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  • 1

    Michael Watier

    Thoroughbred Food & Drink

    304 Richmond W, Toronto, Ontario

    Here’s the good news: places for drinking well have permeated almost every T.O. ‘hood. Before Thoroughbred, which opened last fall, drinking before or after a movie at Scotiabank theatre was limited to pints or Milestones’ Bellini slush. Now you can sip a Shaolin Iced Tea (bourbon, mezcal, Newfie screech, Cynar, lime, Lapsang Souchong-infused Grand Marnier and chinoto, $15) or throw back classy Jell-O shots (try the El Diablo, with tequila, ginger, lime and cassis, $6) in the snug and contemporary tri-level space (a converted Victorian home) while snacking on chef-owner Ariel Coplan’s sharing plates.

    Access Stairs to entrance, washrooms on main floor.

    Hours Tuesday to Friday 11:30 am to 2 pm and 5 pm to 2 am, Saturday 5 pm to 2 am. Closed Sunday and Monday.

  • 2

    Rush Lane

    563 Queen W, Toronto, Ontario M5V 2B6

    With a wall of vinyl, a tropical fish tank and sleek leather couches, Rush Lane is like a reimagined, modernized old boys’ club – of course minus the bullshit and gender discrimination of yore. The bar focuses on cocktails, including house concoctions, four classic drinks on draught and contemporary libations featuring ingredients whipped up in the bar lab, which is equipped with fancy machinery (science!) like a rotary evaporator and centrifuge.

    Access No barrier at door, washrooms on main floor.

    Hours Daily 5 pm to 2 am.

  • 3

    Wise Bar

    1007 Bloor W, Toronto, Ontario M6H 1M1

    Beer lovers will find this quaint Bloorcourt watering hole mighty agreeable. Owner Tamara Wise’s beer selection might seem spartan at first glance, but the taps and fridge have been thoughtfully curated to strike a balance between local and lesser-known brews, many of them hard to find. Wise’s commitment to hospitality and good taste is obvious. 

    Access Barrier-free, washrooms on main floor.

    Hours Daily 6 pm to 2 am.

  • 4

    Civil Liberties

    878 Bloor W, Toronto, Ontario

    Affectionately referred to as the “pineapple bar,” Civil Liberties has brought some personality to the staid scene that is Bloor and Ossington after dark. Opened late last fall by partners and barmen David Huynh, Nick Kennedy and Cole Stanford (who met years ago working at Ossington’s Salt), this is a very cocktail-capable bar that won’t be pigeonholed. There’s no printed list of drinks, but interaction with your bartender will deliver something delicious and drive home the bar’s commitment to customer service. (Its sweet and spiky mascot is the international symbol of hospitality, after all.)

    Access No barrier at entrance, washrooms in basement.

    Hours Daily 5 pm to 2 am.

  • 5

    Furlough – Closed

    924 Queen West, Toronto, Ontario

    The second venture from Team Barchef (Frankie Solarik and Brent VanderVeen) is a smoking-jacketed throwback worlds away from its mother ship’s hyper-modernist sensibilities. Housed in the former Ursa at Queen and Shaw, Furlough is dim, polished and classically inclined. Just the spot for an aperitif – try the Lee-Metford Mark II (gin, Campari, akvavit, rosemary lavender bitters and rosewater garnished with cucumber, salt and pepper, $14) or a whiskey-forward nightcap.

    Access Two steps at the door, washrooms downstairs.

    Hours Tuesday to Sunday 6 pm to late. Closed Monday.

  • 6

    The Gaslight

    1426 Bloor W, Toronto, Ontario

    The Gaslight is the local that Bloor West has been waiting for. Partners Megan Jones and Tim Pritchard (both seasoned bartenders) opened it last autumn at Bloor and Symington, a low-key corner in desperate need of a bar. The thoughtfully designed interior is made extra-welcoming with small touches like fresh cut flowers. The $15 cocktail has no place here (in fact, all beverages are priced very fairly), but Jones’s feature concoctions are super-tasty (and often available by the pitcher). In more tolerable weather, you’ll want to arrive early to sit on the Gaslight’s quaint back patio.

    Access No barrier at door, washrooms in basement.

    Hours Daily 5 pm to 2 am.

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