From local dives to classy clubs, we’re taking you on a booze cruise with our favorite bartenders serving up custom cocktails from around the world.
Would you believe us if we told you we found a hidden gem with double the fun? Not only does this bar serve cheap comfort food snacks, but you can also play all the games you low-key still dream about. Is there anything better than watching your drunkest friend lose in Jenga? Probably not. On the West side of Dundas Street in Toronto, you will find Swan Dive, the spot you want to know about.
Awkward first tinder date? Bring it on. Aside from intimate, classic board games, Swan Dive also has a pool table so you can keep your distance, pin ball machines to distract you, books to hide behind and even a wide screen that constantly plays old B films for conversation starters. And of course, alcohol. The Swan Dive has a wide range of beverages, so we had bartender Nancy Morski introduce us to her favourite cocktail, none other than the ‘Toronto’. (PSA tinder daters- this is probably the drink for you!)
Nancy has a lot of experience when it comes to the entertainment world considering food and drink are her greatest passions besides travelling. She’s a big fan of liquor heavy cocktails - just like us. Although she has been around the world, this city centric drink is still her number one go-to that always hits the spot.
Here’s whats in it:
2 oz Canadian whisky
1/4 oz Fernet-Branca
1/4 oz simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Garnished with an orange twist
As soon as the snow thawed, we hit Liquor Lab, smack dab in SoHo NYC, to get schooled on specialty sips. The space is essentially a classroom full of alcohol, bar gadgets, and fresh ingredients where up to 50 participants get hands on experience shaking and stirring it up.
We caught up with Canadian cutie Freddie, aka Liquor Lab’s ‘Chief Cocktail Officer’ for custom cocktails and the scoop. The project started in Chicago and made it’s way to NYC just before the New Year but is already garnering attention and great stories.
"After an event during one of Liquor Lab's first weeks open, we received a call from someone who had attended one of our classes. She asked if we'd found her missing item. We asked what it was, as we didn’t see that anything had been left behind. She mumbled a reply, though we couldn’t quite make out what she was saying. We asked again, and got the same response. We then asked her to spell it: T - O - O - T – H. She'd somehow lost her tooth at the event and didn't notice for few hours. That was a first!"
While we hope we don’t get that drunk, we can’t promise anything.
Go on and sign you and your friends up for a class:
Or take our advice and try the Zebra Crossing:
3/4 oz Honey Syrup
3/4 oz Passion Fruit Puree
1.5 oz Bluecoat gin
Pack glass with mint, add the rest of the ingredients, and then fill with crushed ice. Swizzle until glass is frosty, and add several large dashes of peychaud's bitters on top.
Is there anything better than posting up on a couch with a bunch of your friends, having amazing cocktails AND comfort food catered to you? We don’t think so - we also know its rare to find a bar that accommodates those at-home feels. Fortunately for you, in the heart of Yaletown, Banter Room is now open. The brand new ‘it’ spot just set up shop at the start of the summer, and is already one of the most talked about spaces in Vancouver, might have something to do with the Moet champagne vending machine. It’s cocktail list was created to give you that relaxed and cozy vibe by Banter Room’s very own Chenoa.
When Chenoa isn’t travelling or doing yoga, she is serving up her original, deadly cocktails to her customers who automatically turn into regulars. And it’s no surprise because Chenoa believes that bartending is about hospitality, which she views as a lost art. She makes an extra effort to prioritize that human connection and interaction. Not only will you enjoy what you’re consuming, but you will love the service that comes with it.
We agree it’s all about the experience – and after Hennessy U Later, we understand why this bar is packed by 9pm.
1.5 oz of Hennessy
0.5 oz of Grand Marnier
1 oz Fresh Lemon
Splash of Simple Syrup
0.75 oz of BG Reynolds Lush Grenadine
The next time you’re stuck in Midtown Manhattan and need a drink (because you’re stuck in Midtown..) sneak on over to Middle Branch.
This unmarked watering hole, one of the only craft cocktail bars in Murray Hill, just celebrated 5 years in the business and already has an impressive history. The late founder, Sasha Petraske, is credited for single-handedly launching the craft cocktail revolution. In 1999, New Yorkers were drinking apple martinis, cosmopolitans and Long Island iced teas. Channeling his love for the elegance and culture of the pre-Prohibition era, Petraske opened one of the first modern speakeasies called Milk & Honey. He later opened the sister bars Little Branch, Middle Branch, and Dutch Kills in NYC as well as the Everleigh in Melbourne, Milk & Honey Soho in London, and The Varnish in LA.
