Coffee and cocktails: Licenced cafés in Toronto

Coffee and booze, perhaps the fluids most essential for getting through life in the 6. There’s plenty of hybrid cafés in Toronto offering both of civilization’s most coveted elixirs. After perusing the best licenced cafés to find the two together, they will be inseparable for any connoisseur, prompting the use of either a hip flask or a hip thermos. [Image credit: iStock.com/SrdjanPav]

Field Trip Cafe

1
3 Westmoreland, Toronto, ON M6H 2Z6

Big windows, sprawling green plant and big chalk boards that are a colour of green only found in nostalgia – it’s a picturesque location as refreshing as their java. The Bloorcourt café hosts several beers on tap and a fridge full of local craft beer tall cans, plus a fine selection of bourbons and whiskeys: Bulleit, Woodford, Maker’s Mark, Collingwood, and Glenrothes. The baristas are happy to help you shake up your drink with a shot of something amber. In the summer, they have a more than spacious patio out front on which you can nurse your bourbon infused cappuccino.

The Only Cafe

2
972 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4J 1L9

Aptly named, because there’s no other place like it. The Only Café is one part café one part bar, literally. A wall separates the coffee and liquor bars, but customers are free to mill between the two areas via the inner passage. Sit and get some work done in the café, sipping away on their two-dollar bottomless drip coffee, then head next door and unwind with any one of the twenty-four craft beers on tap or the latest cask selection.

Café Pamenar

3
307 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2M2

Smooth decor gives this Kensington café its serious heft. With its entrance on Augusta Street, Café Panemar spills over into a sprawling backyard patio. Fitting, since Pamenar is very much like a roasted Arabica version of The Secret Garden amidst the grime of the city. A skilled barista team keeps the java flowing in all of its many, pleasing forms, and while they don’t have a formal cocktail menu, they might have the most varied selection of bottles of any café in town. Try a shot of triple-distilled Arak, a Lebanese grape spirit, or its Greek cousin, Babatzim.

Dundas & Carlaw

4
1173 Dundas St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1S1

A chic café that’s name makes it easy to find. Its gleaming white tiling is offset by the crisp black accents of the table and chairs. The high mounted shelving behind the counter gives this place the feel of a frontier establishment while the candies on the counter keep it firmly grounded in a bubble-gum world. As is the vibe, so go the drinks. Equal parts clean convention and sparkle fun, the menu offers a well-tooled array for the coffee purist while the cocktail list gets loosey-goosey with a Raunchy Rainbow Beer Cocktail or The Sleazer, a sleazy Caesar.

Boxcar Social

5
4 Boulton Ave, Toronto, ON M4M 2J3

With an elegant-meets-industrial design, Boxcar Social is a daytime café that by night turns into a charcuterie shop with a rotating bar of bourbon, scotch, and craft beers. Get a coffee flight and experience the changes in a particular roast as it’s prepared by an espresso machine, mixed into a macchiato, or made by pour over. Feeling something a little stronger? Boxcar also offers coffee and beer pairings, and espresso and bourbon bundles. Décor, you ask? The attention to craft is echoed in the Riverside shop’s lacquered wooden tables and smooth, stone bar.

Belljar Cafe

6
2072 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6R 1W9

This is a place that has a double identity. By day it’s a quiet space devoid of wi-fi and full of people reading actual books and doing the daily crossword. Throughout the day Belljar serves espresso-based drinks, teas, and drip coffee. If you’re feeling peckish, there are premade sandwiches on offer and pastries. Once the sun goes down, the café is transformed, sometimes into a cinema, other times into a poetry performance space, always into a bar of fine quality and superb cocktails (think: Dark ‘n Stormys, Old Fashioneds, and hot toddies).

Northern Belle

7
913 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1V9

Northern Belle is like a frontier saloon whose edges have been smoothed, its temper settled. The café neighbouring Trinity Bellwoods keeps things simple, offering pour over, cold brew, and a selection of teas. Eats are also restrained, but excellent whether for a snack (chicken liver and peppercorn pate) or a sandwich (5-spice pork). But like any good saloon, Northern Belle has an extensive beer menu featuring wits, wheats, IPAs, stouts, ales, lagers, and more. They also serve wine by glass, half-litre, or bottle. And their cocktails are constructed with house-made tinctures and syrups.

Voodoo Child - Espresso & Cocktail Bar

8
388 College St, Toronto, ON M5T 1S7

Voodoo Child invokes its magic straight from the spirits: bourbons and bourbon-based cocktails that easily get the walls spinning. But truthfully, the magic at this College and Bathurst café has more to do with the care the baristas take in pulling your espresso right. Featuring over a dozen bourbons, cocktails such as the Wu Tang (Jim Beam, cynar, cassis, lemon, bitters, and ginger beer) and boozy coffees like the Kid Voodoo (Americano, bourbon, flamed orange, and bitters), Voodoo’s penchant for social and beverage alchemy is obvious in the modern-meet-bohemian space, with communal seating and a wraparound bar.

The Walton

9
607 College St, Toronto, ON M6G 1B5

Disastrously cute, The Walton is bound to charm. The quaint décor is evocative of an Edwardian pub with a Canadian spin. Old postcards of Mounties adorn the walls and dried-leaf arrangements dot the tabletops. Hangout at the marble-topped bar or lounge on the plush seating in the dining area. As for food and drink, an expansive beer, wine and cocktail list is available day and night, while cheese, meat, and fish are served tapas style. Smack in Little Italy, it’s a beautiful spot to sip espresso during the afternoon and indulge in a little romance once evening rolls around.

Have you been hunting for the best guacamole in Toronto? Look no further. Whether you’re after citrus flavours, chunky texture or spice, you’ll find the guacamole to suit your needs right here. This list is guaranteed to make you long for Mexico then assuage you with the best local alternatives. Salud! [Photo of El Catrin by Parisima Baha]
Born to the streets of urban Japan, the izakaya is traditionally understood as a place to stay and drink. Whether it’s a divey hole where a stomach is quelled with copious deep-fried edibles, or a refined eatery delivering a superb culinary and social experience, the city is rich with unique takes on Japanese food and atmosphere. Itadakimasu! [Image credit: iStock.com/PamelaJoeMcFarlane]
Now Donna! Now Dashiell! Now Pauline and Veronica! The holiday season is upon you Toronto – it’s time to gather friends and family dear for some comfy cocktails and cozy dinners, and these chummy diners, trendy bistros, and historical spots are sure to fit the bill. Read on as we take you for a carriage ride through the frosty streets of Toronto and some of the city’s most charming venues to gather during the holidays.
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