Finally, the swing back to classic cocktails and impeccable drink making as a craft is putting Toronto on the map. The latest 'members social club' is the Toronto Temperance Society, just over Sidecar Restaurant on College Street. Head bartender, or bar chef, as they're now called, is the affable, talented Adrian Stein.
The rules listed on the bar menu are quaint and becoming here. We're offered seats at the bar and while waiting to order, we hear another guest being gently reminded that cell p
hone use is not permitted. That's the most civilized rule! Also, ordering a Cosmopolitan means you'll be politely asked to leave. Sounds very quirky; I like that in a bar!
I've already been in for cocktails a few times, as I'm making my way through many of the old classics. First off, and perfect for a sweltering night, was the Corpse Reviver. Usually I think of the British bar books for these drinks and think of them as hangover cures. (The English do have a way with words!)
Then, naturally to follow, I have a 'Toronto Temperance' cocktail. This drink is basically an Old Fashioned, but Adrian's take on it is with Italian bitters and his own marinated cherries for the garnish...
Next, we enjoy some appetizers and Adrian obliges by saying which cocktails will work best. I've had the Old Cuban before but Adrian has tweaked it a bit today. A mojito like drink, his version is muddled first, than strained into a flute glass; he tops the rum- cava mix with a dash of Fee Brothers Mint Bitters and a sprig of mint. It's a fine match with Shrimp Tempura ($14) and the Tuna Conserva ($14). The half dozen tempura we order are big and crispy, while the tuna is rare, thinly sliced and served chilled, with capers and little chunks of tomato, cucumbers and croutons.
We share a rare 8 oz Steak Frites, thinking it will work well with almost any whiskey based drink, but there are wines and beers on the list so we switch to a glass of malbec to delicious effect. Our slice of flourless chocolate cake is the finish and if there happens to be a cocktail to with that, I'll come back any time to try it out...
Price: Varies - Two cocktails and prix fixe meal about $75 plus.
Atmosphere: Calm, quiet and early saloon type jazz
Wheelchair Access: No
Hint: Menu is from Sidecar Restaurant
Surprise, Surprise: Crafted cocktails worth the wait!