So lately, I’ve been going out a lot (no, this is not new news if you know me). I guess I’ve been drinking more than usual too. And while I won’t go on about how alcohol can be draining on the budget, Toronto has some great places to drink. I’ve stumbled upon a few new places (to me) and thought I’d share. The full Yelp list is here.
1. Cold Tea – probably one of my favourite places in the city because of its clandestine location in my favourite neighbourhood of Kensington Market and the very fun vibe. You want a mean cocktail? Done. You want some Rolling Rock or PBR? Done. Shaken and twist (the dance). Yelp review here.
2. The Cobourg – this is my second favourite bar in Toronto. It’s a bit out of the way (for a tourist) but the owner, John, will take care of you. A fabulous date spot and a place where people watching is in its prime. Plus, they have a mean cheese plate. Mmmm.
3. 416 Snack Bar – where the cool kids hang. You’ll find a few chefs here after hours or on a Monday (and come here during the week; it’s way better). Plus, the owners have worked in some of the top kitchens. Though their snacks are a wee pricey, it’s worth it. Pssst: they have a secret menu. Monster buns please. You’ll get major cred (or not because I spoiled the surprise).
4. Cocktail Bar – another extension of the Black Hoof , this bar harkens back to another era (and yes, I like to use the word “harken”). I’m in love with their cabinetry here. Oh, and everything–from the bitters to the speakeasy cocktails–is hand made. I haven’t had it but the rumour is Jen Agg makes the best Manhattan in the city (and well worth the $16 you will spend on it). Oh, and they have some awesome snacks too. Mmmm. Great date place. P.S. if you order vodka, you will be kicked out of the bar. They even have an ode to it on the side wall. Brilliant.
5. Mugshot – this is a new discovery I made. It’s way off the tourist track but if you want a bartender’s bar, this is the place. It’s not fancy but the draw here is that all of the pictures on the wall are of celebrity mugshots. What a fun point of conversation. And if the owners like you? Your drink will come extra strong.
6. The Piston –a block and a half away from Ossington Station on Bloor, this is another bartender’s bar. Not sure if the drinks are anything fancy (I usually order gin and tonics), but the vibe here is ace. Lots of events and a concert space in the back. Love it!
7. The Avro – one of my favourite bars in Leslieville. The staff couldn’t be nicer and the vibe is conducive to meeting other people, local or not. If anything, you’ll be taken care of. There are a few bars nearby for a fun pub crawl (The Comrade; Rasputins, Picnic Wine Bar).
8. Wvrst – a modern beerhall where the steins are heavy and the meat meaty. I highly recommend this if you are going out with a group. I love the subway tiles on the wall. Go early on a Saturday night. You WILL wait in line.
9. Mavrik Winebar – this is a new discovery of mine. Best part? The wines on the list are ones you can’t get from the local LCBO so if you are a wine snob, this is your place. Another fab date place or girlfriend bitch-off session. And the food has a Korean influence. Great charcuterie and selection of cheeses. Decor and seating is a bit to be desired but otherwise, you’ll feel tipsy at the end of the night. And that is always a good night.
10. Churchill – this place has a few memories for me that I couldn’t not include it. You’ll always get a perfectly crafted cocktail and its location is right in the heart of the restaurant boom that is happening on Dundas West West (yes, two Wests because they’re cool like that).
Honorable Mentions: Acadia (great cocktails); Nota Bene (stiff and pricey//AMAZING Sommelier); Reposado (tequila bar on Ossington); Drake Hotel (I LOVE their Sky Yard; great for a long afternoon on the weekend and fun vibe); Beaconsfield (across street from The Drake and very much a local’s bar/industry hangout –owners also own Churchill); Grand Electric (extensive bourbon menu) and Allen’s (awesome service; extensive beer menu).