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The Yukon

Photo: Jesse Milns

Posted by Caroline Leung / April 23, 2012

The Yukon is a new bar in Parkdale that's appropriate for both post-work cocktail or outright shenanigans. It's a neighbourhood joint worthy of fleeing wherever it is you live now. I had been tired of this part of Queen Street and its perpetual edge. Nothing in particular makes the Yukon stand out - not in its cocktails, decor or music - but in the context of a city where mediocre eccentricity seems to prevail over the classic, it's exactly what I'm looking for.

The Yukon is not easily missed. It boasts a large window into the space, the silhouettes crowding the view. The sign for the bar is endearingly hand-painted onto the glass. Despite being barely a week old (previously Jasmine Cafe Bar), one can see from almost a block away that it's busy on this particular Saturday night.

In the tradition of most low-key hole-in-the-walls, The Yukon is long, narrow and unforgivably dark. A few warm bulbs illuminate just enough for you to spot a friend, or ogle a well-dressed stranger's outfit, or to admire the ceilings. High, carved meticulously and bronzed, it makes the place feel like a grandfather's library turned extremely tasteful watering hole.

The shelves behind the DJ, overflowing with records, add to the near-domestic intimacy of the atmosphere. There's enough space by the front and back to wallflower or converse, but that's about it. If you happen to be there on a quieter night with a big group, there are tables that can accommodate. The Yukon is small. Not to a fault, but close. This is an ideal venue for a first date; it lacks pretension without losing taste. It's pure class without the flash.

There's nothing amateur or unpolished about The Yukon, but something about it definitely recalls house party at a friend's fancy digs, rather than being at an actual establishment. It's that intimate. The DJ chooses his material whimsically; the music is nothing if not eclectic.

A group of girls lip sync perfectly to Destiny's Child's "Bills, Bills Bills". Someone snaps their fingers in tune with The Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go". The entire place answers when A Tribe Called Quest asks "Can I Kick It?" It's easy to close your eyes and imagine that there isn't a guy in the booth at all, but your very own iPod; that these people aren't strangers; that you're in a much less impressive but comfortable outfit.

There are many reasons to drink out; the adventure of places, people and sights unknown. But would it be so nonsensical to deem the familiarity revelatory? There isn't always gratification in what's new. What The Yukon has to offer will never get old.

Additional Details

Beers on Tap:
Guinness, Harp Lager, Beau’s Lug Tread Ale, Beau’s IPA
Signature Drink:
Working on it
Bar Snacks:
Full bar menu; just ask. Highlights include wings and freshly baked soft pretzels.
Old school hip hop, rock, pop and soul; themed nights upcoming
Live Music:
Who Goes There:
Mid-twenties and up; mainly West Queen West and Parkdale locals.
Daily 5pm - 2am

Other Cities: Montreal