What’s on the menu at Overpressure Club, a new Japanese-inspired cocktail bar in Bloorcourt
It’s the sister izakaya to Project Gigglewater
Name: Overpressure Club
Contact: 815 Bloor St. W., overpressureclub.com, @overpressureclub
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.
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.
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 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.
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.”
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.
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.