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Thirsty & Miserable

Photo: Jesse Milns

Posted by Luke Champion / March 2, 2012

Thirsty & Miserable hopes to be your new beer forward destination in Kensington Market. The bar, formerly Planet Kensington, Freshwood Grill and Havana Cuba - is a tiny little nook with a quality tap list and a carefully curated collection of Belgian trappists, American craft beers and locally sourced micro brews.

Thirsty & Miserable is a bar named after a Black Flag song and owned by one Katie G. Warror, guitarist for the beloved hard-core band, Brutal Knights. And since I'm pretty sure punk rock landed in Kensington Market with the pilgrims, this should probably have a pre-emptive heritage plaque slapped on it as reparations for all the places we've already lost.

When I walked through the door, the first thing I noticed was--well, the first thing I noticed was that the place was a bit of a shit hole; which is to say, perfect.

Thirsty & Miserable is exactly the way I remember Kensington Market to be when we used to get bussed in from the suburbs on school trips, before clean lines and quirky consumables started creeping in from the edges. It's a reminder to never do the whole book judging thing because when you walk into Thirsty & Miserable (ok, from now on T&M) you're going to feel an initial pang of discomfort.

These people are, in fact, cooler than you. They're actually the most dangerous and intimidating kind of cool--the effortless kind. It's ok though, just repeat the mantra, "They're nice people," over and over in you head until you get to your seat and you'll be fine. You'll be glad you did too because they actually are really nice people and, as mentioned earlier, there is some great beer to be had.

And yes, for those interested, you can get wine and liquor too, but don't. If you want those things just go somewhere else. There are a million bars in this city where you can find excellent wine and exquisite cocktails, way better than you'll find here; so why buy it at a divvy, punk rock beer bar?

Besides, if you're willing to open your mind a little, even if you're not a beer drinker, I'm willing to bet you'll find something that suits your tastes. Beer has much more breadth than Molson would have you believe.

Anyway, if you want to have the exact experience I did (and you probably do) you'll mosey up to the bar, look up at the drink menu scrawled on a flattened cardboard box and consider buying the $26 bottle of Collabrrrewator Coffee Doppelbock on loan from Beau's Brewery.

Here's the thing, there are only 12 of them and they won't be getting any more, which almost makes it seem like a good idea. But it's also 600ml and will probably be warm swill by the time you get to the end of it. Plus, the reality is you can try three different beers for the price of one Collabrrrewator so ultimately, it's best to start the evening off with an Orval ($8.50) and save the Collabrrrewator for a day when you're not drinking alone.

Orval is the beer that introduced me to the world of beer and for a long time, my absolute gold standard from which to compare all other tastes and flavours. I loved it like the older brother I never had, the one who would come home from university twice a year to visit, but I never got to spend enough time with.

It's a Belgian trappist of the highest quality with a beautiful cloudy orange colour and a stiff creamy head. It's delicate and robust and damn near perfect; and I'm just really, really happy they carry it. At this point, if I wasn't already, I'm sold.

Next on the list, another Belgian, the Mort Subite Gueuze ($8.75). Now, gueuze is a type of beer made by bottling a very young lambic with more matured beer of the same variety. Because the young stuff hasn't finished fermenting yet, the two hug it out in the bottle with the finish product having a distinct sour flavour. It's good stuff and mark my words, the age of the IPA is coming to an end and gueuze is going to be the new prom queen.

It continues from there, but this is a bar review, not a beer review. The thing is, you could throw a dart at the wall (don't) and you'd never hit a bad choice. I could have spent the whole evening working my way through the list and to be honest, fully expect to sometime in the near future. Rumour has it that the flattened cardboard sign is going to turn into a chalkboard sometime soon. I hope the renovations end there. I don't want to wait in line.

Additional Details

Beers on Tap:
Spear Head, King Vienna Lager, Beau's Lugtread, Peche Mortel, Denison's Weissbier, Mad Tom IPA, Mill Street Ginger Beer, St. Ambrose Oatmeal Stout
Signature Drink:
Craft beer
Bar Snacks:
None
Patio:
Yes
Music/Genre:
Heavy
Live Music:
No
Who Goes There:
Beards, Plaid, Leather, Tattoos, Piercings, Beer fans
Hours:
6pm - 2am daily

Discussion

29 Comments

glug / March 2, 2012 at 10:11 AM
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Open at 6? Are you kidding?

You lazy mofos better open earlier so I can have a beer on the way home.

"These people are, in fact, cooler than you. They're actually the most dangerous and intimidating kind of cool--the effortless kind. It's ok though, just repeat the mantra, "They're nice people," over and over in you head until you get to your seat and you'll be fine. "

Wait, maybe I don't want to give this place my biz after all.

Stephanie In replying to a comment from glug / March 2, 2012 at 10:30 AM
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That's okay, glug. More beer for the rest of us.

Holleden In replying to a comment from glug / March 2, 2012 at 10:36 AM
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You bet, glug. Anything dangerous and intimidating is not cool. The place looks like a borderline fight-club. Imagine the Friday night scene: Hippies with prescription glasses look weird and your tattoos suck, you tosser. Ow! Sock! Biff!

no / March 2, 2012 at 10:57 AM
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this place just makes me miserable.

Ben / March 2, 2012 at 11:07 AM
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Yes.

Can't wait to try this place this weekend. Awesome beer lineup.

Great pictures.

Angela / March 2, 2012 at 11:25 AM
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My problem with this place back when it was Freshwood was the strong smell coming from the neighbouring Fish shop. Is this still a problem?

Thirsty all the time / March 2, 2012 at 11:41 AM
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This bar is named after David Dort. A young man who is always thirsty and always miserable.

