BOVINE TIKI BAR 542 Queen West, bovinesexclub.com, 416-504-4239
Drinking should be a memorable experience. The more whimsy, laughter and escapism involved in a night out, the better - and Tiki is all of those things in a rum-soaked nutshell, topped with the most garish garnish imaginable.
The vibrant tiki culture that launched influential 30s 'Murica bars like Don the Beachcomber's and then Trader Vic's catered to the post-Second World War interest in South Pacific exotica and found easy fuel in the deepening pockets of the middle class.
Mai tais, Hurricanes and piña coladas - the strong and seductively tropical drinks that swept North America for over three decades - are available all nights of the week now that the Bovine's rooftop tiki oasis is in full swing. Finally, a spot I can hit regularly, draped in leis, to suck tropical fruit booze from a half-naked Hula Girl without feeling like a displaced moron.
It has strong, kitschy drinks, Polynesian masks and the thatched shack that is the kitchen, but the Bovine's rum collection represents its strongest bid for authenticity: there are currently 60 bottles and counting. Robin Wynne, beverage director at the Bovine Tiki and Rock Lobster, will be introducing a rum passport soon, motivating guests to sip their way through the shelves, collecting stamps that count toward rewards like cocktails on the house and rum flights.
Industry Mondays showcase rum brands via events and tastings, and slushy machines have frosty cocktails flowing on the roof faster than a modern-day luau degenerates.
Hours 3 pm to 2 am Mondays, 3 pm to 2 am Tuesday to Sunday
Access Two flights of stairs to the rooftop, washrooms at the back of the patio.