Advised by a concerned patron that perhaps he shouldn't be sitting at a booze-filled table in a Junction bar after midnight on a weekday, Mayor Rob Ford dared the woman to drink the triple shot of whisky he'd been reaching for, she says.
"And I said, 'Rob, what?' But then I thought, 'Fuck it! If he's giving me a triple whisky shot, this is just too amazing,'" the woman says. "So I drank it - 'cause he dared me to drink it."
Ford arrived at 3030 Dundas West after 12 am on Thursday, Feb. 6 (Wednesday night); he left the bar approximately one hour later, according to a person who was serving drinks. When he failed to show up at City Hall on Thursday, his staff said he was taking the day off sick. "The mayor is not feeling well today," his spokesperson told the Sun.
Earlier Wednesday evening, Ford participated in the year's first mayoral debate, at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus. That event, which he attended with several staff (including his driver), wrapped up a little past 8:30. It's not clear what the mayor did in the intervening hours or how he got to or from 3030.
Ford was "beet-red and sweating" when he showed up, says the woman who later took his whisky dare.
"He appeared very red-faced," says the man who was tending bar. (Both spoke on condition of anonymity.)
The bar's weekly trivia night had wrapped up around 11, and there were only a small handful of people still hanging about.
The woman was incredulous when the mayor appeared. "Can you believe he's here?" she asked a couple sitting nearby. "And nobody really could, because... I would be surprised if he thought he had a lot of supporters there."
Ford's associates tried to keep people from taking pictures with him, says the bartender.
3030 is the kind of place that has five vintage pinball machines and 17 (mostly craft) beers on tap. It's played host to Spacing release parties and, on the night after Ford's visit, the provincial NDP's Parkdale-High Park nomination meeting.
"So he came in by himself first, and then two younger people came in behind him," the woman says, adding that the group skipped over the front dining room and headed straight to the rear bar area. She says he was "talking about how there's a conspiracy against him," and so cautioned him against putting himself in a potentially compromising situation: "You know, maybe you should have a glass of water or not be hanging out at places where people are coming for you."
He bragged about his performance at the UTSC event. "He was like, 'I was at a debate tonight, kicking ass,' and I was looking at him and thinking, 'You're crazy,' because he was beet-red and sweating." She says he did not "look well."
He'd come in with two younger people, who immediately joined him at the table. But there was also a "third young man who sat by himself and didn't associate with them until he'd watched the room for a little." Only then did the man go over and sit down next to him. "It was bizarre," says the woman.
At one point, the bartender dropped in on Ford's table because a political discussion between the mayor and a customer looked to be "getting heated." But when the bartender offered to intervene, Ford politely declined, saying it was okay for people to have differences of opinion, and engaged in a mutual high-five with the person with whom he'd been arguing.
Neither witness saw Ford drink. But the woman, who joined Ford at his table, said he reached for the straight triple whisky before agreeing that it would be unwise for him to have it. "Oh, I guess I shouldn't be drinking this," she says he said. "Maybe you should drink this." She says the mayor dared her, and she took him up on it. He was impressed.
The woman left the bar before Ford did ("It was late"), but the bartender recalls waving goodbye to him and his party around "1, 1:15 or so."
By Friday afternoon, as word spread of Ford's pre-sick-day night out, journalists began visiting 3030 Dundas. A man who refused to give his name but appeared to be a manager warned reporters against asking any questions and stressed that staff would have nothing to say on the matter.
Ford remained silent when asked about the episode by reporters on Friday.
From November through mid-January, Mayor Rob Ford repeatedly insisted he had sworn off drinking, before repeatedly being captured behaving to the contrary. Questions have been raised about his state during recent visits to Muzik nightclub, Steak Queen restaurant, and the Foggy Dew pub in Coquitlam, BC.
With a file from Ben Spurr.
UPDATE #1 (2/12/2014, 12 pm): Following publication of this story, 3030 owner Jameson Kelly got in touch to clearly state that his establishment was not "serving an intoxicated person." He also says that 3030 does not offer triple shots, nor is allowed to under its license.