The Best New Bars in Toronto, 2009
While purveyors of luxury items might have been tightening their belts during 2009's economic downturn, booze slingers had little to worry about, as down-and-outers proved the old theory that everyone will splurge on a pint in tough times. And the crop of new bars that hit the ground running this year were a testament to that fact, as Toronto's bar scene showed that it was as robust as ever.
From no-frills, faux dive bars to Russian-themed enclaves, the best bars in Toronto for 2009 ran the gamut from east to west - but it was Lower Ossington that took the cake this year, with spots like Watusi and Painted Lady offering everything the modern drinker needs for a night on the town: eclectic decor, unique style, hip location, and all the right imbibables.
New territory was broken in up-and-coming neighbourhoods this year, too, with bars at Dufferin and Bloor, Dovercourt and College, and Lansdowne and Dundas, inspiring renewed use of that favourite Toronto term, "gentrification."
Here are the 12 best new Toronto bars of 2009.
This new project from Communist's Daughter owners Paul Emery and Trish Welbourn has all the laid-back ease we've come to love at The Communist's Daughter, with plenty more room and a stand-up menu that will keep you well-fed till closing time. With the same effortless touch for spinning all the best indie tunes, including some chilled-out live music nights, 3 Speed finally brings Dufferin and Bloor residents a cool watering hole they can call their own. More »
Hailed by some as the west end's answer to Toronto's live music scene, The Garrison boasts former Sneaky Dee's booker, Shaun Bowring, and hosts events like Wavelength and Trampoline Hall. With a crowd-friendly layout and plenty of space for the revelers streaming into the Dundas and Ossington area, the Garrison's going to be showing up on a lot of event billings in 2010. More »
This decadent-looking place on Lower Ossington brings a taste of New Orleans to Toronto's hottest neighbourhood. With over 50 photographs and paintings adorning the walls and sumptuous-looking touches like velvet couches and chandeliers, the owners' artistic backgrounds lend the bar its beautiful, eclectic look. A wide selection of drinks and a tasty menu make it a local favourite. More »
Sweaty Betty's sister bar and neighbour, The Red Light, is a cozy watering hole with Sweaty's signature look but slightly more square-footage. It still gets packed, though, despite only being identifiable by the red lantern hanging in the front window. More »
Leslieville keeps it classy with this adorable little gem, tucked away on a second floor location in what was once a small one-bedroom apartment. Preserves and anything else that can be spread on bread are served in little mason jars with accompaniments of baguette - even dessert is available in a jar! Wine lovers and unrefined boozehounds alike will enjoy Swirl's small but carefully chosen sommelier's picks, in a simply priceless space done up by design agency Fame. More »
This tiny, rockabilly bar on the far reaches of Dundas West has quickly earned a loyal following, thanks to its eclectic food and drink offerings, warm atmosphere and groovy retro tunes. A hip little hideway in a sea of Little Portugal's aging sports bars, Black Dice takes its '50s aesthetic very seriously, while its menu - featuring snacks like Swansea TV dinners and Ritz crackers - is a light-hearted crowd-pleaser. More »
Whiskey lovers now have a full complement of whiskey offerings at their disposal at the city's friendliest bar, The Emmet Ray. Homemade goodies and an upscale menu make this a nice little destination for a respectable night out, and signals a change to College and Dovercourt's nightlife. More »
The Gasworks might be closed, but in Hard Luck, downtown Toronto has a hard rock venue that looks set to make waves. The two-storey music venue brings a variety of musical talent to the stage, notably in its no-cover Tuff Luck Tuesdays set, and also hosts other fun gigs like Sunday night comedy. More »