Cool Cocktail Creations at Toronto’s Drake Hotel
This summer the iconic Drake Hotel in Toronto transforms itself into a playground of passion. After the success of last year’s Summer School theme, the complex has deemed themselves Drakeland, a nod to old-school amusement parks complete with a (model) roller coaster inside the main lobby.
The Drake always seems to have a party going on, so I recently stopped by to check out all the fun things they have planned for the hot summer months ahead. The café and side street patio is always a chilled place to hang during the day and early evening, where you can grab some light bites, and sip on lattes or classic cocktails like the whiskey-based Old Time Strongman with sweet vermouth and apple brandy. Also on the main floor is the Lounge for those more inclined to air-conditioned environs. A variety of entertainment from DJs to classic flicks keep patrons amused into the wee hours of the night.
For a more subdued evening the Dining Room is located in the quieter back end of the property serving up plenty of fresh edibles, and is also where you can find the Cocktail Den with the neon-illuminated “Bartender Is In” sign. This pop-up bar is staffed by one of the experienced bartenders like Simon Ho, who are more than happy to chat with patrons to discuss various libation options to best whet your whistle. Ho loves to experiment and recently came up with the Kaleontoligogist, which comes complete with a water-soluble dragon that grows larger when added to the finished product as an accessory. Although there is fun to be had with cocktails, Ho ascertains, “I never sacrifice substance for style”.
The Sky Yard is definitely one of Toronto’s hidden gem patios. This is where fashionistas hang with the hipsters, and suits mingle with drag queens. It’s also a continuation of the amusement park concept with another pop-up bar called the Lemonade Stand. This was where I parked myself for a few hours and enjoyed the most refreshing concoctions of Lavender Lemonade made with vodka, Raspberry Lemonade made with rum, and Lemon Song made with gin. The latter one was named after the famous Led Zeppelin tune and can be purchased solo for $12 or with a copy of the album for $25. How sweet is that?
Other things to check out at Drakeland include the art exhibit When Sparks Fly that explores artworks with reflective surfaces, Fantastic Fridays with magicians and tarot card readers, and Sunday Lobster Fare where the $32 prix fixe menu includes a one-pound lobster, grilled corn, herb and butter potatoes, coleslaw, biscuit and shortcake for dessert, as well as a bottle of Keith’s IPA. Late night shenanigans happen nightly in the Underground with a variety of Park-After-Dark House Parties. Finally, the Drake General Store is celebrating all things Canadian with a collection of homeland goodies called From Canada With Love, including an organic beer soap that will freshen you up at the end of a hot day of play, eh!
Let’s not forget this is still at hotel at heart, with 19 artist-designed Crash Pads including one playful suite, available to continue your amusements in all night long. Check in with the Merry Go-Round Package which includes a one-night stay, two cruiser bikes, a gourmet picnic lunch and a Drake-designed map featuring some favourite city destinations. Hot time summer in the city!
Drake Hotel, 1150 Queen Street West, Toronto