cocktail toronto

Toronto now has a cocktail you drink through your ears

If you're looking for a unique and experimental new cocktail to try out in Toronto, there's one at a West Queen West bar that will transport you out of this world  — if not in body, then at least in mind.

Offworld Bar, which opened late last year, is the brainchild of the team behind Storm Crow Manor, and it shows. The theme is on point, bringing you from the corner of Queen and Tecumseth to outer space as soon as you walk through the double doors.

The interior design team didn't miss a beat with the bar's aesthetic, from the futuristic light projections to the rounded design of the booth seating that gives a "space station" feel, somehow without being tacky in the slightest. (The decor feels elevated, even.)

Like its sister establishment, Offworld is known for its cocktails, which are an experience in themselves between the 'gram-worthy presentation and the well-designed flavour combinations, with names like Escape Pod and Mesosphere.

The latest addition to the menu, though, explores completely new ground, befitting Offworld's theme.

The Black Hole is a cocktail that is enjoyed not only with one's senses of taste, sight, smell and feeling, but also hearing, with a novel auditory component that harkens to the drink's namesake and adds to the effect of its consumption tenfold.

While sitting at the illuminated bartop in the otherwise dimly-lit establishment, I was served a glass of this tasty concoction, which is at once boozy, creamy and decadent.

cocktail torontoCrafted with a combination of True Theory vodka, Briottet Creme de Cacao, Kahlua, espresso ice cream and caramel extract — a recipe that could theoretically be veganized with plant-based ice cream — the beverage is of a milky purplish hue (very alien), and served in a faceted rocks glass that is easy to cup as you launch into the abyss.

cocktail toronto

The flavour is chocolatey, not an overly saccharine sip but not light, either. It gives an almost muted mouthfeel that pairs well with the noise-cancelling headphones that drinkers are provided to wear while they imbibe it.

From those headphones plays a real-life recording of the sounds produced by a black hole — rather,  an auditory recreation of astronomical data, as recorded by NASA.

cocktail torontoIf you haven't yet encountered the recording the space agency released last year, you're in for an ominous treat that is unlike anything you've heard before. And if you have heard it, the experience of listening to it in a dark and busy space-themed bar while sipping a Black Hole will truly be a new and one-of-a-kind one.

While the creaking, echoey sounds are creepy and even terrifying at first, after a few seconds they become almost calming, taking you out of the bustle of the bar and into your own little black hole world.

The juxtaposition between a busy social setting and the quiet, very individual experience of the sound and cocktail is truly a strange one, even confounding to the body and brain at first. But, it becomes a feeling you'll want to hold onto as you take your little personal reprieve further into the depths of space and the unknown, looking back on your fellow bar-goers from the event horizon.

cocktail torontoThe influence of experimental chef Heston Blumenthal's dish Sound of the Sea, which was also served with headphones, is undeniable here, but Offworld manages to do it its own way in line with its own theme.

As far as the cocktail itself is concerned, it is somewhat comparable to a white Russian and other drinks with similar chocolate and cream notes, but taken to a new level, and with a price to reflect that and the environment it is served in ($24).

Though it's not overpowering, it is a bit filling — the frozen double chocolate chip cookie dough ball used in lieu of an ice cube in particular — so while it is a must-try (if only due to its novelty factor alone), it's not likely a drink you'll be smashing back too many of in one sitting, at least not in Earth's gravity.

Photos by

Fareen Karim

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