Sip a molecular masterpiece at barchef

Craft breweries are one thing and wine bars another, but if you’re looking for a new adventure in alcohol, take to barchef — part science lab, part lounge and the leader of Toronto’s burgeoning molecular cocktail scene.

Push through the heavy double doors on Queen West (just east of Bathurst), let your eyes adjust to the low light and pull up a stool in front of Frankie Solarik, executive barchef and owner. He’ll be decked out in Queen St. uniform of fedora, vest and skinny tie, chipping from a massive block of glowing ice that sits on the bar, whipping up any of the 30 artfully designed liquid concoctions on the menu.

For the brave of heart (and deep of pocket — the Vanilla Hickory Smoked Manhattan: $45), the Molecular menu will suit your tastes best. For $18, the Fire and Ice cocktail mixes absinthe with bitter almond liqueur, fresh grapefruit and black pepper.

For three bucks more, The BarChef Martini Three Ways combines vodka or gin, classic, rosemary alginate, nicoise snow, rosemary infused, green olive and rosemary air. That we know what only two of those things are makes it taste even better.

And while cocktails are generally more of a Sex and the City thing, barchef isn’t just for the ladies (remember how cool Tom Cruise was in Cocktail?). Penny-pinching patrons can play it safe by sticking to the $8 Classic menu, where the drinks are infinitely more creative and tasty than the rum ‘n’ cokes at the Swiss Chalet around the corner, which cost almost as much.

The "Four Seven Two" mixes bourbon, cola bitters, fresh limes, muddled mint and mint syrup, and will please the straight-laced sipper in the crowd. The "Professor" (Vodka, in-house bitters, lavender essence, mint syrup, fresh lemon) is a more tart alternative.

Each masterpiece can take up to 15 minutes to create, so don’t expect zippy service. But while you wait, munch on some edamame, take in the black-and-white vintage film projected on exposed brick, shoot sideways glances at the beautiful people nestled in on the zebra-print couch in the corner or the handsome couple at the high-top or just zero in on the tunes being spun by the DJ in the back.

Whatever your inclination, you’ll leave barchef feeling noticeably hipper (not to mention more inebriated) than when you entered.

barchef is at 472 Queen St. W
416 868 4800

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