Self-care with Booze and Patios

Work. It’s another day of absolute fuckery. Inevitably, it’s the kind of day where other people’s bitching and complaining leave me rolling my eyes and swearing under my breath. I steel up and grit my teeth through another stressful day. I wish I had a flask full of bourbon in my desk. I. Fucking. Wish. But it appears that things like “policy”, “rules” and “civility” stand in my way.

My imagination is my saviour and I am transported to far more delicious places. My thoughts inevitably land on draaaanks. No. Not fucking drinks. DRANKS. It’s a vulgar colloquialism, but my term of choice here. For example, “let’s end this piece-of-a-shit-day with a proper drank.” Dranks, to me, refer to the kind of beverage that will help you forget, or, at least, soften the blow of a bullshit day. This is not a swirl-sniff-sip relax and unwind kind of day. It just isn’t. This is a day that requires delicious poison poured into a lowball glass served neat to help take the edge off.

There is only one thing that can improve this hooch running down my esophagus. A patio. Celebrating summer with drinks on a patio is the BEST. Patios are indicative of warm temperatures, fewer clothes, and the city, alight with life. The parks become retreats for every apartment, condo, and tiny-adobe dweller. People are finally out talking, drinking, eating, spending time connecting, and being community. I fucking love this city in the summer. The *ultimate* summer Toronto pastime is people watching while having a drink on a patio.

If I were to tell you my 5 favourite patios to drink fine tipple and watch gorgeous people, it would be these establishments listed below (in no particular order):

196 Robert St (Spadina Ave/Harbord Ave)
(647) 350-8221

People-gaze and have a cocktail on this wrap-around patio. Every time I walk into this restaurant, I instantly relax. It feels good to be here. The service is always warm, knowledgeable and gracious. The food is fabulous. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention their chopped salad, which is an utter textural delight, and of course their gloriously delectable burger. Beyond their food offerings you can always rely on a delicious and well-executed cocktail from their bar.

The best day to go is a Monday. They have a $40 set menu for dinner and wonderful things to drink, like $5 wine and spirits, and $6 beer (selected menu). They often have a live performance. Take note, their patio is no reservations, so get there early to take in all the delicious sights.

El Rey
2A Kensington Ave (Spadina Ave/Dundas St W)
Phone # N/A

Your secrets are just NOT safe here. The smoky and mysterious cousin of tequila, mezcal is the drink of choice at this bar. Mezcal, according to Wikipedia, is distinctive because it is produced from the heart of the agave plant, whereas, tequila is made specifically from blue agave. But, who the fuck cares? All you need to know is, it’s delicious, smoky and intense. If you fancy a cocktail, they have that too. But, I generally like to drink some mezcal chased with beer. What can I tell you – it’s been a hard day and the wooden benches and chill servers aren’t judging me.

You’ll definitely need some food to sop off that mess of liquor. I highly recommend the scrumptious chorizo sopé and magical mushroom empanadas. And, no lie, for some reason, I can’t stop ordering the food item called “crispy things.” I think it’s the hot sauce. No. For sure, it’s the hot sauce.

815 Bloor St W (Bloor St W and equidistant to Christie St/Ossington Ave)

This patio has seen me drink a LOT of delicious alcoholic beverages. I have had some drunken naps in Christie Pits Park post-Northwood drinks. No lie. I do NOT recommend this, as the raccoons like to spoon. And, believe me, they are always the *big* spoon.

The cocktails here are FANTASTIC and the service is cool and adept. I almost always order an Old Fashioned, but their extensive cocktail menu is a brilliant ode to spirits. The Lady Earl Grey is magnificent rye and lemon cocktail. It strikes the perfect balance of pucker and spice. The Northwood website boasts that it is the only cocktail that has made it through every menu iteration.

Bar Raval
505 College St (College St and Bathurst Ave)
Phone: 647-344-8001

Bar Raval is a summer staple for me. I love seafood, tapas and cava. The standing room only patio is small and lively. It feels like a bit of a getaway every time I’m there. Which is always a nice reprieve after a crappy-ass day.

The Absinthe Minded cocktail is clearly one way to forget. I really love absinthe, I like the way it smells and tastes, and I really like the way it makes me feel - like a fucking fairy. You are in capable hands here. The bar and in the kitchen produce lovely concoctions. The Spanish menu is meat, cheese and seafood heavy, as one would expect. The kitchen bread is luscious and umami, the blistered shishito peppers (if they’re on the menu) are fresh and slightly bitter bites. But, one of my absolute favourites, are the razor clams. Part of it is simply that I’m partial to razor clams. But, the other part is, they are just so damn good.

Cold Tea                
Website: N/A
60 Kensington Ave
Phone: N/A

Cold Tea will probably always and forever be one of my favourite watering holes. It’s the gritty nonchalance, masterfully crafted cocktails, dim-sum counter, and unsuspecting location that make it an experience. It feels true to Kensington Market and, it makes my heart pitter-patter. When I order a drank here, I usually tell them my spirit of choice and let them create whatever they like. Despite the extremely casual nature of the joint, expect expertly made drinks with prices that reflect that.

The patio in the back is relaxed and always packed. Cold Tea is the kind of place where people like to say they’ve been and know about, so it’s usually bumping. The constant ode to hip-hop and the excellent drinks keep the usuals, usual. They also do brunch on Sundays, so check that shit out. I like to grab a drink after work on a Friday in the summer. Not too many people are here straight out of work, so it’s a good place to grab a stiff one and sit outdoors and mull over the bullshit that is life.