Today, Middle Branch is one of the most popular bars for a first date, namely through Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge. And bartenders have no shortage of tales of people getting stood up, the blossoming of new romances (first dates that become regulars), and couples who have come in just to swap partners and go home with dates from a table next to them.
We caught up with Dan Q. Dao for the scoop and a drink. Originally from Houston, Texas, this cutie has lived in NYC for 7 years and pays his rent as a spirits, travel, and culture writer. Currently he is the Deputy Digital Editor at SAVEUR Magazine and moonlights at Middle Branch as a bartender and consultant.
Because we trust Dan's taste so much, we’ve teamed up to present SAVEUR-approved spots so you can drink in style across the globe. More suggestions coming soon.
A hop, skip, jump, kick and push (shout out to dem skater boys) away from the city is our hideout dive bar. Tucked in Bushwick, Brooklyn is 101 Wilson. It’s friendly, cheap, and rowdy in the best way possible; one of those places where regulars become friends, groups of friends become super groups, and everyone gets drunk.
On weekends the bar overflows to the sidewalk, and the recklessness is written on the walls, literally. Everyone has left their mark and continues to add to the increasingly graffitied wall. Televisions play through scenes of skateboarding, snowboarding and surfing, while local DJs spin a mix of reggae or hiphop, drawing an obvious type to the establishment.
We caught up with bartending babe Madison as she set up shop for another day at the punk ass watering hole. After sprucing the place up, she got right down to business popping open brews and cooking up hotdogs.
Our drink of choice, aka "cocktail” for the people, is a Bud heavy and shot of whiskey. Did you expect anything else here?
Adress : 101 Wilson Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237, USA
Located at 1430 Dundas St W, Toronto, for the last two years is Loveless, named after the My Bloody Valentine song. It’s kind of the grownup version of its sister bar (and one of our all-time faves) Unloveable, which is steps away and across the street. This is where we go to stave off our hangover, get our fresh Americanos or cappuccinos (it opens at 7am), or enjoy the huge patio in the evening and start the turn up all over again. The music tends to be mellow and easy to have a conversation over and it’s got just the right amount of kitsch and playfulness without feeling like you’re at a board game café. We love the snacks, too, with patties in particular being our go-to stomach liner before cruising west to Ossington and making our way through the drinking marathon.
Bartender Neil Malcolm Barry has been at Loveless since shortly after it opened and has been our go-to cocktail expert here ever since. Born in England, he spent his youth there before relocating to Wales, then Australia after school, then finally to Toronto. His favourite cocktail to make is the Pisco Fino Sour, and a well-made sour is impossible for us to turn down:
1 oz Miguel Torres Pisco
1 oz Tio Pepe fino sherry
½ oz lemon juice
½ oz lime juice
¾ oz simple syrup simple
1 dash of Angostura Bitters
We stopped by Egg Shop in SoHo, the best egg-centric spot this side of the border, for a bite and beverage. Per usual, we left completely satisfied and semi sauced.
Started by a husband and wife team and inspired by the versatility of the egg, this restaurant is now a main stay in lower Manhattan where locals and cool kids alike congregate. This is partially due to the Breakfast Club-like staff—a friendly, eclectic, self described “reckless, emotional, and single" gang that serves up good times.
The playful and minimalistic interior mimics the menu, a curated list of locally sourced, organic dishes paired with fresh juices and refreshing cocktails (our favourite was Spa Water—ingredients below!). While the popping brunch spot is lesser known for it’s dinner options, we’re firm believers that happy hour can be all day with the right ingredients. Especially if your bartender is as cute as ours.
Peter, part time bartender, moonlight musician and overall softie, hails from Alaska and has been in NYC for about six years. When he’s not hanging out with the Egg Shop fam, he’s causing trouble with his baby godson or working on music with his electro x R&B band called Bedstudy.
For Egg Shop’s finest Spa Water:
Sprig of Mint
If you’re at all familiar with Toronto and haven’t partied on Ossington, we’re not quite sure what you’re doing with your life.
