SpiritHouse is rather non-descript from the outside, announced by a wooden sign and steps heading downwards. Inside, the decor is eerily reminiscent of living room sets at Restoration Hardware.
In a secondary back room, you'll find a large desk topped in globes and empty vases that I'm fairly certain I've seen in West Elm . The couches are plush black leather, tables look to be made of salvaged wood and there are framed vintage photographs on the walls.
A nod, perhaps, to the yesteryear they're trying to channel with their drinks.
Now, to the drinks. The bar is run by the people behind the Toronto Institute of Bartending , which shares the location and sets a high standard from the get-go.
A seat around the wraparound bar will grant you an impressive vantage--hundreds of bottles of high-end liquor on a center island, flanked by recessed shelves against the walls holding, you guessed it, more of the same.
I also spot barrels, and a quick glance at the menu reveals that, while they don't list barrel-aged cocktails , they do have a sly note requesting that you inquire further.
They currently offer a Boulevardier which has been barrel-aged for 2 weeks, and arrives brimful in a stoppered 8 oz. bottle, labelled with cursive script, and sealed with wax (all very Count of Monte Cristo).
Word to the wise: be sure to also inquire about the cost, as the whopping $48 price tag might come as a shock. On the plus side, you can take home the bottle, which would double nicely as a spice jar.
I try the Hemingway Special (2.5 oz for $12) and it goes down smooth - sweet with a bit of tartness thanks to a blend of Havana rum, maraschino, fresh-squeezed grapefruit and lime and gomme syrup.
From the old guard of cocktails, a sazerac will run you $16 while an old-fashioned comes in at $14. They also have a small selection of local beer such as Mill Street Organic and Tankhouse ($6), Steamwhistle and Amsterdam Blonde.
An impressive list of spirits and liquors served by the glass pads the drinks and a small menu of elevated bar snacks such as sliders is available.
The crowd steers towards a thirties demographic. The washrooms are pristine and bonus points for the mandarin and vetiver-scented soap. A note above the dryer cheekily lets you know that your shoes look great, and suggests you go order another cocktail.