Tucked away behind the glum concierge desk of an austere building on Bay Street near Adelaide is Supernova Ballroom. Once home to an off-track betting bar, the cathedral-like space is now a gorgeous, disco-inspired cocktail lounge with an anti-waste ethos. The owners, champion bartenders Kelsey Ramage and Iain Griffiths, use local products and ingredients that would have otherwise been rubbish—oleo syrup made with leftover lemon rinds, bee pollen from Rosewood Estates’ low-intervention apiary and wine made from organic Niagara peaches—making their boozy concoctions both delectable and guilt-free.
A sustainable sipper
Winter brings with it a dearth of fresh, local produce, so Ramage infuses her gin with kombu and sustainably sourced seaweed from Forbes Wild Foods, which imparts an umami flavour without tasting like seawater. That’s the basis of Supernova’s Little Thief G&T. Ramage adds white peach and chrysanthemum bitters for a slightly savoury take on the classic cocktail.
Other eco ingredients
Reused Coffee Grounds: Boxcar Social, the coffee shop around the corner, gives Supernova their spent grounds, which Ramage is using to experiment with a coffee liqueur for an espresso martini-style drink.
Muskmelon: You can’t get Midori in Ontario, but you can get locally grown muskmelons in season. So Ramage and her team make melon liqueur to create their take on a Midori sour.
Foraged Foods: “Forbes Wild Foods has an insane amount of weird and wonderful things,” says Ramage, of the Toronto-based foraging company. A few interesting ingredients Supernova sources: spruce tips, seaweed, Labrador tea (it’s a plant that tastes like blueberries) and wild mushrooms. “They specialize in mushrooms and seaweed, but we lean toward the seaweed side of things just because it’s a lot more approachable than having a mushroom martini,” says Ramage.
Red plums: Red plums have carried Supernova through the winter season. At the end of September, they used a big haul of the fruit to make plum syrup, a vodka-based plum liqueur and—out of the leftover pulp—garnishes. Nothing was wasted but the pits.
Oranges: Supernova uses orange rinds for guests who order off-menu old fashioneds or negronis and uses the juice for fizzy orange soda.
The Green Guide
Part 1: The sustainability sisters—Toni and Lin Sappong, zero-wasters since March 2018
Part 2: The diaper warriors—Ryan Dyment and Emily Hunter, zero-wasters since January 2015
Part 3: The queen of green—Meera Jain, zero-waster since March 2018
Part 5: A lakeside eco-retreat
Part 6: A natural oasis in Midtown
Part 8: Incredible bulk—four packaging-free shops
Part 9: Supernova Ballroom—the low-waste cocktail bar
Part 10: “I went green—maybe a little too green“
Part 11: The green shopping guide—guilt-free goodies for climate-conscious consumers
This story originally appeared in the March 2020 issue of Toronto Life magazine. To subscribe, for just $29.95 a year, click here.