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Nightlife

Hot Dining: Now Open

IMG_7526Photo courtesy of Blind Tiger Coffee Co.

Craft cocktails are trending, with creative concoctions popping up all over the city. New spot The Roost Social House has landed on the Corydon strip, shaking up a menu of handcrafted libations that use tastes of the season such as cranberries, figs, and cloves, and are complemented by a changing menu of boldly flavoured small plates. 651 Corydon Ave, 204‑414‑9313, theroostwpg.com

A new Prohibition Era-inspired speakeasy adds to this cocktail culture. The Blind Tiger Coffee Co serves java by day, but a secret door leads to the sultry night time dining room. French classics like mussels, charcuterie, and escargot call to the old days of Paris with some modern updates (pork belly, anyone?) 725 Osborne St, blindtigerwinnipeg.ca

Get the Party Started: Toronto’s Nightlife Boasts Something for Everyone

THE RECIPE FOR A GREAT EVENING OUT IN TORONTO? AMAZING MUSIC, A BIG DANCE FLOOR AND A LITTLE SOCIAL LUBRICANT.
BY CRAIG MOY

The Drake Hotel. Photo by Connie Tsang.

The Drake Hotel is a hip west-end hub. Photo by Connie Tsang.

UP IN THE CLUBS

Toronto may not be Las Vegas or Miami when it comes to extravagant nightspots. But even in this relatively staid city there’s a clutch of people who know how to party—and a brace of impressive venues to host the revelry. Downtown’s nightlife nexus is generally bound by King and Queen streets, between Bathurst Street and University Avenue. Upstart Ace (425 Adelaide St. W., 416-504-1444) caters to the city’s trendy young professionals. It’s intimate, but there’s room to breathe, and for a premium you can keep it that way in a private booth. Similarly smaller scale is Media Bar, a chic nightclub-meets-social-club type of space where you can charge your iPhone while nursing your drink. On the other end of the spectrum are spaces such as Uniun—which attracts big crowds with its no-expense-spared ambience and guest appearances by top international DJs—and Exhibition Place’s Muzik nightclub, featuring such amenities as a beauty bar (with hair and makeup services for ladies) and an exclusive Grey Goose lounge.

That said, sometimes a discerning nightcrawler needs something more novel to get the blood pumping and the champagne flowing: hybrid bars-slash-nightclubs The Everleigh and Cabin Five attract attention by fostering a Canadiana-chic vibe, while Rock ’n’ Horse Saloon carries 10-gallon Stetsons, cowboy boots and bolo ties into the 21st century on the back of a mechanical bull. And then there’s Chill Ice House (page 27). True to its name, Toronto’s newest nightspot embraces our wintry weather: the lounge’s walls, furniture, bar and even its glasses are made of ice.

MIX AND MINGLE

Getting a nice, stiff drink in Toronto has never been difficult, per se, but these days it’s easier than ever. The really timeless tipples, of course, have long been kept alive at the leather-bound Roof Lounge, one of the city’s most venerated—and most comfortably traditional—hotel bars, while numerous neighbourhood establishments up the ante by using artisan ingredients in soon-to-be-classic and real-deal-timeless recipes. The Black Hoof’s Cocktail Bar (923 Dundas St. W., 416-792-7511) leads the pack in this regard, but you can’t go wrong ambling into the likes of Northwood (815 Bloor St. W., 416-846-8324), D.W. Alexander or Montauk (765 Dundas St. W., 647-352-4810), which has both Manhattans and negronis on tap. Speaking of time, bars such as SpiritHouse and Museum Tavern use it wisely to create barrel-aged cocktails—drinks that have gained smoother, mellower flavours by maturing in oak barrels for three to four weeks.

If it’s a more unusual sip that you seek, BarChef is a natural first-call: the city’s foremost envelope-pushing lounge is known for utilizing molecular techniques in its signature cocktails. Should those complex creations prove intimidating, rest assured that dialed-down, yet contemporary, drinks can be had at finer venues across Toronto. We recommend investigating the inventiveness of Momofuku Nikai and Cold Tea.

GET IN THE GROOVE

The city’s live music scene is ample and diverse. Use this handy guide to decide where you should go tonight!

Kool Haus, Phoenix Concert Theatre and Sound Academy: Toronto’s mid-size concert venues are known (though not always favourably) for their cavernous acoustics, as well as for their consistently varied bookings: one night might see British synth-pop stylists Bombay Bicycle Club, while the next could bring alternative rapper Ab-Soul to the stage.

Horseshoe Tavern and Lee’s Palace: In business for more than 60 years, the ’Shoe is a prime destination for scoping out emerging local talent—particularly those with a folk-rock or alt-country vibe—as well as bigger-name bands. Somewhat larger, Lee’s Palace attracts a range of established indie acts, including Beach House, The Wooden Sky, Cloud Nothings and Royal Canoe.

