My Gay Toronto - Bellini's 8 1/2

Saloon star cocktails

by Paul Bellini

The other night I dared venture out of the Village and went to the Weslodge Saloon. Located at 480 King West (near Spadina), it’s a cool hangout for the affluent young straight crowd. The occasion was called Round Up, and it celebrated three new inventive cocktails that they are adding to their growing list of drinks.

The place is both vast and cozy at the same time. Stuffed animal heads vie for wall space alongside vintage photographs, as handsome waiters buzz from table to table. I took a minute to soak in the décor, particularly the gigantic custom-made cabinets that line the west wall. The place was busy, as invited guests gobbled up appetizers made from such currently chic food items as pork rind, chicken skin, corn on the cob, and brisket.

Then there’s the drinks. I don’t normally order anything other than a beer in most gay bars, but tonight I lived it up with a cocktail called The Alchemist. Described as smoky and sweet, it combined Ketel One vodka, Johnny Walker Red whiskey, bitters, lapsang souchong tea and best of all, a delicious charred wood simple syrup, giving the drink a husky, musky flavor. I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for anything charred. This one went straight down the throat. Then there was the Orange Spiced Old Fashioned, which is just what it says it is – Bulleit bourbon, a combination of Angostura bitters and Xocolatl Mole bitters, and this time an orange spiced simple syrup, all garnished with an orange rind. Simply delicious. These drinks are the real star of the show.
So if you ever happen to find yourself in the Entertainment District with nothing to do, be sure to check out Weslodge and their genius cocktail menu. Just try not to freak out over all the stuffed moose heads on the wall.

Weslodge Saloon is at 480 King St W.