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What’s on the menu at Overpressure Club, a new Japanese-inspired cocktail bar in Bloorcourt

It’s the sister izakaya to Project Gigglewater

By Kate Dingwall| Photography by Brittany Townsend
What’s on the menu at Overpressure Club, a new Japanese-inspired cocktail bar in Bloorcourt

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Name: Overpressure Club Contact: 815 Bloor St. W., overpressureclub.com, @overpressureclub
Neighbourhood: Bloorcourt
Previously: Northwood Owner: Alfred Siu Chefs: Moses Ventocilla, Jae Cho and Eileen Martin Bar manager: Sasha Seigel Accessibility Steps at entrance and stairs to the washrooms

Somewhere in the back of Alfred Siu’s brain lives a swarm of good bar ideas. When something sparks a new one, the Project Gigglewater owner writes it down in a file on his computer labelled “ideas on hold.” So, when the folks at Northwood closed up shop and Siu was offered the keys, he already had a great concept on deck: Overpressure Club.

Overpressure Club bar manager Sasha Siegel and bar owner Alfred Siu
Bar manager Sasha Siegel (left) and owner Alfred Siu

The inspiration came from the bar’s proximity to Koreatown. Along Bloor, from Christie to Bathurst, there are all kinds of great restaurants, snack bars and stores—but a serious lack of bars that channel Japan’s strong cocktail culture. Overpressure Club is a nod to the art of Japanese bartending—the graceful, ultra-precise craft of shaking, stirring and mixing drinks. There are shiso martinis in skinny-stemmed crystal coupes as well as scotch and sake tea with pomegranate and mushroom.

Guests at Overpressure Club in Toronto sip on Japanese-inspired draught cocktails

But only a handful of drinks are actually shaken or stirred. The establishment’s name is a reference to the 12 pressurized draught taps that line the bar, each one pouring out a different Japanese-influenced cocktail. While the ingredients are elevated, the space is easy-going with a touch of izakaya energy—a place for friends to put back a couple of cocktails after work and fight over the last slice of nori French toast.

The food

The menu is split three ways: hot plates (karaage, short-rib steak), cold plates (oysters with wasabi and house hot sauce) and a few desserts (mochi with miso caramel whip, Japanese cheesecake with sesame brittle). “It’s a little bit pubby,” Siu says of the food—but think less fish and chips, more shrimp cocktail and curry-sauced fries.

A half-dozen oysters with house hot sauce and wasabi
Oysters arrive with leek mignonette, house hot sauce and wasabi. Market price.

 

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A bowl of curry-sauced fries at Toronto's Overpressure Club
The Loaded Fries are dressed with curry sauce and furikake and come with ketchup and house mayo for dipping. $11

 

A bowl of karaage chicken
A bowl of karaage chicken comes dressed with lemon slaw and with a ramekin of house mayo for dunking. $13

 

Broccolini dressed with brown butter panko crumbs
Seasonal greens (in this case, broccolini) are liberally sprinkled with brown-butter panko crumbs. $10

 

Miso eggplant at Overpressure Club, a cocktail bar in Toronto
Miso-slicked eggplant. $12

 

Oyster mushrooms at Toronto's Overpressure Club
Oyster mushrooms get a toss in a sake kasu beurre monté, a gloss of nori glaze and a shower of chili-oil-fried onions. “We had a table try to order just a plate of the sauce,” Siu says. $16

 

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Tiger shrimp with a yuzu house hot sauce
The bar’s take on shrimp cocktail features tiger shrimp with a house yuzu hot sauce. $20

 

Slices of pork jowl served with perilla leaves at Overpressure Club in Toronto
Slices of pork jowl in a sticky yuzu–kecap manis sauce. The idea is to grab a slice and wrap it in a perilla leaf. $16

 

Overpressure Club's short rib steak with a honey-miso glaze
This melt-in-your-mouth short-rib steak has a honey-miso glaze. It’s topped with grilled shishito peppers and green onions. $26

 

Kinako sponge cakes on genmaicha mousse at Toronto's Overpressure Club
A plate of kinako (roasted soybean flour) sponge cakes sit on genmaicha mousse sprinkled with matcha pearls. $15

 

Nori milk bread toast topped with red bean butter, nori and salted caramel pearls
A dessert for the table: nori milk-bread toast with a honey-miso glaze, a quenelle of red-bean butter, nori and salted caramel pearls. $15
The drinks

Siu describes the drinks as modernist with Japanese influence and flair. Of the dozen draught taps, eight pour pre-carbonated cocktails and the other four are for nitrogenated cocktails. The latter are keg-tapped drinks infused with nitrogen bubbles, which are longer lasting and gentler than CO2 bubbles. “Think of nitro cold brew,” says Siu. Why draught? It’s easier for execution, speed and precision, allowing the bar team to better focus on hospitality. “Draught taps allow us to access very high-quality cocktails at a faster pace and keep everyone happy.”