The nightlife scene in the city is pretty close knit, Ossington being the hotbed. Among the cool joints on this street, Oak Island stands out with its electric 70s and 80s vibes and neighbourhood involvement. The space perfectly embodies the intimate yet wild party scene, as it seamlessly transitions from a community hang out to a bougie club. Oak Island relies and champions locals by tapping into DJs to set the mood and pop off, and by supporting artists in displaying original illustrations, paintings, photography and murals.
As Toronto is a big city with a small town feel, you may recognize Oak Island’s new manager, Sydney Moxam. She has bartended for some of the best spots and biggest events around the city. If she isn’t mixing up our favourite cocktail, the Paper Plane, she’s probably on the dance floor. After two or three Paper Planes, we’re likely to join.
1.5oz Basil Hayden Bourbon
.75oz Amaro Ninino
.75oz Lemon Juice
Shaken & strained into a coupe glass.
So you found yourself in Brooklyn. Even worse, Bushwick. Just kidding, we love the burgeoning creative neighbourhood so much we try not to leave it on the weekend. Our late night go-to is Archie’s. Open from 11 am – 4 am, Archie’s is the spot for a hang over cure, after hours pizza, drinks and general shenanigans. In between slices of pepperoni and the daily veggie, grab an extra plate and get doodling. The area is known for it’s graffiti and street art so you better believe they hold onto all masterpieces waiting for the next Basquiat.
The cultish pizza joint has been around for over three years and has been a fast favourite among locals,including bartender Spencer Nelson. Spencer moved to Bushwick four years ago from Ohio and found himself hanging out at Archie’s almost everyday. As soon as they put up a "We’re Hiring" sign, he had them take it down. While behind the bar, Spencer likes to jam to Grateful Dead or turn the spot into a disco with a Studio 54 playlist.
While we like to be classy and sip bourbon, at this place, we'll stick to the Brooklyn staple: $5 Beer + Shot Combo.
1 Can of Tecate1 oz Shot of Tequila1 Lime WedgeGo!
If you want to forget all of your worries and problems for the night, step into Miss Things, our favourite tiki bar. Scoot down to Queen Street West, head over to Parkdale and escape into a Hawaiian-Polynesian themed restaurant with an asian twist. What most people don’t know is that every Saturday starting from 11 o’clock, the restaurant’s back room opens and transports you into a tiki disco, dropping iconic 70s, 80s and 90s tunes all night long. Match that with the exotic cocktails and cups and you are in for a treat. It’s not every day you can drink out of an actual watermelon and get tipsy (or hammered).
Bartender Michael Birdsey, born and raised in England, started bartending over 12 years ago. Starting in Manchester followed by a few seasons in Spain, Michael ended up coming to Toronto in July 2012. When he's not ten pin bowling or golfing, you can find him behind the bar at Miss Things shaking up a mean cocktail. His favourite drink to pour is called the ‘Fuzzy Wawa.’
Fuzzy Wawa: 1 oz Havana 3 y/o 1 oz Moonstone coconut and lemongrass sake 1 oz lime juice Kafeiea Lime Home-made Syrup
Whether you live in Montreal or are just visiting, grabbing a drink at the Coldroom is an absolute must. Montreal is full of historic buildings, the Coldroom being one, dating back to the 1870's. This hidden gem, located in The Old Port, is small, cozy, and super fun. With old school guidelines for a good time, one of the only places we’d follow any rules is in this humble and low key spot. Fun Fact: Their logo is a reference to a Montreal police force from the 70’s called the 'Rubber Duck Squad’ so you better believe house rules are enforced.
The Coldroom also has seasonal cocktail options to match the mood, bartender Pierre Hugues chose “Summer Nostalgia” as his favorite beverage right now.
Pierre Hugues, our go-to Coldroom bartender, found his love for mixology over 7 years ago. He has participated in numerous competitions and travelled around the world for masterclasses… so you know he can make a serious cocktail. With a background in art and tattooing, he has the steady hand and eye you need to detail a beautiful drink. He still maintains his love for art on the side, continuing to draw on his spare time while enjoying the beautiful city of Montreal.
If you are looking for a light summer beverage to sweeten your day, let Pierre make you nostalgic for this drink!
