You may have heard about the Toronto Temperance Society, but then again, you may not have. Although it’s a private club that’s worked hard to keep their speakeasy-esque location under wraps, The Toronto Temperance Society has become Toronto’s worst-kept secret. The TTS is an exclusive club for people who are serious about cocktails. And no, not a Cosmo or a Chocolate Martini, but good, old-fashioned cocktails, focusing on quality ingredients that allow a drinker to appreciate the subtle flavours of spirits.
We were invited to come and sip a few cocktails at the members-only club, and discover the secret of an amazing mixed beverage.
We tried several cocktails (including the first-ever cocktail, the Sazerac), and got some inside scoop about what sets them apart from your typical bar. Co-owners Bill Sweete and Casey Bee (who also own Negroni and the downstairs resto Sidecar), wanted to bring something unique to Toronto and the TTS was born. They focused on making sure everything is “just right”, rather than having the masses descend upon their cozy, cool bar.
We were blown away.
You don’t realize what a difference good ingredients make until you taste a TTS drink. We tasted a few, and each was spectacular. Flavours of rum, rye, whiskey or gin were not masked by fake sugary juices; rather, they were enhanced by house-made tonic, flamed orange peel, a house-made brandied cherry or a splash of freshly squeezed lime juice.
The TTS also imports hard-to-find liquors and spirits; host beer, Scotch, cognac and wine tastings; have experts available to chat details; and make ice that doesn’t melt as quickly (seriously).
Sure, the $285-annual membership fee might seem a little steep to enjoy some drinks at a bar. But it’s cheaper than the TTC, and infinitely more enjoyable.
It’s totally worth it. Go. Find a friend who is a member and beg them to take you, or pony up and get a membership (one membership can be shared by a couple, btw). You’ll never want a gin and tonic from anywhere else, we promise.
The Toronto Temperance
*This is an original Toronto cocktail, which, ironically, has not been available here since pre-1920’s. It uses Proof, which is the first spirit ever produced in Toronto.
2 oz. Canadian rye (they used Proof)
1/2 oz. Fernet-Branca
1/2 oz. simple syrup
a dash of angostura bitters
Measure all ingredients into a glass mixing pitcher (or martini shaker) with a few ice cubes. Shake, and strain into cocktail glass.
Finish with a flamed orange garnish: heat a slice of orange peel with a lighter, until the oils emerge from the skin and drop into the drink.
*We were enjoying ourselves so much that we forgot to snap photos. Photo above from Toronto Temperance Society website.