The Rex and Jazz Bistro: Toronto’s jazz scene isn’t necessarily as vital as it once was, but these downtown venues keep swinging. On top of its regular jazz and blues programming, Jazz Bistro also boasts a weekly Latin showcase and Sunday jazz brunch. Older and a bit rougher around the edges, The Rex nevertheless invigorates with a minimum of two shows every night.

The Hoxton: Each month, this urban-chic space hosts a decent number of big-beat EDM artists who know how to play to the clubby crowd.

Wrongbar: Eclectic DJs are the stars of the show at this Parkdale venue. The official schedule is sparser than at other spots, but musicians playing elsewhere in town have been known to drop by Wrongbar to spin some post-performance vinyl.

The Drake Hotel: This hip west-end arts-and-culture hub alternates between indie-rock concerts, DJ-directed dance parties, comedy shows and more.

The Tranzac: The Toronto Australia New Zealand Club (The Tranzac for short) has made a name for itself by regularly hosting a variety of hyper-local performers. The tunes tend toward the folksier end of the spectrum—with a smattering of contemporary classical and creatively improvised music—but often incorporate a somewhat experimental mien.

Global DJ Battle: Discover Calgary’s Best DJs

By RACHAEL FREY

Photo: David Seetoh Lang, courtesy Red Bull

Ready… set… scratch! Eight of Calgary’s top DJs put their best mix forward at the 2013 Red Bull Thre3style regional qualifiers on September 14. The winner will battle it out at the competition’s Canadian final on October 6 to determine who will represent Canada in November at the Red Bull Thre3style World Finals in Toronto—the world’ s largest DJ competition. (more…)

5 Best Nightlife Spots in Calgary

Best Nightlife Spots in Calgary: Bartender Trevor Smith at Wine-Ohs (Photo: Jason Dziver)

Best Nightlife Spots in Calgary: Bartender Trevor Smith at Wine-Ohs (Photo: Jason Dziver)

5. Speakeasy With Style
Just off Stephen Avenue Walk, Wine-Ohs Bistro & Cellar is downtown’s newest live-music hotspot. With loads of speakeasy cachet, its upstairs restaurant and lounge is the street-side cover for a basement that features not only cool jazz and warm blues, but bistro fare and an extensive and carefully curated wine menu.
• Wine-Ohs Bistro & Cellar 811 1 St SW, 403-263-1650, wine-ohs.com
Map and reviews

(more…)

You Are Here: Old Strathcona

Image courtesy of Noel Zinger

With over 600 eclectic, independent and alternative shops and services to explore, it’s little wonder Old Strathcona is regarded as the place to experience Edmonton’s finest live theatre and music, boutique shopping, dining and nightlife. Read on for some of our top spots in this historical district and then visit www.oldstrathcona.ca for even more. (more…)

Nightlife: St. Patrick’s Day Hot Spots

•  Durty Nelly’s on Argyle Street: Traditional pub, serving Irish grub and imported beers.
•  The Red Stag on Lower Water Street: Friendly vibe, wide selection of beer on  tap, located in historic Brewery Market building.
•  The Split Crow on Granville Mall: One of the city’s most beloved pubs, live music, rollicking atmosphere.
•  The Old Triangle on Prince Street: Owned by folk-music legend Brian Doherty, live music, Irish beers aplenty.
•  Pogue Fado on Barrington Street: Hip young bar, party atmosphere, live music.

Hot Dining: Cheers!

Durty Nelly's

•    Durty Nelly’s, Sackville Street: Irish pub, imported beers like Harp and Smithwick’s, plus local microbrews.

•    Split Crow, Granville Street: The quintessential Maritime pub: historic setting, daily live music, friendly crowds, daily beer specials.

•    Fife & Drum), Upper Water Street: Smart-casual Scottish-style pub; Stella Artois, Guinness and Heineken on tap.

•    Brussels Restaurant & Brasserie), Granville Street: Belgian cuisine; huge imported beer selection: Leffe Bruin, Chimay Première Red Label, Mort Subite Kriek Lambic and many others.

•   Old Triangle, Prince Street: Irish pub, co-owned by singer Brian Doherty, “Guinness & Oysters” special on Wednesdays.

Holiday Happenings: New Year’s Eve Celebrations

New Year's at Nathan Phillips SquareWhether you’re looking to take in a stage show, indulge in a culinary celebration, or dance into the wee hours—we’ve got plenty of party ideas to help you ring in 2010.

Scottish Traditions
Step back in time on December 28 for an evening of Scottish food and music during Hogmanay (the Scots word for “new year”) celebrations at Mackenzie House . The decorated 19th-century row house will be illuminated with gaslight while traditional musical group Gin Lane performs popular tunes, including a musical rendition of Auld Lang Syne, the famed verse by Scottish poet Robbie Burns. 82 Bond St., 7 to 9 p.m. $20 per person; call 416-392-6915 to reserve.

