At Rush Lane, the Queen West snack bar and experimental cocktail laboratory, Jordan Bushell and Simon Hooper craft complex beverages using medical lab equipment. A clinical approach, they say, makes more consistent drinks: “the fewer variables we have, the better,” says Hooper. Last week, they came up with the Playa Riviera, a strong, smoky drink that tastes a bit like a vacation. “It was actually one of the cold days last week,” says Hooper. “I thought, where would I love to be right now? Mexico. One hundred per cent. So let’s create a cocktail that embodies the emotional aspect of that—a little heat, a little salt from the ocean, some tropical flavors.” The drink takes about an hour to prepare, using a whole series of hi-tech equipment, and it’s selling now for $20. Here’s how it’s done.
Ultra-refreshing wines from the sun-baked eastern Mediterranean
Toronto’s current love affair with cuisine from Lebanon, Greece and other eastern Mediterranean nations gave me reason to revisit the bottles from that region. I’ve found them underwhelming in the past, but his time around, I was swept up by their vibrant flavours. The high acidity of indigenous grapes (especially Greek varietals like assyrtiko and moschofilero), the stony minerality of the terroir and modern winemaking techniques have created exactly the wines I want to drink in the heat of a late summer night.
I’m thrilled to see an actual washroom when I arrive at Chill Ice House. This allays my very real fear of having to pee on a hand-carved ice toilet.
It’s Saturday night and I’ve just showed up for my pre-booked time slot, which will run from 11:15 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. Chill Ice House charges $19 admission per 45-minute time block—presumably because that’s the longest most people will freeze their butts off before they start to feel miffed about having to pay for the experience.
From the outside, the place looks like a fairly normal King West club. Inside, not so much. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Name: Rush Lane
Contact Info: 563 Queen St. W., 416-551-7540, rushlaneto.com , facebook.com, @rushlaneco
Neighbourhood: Queen West
Previously: Hot Wings Grill and Rib House
Owners: Jordan Bushell, Alexis Arrowsmith, Simon Hooper, Doug Twigger and Brett Klyszejko
Chef: Chris Scott, the former chef de cuisine at Bero in Leslieville
The Drinks: Rush Lane is owned and operated by a pack of experienced bartenders, so it’s no surprise that the drinks list is pretty interesting. It consists of ten complex cocktails made with far-flung ingredients like “beet grenadine,” “hopped grapefruit bitters” and a type of seasoned vodka that’s been banned in the US since 1978. In the back of the room, a glass-walled laboratory is crammed with tech gadgets, including a rotary evaporator (for flavour-extraction), a centrifuge (for separating substances), a tissue tearer (a next-level hand blender) and a Clinebell ice machine, which can freeze a 300-pound block of clear ice in a day. Read the rest of this entry »
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—Total LCBO sales of Ontario craft beer in 2013-2014, according to a recent five-year trend report. The number represents a 220-per-cent increase over sales for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, which totaled $15.7 million.
Here’s a potential solution for people who don’t live in reasonable proximity to an LCBO or Beer Store, or for anyone who’s just incredibly lazy. Steam Whistle Brewery has introduced a new beer-delivery service, and it’s 100-per-cent free (the delivery part, at least—you have to pay for the beer). There are other alcohol-delivery outfits in Toronto, but they all change a premium for door-to-door booze. Steam Whistle’s service is somewhat limited for now: it operates on Thursday and Friday evenings from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and the delivery area is fairly circumscribed (it doesn’t extend east of Yonge or west of Bathurst). Also, unlike some of those shady dial-a-bottle operations from the late-90s, the Steam Whistle version is unlikely to be useful in the underage-drinking department (a rep for the brewery confirms that drivers will check the IDs of anyone who appears to be under 30). Still, the service could be helpful in unexpected beer emergencies. The options include a 12-pack of bottles for $25, a case of cans for $50, or, for $23, a ten-beer “Can Van” (bonus: it comes in a fun box that looks like a van). [Via BlogTO]
“Big” and “new” don’t always mean “better,” especially when it comes to patios. That’s why this year’s guide is devoted to a less ostentatious breed of outdoor drinking venue—places every local knows and loves, but that don’t have the kind of flashy features (a retractable roof, say, or a giant hexagonal pool) that would necessarily catapult them onto a top-10 list. So, in no particular order, here they are: 10 patios you should probably know about—but that the locals would prefer to keep to themselves.
The Ossington Stop (formerly Ossington Station) is a new late-night snack bar on Dundas, just west of Ossington. The bare-bones room—formerly the Arrow Café—has a bar, a few high-top tables and an open kitchen. It also has some of the neighbourhood’s most inexpensive alcoholic beverages. With pints priced at $4, wine at $5 and double shots of Jameson at $7, this is the kind of place where an entire night’s booze supply could end up costing less than the cab ride home. The food is cheap, too, and a tad eclectic; right now, the menu lists about eight items, including chili dogs, garlicky pickled vegetables and tasty Khinkali dumplings—soft doughy pockets filled with spiced ground beef, onions and hot, salty broth.
The Ossington Stop, 1164 Dundas St. W., @OssingtonStop
There must be a certain science to deciding which foods and drinks deserve to have entire weeks of the year cordoned off in their honour. Negroni Week, a worldwide booze festival dedicated to the precise mixture of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, seems like an oddly specific international holiday, especially given all the other good cocktails out there. Still, the week is dedicated to a good cause, and Negronis really are delicious. Red Sauce, La Carnita and The Whippoorwill are among the participating Toronto bars, and they’ll each be donating some portion of their Negroni-based profits to a charity of their choice (a full list of Toronto participants can be found here). The week runs from June 2 through 8—or, to provide some food-based temporal landmarks, between the overlapping tail ends of Burger Week and Gluten Freedom Week, and the beginning of Ontario Craft Cider Week, which itself wraps up just before Ontario Craft Beer Week.
June 2-8. Various locations, negroniweek.ca
Any cold beer tastes great under a blasting sun. Some styles suit the warm weather better than others, though. The LCBO’s recent summertime release focuses on lighter, brighter brews imbued with lots of fruit. From funky sour ales to big, bold IPAs, here are our 10 favourite beers to sip on long, lazy summertime afternoons. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
The Good Press claims to make “Toronto’s freshest cold-pressed juices”—a fairly grandiose claim, given the number of cold-press specialists currently making similar promises around the city. (For the uninitiated, most modern-day juicers believe that “cold-pressing” fruits and vegetables—i.e. grinding them into a messy pulp and then squeezing the juice out by applying huge amounts of pressure—preserves more nutrients than giving them a whir in a traditional juicer.) Owners Leila and Andrew Ois have a history on Toronto’s health-food scene: they’ve been hocking tempeh steaks and nutritional juices at Dufferin Grove’s Sunshine Wholesome Market since 2007. Befitting the chi chi address, their new shop has a more upmarket, boutique-y feel, but the menu of made-to-order smoothies and vegetable elixirs will be familiar to Sunshine fans. Also available: veggie wraps, slightly scary-sounding “live energy shots” made with things like ginseng and turmeric, and five different bowls layered with fruit, granola and açai, the superfood of the moment.