Toronto’s best speakeasies right now
488 Wellington St. W., 416-710-7697, marbenrestaurant.com/cloak-bar
This basement speakeasy is always locked: when the doorman isn’t around, a text to the phone number on the door with a “please let me in” message, along with your party size, is the key. Then it’s a short walk down an industrial hallway and through a velvet curtain into Marben’s cozy, sort-of-secret spot, where horseshoe-shaped banquettes are filled with guests very quietly sipping cocktails by candlelight. Drinks are inspired by old-timey recipes and unheard-of liquors like ooskavah and crème de thé. The bar’s swizzle swaps out rum for green Chartreuse, giving the colourful cocktail a herbaceous hum.
1307 Dundas St. W., 647-748-8288, thelibertinetoronto.com
This 2,000-square-foot basement space features red lacquer banquettes and an old-school wheel of fortune displayed on the back wall. The lighting is moody, the music is loud and the crowd stays late—thanks to drinks like the subtly named Margueretta and Queen Bitch.
36 Wellington St. E., 647-350-3636, eastthirtysix.com
The former Lucien space is now a hideout for after-work boulevardiers, and a respite in a pocket of the core overrun with sports bars. Julien Salomone is a former competitive mixologist with 13 years’ experience behind the bar, and his cocktails include Prohibition-era tipples and modern creations.
CC Lounge and Whisky Bar
45 Front St. E., 416-362-4777, cconfront.com
The former home of the Nicholas Hoare bookstore, located in the historic Beardmore Building, has been transformed into CC’s two 1920s-themed spaces: an entrance lounge filled with leather-clad couches and chandeliers mounted at impossible angles, and a moody bar at the rear equipped with a DJ booth, glittering disco balls and high-top tables made from Jack Daniel’s barrels. CC Lounge focuses on whiskey served neat and stocks over 400 kinds of the stuff.
D. W. Alexander
19 Church St., 416-364-8368, dwalexander.com
Owner Jamil Kamal wanted to capture the era of this heritage property’s original tenant, D. W. Alexander, who operated his leather-trading business out of the building in the late 1800s. As such, the subterranean lounge feels like a 19th-century gentlemen’s club with a few unconventional details, like a trio of decorative cast iron bull’s heads and a tastefully camouflaged DJ booth. Complex cocktails pack a strong punch for the post-work crowd: the Old Fascist is a stiff mix of bourbon, amaro and a house-made tincture of black pepper and coriander.