The Rum Exchange
The Rum Exchange aspires to be Toronto's No. 1 destination for the Caribbean's ubiquitous spirit. With over 55 varieties available, and owner Rumen Dimitrov ('Toronto's Rum Ambassador') on hand to guide you through the selections (or craft you a cocktail), there's certainly good reason for aficionados to stop by for a tot, though it's got some stiff competition .
Within walking distance of both City Hall (for those who feel like getting in the Caribbean spirit ), and Bay St., the chandelier-clad space is reminiscent of Rumen's previous venture, Pravda Vodka Bar . It seems he's switched liquor allegiances for the move across town, and Toronto should be happier for it.
Chandeliers aside, Rum Exchange is reminiscent of Barchef 's sleek, black, clubby interior, and is pretty clearly geared toward the after-work set. A colour-changing LED display at the bar and a resident DJ spinning Latin Top-40 set up all the necessary ingredients for a place to file into once the Financial District grind is over. One nice touch is the use of rum barrels as the base for all the bar tables.
We tried the house cocktail, the Eye Opener. A blend of rum, condensed milk, Guinness, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Describing it as tasting it like a mixture of Kahlua and Bailey's doesn't do it justice, though it's probably not far from the truth. Other classic cocktails are available, like a Dark 'n' Stormy or an El Presidente. Less-adventurous types can grab a Cuba Libre (rum and coke with muddled limes). Most drinks appear to be around the $7 mark, though asking for a top-shelf bottle in your cocktail will probably cost you a few bucks more.
As far as food offerings go, Rumen is a little harder to pin down. There's no printed menus just yet, and only the promise of some 'charcuterie and cheese', or something similar. It appears that most of the food will be made as tailored pairings for the rums on hand. Obviously, The Rum Exchange isn't designed as a dining destination.
Without seeing The Rum Exchange in full swing, it's hard to know if it can keep up with the promise of offering both a curated tasting parlour and a clubby after-work space. One thing is for sure, though: if a place like that were ever to exist, this would be the perfect neighbourhood.
The Rum Exchange is open Tuesday through Saturday from 4pm.