On December 29, bring the family to Gibson House for a candlelit evening celebrating the Scottish New Year at the Hogmanay Party for Families. Visitors are greeted at the door by the legendary “First Footer” and are soon immersed in Hogmanay customs through hands-on crafts, stories and sing-alongs. On December 30, enjoy a scrumptious meal at a traditional Hogmanay dinner party.  Wine and dine by the fireside while watching a dramatic re-creation of a New Year from a bygone time. 5172 Yonge St. Hogmanay family party 7 to 9 p.m. Adults $20, children $12.50. Hogmanay Dinner 7:30 to 10 p.m. $50; call 416-395-7432 to pre-register for either event.

Stage Performances
Stand up and cheer for some of the most passionate operatic music ever written as Bravissimo! Opera’s Greatest Hits returns to Toronto for a spectacular New Year’s Eve concert at Roy Thomson Hall. Delight in dazzling performances of beloved arias, duets and more from Carmen, Madama Butterfly, La bohème and other classics from opera’s golden age. 60 Simcoe St. 7 p.m., $75 to $155; call 416-872-4255 or click here to buy.

Laugh, cry, and kiss the New Year goodbye as Yuk Yuk’s founder Mark Breslin presents the annual New Year’s Eve Comedy Extravaganza at Massey Hall. Hilarious host Gerry Dee is joined on stage by the city’s funniest stand up and improv artists. Special guest performers include Nikki Payne and “That Canadian Guy” Glen Foster. 178 Victoria St.
7:30 p.m. $39.50 to $59.50; call 416-872-4255 or visit here to purchase tickets.

The Toronto Operetta Theatre‘s New Year’s Eve Gala features dinner, dancing and a rousing performance of Countess Maritza, an operetta known the world over for its combination of Viennese elegance and Hungarian passion. This fundraising event, which has sold out for 12 years in a row, includes a pre-performance sit-down dinner and a late-night reception and dance party to benefit the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. 27 Front St. E.
5:30 p.m., $145 and up; call 416-366-7723 or click here to buy.

(more…)

New in Nightlife: Dolce Social Ballroom

Dolce Social BallroomIn Toronto, it seems that everything hip migrates west. The latest example: Dolce Social Ballroom, which slings up a velvet rope along the increasingly trendy strip of King Street between Bathurst and Spadina. However, unlike neighbouring resto-lounge-club hybrids (especially those in the downtown clubbing district), this venue caters exclusively to a mature crowd—think late-20s and older—that seeks high-end glamour and is willing to pay for it.

The result of an ambitious collaboration between 28-year-old nightlife impresario Travis Agresti and Charles Doell of California-based design firm Mr. Important, the stylish space features gold-plated pillars, sumptuously textured walls and glowing origami lanterns suspended from the ceiling. Those looking for a seriously swank night out can reserve a private booth in the multi-tiered seating area, where the VIP experience comes complete with a personal hostess for the table and such up-market finger foods as gourmet grilled-cheese sandwiches and gold-leaf chocolate cupcakes.

Inspired by Las Vegas’s renowned night spots, Agresti describes his new multi-million dollar venture as “a luxurious playground for adults,” a destination spot where party-loving professionals can let loose to the eclectic sounds of classic rock, house music and live special-guest DJs. Dress to impress as a fashionably chic style code is in effect.

Thu.-Sat. (Fri.: Ladies only before midnight). Cover $20. 647 King St. W., 416-361-9111.

Banff’s Best After Hours Fun

St James's Gate has live music Fri-Sat

St James's Gate has live music Fri-Sat

Why limit evening activities to dinner and conversation? Kate Hutchison, front desk supervisor at Banff Caribou Lodge, recommends these activities for a fun night out:

  • Gather your friends at Cascade Ponds picnic site for a moonlit fire in the designated fire boxes. Bring marshmallows and roasting sticks!
  • Go for an evening dip at the Banff Upper Hot Springs. Open until 11 pm (last admission at 10:30 pm), the springs are more mystic and serene at night.
  • Live band aficionados appreciate Wild Bill’s and Rose & Crown where local and touring groups play. Sing your heart out Tuesdays from 10 pm during karaoke night at Wild Bill’s.
  • Catch a show at The Banff Centre, a globally respected venue for the performing arts. Enjoy dance, classical and popular music, theatre, opera, film, new media, literary readings and more.
  • Dance the night away at Aurora or Hoodoo. DJs mix everything from top 40 to old school and hip hop. Hoodoo’s hosts ladies night Tuesdays. —RM

Wining and Dining in Toronto’s Little Italy

For a romantic dinner—or a chic spot for any evening—Little Italy is the perfect place. Try our picks to find out why it’s College Street’s hippest strip. (more…)