1812 Bar in the Thompson Hotel
1812 Bar in the Thompson Hotel is presumably so named for its proximity to Victoria Memorial Square , a King West cemetery turned park in which many of that war's casualties are buried. That said, the bar's only real nod to the origin of its name are two Renaissance-style paintings, and cheekily framed weapons (including what I'd swear, under the cover of inadequate lighting, is a musket) on either side of the fluorescent-lit, recessed DJ booth.
I'll admit that I went in with certain preconceived, and unflattering, notions. Both mine and my boyfriend's club days are long behind us, and my patience with the miniskirt-and-platform combo, in particular, is paper-thin. We passed through a cordoned-off entry to the Thompson Hotel , guarded by two bouncers who coolly considered me after having good-naturedly (I hope) chastised three girls in front of me for wearing flats, then down a long set of stairs that are a close approximation of descending into a synth drum machine.
There's a large bar at the front, and a smaller one in the back--laid out beneath a Union Jack flag--and the whole space is traversed in just a few dozen high-heeled steps. Inside, it's loud, and servers in black bandage dresses deliver bottles of Belvedere and Moet and Chandon with a lit sparkler--despite this, it's not as awful as I expected. Yes, there are black leather booths and moody chandeliers, but there's a minimum age of 25 on Fridays and Saturdays which automatically siphons out some of the legitimately underage riffraff.
Unfortunately, the fact that they cater to an older, arguably more affluent age group, also translates into more expensive drinks. There are no beers on tap, and a bottle of Stella and a gin and soda (even when you request a gin and tonic) will set you back $16.
There are glimpses of the club world that they're trying to differentiate themselves from. A photographer circles, taking party shots and passing out the lounge's card. The music can best be described as tuneless beats--the sort of mind-numbing, inoffensive rhythm that lulls you into a half-hearted trance of hip-swaying and drink-rattling. The bartenders have the fixings for basic bar rail--including several of what are probably statistically the most popular Absolut vodka flavours--no cocktail menu, and gauging by the smell of just-extinguished sparklers wafting around the small space, their cash cow is bottle service.
The bathrooms are squirreled away down a narrow, dark wood corridor that, when paired with the muted beats, seems suited to a sultry music video, and my heart sank when I saw the bathroom attendant. I find this whole antiquated business unnecessary, and as the lovely black-and-white-clad woman turned on the faucet and poured soap into my hands, I stared at her with an apologetic grimace. It was a black mark on a space that otherwise surprised me with its likeablity, but to be fair, I felt much more comfortable later that night at Crooked Star . Just saying.