1/4 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Lillet
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
2 drops of Pineapple & Anis Bitters
3oz Homemade Strawberry & Rhubarb Soda
If you’re looking for original Japanese tapas in the city of Toronto, we've got you covered. No we don’t mean sushi platters or teriyaki chicken—we’re talking northern Japanese inspired small plates paired with cocktails. The relatively new spot Imanishi, located on Dundas Street West, has already made a name for itself in Downtown Toronto by introducing the West End to a fresh new vibe. Picture a cozy environment, signature dishes including fried corn and a delectable drink called the Yokai poured for you by Tara Newell.
Who is Tara Newell? What is a Yokai? Again, we’ve got you.
Hailing from England, Tara originally studied film photography and progressed into mixed media upon moving to Toronto. Her love of words led her into a world of wordplay, which found its way into her art- which is now her signature style. Her latest art show featured installations that portrayed feelings through words and physical metaphors. Unique in more than one way, Tara finds inspiration everywhere she goes. From Dollarama, to outdoor patios, she is constantly living in the present moment to see how she can translate her raw emotions into her art.
Her cocktail of choice served at Imanishi is called ‘Yokai’ and includes:
1 oz lemon juice
1 oz gin
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz kozaemon sake
1 egg white
topped with soda
orange zest spritz
Follow the red light and find yourself in the medley of craft cocktails, hip hop, tall boys, and speak easy vibes. The Libertine sits in a prime spot in Toronto's Dundas Street West neighbourhood, drawing you in with a blinking tarot reader sign where you’ll discover their gloomy aesthetic with deep colors and dim lighting. From having exclusive after parties, to monthly jams that pull together Toronto's top local DJ's, The Libertine is where the creative scene and nightlife flourish in Toronto.
When Amelia isn't bartending, she's painting, a lot. Born and raised in Montreal, art and painting has always been a big part of her life so it seems fitting to bartend at a creative and artist-friendly spot. Amelia was kind enough to take some time off her busy schedule to make us a custom cocktail...a David Bowie inspired custom cocktail. It’s called 'Queen Bitch' and here's the recipe.
1.5 oz Gin
0.75 oz Creme de Cacao
0.75 oz Lillet
0.75 oz Lemon Juice
Like a scene from the hit tv show, Black Lodge is a bar as discreet as its namesake. Located in Berlin and resembling the eerie aesthetics from the 90s cult classic, Twin Peaks (which has its revived limited-series premiere airing tonight), the interior is sleek, unique and trippy with its zigzag-patterned floor and red velvet curtains. Far from the visually stereotypical bar, Black Lodge is a place to go for wild nights, great drinks, and collab parties.
In a DIY world, Marteen, originally from the Netherlands, is your creative bartender that constantly gets shi*t done. Producing music, playing drums and helping drive a variety of creative projects keep her busy. She's been nurturing that creativity in Black Lodge by planning and organizing some killer events, parties and shows, like ones with Amsterdam's Red Light Radio station.
Marteen appreciates the outdoor party life too, so investing in a big van that’s transformed into a kitchen, with a draft (true story), is not a bad spot to have our The Agent Dale Cooper Martini (a custom cocktail only for the Moose Tribe):
The Agent Dale Cooper Special: served in Martini glass
Chill Martini Glass with Ice and make sure you have your coffee ready!
Take shaker and fill with ice and put in all ingredients below:
4cl Abyme Vodka
3cl Kahlua Coffee liquor
2cl or 2,5cl (depends on coffee) Espresso
1cl Sailor Jerry's Spiced Rum
Shake for at least 20 seconds with a lot of power to get a nice foam layer.
Empty chilled Martini Glass and STRAIN drink into glass.
Berlin is all the buzz on the international party scene, so it makes sense that it’s become a hot spot for expat Canadians. From giant all-night raves, upscale clubs, punk venues and drive bars, the city is brimming with places to drink, smoke, and turn up. Our personal favorite? Aunt Benny, owned by Canadians (and siblings) Kyla & Alexander Boyle. This neighborhood gem is a safe haven from the high energy nightlife scene, with a familiar taste of the Great White North, since 2008.
