Torontonians launch Bartender Atlas, a guide to the world’s best bars

Keep this website in your back pocket for your future travel plans



Have you ever been in bar limbo in a strange city, aimlessly flipping through the unfounded trash talk and wannabe-foodie reviews on Yelp, and yearned for a source you could trust?

Anyone who’s been parked at a bar for a few hours knows that bartenders are the best source of information when it comes to where to drink, eat and party. So what if all of the best bartenders in any given city were literally a finger-tap away?

Bartender Atlas, launched late in May by partners Josh Lindley and Jessica Blaine Smith, might be the solution to those nightlife queries. 

Lindley, a veteran bartender who heads up the beverage program at the Harbord Room, and Smith, a lens-based professional in Toronto, love to travel and always find themselves bellied up to bars when they do.

Inspired by the experiences and recommendations they’ve received from bartenders abroad, they envisioned an online directory that would make life easier on other tourists/bon-vivants.

“We’ve realized that the best way to get tips about a town is to talk to whoever is standing behind the wood,” Lindley explains. 

“Bartenders have a unique insight into their hometowns, and that’s a great way to get to know a place. We wanted to create a way for all of these personalities, these ambassadors to their cities, to communicate and create a community while also helping other travellers.”

Currently, the website includes over 100 bartenders from Australia, Canada, the U.S., Mexico and the UK, and bartenders from across the globe are encouraged to sign up. Plenty of space is devoted to cocktail wizards, but the site also welcomes drink-and pint-slingers with personality and stories to spin. 

“The bartending community is a strong one. The more you travel, the more you realize that we all know each other,” says Smith.

“By talking with bartenders, you learn more about a city than you would reading a travel guide.”

Get Toronto bar recommendations here.

drinks@nowtoronto.com | @S_Parns

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