It’s Friday! You will, no doubt, be having a beer this weekend (if you read this blog, anyway). I’ll keep your reading light for this occasion.
With that in mind, I wanted to send you to some new places for your drinking pleasure for tonight, this weekend, or anytime. These are bars that, despite having a good tap list, great food, a cool atmosphere (or all three), don’t get the love I feel they deserve. In no particular order and by no means exhaustive:
Located at the intersection of Queen & Portland, this nondescript little watering hole is probably my favourite in this area. The bartenders here are extremely knowledgeable about the product they’re pouring, and they’re always good to have at least one of each popular style (as opposed to a menu full of IPAs). With cocktails on tap, an affordable but delicious bar food menu, and great deep cuts of well-known artists always on, they’re a surefire friday post-work spot. Bonus points – they have an upstairs area that you can rent out privately that is extremely affordable, and a tiny patio (once the weather warms up).
Ok, so you aren’t really a party person. We get it, you hate fun. However, if you call yourself a beer fan and haven’t yet tasted Siobhan McPherson’s beers in the time she’s been brewing here, you’re simply missing out. It’s the opinion of this writer that the Mascot Pilsner is the best example of the style in the province, and true to trend, they are pumping out tons of popular styles in the 14+ taps they have in house. Their fruited sour game is also on point with a passionfruit sour that is a real thirst-quencher. Awesome food and fun staff as well as a lively atmosphere means you should probably check it out. If you decide to turn your nose up at it due to not liking the musical stylings of Bubblegum Bikini or DJ Grump, that’s fine – more pilsner for the rest of us.
Nestled away at Bloor and Crawford (just east of Ossington) is Northwood. The vibes in this bar are straightforward; small, quiet, serious, high-quality. The cocktails carried here rival some of the best in the city on originality and straight-up enjoyability – the beer selection speaks to the same. With several rotating taps as well as a decently-sized bottle selection from both Ontario and Quebec, this bar constantly impresses me. Bartenders are knowledgeable and friendly and are always the first to crack a joke (and if you ask REALLY nicely they might play the kind of music you want to hear). Snacks are tasty. The only real point of contention here is the price point – this is upper echelon stuff here, be prepared to pay medium-high prices on everything. But still – go.
Adorned with 8-foot classic portraiture of Elvis, Freddie Mercury, and Johnny Cash (among others) is Another Bar. It’s a pretty nondescript spot, generally lacking in particular attention to detail with decor. They have the Leaf game on there, a functioning jukebox, and tables strewn about. Occasionally you’ll find a band there. However, Another Bar shines in the way that matters – they have a huge selection of Ontario craft beer. They’re the closest bar to me with the Muskoka Moonlight Kettle beers on tap, which rotate monthly. I’ve also found every new GLB release here, and the options rotate frequently. If you have a big group of people seeking a great place to have a few, this is the spot. Bloor, west of Ossington.
If you follow me on any of my social accounts, you’ve seen me comment on this spot before. Beers are made on the smallest system i have ever seen (I don’t even think it qualifies to be measured in hL) and change constantly – probably once every two weeks, if not more often. Dan and his squad have set up this spot as a church of hip-hop (which goes well with a Belgian ale, if you’re looking for pairing recos) and beer, with a great imported bottle selection as well as a rare guest tap, which is always a local offering. Head to College and Dufferin for this spot, and look for the bar full of people listening to KRS-One or the Killa Beez’s deepest cuts.
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