Chill vibes for an early brunch, but lively enough for a weekend drink to take the week's edge off, Aunt Benny is the perfect place to sit back and enjoy a cold brew or bagel with a view of the park in the Friedrichshain district. You’re in for an insta-worthy experience from the food, to the environment, and the Canuck like friendly staff.
With warm weather just around the corner, Aunt Benny is the place for chill patio vibes. Ask for our custom cocktail, made exclusively for the Moose Tribe: East L.A. Sour. Recipe below:
4.5cl Mezcal Atenco
2cl Red Wine (Cartuxa Colheita, 2012)
3cl simple Syrup
3cl fresh Lemon
1x egg white
Garnished with 2 Maraschino Cherries soaked in Bourbon
1. Mezcal, Lemon, Sugar & egg white dry shaken together for 30sec. & left left to settle
2. Shaken with ice till sufficiently cold
3. Served over ice
4. Garnished with two cherries and topped with 2cl red wine for float
Smith & Mills
Aaron Blakley from Smith & Mills
Outdoorsman and mixologist Aaron Blakely invited Mosse Knuckles to the maritime themed Smith & Mills, a pocket sized bar on the edge of TriBeca. When not fly fishing in upstate NY, Aaron is developing cocktail programs for some of NYC’s most respected bars. With Aaron, every drink has a story, whether it’s from his experience while outdoors or from the always entertaining clientele that makes its way through his doors. Enter, "Boyfriend Material"- A cocktail that gets it's name after a slightly inebriated patron was hitting on his fellow bar tender. When asked the material of his shirt, she charmingly whispered "Boyfriend Material". Shortly after, this beautiful cocktail had its name and it forever haunts the men who order it. They order it because this is no dainty drink, it packs serious punch and worth the awkward banter with the tender.
Cocktail Name: Boyfriend Material
1.5 oz Plantation 3 Star Rum
3/4 oz. Cherry Herring
1/2 oz. Demerara syrup
3/4 oz. Lemon Juice
2 Dashes Scrappys Lavender Bitters.
Take a second, close your eyes, and envision your ideal Friday night in NYC. You walk up to the front door of a dope bar, you show your ID, and bam, you're in- no cover. You get inside, walk over to the big, sleek bar... and guess what: friendly bartenders and delicious drinks are on deck. You take a look around and there are gorgeous models turning up on your left, pool game in session, ladies laughing in a cozy booth behind you, and the rest are busting moves by the retro DJ stand on your right. Beautiful, right? This is M-15. Located in a converted warehouse in the heart of Tribeca and featuring a trendy crowd, M-15 bar & lounge is a haven for anyone looking to escape the average crowded NYC bar scene.
The best part? We got a special treat made just for us. "The Moose Mojito" is a Mexican styled mojito with a twist. Fun fact: Barón Tequila has got us covered for this custom cocktail and if you ever visit our New York showroom, you can thank them for your tequila shot!
3 mint sprigs
3 lime wedges
3 teaspoons sugar
6 ounces ice cubes
1 1⁄2 ounces Barón Tequila
2 ounces soda water or 2 ounces sparkling water
1 ounce carbonated lemon-lime beverage
Obie is the veteran bartender at Randolph on Broome street, one of NYC Bowery district's first cocktail bars. Over time Randolph has developed the character it takes to lure in downtown creatives and become an after work (and late night) mainstay.
It's walls are covered with knick knacks from years passed and Obie's Harley Davidson on display ties the entire experience together. Obie crafts Randolph's cocktails purely based off seasonality and made a special cocktail for Moose Knuckles. For Obie, nothing tackles the cold better than Bourbon and Mulled Wine. The "Moose is loose" delivers.
Moose is loose:
2 oz. Bullet Bourbon
1 oz. Mulled Red Wine
1/2 oz. Lemon
1/2 oz. Honey
Garnish with Cinnamon Stick & Dried Bay leaf. Serve on the rocks.
Smoke Signals Barbecue
Smoke Signals Barbecue
Smoke Signals Barbecue has opened up in Toronto’s emerging Dundas West neighborhood. If there is a better way to spend chilly winter evenings than eating copious amounts of red meat then feel free to lets us know, until then catch us (& our food babies) at Smoke Signals any and all evenings.
