A look inside Le Tigre, Rosedale’s new all-pink martini bar
It’s from the team behind Cry Baby Gallery
Slip out of Rosedale station and look north up Yonge for a pink light glowing from a second-floor window. Under an awning and up a flight of steps is Le Tigre, a new Barbie-pink martini bar from the guys behind Cry Baby, Dundas West’s cocktail bar and art gallery.
While Rosedale has plenty of fine-dining destinations and a good pub or two, the team thought that the area was missing a great martini bar—a local watering hole for the well-heeled crowd. “The neighbourhood was really under-serviced when it came to cocktail destinations,” says co-owner Robert Granicolo. So they opened a sultry little lounge on the second floor of a piano shop.
The vibe is different at both bars. While Little Portugal’s Cry Baby is covert, cool and curated for the downtown crowd, Le Tigre is lounge-y, lush and enticingly louche, with hot-pink lighting, palm-frond wallpaper and a menu of sneakily sultry drinks with names like Ashley Madison, Tiger Style and Basic Instinct.
The primary palette is pink, pink and more pink, with borderline-psychedelic LEDs casting a rosy glow over the entire space. Design cues skew retro—think ’80s Miami meets Sex and the City‘s Manhattan. “There’s a lot of Rick James and French electro on the playlist,” says Granicolo.
At the centre of Le Tigre’s main room, which is packed with petite bistro tables, is a massive bar covered in slabs of pink quartz. “The design was definitely inspired by bars in Mayfair, London,” says Granicolo. “I drank a lot of £25 cocktails the last time I was there, and I’m really inspired by their design.” A smaller back room is filled with low tables and couches, and there are plenty of nooks for quiet conversation.
Throughout the bar, there are quirky tiger-related touches—a ceramic statue of a large cat here, a tiger painting there. “Essentially, we wanted it to be a bit like an adult Rainforest Cafe—without the animatronics and with far better drinks,” says Granicolo.
The tongue-in-cheek cocktails are designed to be sexy in name and presentation but serious in flavour. “We used Gourmet magazines from the ’80s for inspiration,” says Granicolo. The aforementioned Ashley Madison is a watermelon-and-blood-orange mai tai spiked with gin, sake and horchata and topped with a bouquet of mint.
For deeper-pocketed clientele, there are reserve cocktails, pricier sips made with top-shelf ingredients. There’s an old fashioned that emphasizes Michter’s 10-year-old Kentucky bourbon and a Robbie Burns riff that highlights Dalmore 15.
But we’re here for the martinis, which are all served with a side of showmanship and trotted out extra icy on a silver tray alongside a selection of garnishes. Guests can order the classics, but it’s more fun to trust the team and get one of the six house recipes. There are twists on the Vesper and the dirty martini, but there are also more unique concoctions. The bar’s riff on the Alaska—a pre-Prohibition cocktail first mentioned in the Savoy Cocktail Book, Harry Craddock’s tipple tome from 1930—is made with Tanqueray 10, yellow chartreuse, white vermouth and crème de cacao. And the Lychee is an updated take on the ’80s staple made with Casamigos Blanco, Calvados, Giffard’s Lichi-Li lychee liqueur and lychee-infused agave.
Is it an excellent first-date spot? Indubitably. Would it be wise to talk business over an Ashley Madison cocktail? Maybe not. But there’s a time and a place for everything.