Simply: "Must try" places to drink
Any and all tastes welcome, what is your favourite place to grab some friends and have a drink in Toronto?
I don't have any yet, but I'd love to find a place with offbeat drinks and a chill atmosphere.
Hmm... what do you like to drink: beer, wine, cocktails, or all of the above? What kind of vibe is "chill" to you... hole-in-the-walls or upscale hotel bars? What price range are you looking at? Without that information it's a bit tough to give good recs. So here's an everything but the kitchen sink barrage:
For beer, the standouts are the Beer Bistro near King and Yonge, Bar Volo on Yonge near Wellesley, C'est What at Front and Church, and Smokeless Joe on John St. near Adelaide.
In terms of brew pubs, there is the Granite Brewery up at Eglinton and Mt. Pleasant, and the Mill. St. Brewpub in the Distillery District (but stick to the beer, not the food).
I don't drink mixed cocktails often, but I've had great Mojitos at Fire on the East Side near Yonge & Wellesley. My wife and I also both have a weird affection for a delicious concoction called a Gator Bait at Southern Accent in Mirvish Village near Bloor and Bathurst. Kaiseki Sakura at Church and Wellesley has a selection of great unique sake-based cocktails. Sidecar on College West is known for their drinks, and they make some with very fresh ingredients such as ginger root.
For many kinds of $12 martinis there is the Pravda Vodka Bar on Wellington near Church, if you enjoy being surrounded by well dressed young go-getters from the Financial District while you imbibe.
And finally, there was some recent discussion of a rather expensive ($20-25 each!) bar called Bar Chef: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/621899
I don't really drink wine, I'm sure others could recommend wine bars and whatnot.
To be honest, i've always felt the martinis at Pravda are poorly made.
Also note that there are also middle-aged suits after 5pm on weekdays (not just "young go-getters"). It is also a complete meat market on weekends, with a completely different crowd.
My favourites are the Harbord Room, Rooftop Lounge, Canoe, Bymark (but sometimes its really dead on non-weekday evenings), Vertical (on the patio in the summer!!), barchef, Sidecar, beerbistro. Also Crush for wine.
Those recommendations are great - I was asking for everyone's personal favourite.
I'm looking for a range of cocktails, for both girls and sweet-toothed guys. By chill, I mean a staff that isn't too uptight and a crowd of twenty-somethings. Price isn't particularly a problem, as long as the product is worth it. And preferably somwhere in the downtown core, although again, that isn't a big deal.
I have heard good things about Pravda Vodka Bar, but I see that someone has coined it as a "meat market".
Dora Keogh (Danforth) on a Sunday evening. Irish bar with music.
House on Parliament (Cabbagetown) British style pub
Nothing off-beat in either though.
Offbeat drinks and atmosphere can be found at insomnia on bloor just east of bathurst.
a great selection of beer/wine and a lovely vibe can also be had at Cafe Volo, off yonge just north of wellesley