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Travel ·16.05.2024

Toronto, a culturally-refined metropolis

Toronto, a culturally-refined metropolis

Toronto is revered for its multicultural outlook and cosmopolitan feel. A quick scan of the city’s place names reveals how much of a melting pot it is: Greektown and Little India, Little Portugal and Koreatown, Little Poland and Chinatown. Roughly one-in-two of its inhabitants were born outside of Canada, ensuring fresh ideas and cultural influences are never more than a stone’s throw away. 


Situated on the shores of Lake Ontario, Toronto has a thriving arts scene. High-profile museums like the Art Gallery of Ontario intermingle with underground culinary institutions like St. Lawrence Farmer's Market, where artisans have been rolling up every Saturday for the last 200 years to sell their produce. 


In partnership with Cool Material, we interviewed two creatives who call the city their home to find out what to do, see, eat and drink.

Compact Weekender

Distiller

CN Tower

Jacob Martin, award-winning mixologist at Bar Banane

How did you first get into bartending?

I actually started as a cheesemonger… becoming the national buyer for Whole Foods Market. I was buying millions of dollars of cheese a week. Then I began running cheese programmes in fine dining restaurants, including a place called Hexagon


A bartender was working there and he was just legendary. There was always a giant crowd of people around him. I put down my cheese knives, went over to him and said, “I don't know exactly what you're doing but I think it's what I want to do”. After doing cheese for 11 years, I never looked back.

What's the trick to putting together the perfect cocktail?

You do need to marry technique, speed and quality ingredients every single time. It's not about making one good cocktail — that's quite simple. Making sequences, hundreds of cocktails, perfectly, over many, many, many years — that's challenging.

You can find all of the best bars in Canada within 900 metres of one another

What are your favourite bars in Toronto?

Bar Pompette, a project I opened up with a bunch of Parisians. It’s this little French bistro. You enter and go down a set of wooden stairs to find (probably) the most modern laboratory in the city. It looks like you have walked into a hospital setting and people are processing bespoke ingredients in really creative ways. Delicious.


The other one is called Civil Liberties. Civil Liberties is a cocktail bar. There's no menu. You go in and you say what's on your mind. You say, "Hey, I want something with pineapple” or, “I want something that's in the style of Mai Tai”. And they're going to make something memorable for you.

The Carry-on X
The Carry-on X

The Carry-on X

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How would you spend the perfect off-duty day in Toronto?

I'm going to go to St. Lawrence Market. I'm going to go to Alex's Farm Products for cheese. I'm going to get the ripest thing I can find. A few bottles of wine. I'll get a flat of oysters. I'm going to get some charcuterie and some olives. I'm going to hop on a 10-minute ferry. I'm going to go to Toronto Island with my friends with a frisbee and we're going to have fun. We're going to lay in the sun and we're going to eat the best food that we possibly can.

What's your favourite neighbourhood in Toronto and why do you love it?

Queen West is probably the best… it was kind of a no-fly zone, and then overnight, all of the artists, restaurateurs and designers went to that neighbourhood and it's held onto that identity over the past 30 years. You can find all of the best bars in Canada within 900 meters of one another. So you can stumble into memorable venues left, right and centre.

Avant-garde is here

Palissy Briefcase
Palissy Briefcase

Palissy Briefcase

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Alan Ganev, managing partner at Tagliatella Galleries

How did you get into the art world?

Since I was a kid, I’ve always been a creative person, so I studied fine arts. In my early twenties, I was very interested in bringing people together and creating little gallery shows. Then at one point, I'm like, "Okay, but this is not sustainable in the long term. How do I make some money out of this?" And that's when I started being more invested in galleries and the business aspect of it. After 15 years, I'm finally at a spot where I'm doing a lot of the work I was passionate about in my early twenties but at a level where I have the resources to elevate all these art district projects

What is your favourite gallery in Toronto?

Cry Baby Gallery because it's not a gallery, per se, but a cultural space that has a cocktail bar in the back. As a business model, they create revenue from the bar side of the space. The front space they use for cultural activations. It’s truly an environment for local artists to emerge and express themselves.

The Carry-on X
The Carry-on X

The Carry-on X

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And museum?

I think the Art Gallery of Ontario [AGO] has been doing a great job at creating blockbuster shows… from KAWS, Keith Haring and Yayoi Kusama. They're bringing rockstar artists into the city. 


Another unique place is the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto [MOCA]. It's in the part of the city called the ‘Junction’ — very industrial. And their building is nine stories high. When you go in, they have giant columns that are so imposing.

How would you spend the perfect off-duty day in Toronto?

Go to have a slice of pizza at a place like Badiali's and walk around and maybe do bit of vintage shopping.

Ready to discover Toronto?

Learn more at Destination Toronto and see it for yourself by entering for your chance to win a 2-night stay at The St. Regis Toronto, a flight to/from Toronto on Air Canada, a gift certificate valued at $1,000 from Carl Friedrik and $500 cash to spend during your time in the city. Terms and conditions apply.

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