Draught tap handles at Toronto's Overpressure Club

Also on the menu: a full selection of highballs—Japanese whiskeys served in frosted glasses with craft soda and a long spear of ice. “There aren’t many places in the city that offer highballs,” says Siu. One day, he’d like to have the biggest selection of Japanese whiskeys in the city. They’re off to a good start with a range of expressions from Nikka, Hatozaki, Kurayoshi and Suntory. Guests can certainly order a neat pour, but Siu recommends sampling each in highball form. “When it’s served with soda, it opens up the flavours of the whiskey,” he says. “It’s a more refreshing drink.”

There are a few non-alcoholic concoctions too, including the Standing Tall, a spritz made with grapefruit, marigold and cardamom, and the Parallel Universe, an interesting mix of amaro, pomegranate, mushroom and mugicha tea.

Overpressure Club's Tropic Pursuit cocktails
The Tropic Pursuit is a clarified tequila milk punch made with Anejo tequila, cachaca, yellow chartreuse, sherry, lime leaf, passionfruit and mango. Floating on the ice cube is a spirulina-and-mango jelly made from leftover mango that would otherwise go to waste. “We’re fortunate to have a pastry chef, which helps us create these fantastic garnishes that look great and are actually edible,” says Siu. “By upcycling the leftover mango, we’re trying to be as sustainable as possible, giving a second life to the ingredients.” $19

 

Overpressure Club's Tobermory Trail cocktail
The Tobermory Trail is a blend of gin, mastiha, dry vermouth, palo santo, aloe, clarified citrus, cedar mist and—wait for it—blue. $19

 

The Holy Shishito cocktail at Toronto's Overpressure Club
The Holy Shishito is a blend of blanco tequila, strega, shishito, black cardamom, cucumber, lime and mole. On the glass: togarashi. $19

 

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Overpressure Club's Pandan-o-Rama cocktail
“The Pandan-o-rama is like no colada you’ve ever had before,” says Siu. The tropical, coconutty, rice pudding–like cocktail is topped with a sake sabayon (essentially a salty egg-yolk foam). It’s served in a teacup. $18

 

Overpressure Club's house martini
The house martini is made with both vodka and shochu plus shiso-infused vermouth and pear

 

Overpressure Club's From the Ground Up cocktail
From the Ground Up is a blend of rye aquavit, red bitters, beetroot vermouth, maraschino, celery bitters and Peychaud’s. $19

 

Overpressure Club's Amari Kano cocktail
The Amari Kano is a blend of Campari, sweet vermouth, Amontillado sherry, Amaro Nonino and Cascara soda. $18

 

Overpressure Club's Yoichi the Killer
Yoichi the Killer is made with Japanese whiskey, umeshu, vetiver and black sugar drink. “It’s reminiscent of a very elegant old fashioned—it’s got a bit of smokiness to it,” says Siu. A turmeric meringue garnishes the drink. “After you take a sip, take a big bite of the meringue—they complement each other.” $25

 

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The zero-proof Standing Tall cocktail at Overpressure Club
The Standing Tall is a non-alcoholic spritz made with grapefruit, marigold and cardamom. $15
The space

Justin Vinet and Yana Kaz of Confit Design handled the design of the space, which is outfitted with marble two-tops and a matching marble bar running the length of the room. On the walls: paintings from Ghost in the Shell.

Inside Overpressure Club, a Japanese-inspired cocktail bar in Toronto's Koreatown
The bar at Toronto's Overpressure Club
Banquette seating at Overpressure Club, a Toronto cocktail bar
Guests sit at the bar at Toronto's Overpressure Club
Guests enjoy cocktails inside Toronto's Overpressure Club
Art hangs on the walls of Toronto's Overpressure Club, a Japanese-inspired cocktail bar

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