The craft beer renaissance is taking Ontario by storm (about a decade after it hit the U.S.), and this month saw the launch of another watering hole boasting a respectable list of microbrews from home and abroad: Kensington Market’s Thirsty and Miserable. When Katie Whittaker took over this Baldwin Street space, previously home to Havana Cuba, the place was in shambles: there was rotting food everywhere and a huge roach problem. After a month’s hard work (they only received access to the space on January 16) Whittaker and her business partner, Martin Farkas, have gotten their new project to just the right level of shabbiness.
This long, narrow bar (there are 28 seats) doesn’t just take its name from a song on the Black Flag album Damaged (“Thirsty and Miserable” is the sixth track); it also reflects the album’s black and red colour scheme in the decor. The ambience hearkens back to a grimier Kensington past, like a more grown-up Planet Kensington, which makes sense seeing as that punk rock haven inhabited this space for years (indeed, Whittaker’s old three-chord punk band Brutal Knight played their first show at Planet Kensington). In keeping with the musical theme, the walls are adorned with photos of venerable rock stars—Bowie, Blondie, Teenage Head—taken by Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet drummer Don Pyle.
The beer selection is constantly in flux, but a flattened cardboard box scrawled on with a Sharpie lists the selections, including Tripel Karmeliet ($8.50), Southern Tier IPA ($5.75) and Garrison Baltic Porter ($9.75). There are about 35 bottles on offer, most from Canada, the U.S. and Belgium. On draught, there are eight Canadian brews, like Spearhead ($6) and St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout ($6). And while hard booze is also on offer, the selection is anaemic—this is first and foremost a beer bar. Oh, and should you need a little something to soak up that beer, there are five “gourmet” No Name–brand microwave meals to choose from, priced between $20 and $22. Like we said: stick to the beer.
Thirsty and Miserable, 197 Baldwin St., 647-60-0134, thirstyandmiserable.ca