“The clientele was decidedly unbankerly”: A night out at the new stock market–themed bar on Bay Street
Drink prices rise and fall throughout the evening, like stocks on the trading floor
This past weekend, a stock market–themed bar opened near the corner of Bay and Adelaide, smack-dab in the middle of the Financial District. It’s called CKTL and Co., a reference to the ticker symbol for the word “cocktail.” We checked the place out, expecting to find a bunch of Jordan Belfort wannabes sipping manhattans and discussing the latest episode of Succession, but what we found was much different.
Related: What’s on the menu at Prequel & Co. Apothecary, a whimsical new Queen West cocktail lounge from the owner of BarChef
Inside, the 4,000-square-foot space is black with gold accents, all polished and squeaky clean—kind of like a fancy bank—with room for up to 90 guests. Contrary to what the theme and location might suggest, CKTL and Co. is not just a place for finance types looking to blow off steam after a stressful day on the trading floor. Last Sunday night, the clientele was decidedly unbankerly—a mix of influencers, tourists, hipsters and (because this was just before the big win) cautiously hopeful Leafs fans.
The main attraction at CKTL and Co. is that, much like the actual stock market, drink prices rise and fall. The restaurant uses a software program called The Drink Exchange, which takes data from the bar’s drink sales and adjusts the prices of select items based on supply and demand. The list of featured drinks changes every night, and fluctuating drink prices are displayed on digital ticker tape banners that glow red and green—like it’s always Christmas on Bay Street.
When the bar opens, every featured drink starts at roughly $4 below the price stated on the menu. So, for example, an old fashioned, which is regularly priced at $18, would cost approximately $14 at opening time. From that point on, every time someone orders an old fashioned, the price increases for everyone else—typically by increments of 25 cents, 75 cents or $1. All the while, the prices of the other, less popular drinks start dropping by the same increments. It’s a fun and interactive gimmick, but—this being Ontario—there are some rules. Drink prices can never go above the stated menu price or fall below the minimum amount allowable by the AGCO.
The drink menu is expansive, including beer, wine and, of course, cocktails, which are divided into four categories. The Old Money cocktails include the classics—your Tom Collins ($16.50), old fashioned ($17) and paloma ($19). The Manhattan Menu features different takes on the whiskey-based beverage, like the Bay Street ($18), a blend of rye, sweet vermouth, amaro and Angostura bitters. The Initial Product Offerings section lets patrons choose from a few in-house signatures, such as the Adelaide Sour ($18), a mix of Irish whiskey, lemon, house bitters and a red wine reduction. And then there’s the Counterfeit section, full of alcohol-free selections, like the Mango Mule ($9), a zero-proof melange of mango, lime, agave, muddled mint and ginger beer.
The ’34 ($16) is a mix of gin, Cointreau, Angostura bitters, lemon and raspberry syrup. For a bit of flair, the bar covers the top of the glass with a big bubble of Earl Grey–infused air. It wasn’t one of the drinks featured on the ticker that night—but the bubble made it impossible to resist.
The next drink that caught our eye was the Vesper Martini. Typically priced at $17.50, it had taken a serious dip on the Drink Exchange, falling to $13.75. When this happens, the thing to do is act like a seasoned day trader and buy low.
Throughout the evening, guests kept their eyes glued to the constantly changing ticker, monitoring the drink prices. The Chai, a mix of amber rum, masala chai, heavy cream and vanilla-cardamom syrup ($18), started the evening low, at just $14.75, but was steadily climbing due to high demand. When the price hit $16.25, it was time to order, closing the deal before things got too out of control. It was worth it—the cocktail tastes like a sugary, milky, boozy bubble tea.
The food menu is a mishmash of everything, and—unlike the drinks—the prices do not fluctuate. There are snacks, like edamame ($6), spiced almonds ($9) and warm dates ($9), as well as bar staples, including nachos ($16), wings ($18) and tacos ($18). A few healthy-ish bowls—a roasted beet salad ($17), a kale caesar ($18) and a tuna poke bowl ($22)—keep things light. And, finally, inevitably, there are some expensive proteins to satiate deep-pocketed patrons, like coq au Riesling ($30), Arctic char ($32) and two different lamb dishes: a chop ($35) and a burger ($23), which arrives on a pile of salty, thick-cut fries. (According to Gordon Gekko, greed is good, so there’s no need to share.)
All told, the experience cost about $130, before tip, for an appetizer, two mains and four cocktails—with a side of interactive fun. Admittedly, that might be a bit pricey for anyone on a non-banker budget, but what isn’t expensive these days? At least there’s now a place where you can have some control over the cost of your cocktail—and we can all take comfort in a well-made, heavily discounted martini.