Tag Archive: BARS I LIKE


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I recently met Philip Duff at the G’Vine Connoisseur’s Program 2011 Preliminary at Swirl Wine Bar. (I competed too; more on that in a future post.) A bartender and consultant who travels around the world, he was in town to promote that program and G’Vine’s gins. He gave a lecture on the spirit and the history of distillation that was funny, interesting and not at all boring. The video above, which rips into bartenders who walk into other bars and make life hell for their colleagues, shows more of that wit.

COCKTAILS

Forget the sweet stuff. The latest trend is is herbal and vegetal. The red pepper puree is my new favorite mixer. (Details)

Cinco de Mayo may be over and done with but summer’s just starting and this is going to be a good year for tequila! Brush up on your history whilst drinking a Margarita Tenacatita. (Salon)

Caribana (I’m still not used to the new name) is coming up and while I’m not the biggest fan, I’ll be using the festival as an excuse to cook up some tamarind syrup. The fruit is tart but still a bit sweet. Mixed up as El Tamarindo, you won’t find a more refreshing highball. (12 Bottle Bar)

The blog above also has an outstanding post on infusing simple syrups. Even if you don’t have a herbal garden, you owe it your cocktails and your guests. (12 Bottle Bar)

If you have pomegranate juice, you can make your own grenadine syrup. (CHOW)

How to make Falernum #9. No Zombie is complete without it! (Post Prohibition)

One of most refreshing juices I can think of comes from the hibiscus flower. Too bad Agave & Aguacate stopped serving it. (Muy Bueno Cookbook)

Is it bad that the first thing I want to do with this recipe for switzel, a spicy non-alcoholic drink is add some dark rum to it? (The New York Times)

So you’ve just gotten used to Angostura bitters? Learn about the next essential bitters you need to have in your home bar: orange. (Serious Eats-Drinks)

Everything you ever wanted to know about amaros. My current favorites are Nonino (933796, 700 mL, $42.95) and Montenegro (601484, 750 mL, $24.15). (Post Prohibition)

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Is the idea of legalized public drinking inexorably linked for you to the sort of behavior in the video above? While the cynical boozehound in me views the proposed changes to our province’s liquor laws as an attempt by McGuinty and Co. to ward off PC leader Tim Hudak and Ford Nation, I can’t help but get a little excited.

No more beer tents! Whether you’re going to a music festival or the Ex, this is potentially huge. No lineups! No more missing bits of the show because you need another drink.

Anyone who claims we’ll have more drunk assholes like the fella above is missing the point. They’ll always be around. There’s no sense in punishing the vast majority of responsible adults because a few idiots can’t handle their liquor. If they get out of line? BAM, the hammer falls. Zero tolerance.

Of course, Hudak chimed in that he was all for “treating people like adults and not children”. While his point that the Liberal provincial government ignored similar recommendations made in a 2005 study is a good one, I fail to see how bringing back “buck-a-beer” is a grown-up idea.

Wet blanket and New Democrat leader Andrea Horwath stated that “when and where people drink beer is not a priority for most Ontarians”.

Andrea, last time I looked, you’ve never come close to winning an election and judging from the comments appended to this article, I’d say people do give a shit. Maybe you’re not as in-touch with the people as you think?

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Crawford

Crawford is about to shake up the Little Italy nightlife.

Last Saturday nearly turned out to be a bust for me and my friends. While all the essentials (what we were going to drink and whose house we were starting at) had been figured out, a simple mistake nearly unraveled the whole endeavor.

One of my friends was under the impression that 90′s Party, the retro montly at Neutral was happening this weekend when it was actually scheduled for next weekend. Although there was another 90′s party at Augusta House, I haven’t been interested in going there since 2007 so we had to find a new spot and fast.

A couple of phone calls later, we heard that Bang The Party! was moving to a new bar on Crawford and decided to check it out.

(For the rest of the article, please continue on to blogTO.)

With a solid team behind the bar and plenty of positive word-of-mouth, look for Crawford to be one of the biggest bars in Toronto for 2011.

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Some brewery needs to hire David Cross to do a couple spots. It would make everyone’s day.

