Raise a glass on King West
Here’s where to drink up on the strip Tucked under Los Colibris is El Caballito ( 220 King West, 416- 628-9838, elcaballito.ca), a clubby, tequila- centric taco den. If novelty sombreros and plastic maracas don’t intrigue, book a private tequila tasting to explore the wonders of agave. The cleverly named El Patio is now open. Just east of Spadina is Bar Hop ( 391 King West, 647-352-7476, barhopbar.com), a prime spot to enjoy a crisp pint or cool cask ale from local, lauded and indie brewers. It’s always packed, so arrive early (it opens at noon every day) and stake out territory at the bar or on the tiny front patio. If you must wait, at least do it with a beer in hand. If you prefer grapes to hops, head to Crush (455 King West, 416-977-1234, crushwinebar. com), one of the best in the ’hood (or the city). Catering to a polished condo crowd, Crush pours over 50 wines by the glass and offers rotating, seasonally inspired flights, simplifying adventures in varietals and regions. Swing by on a sunny afternoon to split a bottle (there are hundreds to choose from) on the quaint, leafy patio. As your sun-soaked afternoon becomes aperitivo hour, head to Bar Buca ( 75 Portland, 416- 599-2822, buca.ca) for cocktails, more wine and shared plates. It’s open super- early (from 7 am all week) for cappuccino kickstarters and sublime pastries till very late ( 2 am) should you find yourself in need of an amaro-laced nightcap. Gluttons for deep-fried Americana should march around the corner and up to Home of the Brave ( 589 King West, 416-366-2736, thehotb.com) for slutty food, spiked slushies and boozy cocktails from the folks behind taco dynasty and marketing marvel La Carnita. The perfect stopover before a night of Jäger Bombs in clubland or, hopefully, less trashy pastures. Head to King West staple 2 Cats Cocktail Lounge ( 569 King West, 416-204- 6261, 2cats. ca) for a night of wholesome, old-school debauchery. Running 12 years strong, 2 Cats is for cheap drinks and sloppy parties to a 70s, 80s and 90s soundtrack. Take the “Cocktail” in the name loosely and stick to innocuous mixed drinks and shots, shots, shots, shots. End the night at Pharmacy (1318 King West) a onetime methadone clinic reopened as a cozy, no-frills dive bar by beloved T.O. bartender Chris Harper. At this point in the night, I prescribe the soul balm better known as beer, whisk(e)y and a few good pals – three things Pharmacy’s all about.