Toronto just got a 70s-inspired lounge where you can make your own martinis

Step through the green door nestled in the heart of the Junction and find yourself transported back to the 70s. Here, leather couch seating, complimentary bar snacks, and classic cocktails await. Plus, discover even more — including a natural wine shop — at Doc’s Green Door Lounge.

Located in a stunning historical building at the corner of Dundas and Clendenan Avenue, the green door welcomes patrons into a charming space. In typical Toronto fashion, the interior is long and narrow, offering 40 seats spread across intimate two-tops, the lively bar, and rounded cushioned seating at the front of the building. However, unlike the usual Toronto layout, the corner spot location floods the space with natural light, thanks to the large windows framing Dundas Avenue.

“We wanted to feel like a classic 70s lounge that you could come and get a really ice-cold martini at a hotel bar but also have that feel of a dive bar,” says owner Jayson Green, noting the inspiration from the Bemelman’s Bar in New York’s Carlyle Hotel. “It’s really a marriage of those two things.”

Green himself relocated from Brooklyn less than a year ago, accompanying his Toronto-native wife. Having developed an affection for the Junction neighbourhood, when Green’s landlord proposed the opportunity to open a cocktail bar, he couldn’t resist saying yes.

“My feeling was, if it’s a building I walk by every day, so close to our house, if it was a good bar, I’d be really upset if I didn’t do it myself,” he notes. “And if it was a bad bar, I’d also be upset.”

As a musician with experience in natural wine retail, Green possessed the expertise to discern what makes a great drink.

“If you’re a musician, you don’t have a lot of marketable skills besides being in bars,” Green jokes, noting that he got into wine when the pandemic limited his music. “It felt very natural to have those two worlds collide. Music and wine is very symbiotic in a way.”

The cocktail bar is named after Green’s late grandfather Harold who was nicknamed Doc. Adorned with band posters and vinyl records, each with its own tale, the space is adorned with a collection of photos honoring the namesake. Behind the bar, nestled in a hidden nook called Doc’s Corner, lies a surprise spirit, paying homage to Doc’s memory.

“He was a pretty great guy and loved a tipple or two,” Green jokes.

At the back of the bar, Doc’s Lounge has more secrets with a bottle shop called The Deep End. Filled with local and international wines, everything is made with, at the bare minimum, responsible farming, no additives, and no added sugars.

“It’s a passion of mine,” says Green. “If something about the way it’s made speaks to me, then I carry it.”

The cocktail menu caters to everyone, featuring a variety of classic cocktails, inventive twists and the option to craft your own. For example, the Doc’s Dirty Martini, made with gin and a blue cheese olive, is a favourite of Green’s, offering a unique twist on a classic.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that everyone is so specific about their martinis that they have a specific way they like them,” he says. “So, we’re trying to allow for creativity here.”

That’s why the menu offers a popular “make your own” style of martini made with a choice of Plymouth, Titos, Ketel One, and Hendricks. Choice of fixings range from a pickle brine to lemon twist, olive brine, pearl onions and more.

In contrast to his deep affection for martinis, initially Green was hesitant to put an espresso martini on the menu, despite its popularity. But, all it took was his bartender making a martini with Sam James Coffee Roasters to sell him on the idea.  

Further adapting to neighbourhood suggestions, Green notes that the domestic beers made the menu alongside the local craft options due to a request from the local barber shop. There is also a selection of intentionally crafted unique non-alcoholic drinks including The Junction, whose touch of toasted sesame oil and green pepper sauce gives a hot kick that’s rare to find in a mocktail.

“It was so important to me to have a thoughtful non-alcoholic menu so that everyone can come in and enjoy themselves,” says Green.

@juliaswinefete/Instagram

The small eats menu is just as accessible, with a gorgonzola cashew spread served with crackers being a favourite of Green, who labels himself a “meat-eater.” There’s also lacto-fermented pickles, whipped brie and chicken liver mousse on the menu. Even those just looking for a drink get a complimentary salty bar snack to nibble on.

Heading into the summer months, there will not only be nearly twice as much dining space with the opening of a side patio, but Doc’s Lounge will be hosting pop-ups out of the neighbouring garages on Clendenan Avenue. Both local and visiting chefs will be able to hold their pop-ups to diners seated on the patio.

“The response has been so nice already,” says Green. “People are excited and it’s nice to feel so welcomed by businesses and everybody in the neighbourhood.”

Doc’s Green Door Lounge is located at 3106 Dundas St W.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO