Season’s Eatings to All ye Tastefuls, Jeremy Day here – Wine Geek of cafeTaste EVENTS” – still having a blast with the bar and wine program at The Drake One Fifty!
Things have certainly been eye-opening over the last year catering to the Bay-Street crowd after being in my Parkdale ‘hood for 7 years, and I thought as a year is ending I’ll throw-down the pros and cons and trends of both neigbourhoods, and what I’d see as a possible future for both!
Parkdale is the Little-Train-That-Could for wine lovers in this city – in 2005 when I began my Wine & Cheese Bar program, people looked at me like I had a third eye, but now, almost 10 years later wine aficionados have ample places to sample some fantastically esoteric and quality crafted wines – both local and international – from the local premium VQA samplings of The Local Wine Bar & Geraldine to Jacob Wharton-Shukster’s Georgian Wines at Chantecler (pro-tip: ask Jacob what specials he’s pouring and get him to pull an espresso when you’re leaving – he pulls the BEST shots of espresso available in downtown after 7PM).
What I love about Parkdale is that it IS now a wine destination for people who want to truly enjoy what is in their glass, and venture off the beaten track of “California Cabs”, “New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs” and “South American Malbec”…
…Speaking of California/New Zealand/South America…
The Bay Streeters gravitate towards the tried-and-true trophy wines of the new world, with California being their go-to, and it can be challenging in general to open-up their palettes and minds to just taste through the gems on our list at The Drake One Fifty.
Sure, I’m all for selling those (over) pricey Californians, but at heart I’d still love people to just explore and taste the exceptional flavour profiles AND values of some of the rarer finds – when you’re by, ask me to dust-off some of the killer off-list bottles we have hiding in our cellar.
– Winner: Parkdale – for it’s experimental clientele
Parkdale has of course seen an up-surge in quality drinking holes, with the wine and cocktail programs at Chantecler & Geraldine again being huge dots on the radar, being good enough to increase property values of the nearby residents! DO grab Geraldine’s Vietnamese coffee 😉
It is fantastic to see this neighbourhood be part of Toronto’s cutting edge of artisan cocktails with layered flavours and hand-crafted ingredients, and keep an eye out for things to just get better!
The Drake One-Fifty has lucked-out with the Bay Street crowd being an exacting bunch when it comes to their cocktails, and the bar team have answered the call in spades with an evolving seasonal cocktail menu using fresh ingredients. The best part here is that as we all contribute. The menu lists our names, so you can chat-up and taste through with the creators of the drinks. I feel this is a requirement for the discerning patron who wants to have the full-monty of a drink created and served to them for their enjoyment – When you drop by I’ll be steering you towards my own espresso & bourbon based cocktails and the Brown Butter Old-Fashioned 😉
– Winner: The Drake One Fifty/Bay St. area – for our team’s killer creativity and hands-on pouring for guests.
I’m an infant in beer-years (think dog-years as a measurement of age) and I’ve got to hand it to Ontario Craft Breweries like Beau’s, F&M, and Bellwoods for really making those years matter. I’m pleased to say that all over Toronto consumers are becoming savvy to a well crafted beer over the larger suds.
Kudos to the market share held however by the giants that no matter how “high-brow” an event or function is, a startling number still just walks up to bars anywhere in Toronto and order a Canadian or Coors Light as they assume it will “of course” be available (pro-tip: The Giant foreign breweries control the market of beer sales in Ontario – keep your money in our economy and buy local).
So really, I cannot recommend either Parkdale or Bay St. as consumers are waking up and smelling the coffee porters, as it were, of quality beer. (Nice one – Ed. – JD)
Both Parkdale and Bay Street, each almost staring each other down derisively for precisely the same reasons of style and taste are both places to park yourselves in for winter libations, and I’m going to say The Drake One-Fifty comes out ahead overall as it does bleed the aesthetic and standards set out by our hip head honcho hotel. Come by and let’s bask in the warmth of bourbon-fuelled camaraderie and overheard conversations of corporate take-overs. I’ve bottles that need to be enjoyed with a wink and a nod to conspicuous consumption.
SO, as you all know, my New Years’ Eve’s functions were more than a bit debaucherous, well the Drake One-Fifty team is doing it up right with a NYE menu and wine/drink specials, PLUS, I’ve been busy with more than a few private events, and have done some great tours to Niagara and PEC.
Interested in something hands-on for the new year? Why not join me in an overnight visit of PEC wineries with a stay-over at The Drake Devonshire? Drop me a note and we’ll put something together, for the Ontario wine industry is constantly proving to me why it IS my preferred wine region internationally.
No where else in the world is there such a mixture of Old World sensibilities, such as the biodynamic wines of Southbrook, and cutting-edge applications of methodologies and experiments, such as the inclusion of Petit Verdot, Aglianico, and Sangiovese in Stratus blends or the piment wines and meads of Rosewood Estates, or the CHOA – Cherry, Hickory, Oak, Ash barrels of Karlo Estates. Seriously open-minded and brilliantly crafted wines in our Province, and it is only getting better.
AND, speaking of PEC wine, it is with greatest sadness I raise a glass to Richard Karlo of Karlo Estates who passed away last month. Richard was a giant of wine, both in stature and in skill, with a manner that made everyone feel welcome and at ease. He shared not only great wines with me, but stories and ideas which I’ll have for the rest of my days – you’ll be remembered, missed, and loved, Richard.
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Why “Wine Geek“? Jeremy Day believes that wine should be enjoyed and discussed… by everyone!
Over thousands of years wine was the drink of the people, of the proletariat, of the soldier. Why should wine be put on a pedestal? When opening cafe Taste Jeremy wanted something rustic and unpretentious, a haven for enjoying local wine to be intended to bring wine back to the people. “Opulence for the Common Man” became his mantra as higher-end products were sold at a sliding scale so that people could enjoy higher-end experiences with a drastically lower mark-up. This was highly successful as people could treat themselves to products they may have otherwise not been enticed to try at industry-standard pricing models.
As such, he chose the title “Wine Geek” instead of the sommelier title: He’s passionate about wine, about talking and learning about what wonderful local wines can be had if one but chooses to look. Talk to him about local wine and you’ll meet his geeky side!
Jeremy won the 2011 VQA Promoter of the Year award for his diligence and passion toward promoting local, and his wine list received Gold Standing for 4 years running with the Wine Council of Ontario.
His cocktail program at cafeTaste included aging mixed spirits in wood and the creation of his own bitters and vermouths, and at every turn looked for local spirits and ingredients to be at the core of his cocktails.
Thank you, Jeremy, for your tribute to Richard. I had no idea you did this and just came across it today. Bless you.