BYOB Cocktail Emporium
By YP Contributor

Masters of the Drink

When owner Kristen Voisey decided to open a store dedicated to cocktails in April of 2011, she had no idea what she was doing. She didn’t have a clue about retail, what it meant to run a small business, or even anything about cocktails for that matter. What she did know was that Toronto had long been lacking place where people could go and get everything they needed to outfit their home bar.

“I wanted to create a place where people who loved cocktails could come and find unique things that weren’t available anywhere else in the city,” says Kristen. Though the store was a bit empty in its first few months, there is now barely enough space to keep up with the growing inventory. Kristen’s trick: listening to her customers. “Our customers tell us what they want and we get it,” she says, which might explain why the store has one of the biggest selections of bitters in the city—more than 150 flavours!

Kristen has been most surprised by how much the cocktail industry is growing and all of the really neat new products hitting the market. Her stock includes—but isn’t limited too—beer-making kits, vintage glassware, Japanese cocktail shakers, strainers, bar spoons, peelers, zesters, misters, measures, colourful knit drink sleeves, flasks, cocktail mixes, books and everything you could possibly need to create your own Tiki bar—including pink flamingo swizzle sticks!

We are a store for cocktail lovers, both professional and non-professional. - Kristen Voisey, owner
BYOB Cocktail Emporium, Bars, cocktails, Toronto Cocktail bar

Cocktail Culture

One of the things that makes BYOB Cocktail Emporium really stand out is its “something for everyone” approach. On any given day you’ll find a mix of tattooed bartenders picking up bitters, young professionals flipping through cocktail books or decorators looking for the perfect vintage tumblers to outfit a client’s bar. “Cocktail culture is booming,” says Kristen, “and the selection in the shop changes every week.”

Celebrity fans include Canadian record producer, Daniel Lanois—who has produced albums with Bob Dylan, Neil Young and U2—who outfitted his entire studio bar with items from the shop and actress Claire Danes who dropped in while filming in the city to pick up supplies for her husband.

To stay on top of what’s hot, Kristen visits as many cocktail bars as she can. “I am always keeping an eye out for the latest products and seeing what I can bring back to the shop,” she says. “It’s a fun job.”

BYOB Cocktail Emporium, Bars, cocktails, Toronto Cocktail bar

Critical Acclaim

Since opening, the store has received a number of accolades including NOW Magazine’s Best New Concept Store for 2013. Products have been featured in local and national publications including Toronto Life, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Fashion Magazine, the LCBO's Food and Drink magazine, Elle Magazine and the Toronto Star.

“I think people have been really happy to find a one stop shop for their home bar needs,” says Kristen of the store’s success. The biggest mention to date was a feature in the New York Times that name-dropped BYOB as one of the highlights of Toronto’s hippest neighbourhood. Cheers to that!

BYOB Cocktail Emporium, Bars, cocktails, Toronto Cocktail bar
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