Drinks

The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Rush Lane, a modernist snack bar and booze laboratory on Queen West

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.

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The Dish

Stat

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Ontario craft beer is booming

$50,200,000

—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.

The Dish

Drinks

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Steam Whistle debuts dial-a-bottle for downtown Toronto

(Image: Mihnea Stanciu/Flickr)

(Image: Mihnea Stanciu/Flickr)

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]

 

The Dish

Drinks

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A frustrated craft brewer: “There’s fear-mongering and nonsense commercials”

“We can’t even have a legitimate conversation with politicians and the powers-that-be because as soon as this becomes a blip on the radar, there’s fear-mongering and nonsense commercials out there about kids injecting beer in their eyes.”

Indie Alehouse owner Jason Fisher in an interview with Canada.com, presumably referencing the controversial “Ontario Beer Facts” ad campaign launched by Canada’s National Brewers, the lobby group that represents Labatt, Molson-Coors and Sleeman (i.e. the three big brewers that collectively own The Beer Store). The campaign not-so-subtly highlights the supposed dangers of permitting booze sales outside currently sanctioned channels, which include the LCBO, The Beer Store and retail shops attached to existing breweries.

The Dish

Drinks

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Patio Guide 2014: 10 spots the locals don’t want you to discover

Patio Guide 2014: 10 neighbourhood haunts you should know about

Click to view gallery (Image: Renée Suen)

“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.

See all 10 patios »

The Dish

Restaurants

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This may be the cheapest place to drink on (well, near) Ossington

(Image: The Ossington Stop/Facebook)

(Image: The Ossington Stop/Facebook)

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

The Dish

Food Events

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Get tipsy for a good cause during Toronto Negroni Week

(Image: Franzconde/Flickr)

(Image: Franzconde/Flickr)

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

The Dish

Drinks

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The ten best summer beers hitting LCBO shelves this month

The ten best summer beers hitting LCBO shelves this month

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.

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The Dish

Drinks

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Yorkville residents, meet your new juice bar

(Image: Gizelle Lau)

(Image: Gizelle Lau)

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.

The Good Press, 87 Yorkville Ave., thegoodpress.ca, @goodpressjuice

The Dish

Drinks

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Good news for The Beer Store, for once

(Image: Gary J. Wood)

(Image: Gary J. Wood)

We’re not certain that the “all press is good press” maxim currently applies to The Beer Store. Ontario’s favourite only major beer merchant has been getting a good whipping in the media lately, thanks largely to the Ontario Convenience Stores Association, which has been rallying hard to get alcohol sales wrested from the cold, corporate grips of the multinational cartel. Today, though, there’s a feel-good story that the Beer Store really wants you to know about.

According to a recent press release, the conglomerate has figured out a way to help small craft brewers, like Toronto newbie Left Field, circumvent a somewhat arbitrary-seeming rule under the Ontario Liquor License Act that prohibits contract brewers (i.e. start-ups that don’t operate their own breweries) from selling beer at festivals and other events. The Beer Store is instituting a new sales process that will let the little guys sell their suds in a way that meets provincial standards. As for why The Beer Store decided to step in, president Ted Moroz had this to say: “We are huge supporters of all Ontario-based brewers including those in the rapidly growing craft beer business.” So, the takeaway is: The Beer Store is a lover and helper of Ontario craft brewers. Of course it is.

The Dish

Drinks

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Six ways with rum, from The County General’s Jeff Carroll

The pirate’s grog is making a comeback. Here, County General bartender Jeff Carroll concocts his favourite rum cocktails, with fun new twists

Six ways with rum

1 | Dr. Painkiller (pictured)
Shake 2 oz El Dorado Deluxe Silver rum, 1 oz fresh lime juice, ¾ oz grenadine, 3 drops Fee Brothers cranberry bitters, 2 slices muddled cucumber and a handful of cranberries with ice. Pour into a 16-oz Mason jar. Top with ginger beer and garnish with shaved ginger.

2 | Wake-Up Call
Shake 1 ¼ oz El Dorado Deluxe Silver rum, 1 oz chilled espresso and 1 oz Kahlua with ice. Double-strain into a coupe. Garnish with three espresso beans.

