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Best Bars: A brief history of hooch in Toronto, from 1837 to the present day

May 5, 2012
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Best Bars: A Brief History of Hooch in Toronto

Best Bars: A Brief History of Hooch in Toronto

Gooderham and Worts
1837
Gooderham and Worts opens. Within 40 years, it becomes the largest distillery in the world.

1876
George Davis builds a stage coach stop that will become the frat boy–filled Brunswick House 80 years hence.

1880 to 1893
1880 to 1893
Half of Torontonians thrown in jail are there for drunk and disorderly behaviour.

1916
1916
Half of Torontonians thrown in jail are there for drunk and disorderly behaviour.

1920
Much of Toronto’s liquor is smuggled illegally into the U.S. by gangsters like husband-and-wife team Rocco and Bessi Perri.

1927
The creation of the LCBO and the Brewer’s Warehousing Company (later known as The Beer Store) heralds the end of Prohibition, but booze is only available by permit and only dispensed over the counter.

1934
1934
Hotels are allowed to sell beer and wine with meals. Business travel becomes bearable.

1947
1947
A new law allows spirits to be sold by the glass. Flask sales plummet.

The Roof Lounge
1947
The Roof Lounge opens on the 18th floor of what is now the Park Hyatt, bringing back pre-Prohibition cocktails like the old-fashioned.

1961
Liquor can be purchased without a permit.

LCBO
1969
The LCBO goes self-service, allowing Torontonians to browse the booze aisles for the first time.

1970
1970
Pubs open their men-only drinking rooms to women; cheesy pickup lines flourish.

1971
Legal drinking age reduced from 21 to 18.

1981
1981
Drinking on patios is legalized, leading to The Black Bull’s infamous lineups.

BamBoo
1983
BamBoo opens on Queen West, making umbrella drinks and jazz-funk dance parties popular.

1984
1984
Happy hours are banned (turns out too many people got happy and got behind the wheel).

1987
Charles Khabouth opens Stilife on Richmond, sparking development of the Entertainment District.

Woody’s
1989
Woody’s opens, becoming the hub of the Church-and- Wellesley village. Gay men rejoice.

Toronto Maple Leafs
1992
Alcohol allowed at Leafs and Blue Jays games. Price-gouging pints become the norm.

1992
College Street takes off with neighbourhood hangs like College Street Bar, The Midtown and Ted’s Wrecking Yard.

1996
1996
Last call extended until 2 a.m.

Sex and the City
1998
Sex and the City ushers in an era of sickly-sweet concoctions: bellinis, crantinis, and, of course, the cosmo.

2002
Amber opens in Yorkville, spawns a slew of resto-lounge copycats.

2002
2002
Amber opens in Yorkville, spawns a slew of resto-lounge copycats.

Pabst Blue Ribbon
2004
Sweaty Betty’s opens on Ossington, spurring the strip’s gentrification and the popularization of Pabst Blue Ribbon as the ironic beer of choice.

2005
College Street, its cool phase long over, is overrun with lycheetini lounges.

BYOW
2005
BYOW begins, as does the eternal debate over how much is too much for a corkage fee.

2006
Cask-conditioned ale takes over C’est What, Granite Brewery and Bar Volo.

Peter Gatien
2007
New York club king Peter Gatien opens mega-club Circa; vodka and Red Bull fuel all-night dancing.

2008
Enomatic dispensers at restaurants like Reds allow for wines by the glass without turning the bottle into vinegar.

Barchef
2008
Barchef opens; booze scientist Frankie Solarik crafts $40 molecular cocktails. Jay-Z is a fan.

2008
Bacon-washed, pickle-topped, salt-filled cocktails populate menus.

Jen Agg and Grant van Gameren open the Black Hoof
2009
Jen Agg and Grant van Gameren open the Black Hoof, foisting barrel aging and artisanal bitters into the mainstream.

2009
Joe Pantalone becomes the face of the new sobriety movement by starting an 18-month fight against booze on Ossington.

2009
Toronto Temperance Society, a members-only cocktail lounge, revives the old-school speakeasy.

2009
Ceili Cottage and Queen and Beaver, the city’s first real gastropubs, put Firkins everywhere to shame.

2010
2010
Circa goes bust.

2010
An onslaught of new rustic Italian restaurants makes medicinal-tasting aperitifs like Aperol and Campari all the rage.

2011
Ontario craft brewers like Flying Monkeys make beer geekery chic.

2011
Jen and Grant break up. Jen opens Cocktail Bar, the apotheosis of the city’s new artisanal cocktail culture.

By Denise Balkissoon, Ariel Brewster, Andrew D’Cruz, Matthew Hague, Malcolm Johnston, Emily Landau, Jason McBride, Alexandra Molotkow, Mark Pupo, Peter Saltsman, Courtney Shea and Eric Vellend. Timeline Photographs: Istock; Getstock; David Laurence; A. H. Hider/Wikimedia Commons; Rob Nguyen/Flickr and courtesy of Barchef; Park Hyatt Toronto; and Woody’s

courtesy: http://www.torontolife.com/daily/daily-dish/from-the-print-edition-daily-dish/2012/02/13/best-bars-2012-history-of-hooch-in-toronto/

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