We asked 10 Toronto bar regulars where (and what) they love to drink
After 15 years working in Toronto’s nightlife scene, Carlos Fernandes is still fascinated by the people who stumble out of after-hours bars on Sunday afternoons. So last year, the Churchill manager and sometime photographer started Regulars, a portrait series that catches his bar’s steadfast patrons before and after they’ve downed a foul shot of his creation: tequila, 10 drops of oil of oregano and a few generous shakes of Tabasco. He’s taken more than 200 photos (and no reshots—he wanted pure, unrehearsed reactions), spent about $250 on the oil of oregano and lost track of all the free booze he’s doled out. Fernandes plans to compile the snapshots of his victims in a yearbook-style volume soon. For now, they’re on display at Steam Whistle until May 29 as part of the Contact Photography Festival. We asked the regulars about their favourite local haunts and drinks of choice.
Photographer, art curator, model
Go-to drink I love dark, smoky cocktails, but I usually end up with a Hennessy on the rocks or a beer like a Stock Ale. Depending on the night, I might sip on Casamigos tequila.
Favourite local bars 416 Snack Bar, Camp 4 and Bar Raval.
Why Churchill? It’s easy, no fuss and the bartenders are great. I always feel welcome there and I usually end up bumping into friends and catching up with people I haven’t seen in a while. It’s become a hub for artists and creatives in the area.
Clothing store manager
Go-to drink Gin and soda. I hate tonic, so my go-to in the summer is Hendrick’s, soda and cucumber—it’s very refreshing.
Favourite local bars The Red Light and Loveless Cafe.
Why Churchill? Because of the community there. I always know people; it feels like a neighbourhood spot.
Go-to drink Gin and ginger ale.
Favourite local bars 416 Snack Bar, Churchill and the Beaconsfield—a.k.a. the Devil’s Triangle, as Carlos and I call it—and Cold Tea for its patio in the summer.
Why Churchill? The
Go-to drink Start off with vodka soda, then tequila soda. A Caesar if I ever want to make the bartender mad—in a crowded bar, the most annoying thing you can order is a Caesar because of all the ingredients and mixing involved.
Favourite local bars Pharmacy and The Parkdale Drink.
Why Churchill? I know Carlos from his Beaconsfield days. When he left to go up to Churchill, I started going there more often. It’s also very close to where I live, which makes it easy to stumble home after a long night.
Go-to drink Aperol spritz.
Favourite local bars Mr. Flamingo, Imanishi and Bar Raval.
Why Churchill? I’ve known Carlos for about 10 years now—he hired me at Beaconsfield. The location is great, but, more than anything, I love the owners.
Go-to drink At the moment, Miller Light. Now that it’s getting warmer, I’ll definitely partake in white wine spritzers. When it comes to spirits: gin and tonic.
Favourite local bars The Communist’s Daughter and Beaconsfield.
Why Churchill? My best friends work there, and the food is really, really good, like a secret people don’t know about yet. Even when it’s packed, it’s always comfortable there.
Go-to drink Grapefruit Perrier, or tequila when I’m naughty.
Favourite local bars Unlovable, Midfield and the Shangri-La lobby.
Why Churchill? It’s a fun bar with a chill vibe.
Film production assistant
Go-to drink If it’s a cocktail, either a negroni or a gin martini with a twist. My beer is Ace Hill. Otherwise, I like to sip on a good tequila (like Tromba or Los Arango) or Mezcal over ice.
Favourite local bars Mr. Flamingo, 416 Snack Bar, Bambi’s and Alo.
Why Churchill? It feels like being to a friend’s house. It’s always welcoming with lots of familia
Ad agency employee, singer-songwriter, yoga instructor
Go-to drink Tequila on the rocks—either Casamigos or Los Arangos—with a little lime juice.
Favourite local bars Beaconsfield, Black Dice and Apartment 200 (for their tequila with kefir shot).
Why Churchill? I love Carlos, and the staff is amazing, too. Great cocktails, great vibes, great patio and a local feel. It’s like a version of Cheers.
Go-to drink Fried-chicken grease (what Fernandes fed her instead of the shot).
Favourite local bars Wherever her owner, Maggie, hangs out—most commonly, 416 Snack Bar and Cold Tea.
Why Churchill? Her owner likes the tapas—especially the baos—and unpretentious atmosphere.