Bellwoods Brewery

5 places to buy booze in Toronto that aren't the LCBO

With an LCBO strike looming before the Victoria Day long weekend, there's never been a better time to offer a reminder that there are plenty of other places to acquire booze in Toronto. Most obviously there's the Beer Store (which would remain open in the event of an LCBO strike), but if you're not a fan of that organization (and why would you be?) or you have your heart set on wine or craft beer, you have options — and more than you might think.

Toronto Breweries
While we might not be blessed with a huge number of local craft breweries, the number of Toronto brewing operations is on the rise in a major way. In addition to longstanding options like Amsterdam and Great Lakes Brewery, recent outfits like Bellwoods Brewery, Junction Craft Brewing, and the Indie Ale House ensure that we need not depend on the LCBO or the Beer Store for our lager, etc. Check out the link above for a longer list of local options.

Ontario Wine Shops
Between the Wine Rack, The Wine Shop (formerly Vineyard Estates) and Magnotta stores, there's plenty of places to get your wine fix without hitting up the LCBO. Sure, the variety tends to leave something to be desired, but it's not all plonk (I popped a Wine-rack purchased bottle of Le Clos Jordanne the other day), so they'll certainly work in a pinch. As a bonus, many of the downtown locations of these shops keep longer hours than the LCBO anyway.

Still Waters Distillery
OK, so you're more of the whisky type. In the past you would have been SOL in the event of an LCBO work stoppage, but now we have an excellent distillery located immediately north of the city in Concord. No, it's not technically Toronto, but the product is worth the short trek anyway. Also worthy of note, if not for right now, the recently opened Toronto Distillery Company will be selling its "new make" as of June. The whisky won't come for another few years as per Ontario laws, but there's something novel about indulging in what is ostensibly expertly crafted moonshine.

The Ontario Spring Water Sake Company
The LCBO hasn't exactly shown a whole lot of love for sake (and in particular unpasteurized sake), so whether there's a strike or not, it's worth a trip down to the Distillery District to learn a little about the brewing process and to pick up some of the good stuff (hint: it's better than what you've had at an AYCE sushi joint).

Online Wine Retailers
Given the shipping times involved and on account of the fact that these retailers still have to deal with the LCBO warehouses, online retailers won't offer much salvation for those who've left it to the last minute or in the event of a long strike. But if you're interested in by-passing the LCBO and trying out interesting wines not found elsewhere in the province, have a look at Wine Online. If Ontario offerings are more your thing but you don't get out to wine country a whole lot, both WineryToHome and Wine Splash are worth checking out.

Got a source for booze to add to the list? Let us know in the comments.


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