Stirling Room is an upscale Distillery District party with modern variations on a classical structure. Owners Albert Rishes and Simo Korac, industry graduates of Toronto's Club District, are on a mission to draw locals and mature bar and club hoppers to a distinct and classic hideout.
The first thing I notice when I walk through a heavy, auburn quartz door is how dark and intimate the space is - lit, almost entirely, by candlelight. There's a King West lounge vibe, with reserved booths at every corner. The decor is an upscale take on Distillery District design. There is cushy leather and velvet seating with enormous, but somewhat generic, art pieces on each wall.
The front section; a quieter, lounging and mingling-only area, has leather booth seating to one side and a stylish bar (with the same auburn quartz surface) on the other. The second room has plenty of lounging space and another bar, but is positioned for patrons to groove to the DJ (also, see the gigantic bulb wheel chandelier overhead).
The beer on tap is Krombacher, a German brew, but the cocktails here will be the main attraction (once the menu is complete). Until then, ask the front bar's bartender for his signature drink; a fruity vodka mix with Chambord and blueberry juice ($12). Beyond these options, there are plenty of bottled beers ($7). From Monday to Wednesday, Stirling Room settles into a martini lounge atmosphere with light appetizers.
What sets this bar apart is contingent on future plans. Rishes (C-Lounge, Century Room) leads me down two staircases to the basement and shows me a 19th century whiskey kiln that he plans to encase. Behind another door is where the barrels of whiskey were held - a long, eerie tunnel that Rishes plans to convert into a private dining room. If he can make it happen (by next summer, he hopes), there will be nothing else like it in the city.
Formerly A Taste of Quebec (relocated), the venue is a daring place to locate a bar of its sort. "We're looking to attract the twenty-seven plus professional crowd - businesspeople, lawyers and marketing and advertising agencies," says Rishes, "We found that in the clubbing district, everyone was fighting for the same crowd, but we think we've created something unique to attract more people to the east side."