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Madison Avenue Pub

Photo: Jesse Milns

Posted by Martha Stortz / January 22, 2015

The Madison Avenue Pub is a mega-pub located in the Annex. Famous in Toronto for its party-hard attitude and university crowd, the Madison (as it's generally known) has specials every day of the week.

When one thinks of having drinks at a mansion, one likely imagines fine champagne, finer china, the finest linens, something right out of former State Treasurer/cocaine dealer Thomas Ravenel's estate on Southern Charm. While Ravenel may fit in both the mansion fantasy and the actual mansion reality, the fantasy and reality are totally discordant. The fantasy dictates fine dining; reality at the Madison consists of deep fried delicacies. Fantasy is Versailles-level decor, reality is out-of-order washrooms. Fantasy, black-tie affairs. Reality, everyone is in leggings always no matter what.

Reality is the Madison Avenue Pub, a restored Victorian mansion holding six pubs. Oh, the Maddie. Houser of frat boys, server of bilge water, receptor of unexpected vomit.

I visited the Madison late one Thursday night. The Madison truly is huge on the inside, with numerous floors and sections, including various patios and a basement piano bar (though it should be noted that despite the size, you'll probably have to wait in line on weekends). It's decorated in true pub style, with TVs and beer memorabilia. There are billiards and darts for those who get competitive while they drink, as well as live entertainment some nights of the week. The Madison is not a place you'll get bored.

I ordered a vodka soda ($3.50) in accordance with their Thursday special on bar rails and domestic pints. The Maddie has specials every night of the week, which is awesome whether you're a frugal student or super cheap adult who spends all her money downloading David Sedaris books on Kindle after a few drinks. The vodka soda was good, pretty standard as far as taste goes, but very fair for the price.

As the night got later, the Madison went from moderately "I'm not really feeling claustrophobic" to super "This is how I picture my insides after AYCE sushi" packed. The demographics were mostly students (and yes, definitely more dudes, especially fratty-looking dudes, than ladies), as well as some real contributing members of society. Despite the fact that everyone seemed to be in the 20-25 age bracket, the air held the same frenetic energy as a lunch hour where your recess was rained out and your class had to stay in the classroom unsupervised and play Seven Up.

The night got crazy. There was a huge group of people with backpacks, and within them, one guy was discreetly filming one of the girls on his cellphone. Two girls got into an argument in the washroom in front of an out-of-order washroom stall, provoking a huge backup and traffic jam from females waiting for a free stall as well as high anxiety from me, who once saw two grown women get in a fight on the 504 King streetcar and has never been the same since. Two people kissed on the lips. Like I said, crazy.

The Madison definitely has its strengths and weaknesses. The drinks aren't unusually good, but the prices are great and the number of beers on tap (20 different beers across 120 taps) is impressive. It's not particularly nice inside, but it has amazing patios and so much variety within one venue. It's always packed with blackout drunk students, but that can be really fun.

Drinks at the mansion is definitely not what The Madison is. However, it is a great place to go if you're young and looking to get messy. The Maddie is a Toronto mainstay for a reason; it's fun, unpretentious and unabashedly gross.

Additional Details

Beers on Tap:
20 different beers across 120 taps.
Signature Drink:
Whatever is on sale that day.
Bar Snacks:
Variety of deep-fried delights.
Patio:
Yes
Music/Genre:
Ranges from pop to piano jams depending on the section.
Live Music:
Yes
Who Goes There:
Students, people pretending to be students, people who watch reality TV about shamed politicians to have something to talk about with the youth of today
Hours:
11 am-2 am, open every day


Other Cities: Montreal