The squad set us up with an exclusive cocktail, the 13th Floor Elevator and though it may look summery, trust us that it hits the spot in any season:
13th Floor Elevator:
Smoked black tea
1.5oz Peach Schnapps
The Looking Glass
The Looking Glass
Situated on Hackney Road in the heart of East London, the Looking Glass Cocktail Club Shoreditch was opened in February 2011 by owners William Knowles-Mofford and Marco Zanottois, and owes much of their success to pure word of mouth and an impressive menu. Offering a more relaxed environment than more traditional speakeasies, the dimly lit cocktail club is full of lush seating options and plenty of room to stand or dance. Loosely based around the theme of parallel universes in Lewis Carol’s Through the Looking Glass, the venue is divided into two rooms, accessed by passing through a large and ornate mirror. Playing host to any number of performances from dj’s to burlesque shows, there’s always a good reason to stop in for a drink.
Marco was kind enough to take time out on a busy night to show us how the pros do it:
Combine the following in a shaker with ice and serve on the rocks to make the I’ll Be Thelma, You Be Louise:
10ml King’s Ginger
20ml peach or blackberry shrub
15ml lemon juice
Out of a star-studded past comes The Diamond, our newest favourite haunt in Gastown, Vancouver. Known in a past-life for celebrity, drama and a little danger, the newly refurbished bar channels it’s history into a rich aesthetic and unique interior. The main room features bar and table service while the Happy Hour backroom provides a more intimate lounge space to explore the robust menu. It’s this same back room that reveals hints of its darker past in the form of bullet holes in the wall. But don’t believe us, go check it out for yourself!
The guys at The Diamond whipped up a special cocktail just for us. Thanks to them, we’re thinking the West Coast might just be the Best Coast? Fight it out in the comments..
50 mls of Longtable barrel aged gin
10 mls of Odd Society bittersweet vermouth
5 mls of Benedictine
1 dash of Orange bitters
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Express the oils of an orange peel over top
416 Snack Bar
416 Snack bar
Hungry but not that hungry? Cue 416 Snack bar. This genius Queen staple is known for serving small bites and great drinks to an always very full house. We’re not joking, the small bar consistently has people sitting on the window frame and queuing up on the street on any given day of the week. The 416 team has been so successful that they have gone on to make a second restaurant, People’s Eatery, in Chinatown that is a bit more upscale (and spacious). But 416 will remain a fav if you’re looking to eat something good and be cozy while doing it.
We skipped the line up —as per usual ;) — and got the dreamy manager of 416 Snack bar, Daniel Sanchez, to make us one of his favourite drinks:
2oz Canadian rye whiskey (in this case Wiser's Deluxe Rye Whiskey)
0.25oz Fernet Branca
0.25oz simple syrup
Two dashes of Angostura bitters
Stirred, strained into a chilled coupe, garnished with an orange zest.
Paper Plane (in the old fashioned glass)
0.75oz Amaro Nonino
0.75oz Lemon juice
Shaken, strained over ice into an old fashioned glass. No garnish. The original is strained into a chilled coupe but we do ours on ice because of our laid-back atmosphere.
Who: Benny Young
Where: The Hoxton, Apt 200 & Locals Only - Toronto
Can we say resident hottie without sounding like we’re 15? We think so. Especially when it applies to Benny Young, resident hottie of The Hoxton, Apt 200 and the recently opened Locals Only. The former two venues together—largely responsible for the international recognition of Toronto’s cool—have been witness to appearances from a long list of performers. This includes the likes of Majid Jordan, Kaytranada, Ram Riddlez, HRMXNY, and Drake (on the same night as a rare Kanye sighting, might we add), who are most recently responsible for reclaiming the city’s street cred.
Young, on the other hand, is something like a vet to Toronto’s nightlife after having worked in the industry since he was 17. Despite his full body tattoos and moody Instagram feed, he is far from your typical bartender stereotype: in addition to being compassionate and fiercely loyal to those who gave him his start, Young has also been sober for several years.
Benny Young let us into Apt 200 to answer our questions and show us his take on a classic Old Fashioned - “The Plain and Simple or Whatever You Guys Want.”:
2.5 oz Woodford bourbon
1 oz Canadian maple syrup
5 dashes angostura bitters
Hearty orange zest
Cute lemon zest
Garnish with a rasher of smoked and candied bacon
1. Your most Canadian guilty pleasure that you love to hate: Maple syrup..it's super stereotypical but I honestly use it on everything, rib glaze, salad dressings, toothpaste...
