The “Gold Standard” in cocktailing has arrived in Toronto, and we’ve a bevy of beverage purveyors that are whetting our whistles and giving us reasons to sing (off-key, of course) about Negronis and Manhattans and Old Fashioneds. Cocktail programs at prime restaurants are getting as much play via the social media sphere as the haute cuisine pumping out of the kitchens, and it’s not hard to understand why: Like a good wine, a good cocktail can elevate any social dining experience. And you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better cocktail than at the city’s latest mecca of mixology: The Cocktail Parlor at Storys. We spent but a mere 45 minutes imbibing in the new space last Thursday – still managing to test out a few cocktails each, naturally – and we’re already excited to head back. Here are five reasons why…
The Cocktails (D’uh!)
Mixologist extraordinaire Elan Marks – y’know, the fella that helped make sister establishment Weslodge as much about the drinks as the food – helms the massive cocktail list at The Cocktail Parlor, which sees just over five dozen different ditties to sip and savour. We got a li’l palatable party preview with the Toronto Manhattan (on tap, no less), the Gin n’ Tonic (which has a slightly more herbaceous tinge than most G&Ts on the market), the Paloma (like a tweaked-out grapefruit it was), and a Negroni (didn’t care or check if it was a “special” recipe… we just drank this sucker down). No throat will go thirsty with the abundance of booze in this beautiful bar.
With but a handful of nibbles to nosh on, The Cocktail Parlor’s food offerings are sparing to be certain. Granted, they register the finesse of Chef Stuart Cameron, but at the end of the day they’re still bar snacks. Just “progressive” ones, as the Grand Opening Canape Menu called ’em. We loved the Tarte Flambe with paper-thin ham and shavings of black truffles, but we couldn’t help but feel it was a little… unoriginal. That said, the flavours are crowd-pleasing, and at the end of the day nothing pairs better with a stiff drink than a pretty li’l bite. The food may not be all that and a bag of kale chips, but that’s what reservations at Patria are for, amirite?
…look like stunning old Art Deco-era magazines, they do. At first we simply glanced at the pages, blithely flipping through without a care in the world, not noticing what is was we were perusing. When finally we started to read a passage, the prose that befell our eyes was captivating: “Day of the Dead 23 / fortuna mezcal, knob creek small batch bourbon, kaluah, tincture of coffee, grapefruit oil.” Ah… poetry. Not magazines whipped up for branding purposes or to play Peeping Tom (see below), these carefully curated tomes are menus. Effing menus! Bloody brilliant is all we have to say…
The Storys Building is about as old as Jesus – actually we’re pretty sure the architects used to play kick ball with the Messiah – and thanks to some stunning light fixtures (many of which act as space dividers) and intricate po-mo wall installations, The Cocktail Parlor has a Downton-Abbey-meets-Total-Recall (new school, not old school) feel about it. Staring at the geometric north wall while sitting in the rounded saloon-style banquettes is akin to looking towards the future while staying rooted in the past.
The Creepy Cruising Factor
Are you a dirty Peeping Tom? (Albeit one that dresses to kill in designer threads?) Well the aforementioned light fixtures that provide a visually appealing backdrop also allow you to scam the room for hotties and stare down whomever the hell you want. They won’t really notice because their peripheral vision will be fixated on the stark lines of brushed metal fixtures, so you can totally dissect the topography of any guy or gal you’d like and no one will be any the wiser. (You’ll still be absurdly creepy, but that’ll stay your own little American Psycho secret.)