Photography by The Drake Hotel
Words by Andrew Toplack on 04-Aug-2015
1150 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario, M6J 1J3, Canada
Tel: +1 416 531 5042
Website: View bar's website
Hours: Daily 11am-2am
Door: Open door
Style: Hotel bar
Recommended for: Beer, Cocktails
Price guide: Middling
Food: Full menu
The opening of this boutique hotel on West Queen West in 2004 had a dramatic effect on that street and neighbourhood. A hotel for over 100 years, it had long ago fallen on hard times with a clientele that largely rented by the hour. After being gutted, a two-year build resulted in this very cool 19-room venue, referred to by Vogue magazine as an "art hotel" (in their artist-in-residence program, ongoing since opening day, an artist lives for free as long as they contribute in some way to the hotel).
This is a large and busy place, probably the busiest cocktail venue in the country. The staff, like the patrons, are young and friendly. Five cocktail bars fill the basement and the first two floors, all serving cocktails, along with beer and wine. The standout bar is the Lounge Bar, home to possibly the best bartender in Toronto, Sandy de Almeida. Along with their other excellently-trained bartenders, she serves great cocktails. Our favourite is her Rust & Bone: cedar-infused bourbon, Benedictine, & Nonino Amaro. Upstairs the Skybar is open-air, even in the winter. In the basement, the Underground, a live-music venue, used to be a fight club.
The Raw Bar serves great sushi and sashimi and the kitchen produces very good Canadian comfort food. The Sunday brunch is particularly worthwhile.
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