2. Current pump up song: My good friend and Toronto artist Hunter Siegel’s new song OTF, it just came out.
3. Best Hump Day cure: There's a cure for that??? If it's physical then my go-to is a turmeric juice from The Grow Op on Ossington. Mental is tougher, but hitting a meeting or cooking dinner for my friends usually works wonders.
Founded 5 years ago, Blind Barber has since blown up in the #menswear world as a steezy dude’s staple spot for good cuts—especially if you’re also interested in looking cool AF while you’re doing it. The East Village location, right across from Tompkins Square Park, houses its haircuts in the front window, framed by classic hand painted signage and a barber’s pole—in case you weren’t sure. In the back, this handsome bar is complete with equally handsome (and well-groomed) bartenders, leather seating and old school furnishings. A moody vibe fit for first dates, late nights and everything in between.
Orlando Franklin is a seasoned 5 year vet at Blind Barber. Despite being surrounded by barbers for over half a decade, Orlando has no desire to cut hair - “No one does both. There’s only been one guy who has - he was a bartender but then he and his wife had a kid. Now he’s a barber”. Makes sense.
Orlando sat down with us to answer some questions and make us his favourite drink for heading up a good summer night:
2 oz. dry gin
0.75 oz. citric acid
0.5 maraschino liqueur
Bar spoon Creme Yvette
Combine first three ingredients in shaker and shake with plenty of ice, double strain into a chilled coupe and float bar spoon of Creme Yvette.
Churchill Bar is a Dundas West staple for Toronto’s nightlife. Just far enough away to weed out major crowds touring the city for a night out, the bar is a mix of the city’s creative class and the suits from the financial district who want something grimier than King Street has to offer. Tables and benches for groups occupy the front of the bar, while Luther’s Chicken, the resident friendly chicken kitchen, occupies the back.
Carlos Fernandes - a vet to Toronto’s bar scene - runs Churchill Bar, so you won’t often find him making your drinks. We got lucky and our hunky & heavily-tattooed host whipped us up a special, The Mexican Italian .
Fill a Highball glass with ice
1oz Casamigos Blanco
1oz Capo Capo
Top off Steigl Radler
2 dashes of Angustura Bitters
Garnish with Orange Zest
Designed in the spirit of bodegas along the Californian coast, New York City’s Genuine Liquorette—the downstairs compatriot to the Superette restaurant on ground level—was literally designed to make you feel like you own the place. The bottles of liquor lining the walls are available for you to serve yourself and pay by the ounce, which is what the bar calls “Rough Justice”. The base of the two bar tables in the middle of the basement hangout are stacked with cases of Tecate, while behind the bar there is a self-serve fridge stocked with beer and wine. Yes, self-serve. On top of all of that, barman Eben Freeman also teaches mixology classes where, upon completion of the class, the graduates can head in behind the bar and mix drinks for their friends. We’re not kidding.
Having risen the ranks from bartender, Freeman sees Genuine Liquorette as something truly unique: a chance to revolutionize the bar experience into something more personal. Beyond the above opportunities to make yourself truly at home in the bar, the interior is cozy and considered, with custom branding inspired heavily by alcohol and tobacco ads of the 70s. Think: plenty of neon, bad hair and so-bad-its-good taglines, with a fitting shrine to Farah Fawcett in the basement bathroom.
Freeman made us two of the bar’s most famous drinks using the equally famous ‘Cha-Chunker’. The Cha-Chunker is device that looks like it belongs more in a torture chamber or a woodworking class than a bar. This evaluation is not far off because the Cha-Chunker, as Freeman tells us, is actually just a souped up arbor press with a pointed tip made for poking holes in mini cans of sprite, tomato juice, and a variety of other mini bevy’s. Sounds like every man-cave’s dream.
The Bloody Mary consists of a 50ml bottle of Skyy Vodka inserted upside down into a baby can of tomato juice, finessed with a secret dose of spices and accoutrements like an olive and a celery stick.
The Pina Colada is 50ml bottle of Malibu Coconut Rum inserted upside down into a can of pineapple juice, mixed with lime and a pineapple wedge for garnish.