Rounds of Applause

Booze that begs to be noticed

Recently I paid $45 for a cocktail. A single drink. It was a Manhattan. I believe, if you adjust for inflation, this is about the same amount that the Dutch paid in 1626 to the Lenape Indians for the entire island of the same name.

What do you get when you order a $45 libation? At Toronto’s tony Barchef…a supremely sophisticated, deeply darkened watering hole on Queen St. West, you get quite a show.

This is like Cirque du Soleil with hooch.

The Barchef Manhattan is just one of the molecular concoctions that fuse booze with bravado. These drinks are not slopped down on the table with a cardboard coaster. They make an entrance. They float in on beds of glowing embers. There are crucibles of scented dry ice that flood the table with a sultry fog…as if you were tippling somewhere on a moor. If you’ve put your cellphone down, it’ll disappear.

There are little pillows of flavour bursts that prep your palate…they call them raviolis…although there is no actual pasta involved. There are elegant spoonfuls of foam and scented salt. They have classified some of the elements as ‘air’.  So, yes, you’re paying for air, mon frere!

Most of this works wonderfully, especially as the evening wears on.

The Manhattan (the signature bit of alchemy) comes in sitting atop an elegant wrought iron pedestal. It is covered with a large glass dome which is full of smoke. At this stage you can’t actually see the drink. The smoke is created by burning hickory and vanilla bean pods and is designed to infuse the booze. The servers at Barchef  have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do. There’s quite a tale to be told when they present the drink. And then the glass dome comes off with a flourish…the smoke wafts away into the blackness of the bar and you take your first sip. Drumroll, please.

It’s awfully good, folks. Even at $45.

I was taken to Barchef by a couple of television colleagues who, I think, were intent on altering my state of consciousness. They succeeded brilliantly.

And…the tab? Oh, please…must you ask?

Just go flush and leave flushed. You’ll have a good time.

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One Response to “Rounds of Applause”

  1. Love the “Pillows of flavour” comment

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