ALCOHOL IS LESS FATTENING THAN YOU THINK. Quote. Now stop buying Molson 67. |Toronto Sun|

Adam McDowell has some good ideas when it comes to bars stepping up their game for 2011. |National Post|

We will soon get to try sake the way the Japanese intended when Toronto’s first sake brewery opens in the Distillery District this spring. |Toronto Life|

And as if we really need another reason why NYC is better than us, they’ve gone and protected their front-of-the-house staff’s tips. Not sure if that’s really anywhere near Mayor Ford’s give-a-fuck list but it would be nice… I could always give him a call. |Toronto Life|

I have to say, I have to agree with Beppi when he posits that older whisky is not necessarily better. My favorite range is often the 12 to 18 year-olds. |The Globe And Mail|

Hmm, maybe where Toronto shines is our lack of pretension? A brilliant diatribe against arrogant bartenders. |Threepenny|

But then again, NYC has these three cocktails. Pretty tasty. |The New York Times|

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Over a week into my vacation on St. Martin and I’m not sure I want to come back. This is quite possibly one of the best islands I’ve been to and considering how little decent information is available online, I’m pleasantly surprised.

Of course, the weather’s really nice. Most days, there was a constant breeze and although it got really hot in the afternoon, it was temperate the rest of the time. I did get a bit of sunstroke but this can easily be avoided by heading out to the beach early, from 8 am till about 11.

The beaches aren’t spectacular but they suffice. For some reason, the French side has a nicer waterfront (come to think of it, the French side is pretty much better in every way) but no matter which end of the island you’re on, you’ll be able to find some sand to settle down on. I liked Grand Case best.

The people are very friendly but this holds true for most French islands as opposed to the British ones. Those who have good manners will go far. I enjoyed my stay here far more than I did my visits to the Virgin Islands and Antigua.

No, I think my favorite thing about St. Martin is the how cheap and available the booze is.

I’m going to get into that and, in the process, offer you a decent guide to the island. This is not where you’ll be looking for where to rent a car or which hotel to stay; those sort of mundane details are best left to the forums.

Many of the articles written about the nightlife of St. Martin read like the authors never hang out in those places. While I may not have visited every bar on the island where drinking is a national pastime (except during the Heineken Regatta where they add sailing into the mix) it pays to know the ins and outs of the system that fuels the party.

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Tequila, which still struggles a bit with its undeserved, low-rent reputation, may very well be find itself being thought of on better terms after Tequila and More, the first trade show largely devoted to the spirit, comes to the Metro Convention Centre on December 3rd.

While it could be argued that a larger presence on LCBO shelves and an incredibly-successful marketing campaign by the makers of Patron have done a lot for tequila’s image, misconceptions abound.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people respond with a “I can’t drink that!” when I’ve asked if they’d like to indulge. While perfectly understandable when framed within the context of overconsumption, the response has less merit when attributed to the myths that tequila has more alcohol in it (it’s rarely overproof) or, like absinthe, possesses some mystical ingredient that causes the imbiber to become more drunk than they would if they had consumed whisky or vodka.

If you drink anything too quickly and too often, you’re going to regret it the next morning and if you compound the error with cheap stuff, you’ll only make it worse. While the amount of congeners (complex organic molecules) present in any spirit are largely responsible for hangovers,  impurities also play a part.

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michael davidson - tequilaIn news that is sure to please college students and horrify parents everywhere, a study that’s currently making the rounds online suggests that boozers live longer than nondrinkers. Those who currently abstain but used to drink also suffered high mortality rates. Perhaps the best news is that moderate drinkers (one to three drinks per day and the category I fall into) live the longest. The most interesting thing about the study is the attention made to the sociable aspects of drinking and the impact this interaction has on mental and physical health.

So next time someone says you’re drinking too much, knock back the spirit pictured above (tequila) and tell ‘em you’re doing it to live better and longer. |Time|

For those of us already comfortable with our levels of alcoholic consumption comes Toronto Beer Week, from September 20th to the 26th. With a home-brewing contest and a series of talks and tastings at a variety of good, local bars (including Bar Volo and C’est What?), it should prove to be the latest in a series of successful events this year celebrating Ontario craft beer.

