Photography by Leanne Neufeld

Words by Andrew Toplack on 04-Aug-2015

Barchef image 1

Address: 472 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2B2, Canada
Tel: +1 416 868 4800
Website: View bar's website
Hours: Tue-Sat 7pm-late, Sun-Mon closed
Door: Go early
Style: Lounge bar
Recommended for: Cocktails
Price guide: High-end
Food: Plates & dishes


The only outer indication of this bar's presence is the subtle "Barchef" over the heavy black outer door. Inside Frankie Solarik presides over the one bar in Toronto that specializes in "molecular" cocktails, referred to here as "modernist". The brick walls, dark wood, black curtains, and dimmed lighting focus the attention on the bar, which is definitely where you want to be sitting.

Along with their "Modernist" cocktails, there are many other cocktail choices, divided into Punch Bowls, Sweet & Sour, Sipping, and Aged Bottled Cocktails. Because of their extensive use of house-made syrups and bitters, their cocktails have a unique taste profile. To some they may seem to skew toward the sweet end of the spectrum, but one can think of them as Belle Epoque: rather luscious and a bit over-the-top. The creativity and imagination that go into each of them, especially the Modernist ones, is undeniable.

Their classic Modernist cocktail is the Vanilla And Hickory Smoked Manhattan, at $45 by far the priciest. I tend to prefer others in this category, such as the Abstract "Ice", inspired by the film Frozen. With rhubarb, cucumber, violet, gin, maraschino, elderflower preserve, tarragon, basil, coriander, and black licorice, it is the only cocktail on the menu that has to be eaten with a spoon. In the Sipping category, the Foxtail is a particular standout: rye, chamomile syrup, toasted chamomile & saffron bitters, madeira and maraschino. And their bottled Pear Cocktail is delicious: gin, pear eau-de-vie, fennel & chamomile bitters, and chamomile syrup.

Food here consists of snacks and small plates, such as shrimp tacos, sliders, charcuterie and fries.

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