It goes without saying: there is no greater feeling than easing yourself into a supple grained club chair, sliding into a pair of Isotoner slippers, and nursing a finely aged, neat single malt. If a night by the fire with your feet up (fireplace, not campsite—different evening entirely) is your bag, then be sure to check out these fine establishments. Drinking game: try them all in one weekend. Did we miss your favourite? Share it in the comments below.
The Emmet Ray
With whiskeys from around the world (seriously, the menu stretches for miles), this College Street mainstay is perfect for the seasoned imbiber, or the first timer. Revel in the understated décor while sampling on bourbons, Canadian ryes, single malts from Scotland, or classic Bushmills.
The Library Bar
Tucked smartly into the historic Fairmont Hotel, this classic space is decked out to the nines and virtually oozing with charm. Take a considerable load off and splurge on your favourite brand (trust, they’ll have it in stock), or ask the expert bartenders for help. Once you’re settled into a firm leather banquette, sit back and bask in manliness.
With over 100+ labels to try, and a swanky speakeasy-meets-Studio-54 vibe—complete with go-go cages –this downtown location is a sure thing. A little heavy hitting on the wallet, the selection is primo, so too is the VIP section and bottle service experience. Be sure to get there early as line-ups are typically long.
A bevy of whiskeys (340+ to be somewhat specific) in a traditional, no-fuss, family-friendly environment. This east-end institution has been in business for nearly 30 years, and has the fans and critical acclaim to show for it. If you’re so inclined, take your rocks out to the spacious backyard patio and while away the summer hours.
Drinking. Refined. That’s the unofficial credo of this cocktail lounge / bistro that sits secretively at the base of an unflashy office building on West Adelaide. The exterior is unassuming, but the scene inside leaves no confusion. In addition to a great food and cocktail menu, Spirit House can boast one of the largest and most diverse spirits list in town—from American bourbons to savoury scotch blends.
Char No. 5
The unsung hero of Toronto whiskey bars, this charmer sits off of the lobby of the downtown Delta Hotel, and features a litany of mouth-watering titles—more than you can imagine. The décor, as expected, is pure 1920’s extravagance, with knowledgeable, markedly un-snooty staff to help you choose the perfect companion scotch, or an Irish original—all on its own.
Another College Street gem, this public house, a relatively new edition to the strip, is your destination for Scotch titles. In addition to traditional Scottish fare (haggis neeps, tatties), The Caledonian also features an award-winning menu of more than 300 malts and blends.
(Photo: The Caledonian)