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Introducing: Stirling Room, the Distillery District’s first and only nightclub

Introducing: Stirling Room, the Distillery District's first and only nightclub
Turn on your bright lights (Image: Jon Sufrin)

There are no ghosts in one of the buildings at the old Gooderham and Worts Distillery, at least not according to entrepreneur Albert Rishes. He would know, too, since he and his partner Simo Korac—both veterans from Embassy nightclub—spent months there setting up Stirling Room, the first and only nightclub in the Distillery District. Open for just over a month, the new venture fills the space that once housed A Taste of Quebec and brings parties and live music to a neighbourhood known more for sleepy evenings than pumping nightclubs.

While other bars and restaurants in Toronto fake old-school with reclaimed wood and vintage knick-knacks, Rishes and Korac are intent on preserving the pre-existing Victorian history of their venue. “You can’t touch these walls,” Rishes says of the prospect of revamping the original exposed brick throughout. “They’re historic.”

The remaining decor is consistent with a Victorian-Gothic ambience: onyx bar, original hardwood flooring, dark leather banquettes and haunting portraits (some of which double as sound-absorbing acoustic panels to reduce vibrations). Furniture arrangements are bottle-service friendly.

For now, the Stirling Room is doing brisk business on nightclub staples like vodka and Jack Daniels (about $7 a drink), but Rishes anticipates that weekdays will begin to focus on whiskey, scotch and cognac. A prep kitchen in the basement—which also houses the building’s original kiln and five catacomb-like storage areas that will one day be converted into dining rooms—will soon churn out modest eats for the post-work crowd. A cocktail menu is currently in the works by the mixologists at Martini Club International.

As the Stirling Room gains its foothold, Rishes is confident that his venue will attract a market from local condo owners and other downtowners looking for a break from the Richmond-King-Queen-Ossington scene (and from cover charges: Stirling Room has free entry). And maybe non-tourists will finally have a reason to stay in the Distillery District after work or a show at Soulpepper.

Stirling Room, 55 Mill St., Building 36, Suite 100, 416.364.3900, stirlingroom.com.

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