Odd Thomas is a nightclub and a beer bar - a combination that just might make it the first of its kind in Toronto. You'll find it sandwiched into the second floor of a Mercer St. building that was once home to Cove Thirtyone - a super-slick, underwater-themed clubland oasis that sank after less than two years.
The space has since been taken over by Toronto nightlife veteran Aaron Prothro, who also transformed the first and third floors into brewpub and beer garden Mascot Brewery .
The entire complex has Mascot's brews front and centre on all three levels. In addition to offering a full-service restaurant and rooftop area, the brewpub supplies Odd Thomas with arguably its niftiest gimmick: a table-side mini-keg service that takes the place of the usual bottles of Grey Goose.
That should be a clue to what kind of spot this is - Odd Thomas takes the standard framework of a downtown club and throws out the glossy cladding. Even the design of the place would be more suited to, say, Toronto's 45th new hip-hop-drenched taco joint than a nightclub: Unvarnished wood benches, tchotchkes like dinosaur action figures, a mural proclaiming "GET WEIRD."
Odd Thomas' beer cred looks solid, thanks to a healthy 12 taps with selections like Collective Arts Saint of Circumstance and Lake of Bays Spark House. (But since that's a mouthful by club drink order standards, the taps are labelled "A" through "L" for efficient shouting.)
Alas, this was the one night out of 10 I wasn't in the mood to break out the bread soda , so I checked out the cocktail list - which, thanks to head bartender Jay Meyers, gets a few well-considered flourishes from the back of the liquor cabinet. (Strega-Lillet-peach iced tea cocktail, anyone?)
My Carolina Cooler ($11; tequila, watermelon juice, St. Germaine, black pepper, lime, rosewater) came served in a mason jar mug - which might have looked a little played anywhere else, but here, it just came off as goofy and cute, like they were in on the joke. (The cocktail itself: Mega-refreshing, and a perfect summer drink.)
I rejoined the crowd and noticed that behind the DJ booth (constructed from LP-sized milk crates; a nice touch), they'd fired up the club's TV screens. Hallelujah: they were playing Adventure Time . (It was the episode where George Takei voices an anthropomorphic heart, if anyone's curious.)
The crowd thickened as the minute hand crept closer to midnight, and I was pleased by the variety I saw in the crowd: Guys in button-downs, arty kids, leather jackets, party dresses. Friends chatted in clumps, and the first swirls of a dance floor were starting to form. In short, it felt like a good, laid-back party.
Full disclosure: I hate most nightclubs, because I'm kind of a huge stick in the mud. And sure, Odd Thomas still has one or two of the traditional trappings of a club: Lines at the door, lines at the bar, tables you have to justify sitting at by buying drinks in bulk.
But the vibe of the crowd was friendly and loose, the brew list was stellar even by beer bar standards (for a club, it's absolutely unparalleled), and the space has a strong sense of fun that comes from not taking itself too seriously.
Next time one of your friends doesn't want to go clubbing, bring them here, stick a nice pint in their hand, and a good time will be had by all.