Virtuoso Life - March/April 2018 - 58
Seat at the Bar
A Slice of Paris
BAR À VIN
This intimate wine bar occupies the front
room of Côte de Boeuf, a popular neighborhood butcher shop. Guests converse over
empty wine barrels that serve as tables, or at
one of four seats at the bar, amid the sounds
of Champagne corks popping and shop patrons stopping in for beef ribs. The menu
features a selection of classic cocktails, such
as the French 75 and Aperol spritz, and a robust list of French wines, plus fresh oysters,
European cheeses, and house-made charcuterie. 130 Ossington Avenue; cotedeboeuf.ca.
THE GIFT SHOP
Every Wednesday through Sunday, after the
barbers have gone home for the night, Lower
Ossington's Barber & Co. trades haircuts for
highballs. In a small room behind the barber
space, guests find The Gift Shop, a hidden
gem helmed by a bartender who introduces
himself simply as "H," preferring to keep
the focus on the cocktails. He crafts drinks -
created specifically for the season - for only
18 people at a time, surrounded by burlapcovered walls, a mirrored ceiling, and tile
floors. The rotating menu - presented in
a book inspired by vintage Popular Science
magazines - showcases newly imagined
drinks as well as vintage collectibles found
throughout the bar that are available to buy.
89 Ossington Avenue; barberandco.com.
THE SHAMEFUL TIKI ROOM
Serving up rum-based classics such as the
Zombie, Hurricane, and Painkiller, this
friendly and fun spot adorned in bamboo,
wicker, and vintage South Pacific decor also
offers crowd-pleasing cocktail bowls meant
to be shared with friends. Blackout windows
liberate the atmosphere from modern distractions, inspiring many customers to order drinks in custom tiki mugs that they can
take with them (for an additional charge)
upon reentering the real world. 1378 Queen
Street W.; shamefultikiroom.com.
MEANWHILE, A COUPLE OF MILES EAST
Thanks to a recent reduction in regulations related to the production and sale of small-batch spirits, Ontario's booze industry is booming - and many
producers are calling Toronto's Distillery District their new home. For decades, liquor producers turned out gin and whiskey in this expansive collection of brick and stone buildings just east of downtown, but after the district's main distiller, Gooderham and Worts, closed shop in 1990, the area was
abandoned. Buildings sat empty until 2003, when a local developer turned them into a pedestrian-only village filled with coffee roasters, chocolate
makers - and, yes, distilleries and breweries. Spirit of York sells exquisite vodka and gin, the Ontario Spring Water Sake Company is Ontario's first
sake brewery, and Mill Street Brewery is one of approximately 50 brewers based in Toronto.
The Westside's varied watering holes, from left: Bar à Vin, The Shameful Tiki Room, and The Gift Shop.
V I RT U O S O L I F E
(THE GIFT SHOP) COURTESY OF THE GIFT SHOP
seasonal releases and barrel-aged brews. 124
Ossington Avenue; bellwoodsbrewery.com.