Walking through the doors of Yorkville’s newest bespoke cocktail lounge, C Suite, you’ll notice that the space has been designed to resemble a train car, perhaps reminiscent of the luxurious coaches of the Orient Express. Soft jazz music trickles over the speakers, and warm ambient lighting sets the atmosphere for a cosy night of watching the comings and goings of the neighbourhood.
“We want to transport you, away from the outside world, to a timeless place where you can relax, sit back, enjoy the conversation of your guests in our beautiful lounge or sit at the bar and get the bespoke cocktail experience,” says mixologist Albert Han, who has been working in the bar scene since the early 2000s, and has competed internationally in Seoul and Beijing.
Open by reservation only, C Suite takes over the former family-owned restaurant Jacques Bistro du Parc, which closed in April of this year after 43 years in business. In soft opening mode since mid-November, C Suite is gearing up for its grand debut in January 2023.
“The guiding philosophy behind C Suite is to create a venue where you can get not only the best cocktails in the city, but bespoke cocktails that are tailored to the guest and crafted to match,” says Han, who works closely with C Suite’s owner, who prefers not to be named. “It is our hope that we create a niche in Toronto where we are able to build a clientele who feels like, in the best sense, this is their home away from home. A safe, comfortable, private respite within the city. We want C Suite to be a concept that not only elevates the art of cocktail making but the art of hospitality.”
C Suite currently offers six signature cocktails, but as Han likes to say, “When you sit at my bar, there is no menu. I am the menu.” For those looking for something different,
C Suite also offers whisky and bourbon tastings.
The presentation of the cocktails is just as eloquent as the drinks themselves—the Smokey Old Fashioned, for example, is served on a bed of crushed ice inside the black and gold jaws of a ceramic snake, and features a cinnamon stick that is burned so that the smoke fills the glass and infuses the cocktail and sits in the glass as the guest sips.
“I like them [my guests] to start with the Herbal Diamond Fizz, my twist on the classic gin fizz,” Han says. “I feel that this cocktail is the best way for me to get to know my guests. Just the first time, they have to start with this cocktail because I can tell everything about their tastes through this cocktail. And then, from there, for the second drink, we will work together.”
Other cocktails that Han prides himself on mastering include the Shiso Daiquiri. “Whenever I go somewhere new, I order a daiquiri, Han says. “Why? Because it’s a simple drink but in the simplicity, therein derives the complexity and what separates a cocktail from art.” C Suite’s daiquiri features Japanese shiso that is infused into house-blended white rum.
C Suite also offers a small food menu, which revolves around relationships with some of the finest chefs in Toronto who have designed signature dishes. From Masaki Saito, for example, guests can order the signature ankimo (monkfish liver pate) topped with caviar. From French Masterchef Didier Leroy, C Suite offers a dish called Roulade au fois gras et truffle, (fois gras and black truffle encased within organic chicken).
The bulk of the menu has been designed by Zen Japanese Restaurant owner and head sushi chef, Seiichi Kashiwabara, with offerings ranging from duck carpaccio served with sancho pepper to miso black cod to Japanese hirame sashimi served with ponzu and wasabi. All of the menu items are designed to be tapas or appetizer-style meant to compliment the dishes. But at the end of the day, bespoke cocktails are the star of the show at C Suite.
“We aren’t in a position or interested in filling every seat and just pumping out drinks for the sake of volume. Right now, we are most concerned with being the best, and giving each guest 100 per cent,” Han says. “But likely in the new year, once we have established our rhythm and we know ourselves well, we will likely move to a more open door policy. But guests will still have to ring the buzzer to get in!”
C Suite is located at 126A Cumberland St. and is currently open by reservation only, or select walk-ins dependent upon availability.