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The Dish

Drinks

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Cinqo Drinkos: five inspired Toronto takes on the classic Mexican margarita

(Image: Neil Conway/Flickr)

(Image: Neil Conway/Flickr)

There are few things more quintessentially Mexican—or more dangerously refreshing—than the margarita, a time-honoured mix of tequila, triple sec and lime. Lately, Toronto cocktail gurus have been playing fast-and-loose with the classic cocktail, adding unusual ingredients like tamarind, chili peppers and fermented tea. Here, in honour of Cinqo de Mayo (it’s today!), five great (if not entirely authentic) ways to take your tequila.

1. Fonda Lola
Fonda’s take on the drink wins extra points for inventiveness: it comes mixed with fermented black tea (i.e. kombucha) and horchata, a milky Latin American drink flavoured with vanilla and cinnamon. $10.50
942 Queen St. W., 647-706-9105

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The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

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Semi-important question: what do 2014’s mayoral candidates like to drink?

mayoral-candidates

We might not typically judge a candidate for public office based on his or her drink of choice, but considering how much we know about our current mayor’s drinking preferences—whether it be a few beers at a Leafs game, an early-morning bottle of brandy at his office, or just a few Iceberg vodkas and Tropicana grape juices with an old friend in the park—it seems only fair that we ask those who seek to unseat Rob Ford what beverages they turn to after a hard day of arguing about who did or didn’t actually save the city a billion dollars.

Sure, there are far more important issues, but there’s also something to be said for getting the candidates off their scripted talking points. There are few things more personal than how someone chooses to unwind.

And so, with that in mind, here’s what the top contenders for mayor like to drink, along with some wild speculation about what their choices say about how they might govern if they win.


stintz-martini
Candidate: Karen Stintz

Beverage of choice: Hendricks gin martini with three olives

Analysis: Interestingly, despite her often indecisive approach to policy (see: changing her mind on light rail and the island airport expansion), this answer is unequivocal: Karen Stintz knows what she wants to drink, right down to the brand of gin and even the amount of olives. It’s a classy (and delicious) drink but, tellingly, it’s one that’s often associated with urban sophisticates. In some ways, then, the choice of a martini speaks to the identity crisis Stintz has faced as she has tried to bridge the divide between urban and suburban voters—a struggle best exemplified by her now infamous “I’m like you” tweet.

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The Dish

Drinks

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VIDEO: The Beer Store’s new PSA-style commercial warns about the dangers of corner-store booze sales

With pro-privatization sentiment at an all-time high in Ontario, The Beer Store may be feeling a bit threatened. That could explain this new PSA-style commercial, embedded above, in which the booze conglomerate employs the tried-and-tested “won’t somebody think of the children” approach to justifying its near-monopoly on Ontario beer sales. In the 30-second video, four-time world curling champ Glenn Howard (who apparently now runs a Beer Store outlet—and appears at first glance to be wearing a cop uniform) talks about the conglomerate’s great track record when it comes to checking IDs and not selling booze to really drunk people—the clear implication being that wresting booze control from the hands of the foreign-owned cartel would lead to lots of drunk minors and other unpleasant havoc. The ad is part of the Beer Store’s multi-pronged approach to rebutting claims made by the Ontario Convenience Stores Association, which has been lobbying hard for beer and liquor sales in corner stores

The Dish

Drinks

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Smaller grocers decry province’s LCBO Express proposal

(Image: Karl Baron)

(Image: Karl Baron)

Yesterday, Ontario finance minister Charles Sousa announced a pilot program that would have ten LCBO Express kiosks installed inside Ontario grocery stores, in a yet another half-measure designed to give Ontarians the freer access to booze they so desperately crave. Today, smaller retailers are saying that the plan could hurt their bottom line.

“We don’t want the LCBO to stand for Loblaw Control Board of Ontario,” vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers Gary Sands told the Globe. As it stands, the proposal only applies to stores that are at least 15,000 square feet, which categorically disqualifies smaller shops from stocking beer, wine and spirits.

Sousa, for his part, holds that the Express pilot program could be expanded to include these smaller, independent retailers, calling the plan “just a first step.”

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