The top 5 places to drink rum in Toronto
The top places to drink rum in Toronto remind me that it's a little sad that rum doesn't seem to have as strong a following in the city as other liquors, like tequila, scotch, or bourbon. The GTA does, after all, have one of the largest Caribbean populations in the world. Although it's easy to point out that this observation relies on a necessary connection between the demographic makeup of the city and its bar scene, the paltry offerings at the LCBO gives a little more credence to such a claim.
Those bars that do fly the rum the flag do it well, and should be an example for other establishments to get on board. There's a few criteria to consider when picking a great spot to enjoy rum - the selection on hand, the rum cocktails available, the accompanying cuisine, and finally the overall knowledgeability of the staff.
Here's my list of the five best places to enjoy rum in Toronto.
Jen Agg's latest venture serves as an homage to the sugarcane spirit, with a particular focus on Haitian cuisine. The bar holds a collection of over 40 different rums, with certain bottles available at the table, even in increments of quarter or half bottles (and served with fresh lime and Mexican Coke). There's rum cocktails too, but they're best enjoyed from the delightfully trashy slushie machines, serving up frozen Pina Coladas and Daiquiris from behind the bar.
The County General
The County General has always maintained a heavy rum focus since opening in 2011, offering up tasting flights from its selection of over 35 rums. Highlights include an excellent selection of El Dorado, Appleton, and Mount Gay. It's also one of the few spots you can grab a shot of the offensively overproofed Sunset. Rum cocktails are plentiful, and the brown stuff also figures in their excellent Brown Butter Cake ($7).
The Real Jerk
The Real Jerk's new location at Gerrard and Carlaw location has been doing brisk business thanks in no small part to a terrific commitment to collecting rum, and offering it at decent prices. With over 40 bottles, shots ranging from $5.50-$12.50, a range of Caribbean-style cocktails, and regular rum tasting evenings, it's a must stop for anyone on the east side (and let's be honest, you should probably just go for some of that jerk chicken anyway).
Spirit House holds a formidable collection of just about everything pertaining to liquor, and rum is no exception. There's even a decent selection of cachaça on hand, on top of over 25 rums to pick from. The cocktail list is exhaustive, and the knowledge of the bartenders is hard to beat. It's worth heading down just to grab the Man of Interest ($12), an outstanding rum-based take on the Negroni.
Toronto Temperance Society, like the County General, seems to make its way onto a disproportionate amount of these lists. As far as I'm concerned, that's for good reason, as Oliver Stern curates a superb rum program, with over 30 bottles on hand, including the stellar (and extremely hard to find) El Dorado 25. He also blends his own rum for the purposes of his tiki cocktail menu. Oliver was the Canadian ambassador for Angostura after winning their national cocktail contest, so we can safely describe him as something of an authority.
Got a favourite place to drink rum in Toronto? Let us know in the comments.
Photo of the Toronto Temperance Society