There’s something about Colannino's tiny, perfectly imperfect spot on the city’s east side that feels a world away from Vancouver.
The Imperfectionist: Gianmarco Colannino
Owner and Burglerslinger, Trans Am, Vancouver
In a city of polished cocktail bars and 20-tap beer joints, there’s something about this tiny, perfectly imperfect spot on the city’s east side—just 13 seats, an understated scribble of a sign on the door—that feels a world away from Vancouver. Owner Gianmarco Colannino literally built Trans Am (every nail in the bar, every piece of newspaper plastered on the wall is the work of his hands) after beating a rare form of testicular cancer. It was time, he decided, to do something he always wanted to do. “It was about offering something that I couldn’t find in the city,” he says. “A no-bullshit kind of thing. We’re straightforward with everyone.”
When he opened, he was the lone guy staffing the six-burner electric range behind the bar while pouring drinks and chatting with customers—and his original plan of rustic Italian quickly became a challenge. He switched to burgers (and what burgers they are, made from AAA wagyu chuck), teamed up with former Merchant’s bartender David Back and ramped up the cocktail program, and it was game on.
Colannino caused a stir in the city this year with a new shift in the program: cell phones must be checked at the door. “I’d wanted to do it for a very long time,” he says, “but everyone told me I was nuts.” A trip to a speakeasy in L.A., where he was asked to hand over his hat and phone when he entered, changed his mind. “And I had the best time ever, not being able to touch my phone. So I thought, okay, I’m not crazy—this could work.”
You’ll feel the difference on a Friday night: conversations rise up over the music, neighbours chat with one another. In a city known for its insular nature, it’s an un-Vancouver Vancouver spot. And that makes it the city’s coolest bar.
WL: What’s your favourite unusual food and drink pairing?
GC: It’s not that unusual, but fried chicken and champagne is a combo I like to smash. Or a Nutella-and-ricotta sandwich with a glass of crisp white wine.
WL: Guilty pleasure snack?
GC: A Big Mac.
WL: Best hangover cure?
GC: OG blue Gatorade and Advil, before you go to bed.