Gembah In replying to a comment from Stephanie / March 2, 2012 at 2:05 PM
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So you like sipping from puddles on the floor?

Stephen Weir / March 2, 2012 at 9:03 PM
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Can walk into almost any bar in any other city, in any other country (that allows liquor) and get a Heineken. Not here. Not sure why YYZ establishments have such a hate on for the Dutch Greenie. Looks like T&M continuing this negative tradition. Too bad.

Jakob / March 2, 2012 at 9:07 PM
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I love how the author only uses the abbreviated version "T&M" only once for its definition and nowhere else in the article :P

Jakob / March 2, 2012 at 9:09 PM
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I love how the author uses the abbreviation "T&M" only once whilst defining it, and nowhere else in the article :P

Jalodge / March 2, 2012 at 10:53 PM
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I love how the author only makes teh same reference once...

Craw In replying to a comment from Stephen Weir / March 2, 2012 at 11:10 PM
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If it is the case that Heineken is hard to find in Toronto, that is strange. I would expect that Molson-Coors would go ahead and replace some of their Corona, Rickard's Blonde, Canadian, or Grolsch taps in town with Heineken, if only to maintain the illusion that there's a difference in ownership or quality between these lagers.

I'm not terribly disappointed myself, seeing as plenty of bars in Toronto stock these and the other lagers -- Coors, Bud, Stella, etc. -- that rely more on an enormous international marketing engine than quality to sell as much as they do. Personally I'm very happy to buy high-quality beer made by independently owned, local breweries.

Evan / March 3, 2012 at 3:02 AM
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Nice to see Peche on the menu, but the rest is pretty boring. I'll stick to Volo.

Erin In replying to a comment from Jakob / March 3, 2012 at 5:59 PM
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The SEO people probably got to the article after him. Or copy and paste was discovered.

Cool sounding place. I'm willing to give it a try.

Luke In replying to a comment from Jakob / March 3, 2012 at 6:00 PM
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Thanks man, I threw that in there so guys like you could feel smart. Glad to help!

60CARLTON In replying to a comment from Stephen Weir / March 4, 2012 at 9:18 AM
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They don't carry Heineken because they're trying to continue the new traditions of craft/micro brews and quality trappist Belgian beers. If you're looking for a Heiney or any other standard multi-national blando head to your nearest Boston Pizza.

coolguy / March 4, 2012 at 2:14 PM
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These people sound so cool, just like OP. I'd rather burn my money:

These people are, in fact, cooler than you. They're actually the most dangerous and intimidating kind of cool--the effortless kind. It's ok though, just repeat the mantra, "They're nice people," over and over in you head until you get to your seat and you'll be fine. You'll be glad you did too because they actually are really nice people and, as mentioned earlier, there is some great beer to be had.

Sean Farris / March 5, 2012 at 6:51 AM
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I had the great opportunity to design/hand paint the sign for Thirsty & Miserable and can honestly say that having worked with Katie and Martin, they are two of the most genuinely nice and hard working people I've ever met. The place was a fucking train wreck when they first moved in (I'd be hard pressed to think of any place I've seen that was that filthy) and it took a serious amount of elbow grease in order to simply get the door open. Fact is, the seemingly effortless approach here is by choice, but not because there is any interest in "being cool", quite the opposite really. Martin mentioned to me when I first started work on the sign that they just wanted to serve good beer and leave all of the flashy architectural work to everyone else. At the end of the day, they really are great people who are both heavily invested in simply trying to provide a good beer and a smile or two. (I know, I know... happiness ain't punk.)

Marvin / March 6, 2012 at 5:07 PM
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That Army Surplus store next door looks handy. I'll pick up a helmet, gloves, paint remover, and some hardware in case one of the intimidating cool people starts to warm up and get feisty.

Louis In replying to a comment from Angela / March 7, 2012 at 12:01 AM
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It seems to be -- I was actually slightly taken aback when I walked in. You notice it less after a while, but still, it's not ideal.

Louis In replying to a comment from Angela / March 7, 2012 at 12:02 AM
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(@ Angela)

valerieinto / March 7, 2012 at 12:48 AM
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Was just in there. Really great. The decor needs to get roughed up a little with age, but great music, interesting selection of beers sensibly priced, and Katie couldn't have been nicer. We didn't know anyone, but we felt at home. More power to them.

AS / March 11, 2012 at 11:49 AM
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I was there the other night and really liked it! They had great choices and the bartender was really nice and recommended a good beer! We will definitely go back!

Dave / March 17, 2012 at 2:25 PM
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Was really excited to try this place. Don't mind the look, decent beer selection and the bartender was friendly. But I don't think I'll return in the summer if that fish smell is already bad in march. I wish T&M tons of luck and success, I'm just being respectfully honest.

Margeaux / April 12, 2012 at 1:43 PM
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I wanna go

Reggie / April 23, 2012 at 10:34 AM
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Got all excited to check this place out and then walked in and was so overwhelmed with fish smell that I became sick instantly. Instead of cracking a window, or door - they opted instead to fire up ever apple/vanilla/fruit punch scented candle and glade plug-in known to man. The result was a disgusting mix of high tide, and cheap perfume. I will never be able to forget this smell, it's haunting. Opening a bar next to a fish monger, not really a great idea. I'll be at Ronnie's.

Coney / May 18, 2012 at 10:22 AM
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Checked this place out last night and loved it. Warm friendly people regardless of the beard count. Tried some great beers I'd never tasted before and listened to some Killing Joke. Go and be happy.

Eye-Luv Goodbeer / January 7, 2014 at 11:46 PM
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This is my favorite bar in Toronto. Great selection of beer, great music, and a friendly staff. I bring all my out-of-town friends here who want to go out for a pint. Always have a great time.

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