At Queen West’s latest pop-up bar, guests can enjoy the creations of some of the continent’s top bartenders—and get creative themselves
Torontonians can try their hand at the art of the cocktail at the first North American stop for Bombay Sapphire’s Canvas Bar
At Bombay Sapphire’s pop-up Canvas Bar, open for just this month on Queen Street West, a changing crew of bartenders from across North America will serve their freshest cocktail creations. But that’s just the beginning of the pop-up’s inventive approach to gin.
With an emphasis on ingredients that are light, fresh and uncomplicated, it’s the first North American stop for the Canvas Bar, which will make its way across other major cities like Brussels and London. At the Toronto pop-up, some of the best bartenders in Canada and the US will be working the Central Bar, showing off their skills and inventive approaches to cocktail flavours.
But it’s the interactive Bespoke Cocktail Bar that will likely generate the biggest buzz. Guests will have the chance to get creative themselves by doing their own misting, spritzing and garnishing. Patrons can purchase the base, Bombay Sapphire gin poured into a glass of ice, then build their own cocktail by visiting three DIY stations. There’ll be a mixing wall, with ingredients that change weekly; a vapour wall, where patrons can spritz extracts like bergamot, lemongrass, cassia and edible glitter out of beautiful bottles; and a garnish station, with cut fruit, herbs and other fresh ingredients.
The vapour wall, in particular, points to a key element that makes Bombay Sapphire unique. The gin is created with a unique combination of 10 sustainably sourced botanicals from around the globe, using a signature distillation process known as vapour infusion, which captures the natural flavours of the botanicals, resulting in a smooth, complex taste. Bombay Sapphire was awarded a double gold medal in the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
In between sipping and socializing, pop-up guests can try their hand at the interactive Colour by Numbers wall, where they can make their mark on the space by colouring a communal mural, which will be filled in as the pop-up continues throughout the month. Of course, there will be social-media opportunities. Guests can take photos of their cocktails in three different photo boxes and share them on social media using #stircreativity and @bombaysapphire. A PhotoOp Wall will feature a large geometric neon heart surrounded by foliage for people to share memorable moments on their social channels.
The guest bartenders, a different crew each week, are some of the most creative mixologists from across the continent. Each has been tasked to concoct bespoke cocktails celebrating Bombay Sapphire Gin’s unique flavour and encouraging guests to do the same. In week two, bartenders from the Freehand Hotel’s award-winning Broken Shaker bars in Miami and Chicago will be serving up their own easy-to-replicate cocktails, while mixologists from Toronto’s Drake Mini Bar, Vancouver’s Botanist, Halifax’s The Exchange on Hollis and Montreal’s Pearl & Paddock will also make appearances.
The pop-up Canvas Bar, located at 950 Queen St. W., at Shaw Street, is open to the public Thursdays through Sundays until November 25. Thursday to Saturday it’s open from 6pm to 12am; on Sundays it’s open from noon to 6pm. Guests must be 19 or over and have valid ID.