Whisky Magazine Issue 117
This article is 23 months old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.
Copyright Whisky Magazine © 1999-2015. All rights reserved. To use or reproduce part or all of this article please contact us for details of how you can do so legally.
Our chap heads off on a mission to finding the craic in Toronto
Never pass a bar with your name on it.” That was Irish writer Peter McCarthy's rule. Since pubs called Phillips are rare, I honour him by popping into Toronto's McCarthy's for a quick dram and a pint of stout. Instead of a friendly publican to greet me, someone is measuring plywood, boarding the place up. “It's closed,” he says with a solid grasp of the obvious. Like an idiot, I jiggle the locked door just to be sure.
It's sad when a pub closes its doors, particularly one touted as authentically Irish. In Toronto, a city where you can't swing a shillelagh without hitting a pub, there will certainly be something Irish-like close by.
My cell phone dings – a text from Davin. “Trying Power's John's Lane – oily smooth and so succulent.” He's gallivanting across Dublin. Finding an authentic Irish pub in Toronto isn't as easy, but I press on.
In North America most Irish pubs are corporate “pubs in a box” – emerald green walls cluttered with faux memorabilia. Facsimiles of what you might find in… Irish Disneyland.
I'm seeking Toronto pubs that transcend this triteness and capture a genuine Irish spirit – with a whiskey list to match.
Another text arrives: “There are broad selections of beer and whiskey in tourist bars but most of the pubs in Ireland have only three bottles: Paddy, Powers, and Jameson. Redbreast and Green Spot, if they have them, are considered very special.” Suddenly Toronto is looking up.
At least once a year, on March 17th, Iri...