Bar Mordecai

Designed to feel like a vintage hotel lobby set of a Wes Anderson movie, Bar Mordecai can feel just about as twee as its muse, with its resident hipster clientele and neon-signed basement karaoke rooms. What draws not just Instagrammers but also serious drinkers to this trendy stretch of Dundas Street West, though, might just be a reputation for community-building that extends beyond the bar. Bartender Christina Veira – the winner of the Roku Industry Icon Award 2022 – has made a name (and raised many thousands of dollars) with community events that support causes that are important to women, people of colour and the LGBT community.

Its killer happy hour, with offerings like five-buck amaro and sodas and two-buck-a-shuck oysters, makes it more accessible than many other Toronto bar contenders, too. One sip of a drink like the Royal Old Fashioned (rum and Demerara sugar, cocoa, sarsaparilla and coffee bitters) could spark a mindful conversation around the legacy of colonial plantations, should you choose to read into it that deeply. It's also just a deeply satisfying, carefully crafted riff on a classic cocktail, just the sort of concoction for which this bar is beloved in and beyond its neighbourhood.