Bill Hicks Bar
Bill Hicks Bar is a new rock-meets-dive-meets-tiki bar (basically, the bar version of a hypothetical love child between Dave Grohl, Gary Busey , and Matthew McConaughey in his bongo phase ). Posthumously named after legendary comedian Bill Hicks , this bar is located in Leslieville .
I visited Bill Hicks Bar late on a Tuesday evening. The bar is located up a flight of stairs illuminated with flashy lights, guiding your way to a beer-filled paradise. At the top of the stairs are two small rooms, one with some seating, and the other with the bar.
Overall, the space is small, and not just bar small - think the first apartment you could ever afford in Toronto small. However, the space is well-used. The room with the bar is open, perfect for those of us who want to stand and chat, and the room with seating also has a tabletop PacMan, perfect for those of us who spent Saturday nights in college playing role-play games in the student lounge.
The walls are covered in albums, which not only look cool but are great conversation-starters. They range from great (Joan Rivers looking fabulous) to questionable (Bill Cosby looking like Bill Cosby) to simultaneously both terrible and amazing ( Bruce Willis looking like he's having a stroke ). In addition to the albums, the bar has cool tiki accents, reminiscent of summer, and bright Christmas lights, reminiscent of the horrible reality of Canadian winter.
The interesting decor is topped only by the drink situation at Bill Hicks Bar. Drinks are inexpensive (a PBR is $3), delicious (had that classic PBR sewer taste) and served by friendly and attentive bartenders. Other beers are also available for under $5 (but may not have that signature sewer flavour that only PBR can guarantee). The bar also serves rails plus mixer for $3-4 and as a complement to the drinks, Rashers sandwiches for $5.
As the night grew later, I found it hard to leave the bar. The small space, initially a drawback, made for a totally intimate experience. I ended up standing next to and chatting with a stranger who had recently moved to Toronto for nearly an hour, a totally unheard of experience for me (every time I have a good conversation with a stranger it ends in them asking me for money).
The sense of community and openness fostered from such a laid-back, interesting place was really cool. (Also the drinks were really, really cheap and it's hard to leave a bar when you still feel like Scrooge McDuck swimming in money instead of the usual it's-midnight-and-now-I'm -Leonardo-Dicaprio-in-Growing Pains .)
Bill Hicks Bar, similar to non-bar Bill Hicks , is fantastic, unique and deserves a cult following. The cool atmosphere, cheap drinks and intimate setting make it the perfect place to grab a drink in Leslieville.