RUSH LANE 563 Queen West, 416-551-7540, rushlaneco.com
The owners of Rush Lane – Alexis Arrowsmith, Brett Klyszejko, Doug Twigger, Simon Hooper and Jordan Bushell (also the brand ambassador for Hennessy in the U.S) – are a diverse group of professional barmen who happen to see eye to eye.
The idea existed long before they’d pinpointed an ideal space, the old Hot Wings on Queen near Portland, and opened Rush Lane last July.
The contemporary space has a raised platform furnished with a leather couch, fish tank and wall of records, imparting a homey vibe.
The in-house lab – outfitted with a rotary evaporator unique to Toronto’s bar scene – enables the partners to be “unencumbered by convention,” as Bushell puts it.
The bar program is playful and progressive, using ingredients like beet grenadine and malic acid cocktails like the Vieux Carré are offered on tap. The owners take a perfectionist approach, measuring ingredients with digital meters and scales to ensure consistency and constantly experimenting to improve on existing drinks.
“We wanted to build a bar that we would actually drink at… and we do,” says Hooper.
What made you want to open your own spot?
SH You get to a point where you need to go out on your own and make a run at it, and Toronto is on the brink of a boom.
What’s the concept/philosophy behind your bar?
JB We wanted a marriage of excellent offerings in a fun, approachable space where you can start a night or end it.
Rush Lane has lots of amazing toys. Is experimentation an integral part of the bar’s ethos?
SH Yes! Everything in the lab is used in the [research and development] side of our programs. Every single cocktail is meticulously thought out and executed. We don’t wing anything. We use the lab during the day, so at night it’s all about the customer.
What’s the most rewarding part about finally throwing open the doors?
SH Seeing something that you have put your blood, sweat and soul into come alive. It’s our baby.
JB Seeing the looks on friends’ and families’ faces when they stepped in and saw the space, tasted the food and cocktails and partied with us all night.
How would you describe your personal style or approach behind the bar?
SH Cheeky but professional. I like to keep the fun in bartending.
JB Hospitality first. We like to make people feel at home at our bar.