Toronto, ON M5J 1E3
In honour of the Fairmont Royal York's 90th anniversary, the Toronto landmark rolled out two new venues to mark the occasion. With Reign, the hotel brings a new French brasserie concept lead by executive chef jW Foster to life, and with Clockwork, a new champagne and cocktail bar in the lobby.
Rockwell Group’s design is something to behold. In Clockwork, stylish jewel-toned furniture rests under warm gold-hued lighting, and each table feels intimate while still being exposed to the hustle and bustle of the grand lobby. Of course, the heart of the hotel has always been the clock at the centre of the grand lobby, and Electric Time Company was brought in again to replace their 2002 timepiece embedded in the spiral staircase with the 90th Anniversary Clock that now towers above the bar.
While history mingles with cutting-edge all over the design of the new spaces, the two also meet in each cocktail thanks to the talents of mixologist Rus Yessenov.
“For Clockwork,” explains Yessenov, “we wanted things to be a bit flashier while taking into consideration 90 years of history. So, I took popular cocktails from the past century and twisted them with my own creativity, like our take on the Harvey Wallbanger.”
While the classic ‘80s cocktail is a quick mix of orange juice, vodka, and Galliano, Clockwork’s Clearheaded Harvey ($22) is a work of art. Yessenov opted to painstakingly clarify fresh orange juice (a process that takes about six hours), acidify it with citric acid, and mix Absolut Elyx vodka and Galliano together with a bit of cane sugar. To finish it off, a long piece of orange rind is spiralled around a perfectly clear rectangle of ice that is cut to the height of the Collins glass.
Yessenov’s favourite recommendation for guests is Clockwork’s signature “Meet Me at the Clock” ($30) cocktail. Taking the inspiration for the drink from the iconic phrase that’s been associated with the hotel for nearly a century now, the light pink cocktail includes Veuve Clicquot champagne, Hendrick’s gin, lemon, absinthe and bitters, which is then poured over an icy dome of champagne and rosé.
“The best part is that it really represents the concept of time and clockwork,” says Yessenov. “As the dome melts, it slowly infuses into the cocktail and changes the flavours.”
The menu at Clockwork features a Fogo Island shrimp ceviche ($24) with pickled Serrano chili on a bed of avocado, duck fat pomme frites ($12) served with garlic aioli and aged angus striploin sandwich ($25) plated alongside a bowl of Kewpie mayo with pesto and a swirl of mustard.
And if cocktail hour happens to only whet the appetite, there is always Clockwork's sister venue Reign right next door.
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