The week  culminates in a urban treasure hunt of sorts called Toronto Beer Quest. where teams will race around the city solving clues that teach them about the history of beer around them. While I think they’re missing a great opportunity by not involving any actual drinking during the game, it should be fun.

With beer and champagne being found at the bottom of the ocean and whisky being found in Antarctica, it’s only a matter of time before we see new products that are crafted from approximations of their recipes. Whether they’ll taste any good is another thing altogether.|Yahoo, CNN, The Daily Telegraph|

Pabst, in an effort to diversify from its iconic brand beloved by hipsters and other cheap beer-drinkers alike, has released a new beer imaginatively titled Blue Ribbon 1844 in China. No word on whether it’s ever going to be sold over here but I think it’s safe to say we’re probably not missing out on much. |The Baltimore Sun|

Ever wanted to own a pub (and who hasn’t)? One of the most out-of-the-way spots in Britain is being sold. Accessible only by boat or a lengthy hike, it’s strangely quite popular with everyone from the locals to travelers and would continue to be quite the draw I would imagine. It just goes to show you that if you serve good food and drink and have a great vibe, folks will quite literally make the trek to stop in. |Herald Scotland|

Speaking as someone who doesn’t generally order cocktails in an unfamiliar bar, this list of the top ten ways to screw up an Old Fashioned is dead-on. |Bogost|

Some may find it incredibly pretentious but I laughed at a couple of these “cocktails” on the Atlantic’s drinks list. Located at 159 Dundas West, it’s basically the successor to The Boat and follows the same idea of a seafood restaurant becoming a dance club at night… except with less room. Still, they do serve bottles of Duggan’s No. 9.

Toronto’s always been a bit stiff and the new bylaws prohibiting patios on quite a few streets in our fair city ram that rod just little further. |The Globe and Mail|

Predictably, the cocktails designed for the Toronto International Film Festival sound pretty shitty so Adam McDowell asks four local bartenders to come up with something better (not a difficult task). |National Post|

Whisky made from the piss of diabetics? Why not? |James Gilpin|

(Photo by Michael Davidson, courtesy of Time)

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!

It’s no secret that the Toronto Festival of Beer has skewed itself more towards the mainstream for quite a few years now. While good beers and times have been found (I will never forget human foosball) the event is definitely an example of quantity over quality.

While I may not dislike it as much as some folks, I was still quite pleased to receive an email from Curt Dunlop and Jed Corbeil, the duo behind the Griffin Gastropub and the Muskoka Beer Festival, informing me of their plans to hold a craft beer festival in Toronto.

The idea is incredibly exciting… local beers and food should attract a crowd of like-minded enthusiasts and the opportunity to sample some new brews (Tree Brewing from Kelowna, BC is sending their Hophead IPA!) is not to be missed. With 21 breweries attending at last count and each of them bringing 1 to 5 types of beer, it’s going to be a very busy day!

Corbeil and I made arrangements to meet at C’est What? which was appropriate considering the pub is basically a temple to local craft beer. It was quickly apparent that he’s the kind of guy who loves what he does. His passion for beer is definitely there and he knows his stuff but he’s no snob either. Noticing he was well into his pint of Black Oak’s 10 Bitter Years (my favorite of the moment) I ordered myself one as well and we got settled in to talk about Session, the Griffin Gastropub and Ontario Craft Brewers.

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This Friday, I turn 29 and I’m using it as an opportunity to check out some bars I’ve not been to yet and visit some old favorites.

First stop is Barchef. I might even spring for that Vanilla Hickory Smoked Manhattan ($45!). Before we spend all of our party-money, we’re going to head west and hit up Ossington for some more drinks. Probably Watusi, Reposado and The Painted Lady.

If the last one on that list doesn’t do us in, we’ll probably head back down Ossington and check out the Double Deuce, Unit and maybe the Savoy (‘cos it’s new, opened by the people from 751, and I hear they got dancin’).

Say hi if you see me (and that means we have to do shots)!

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