Category: Advice


ask the inebriateRobert from east of here (somewhere around Ottawa I think):

“well hello!

so, was just desperately scouring the interwebs for any advice on shopping for bar tools in Toronto when I happened along your blog. the blog is awesome btw.

it would seem that you might be my last hope as the interwebs have proved fruitless. I spent the last two days going here and there, all around TO, to all sorts of places you’d figure would carry things like Hawthorne strainers, Julep strainers, jigger, muddlers, Boston shakers, bitters (don’t even get me started!), bar spoons, mixing glasses etc..

I have a few hours left tomorrow afternoon to find… everything?anything.. thanks in advance for any advice you could pass along to a very weary traveller!”

You can try Kitchen Stuff Plus at 703 Yonge St. (one block south of Bloor St.) for some bar gear. They have a lovely selection of OXO knives, some juicers and other odds and ends. Williams-Sonoma has some stuff too but they’re pricey and overrated. A stand at the St. Lawrence Market sells my favorite shaker, the Oxo Stainless Steel, in the basement area (look for the stand with all of the kitchen gear; they’ll have other stuff too).

Dinetz at 231 King St. East (just west of Sherbourne St.) has pretty much everything you might want. While you’re in the east end, you can always check out Nella Cutlery at 433 Queen St. East. They mostly service restaurants and the like but their store may very well interest you. If you want to go a bit further afield, try out Cayne’s in Thornhill. They kind of remind me of those ads you see in the Sun but you can’t argue with the prices.

I’ve never shopped here but every time I pass by Calphalon (425 King St. West, just west of Spadina Ave.) they always have spiffy tool displays in the window. Seeing as they supply Williams-Sonoma, they’re probably pricey but they might be cheaper than shopping at the latter. Hell, even if you don’t buy anything, I can think of worse ways to spend an afternoon.

For bitters, you’re pretty much out of luck if you’re looking for anything but Angostura. The Toronto Institute of Bartending carries Fee Brothers but that’s it. Their store is located at 487 Adelaide St. West (just west of Portland St.). The LCBO carries three types of four types of Amaro, Campari, Cynar, Fernet-Branca and Unicum but I don’t think that’s what you’re looking for. Be sure to check the website because not all stores will carry them.

On a side-note, you can find lots of fun stuff at Value Village, particularly glassware, and its cheap. Don’t buy crystal; it’s going to break anyway.

Sofie from Toronto: “Anyone recommend a karaoke place for thursdays that 16 year olds can go to? I know some karaoke bars are only for 19+ etc.”

I asked the new host (so new I can’t remember his name) of karaoke Wednesdays and Thursdays at Hoops Sports Bar & Grill, if knew of any venues like that and he confirmed what I already suspected; many bars are 19+ and even if they would let you in, they probably wouldn’t let you stay past 11pm or so.

Most liquor licenses prohibit minors and even if an owner would be willing to look past that (and they do exist) it would definitely be a huge liability if anything went wrong. Even if you look old enough to get in, they’ll probably card you if you try to buy a drink and you’ll probably get busted when you get on stage.

Your best bet is to grab one of those karaoke rooms in Koreatown. Some of them won’t even care if you want to drink (but if you do, try to be responsible). I know they’re not as much random fun as a bar but with the right friends, it’ll be good times.

You’ve only got three years to go anyways; you’ll be singing with the rest of us in no time!

Up to this point, I’ve usually answered any questions I receive directly but I figured maybe some of you out there might be wondering the very same things so I’m going to start posting my answers.

Nik from Toronto: “Did the LCBO, in an attempt to be responsible or something, discontinue all malt liquors (essentially, shit alcohol with a content above 6% or so)? Just curious. Realized that I haven’t had a 40 in a while, nor have I see one.”

I decided to call them up to see what they had to say. The confused lady I ended up reaching had no idea what malt liquor was and it quickly became apparent that she was merely searching for it on their own website.

Since I can do that myself, I let her go and did a quick check which got us the answer we wanted.

You can still get Pabst Olde English 800 (311357, 1180 mL, $5.80) and Red Bull (679860, 710 mL, $3.25) around Toronto. Colt 45 (679845, 710 mL, $3.25) however, is only available in the boonies but you can get the larger size (676189, 1183 mL, $5.35) at Queen’s Quay, Yonge & Dundas and a couple of other locations as well as in multiple locations in Scarborough and North York.

The lady I talked to at the LCBO couldn’t say why the number of stores carrying malt liquor had shifted but I would imagine supply and demand has a larger impact on its availability. Also, the LCBO has been trying to gussy up their image in the past couple of years and it hards to see it fitting in well with their new direction (at least until Colt 45 brings back Billy Dee Williams for nostalgic ad campaign).

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