An insider’s guide to the best places to party in Toronto, including jazz tasty cocktail bars, rooftop bars and a private cocktail den. By Paul Wade, Telegraph Travel’s Toronto expert. Find the stars of classical music, opera and ballet at Roy Thomson Hall, Koerner Hall and the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.
Pop, rock and jazz legends perform at the Air Canada Centre, Rogers Centre, Massey Hall and the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. More intimate are the sophisticated cocktail bars, jolly brewpubs and 50 or so pubs and clubs hosting live bands every night. Instead of the usual taste-and-nibble tour, enjoy 12 courses, drinks and Chef Scott Savoie’s entertaining chat.
- Kensington Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2K2
- College St, Toronto, ON M6G 1B2
- College St, Toronto, ON M5T 1T1
- Hole in the Wall
As you weave your way from Sicilian and Calabrian restaurants, munching on house-cured charcuterie and ice creams in Toronto’s oldest gelateria, Chef Scott weaves in local history. Other Toronto Food Tours include Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern and modern Canadian themes, as well as Drink Tours.
What was the Panorama Lounge has been relaunched, with the spacious rooftop terrace still the main draw. In a century-old cellar near the St Lawrence Market, 42 local craft beers are on offer, plus comfort food and music or comedy gigs (almost) every night. On one side is Betty’s, with low prices, large portions and plenty of noise.
Next door, the Pacific Junction (NOT a hotel at all) has a Key West feel with its ping-pong table, DJ in a glass booth, conch fritters and oyster po’ boys. Still going strong after 40 years, the Rex has live music nightly. That’s 1,000 performances a year!
It can hold up to 900 people for these varied activities, on the South East corner of John and Richmond (for those outside Toronto, that is very downtown). Fancy ping pong/pool or foosball (not a typo)? Want to play some XBox or stuff your face with nachos while watching the big game? The Ballroom is nothing but accommodating to all of your varied requests.
Should you decide to keep your energy up with some fuel, the food has been called some of the best bar food in Toronto. Popcorn chicken poutine, anyone? You have to love multitasking Toronto. An ever-competitive city, it is not enough to open a restaurant any more.
It must be a restaurant-slash-something. And the Ballroom certainly has a lot of slashes. From press conferences to large scale versions of game night, The Real Sports Bar doesn’t pull any punches. It treats you, the sports fan, and your relationship with your team with the utmost respect.
Don’t worry about going to the washroom, because there are screens there too.
Right beside the Air Canada Centre, on game nights the Real Sports Bar can have upwards of 1,000 people watching with rapt attention. The screen is larger than most apartments in Toronto. Don’t worry about going to the washroom, because there are screens there too. From press conferences to large scale versions of game night, The Real Sports Bar doesn’t pull any punches. It treats you, the sports fan, and your relationship with your team with the utmost respect.
Since getting his first job in a bar in Ireland at the age of 14, Daniel has been in love with the creativity and energy that’s part and parcel of working in the bar scene. But if you want to stay at the top of your game in the craft cocktail industry, expect to put in serious time, says Daniel.
He admits to spending between two and three hours a day concocting new drink combinations – at Char that means specializing in cocktails featuring Canadian whisky. Whiskey is one of the fastest-growing and highest-grossing liquor categories in the world, North America in particular,â says Daniel. His dedication to his craft paid off when in February 2017 he won the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience in Canada.
The competition tests mixologists’ proficiency with bourbon by having them to create two distinct cocktails (one a Manhattan) using Woodford Reserve bourbon. Making music and making cocktails are quite similar. Marriott TRAVELER spoke to Daniel about Toronto’s cocktail scene and the drink that won him the competition.
It’s where you found the best bartenders.
What it’s like to work in Toronto at a hotel cocktail bar? Do you have free rein to express your creativity? It’s where you found the best bartenders. That’s true especially in Europe and some places in America where the hotel bar is still the top spot to get a great cocktail. That’s what I like about Char; we’re bringing back the feel and quality of the hotel bar.