Measure is the new bar that's opened in the old Annex Live space, nestled between the Tranzac and the Lab . It re-opened under the new name at the end of April after a few renos, but, as before, it's still focused on the music. Owner Bill Clary, who is probably the most gregarious human you will ever meet, makes sure of that.
I wander in one rainy Thursday evening around 7pm, in the calm before the storm. Clary, a bartender called Mark, and Adam, the dude who appears to be behind a lot of the bookings, keep me amused for a good hour, with stories of how the business came to be and, let's face it, a series of incredible cocktails. Their greyhound ($10) tastes like a peach freezie. Made with vodka, fresh grapefruit juice, and extract of cucumber, basil and mint, I'm instantly won over by their skills (it's a little heavy on the rocks, though, but I guess that's just personal preference).
When I first walk in and ask for a cocktail that would best represent Measure's personality, Mark tells me they're more about beer. If Toronto is a city of villages, the Annex is definitely a university town. So that would make sense, but for the fact that they currently have only four beers on tap, and they proceeded to feed me delicious cocktails featuring house-made gommes and magical voilet elixirs. They also plan to do daily cocktail specials in the near future.
The confusion is likely due to the fact that the space, as it is, just came into being, and it's having a teen angsty moment. It's still just trying to figure out who it wants to be. Clary says he wants to attract all sorts of crowds, from middle-aged and older folks who live in the area to students to older 20-somethings — not an easy feat.
But there's nothing wrong with doing it all, and I'm not saying they can't. They've got the skills to cater to a cocktail crowd, but then they also do specials like $4 tall cans of PBR. Right now, it seems like Measure will put on different masks for different days, and maybe even for different times of the day, as they're open from 11am until 2am daily.
There's seating for about 50, and they're going to serve a tapas menu. While Clary is keeping much of that under wraps, he says possibilities include savoury waffles and chicken souvlaki skewers, as well as lots of vegetarian and vegan options.
So far, Clary says Measure is known for its music. People are heading there specifically for live bands and singers, who range from jazz to rock to hiphop. Much of the focus is on the stage, which spans the entire back wall and can be seen from any vantage point in the bar. Clary says the crowd has mostly been made up of people in their late 20s so far, which is a departure from the crowds at many other bars in the neighbourhood (which tend to attract lots of sweatpantsed frat boys).
While some details are still in the works, I can see this being a good neighbourhood spot to grab a drink after work and take in some jazz, as well as a more purposeful music venue. Their grand opening is on Tuesday, and I would recommend hitting that up if you want to see for yourself.