Respect the Boondi! Toronto's secret cocktail bar!

As you know folks, one of my favourite things to discover when visiting New York or London is a speak easy - a secret, exclusive place to enjoy some fine drinking and cocktails.  While New York's Milk and Honey has secret handshakes and passwords that change regularly preventing regular folks from coming, the The Toronto Temperance Society has a $285 membership fee for those who are serious about enjoying their world-class selection of fine spirits and cocktails.
I've been anticipating the arrival of TTS for almost a year after having a casual conversation with one of Sidecar's owners Casey Bee about this project.  
Casey and partner Bill Sweete from Sidecar and cocktail writer, Christine Sismondo are the ones behind this speak easy and have carefully thought of everything including a strict set of house rules with rules such as 'if you order a cosmo, you'd be politely asked to leave' and my favourite is 'please do not speak to a lady at the bar without first being spoken to, it isn’t that kind of a place.' 
As you walk into this intimate place, from an unmarked door next to Sidecar, you are greeted by Adrian, your pour master.  Liquor that was only available from pre-prohibition times stock the bar and drinks are made in the same style of 1920s so Adrian explains that if i'm looking for a vodka soda, since vodka was post 1920- they will give me one as they had to modernize the bar to fit everybody's needs but they would prefer if i kept to the theme.
They make their own juices fresh daily, from grapefruit, pineapple to orange and bar mix.  They also made their own tonics which is impressive.  Adrian uses cracked ice from a sheet pan that he brings out for certain drinks and machine ice for others to help infuse flavours better together.

At Adrian's insistence, we try their Gin and home made Tonic.  While in my usual life, my drink is a vodka soda and I stay away from gin; I was a convert here.  The tonic has a lingering sweetness which made the drink go down easy and I would highly recommend.  We also try the Toronto Temperance, where Adrian ignites an orange rind to give me a more powerful taste.  The Rye Crusta that we try has to be done a particular way where Adrian needs to wrap a lemon rind around the glass and it's a sweeter drink if you're looking for something lighter/sweeter.  The biggest hit of the night was the cilantro mule, which is their best seller. Cilantro is one of those herbs that isn't on everybody's favourite list but this drink is executed so well and goes down so easy.  What I need to try for my next visit is their original Cubano mojito, which is a perfect cocktail for those steamy nights in Toronto.
OH, and I can't forget to talk about their bar snack- boondi- it's a chick pea rice puff that is infused with indian spices.  It's addicting and pairs very well with any drink ... respect the boondi.

*** 1/2 stars
The Toronto Temperance Society
577A College Street, Toronto 416 536 7001


    1. Nothing here really indicates why it's only 3.5 stars. It's a very flattering revue, but then it gets a slightly above average grade. I'd be interested in knowing what you felt was missing in addition to the things you liked. Do you think the fee is just too much for what's offered? (that was my concern, and why I didn't sign-up)

    2. I really enjoyed their original gin and tonic, the boondi of course and their cilantro mule. The bartender was knowledgeable and chatty and it was a pleasant evening hence the above average rating... would I buy the membership? No but am hoping to be invited as a guest..