopez), Quails Gate Estate Winery (Photo: Tourism Kelowna/Quails’ Gate Estate Winery)

Here are Harry’s favourite spots around British Columbia’s Kelowna:

Things to do in Kelowna

with Harry Dosanj, Bartender

Kelowna is special because our local produce is among the best I have ever tasted and I love the local craftsmanship that’s slowly appearing around Kelowna. It is by far one amazing place for any passionate Chef or Bartender to live.

Our wine industry is incredible right now and growing so fast. The quality small-batch wines from the likes of Tyler Halton (Summerland) and co is the best in Canada and the rewards in world competitions are showing that as well.

Match that with some fantastic local goat cheese from Carmelis or a wider cheese range from Poplar Grove wouldn’t be a bad thing either.

Kelowna Farmer’s Market

farmers market kelowna
Kelowna and area wine country – Arrowleaf Vineyards (Photo: Tourism Kelowna/Shawn Talbot Photography), Fresh Kelowna Cherries from the Kelowna Farmers’ & Crafters’ Market (Photo: Tourism Kelowna/Matt Ferguson Photography), Gatzke Farmers Market (Photo: Tourism Kelowna), Kelowna Farmers’ & Crafters’ Market (Photo: Tourism Kelowna/Kerri-Jo Stewart), Calona Wines (Photo: Tourism Kelowna/Calona Wines), Krafty Kitchen in downtown Kelowna, BC (Photo: Tourism Kelowna/Krafty Kitchen)

Every week I go to the Kelowna Farmer’s Market twice a week to shop around or get future cocktail inspirations. There are so many different vendors that go there every Wednesday and Saturday between April and October. I love the free live music, the vibe and meeting random friends. It’s a great family experience too so take your kids!

My Secret Spots 

things to do in kelowna
Left: Dragonfly on Lilypad at Kasugai Gardens (Photo: Tourism Kelowna/Matt Ferguson Photography), Mission Creek (Photo: Tourism Kelowna)

My two secret spots are: Mission Creek is my getting ‘lost’ place which is just a block from my house for quick getaways when needed.

The next one is The Kasugai Garden Park, which is my Japanese-inspired sanctuary whenever I need to escape. This garden is my place to think and design my future cocktails in peace.

Best burger in Kelowna

If I had to choose a last meal, it would be ramen. But sadly, my favourite ramen place is located in Downtown Vancouver.

In Kelowna, the best burger is the Signature at Central Kitchen and Bar. Central’s famous patty with house smoked tomato, avocado, goat feta, leaf lettuce, pickled onion and lemon chili aioli. YUM!!

Three Kelowna restaurants 

I’d take my friends to:

kelowna time
RauDZ (Photo: Tourism Kelowna)

1- Central Kitchen & Bar

I’ve always loved the customer service and the vibe in this tiny Kelowna location. Central Kitchen & bar (1155 Ellis St, Kelowna) is always busy, full of great food and great weekly features. Try out all the burgers! A must!

2- Bacaro

Bacaro (231 Benard Avenue, Kelowna) is another tiny restaurant which opened three years ago. I was one of their first bartenders at the opening and always had great people working there. The food is always consistent and Bacaro always uses local ingredients in both food and drink. I love small restaurants, as when they’re full the vibe is so good. The mussels have always been a standout here since day one.

3- Raudz

Raudz (1560 Water Street, Kelowna) is a brick-lined bistro in Kelowna with a long communal table serving locally sourced Pacific Northwest dishes. The bar program also uses the most seasonally changing and locally sourced ingredients in town. They always had talented bartenders since day one of opening many years ago. Raudz is always full so go early to get a seat! Try their famous Angus New York steak or the daily Codfathers selection feature.

Three Kelowna bars

Through Bar Travelling Man cocktails, I do bar consulting, events and special occasions. I’d like to do more pop-up bar events and hold bartending classes. When I’m not working at Basil and Mint (3799 Lakeshore Road, Kelowna), a Kelowna restaurant that offers fresh west coast cuisine, I love hanging out at:

kelowna bar
Top: Smack Dab (Photo: Tourism Kelowna), Bottom: BNA Brewing Co. (Photo: Tourism Kelowna/BC Ale Trail), BNA (Photo: Tourism Kelowna/Teaghan McGinnis Photography)

1- BNA

BNA (1250 Ellis Street, Kelowna) is an independent Kelowna brewery that produces fresh seasonal beer. The building has an on-site tasting room and eatery. The addition of bowling lanes next door is coming soon in 2018. It’s a great place to meet friends and chill out while playing indoor games. Also, they have a decent bar program as well to try out.

2- Doc Willoughby’s Pub

Doc Willoughby’s Pub (353 Bernard Avenue, Kelowna) is a great place to meet new people and catch up with friends in Kelowna. The pub is one of two Kelowna locations open until 2 am every day so many people from the food and beverage industry head there after work. They offer live bands every week and many specials at their bar. The place isn’t known for craft cocktails, but the vibe is great any day of the week.

3- Smack Dab

Smack Dab (Manteo Resort, 3762 Lakeshore Road, Kelowna) has the best patio in Kelowna. In summer, it’s a great place to chill out in a group. There’s a great selection of local BC beers on tap and local wines. They’re known for their pizzas so check them out.

Favourite season in the Okanagan

Spring because the winter is over and we can finally get ready for the summer again after so much snow. Asparagus is pretty much one of the first things to grow in spring and my mum makes a killer appy with them.

Three days in Kelowna

I would love three days off in a row!

kelowna kangaroo farm
Top: Salted Brick (Photo: Tourism Kelowna/David McIlvride, Spatula Media + Communications), Kangaroo Creek Farm (Photo: Tourism Kelowna)

Day one – Hiking and hanging out in Kelowna

I would ideally go for a few hours in Mission Creek Park for a hike and then go home and freshen up for lunch. I would then go to Salted Brick in Kelowna for the best lunch ever as its always so fresh and local. After lunch, I’d maybe walk around downtown Kelowna and say hi to some of my friends who might be working or maybe have a pint on a patio somewhere.

Day two – Family day out

On the second day I would go to the Kangaroo Farm, yes we have one! It’s really lovely there and perfect for a family day out. I love taking my two kids there and of course who doesn’t love animals? Right! Maybe on the way back, we would do some mini golf at Scandia and then grab some lunch somewhere.

Day three – Kelowna road trip

The third day, I’d do a road trip around the region to taste some amazing local wines. After all, it is research for me as a bartender (lol). I would check out Quails Gate and Rollingdale Wineries on the Westside and then try out Kitsch Winery.

Harry Dosanj lives in Kelowna, British Columbia, and works as a consultant and bartender through Bar Travelling Man.

things to do in kelowna

Last words

Enjoy and embrace everything we have here. We have something for everyone around Kelowna, from water sports to golf. Also check out our breweries and distilleries as well.

Are you inspired to visit Canada now? Book yourself at least one of these experiences here and see Destination Canada’s website here to start your planning.

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