Port Light on Bloor
Port Light is the place to crush boozy cocktails in a bar fashioned after a ship.
This woodsy watering hole festooned with buoys, puffer fish lanterns, and ships' steering wheels comes from the same folks behind Parkdale's popular bar, the Shameful Tiki Room.
Like its tiki counterpart, Port Light nails its theme of choice: nautical, with tropical cocktails strong enough to knock out a pirate.
There's no gnarly ship captain here. Helming the business is the always affable Alana Nogueda, who's been running Shameful Tiki in Toronto with co-owner Rod Moore since 2015.
Nogueda says the key to running a themed bar, of which there are few in Toronto apart from Shameful Tiki, is diving head-first into the look conviction.
"It can't be themed and half-assed," she says especially convincingly since she's wearing sailor stripes and a skipper hat. "It's what we do well."
The bar is divided into three sections, including the velvety curtained entrance and a captain's quarters replete with artifacts. Seating in the back is dark and private, ideal for planning mutinies. It really manages to nail the dank, dimly-lit feel of a ship at sea.
The cheery patio feels a little beachier. Keeping this boat afloat is the surf rock playlist, food menu made in collaboration with Ambassador and a menu of mean cocktails that'll eventually hit 20 different options.
A few drinks are carried over from Shameful, like the Zombie or the Mai-Tai ($14) served with two rums and a flaming breadcrumb inside a lime.
Easily the star of the menu is the Scube Ube Doo ($15), an eye-catching ube riff on pina coladas.
Port Light's housemade ube cream is thrown in a flash blender with white rum, Amontillada sherry, House Falernum, pineapple, and lime juice, which mixes it all up and dispenses it like a milkshake for a frothy, nutty drink.
Inspired by the iconic 1950s film monster Gill-man is the Gillman's Gulp ($15).
This white rum drink is a blend of cachace, matcha-infused sake, pistachio orgeat, and even comes with a tasty housemade Gill-man candy on top.
From the Windsor-style pizza makers Ambassador are a few shareable flatbreads.
The spiced beef sesame pide comes with tzatziki, tomato, cucumber and tabbouleh. ($16).
Corn tostados come stacked with layers of pico de gally, arugula, salsa, verde and queso fresco ($12).
Port Light checks off all the vibe boxes. You don't have to dress like a sailor to partake in the killer cocktails here, but if you do, no one will judge.