Toronto is a city full of many, many options to get the most out of your nightlife. We’ve short-listed the best bars in downtown Toronto for locals and tourists alike. Some you may never have heard of, and some may already be your favourite watering hole. Have a look!
CHILL Ice House
From the warm parkas and gloves, to the ice glasses, to the apres ski-inspired warm bar out back, this place is a Toronto gem. Owned and operated by two of the kindest people who genuinely want each of their guests to have a fantastic time, Chill is a must-see for tourists and native Torontonians alike. Step into Chill for a refreshing good time… and test your true Canadiana flare!
Through the kitchen and behind a freezer door at King West’s Latin restaurant, Valdez, is Escobar, a hidden gem where VIP guests can go to enjoy a cocktail in a Prohibition Era setting. First, let’s acknowledge the name play – a secret spot named for Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar that just happens to be a bar. Another highlight is the drink selection, or rather, lack there-of: Escobar has no official menu, so be prepared to have the bartender prepare you something new and unexpected.
Toronto Temperance Society
The owners of Sidecar always wanted to open a speakeasy, and while those are a thing of the past, their modern rebirth has come in the form of the members-only bar. The Toronto Temperance Society can be found above Sidecar on College Street and accessed through an unmarked black door near tables in the front of the restaurant. Memberships to sponsor “the art of drinking well” go for $25 a month and come with a series of house rules to abide by (including the controversial “no cosmos” request).
If you’ve heard music and loud talking come from parts of Kensington that don’t seem to host anything other than clothing stores, you’ve likely overheard the goings-on of Cold Tea. There’s a doorway inside Kensington Mall with a single red light above it that opens up into the bar, where the bartenders make specialty cocktails based on your liquor base preferences and the patio outside is always packed (in the summer, at least).
Hole in the Wall
The Junction’s Hole in the Wall is pretty self-explanatory: it’s a long and narrow with exposed brick and an entrance that’s easy to miss. The doorway to this long-standing music venue appears to be more of an afterthought, tucked into a narrow path beside what looks to be the entryway to a residence upstairs. Though it may be a tight squeeze, fear not: there are plenty of craft brews to go around here.