2 min

Drinking later & later

A record number of bars want extended hours

Credit: Joshua Meles

Booze, booze and more booze. That’s what’s on tap for this year’s Pride Week festivities. With more late night drinking at bars and restaurants and a bigger south beer garden, Pride organizers are promising a wet ride.

If approved by the Alcohol And Gaming Commission Of Ontario (AGCO) and Toronto City Hall, 17 local restaurants and bars will be serving alcohol until 4am from Thu, Jun 26 to Sun, Jun 29. That’s up from 12 applicants last year.

Woody’s/Sailor, Trax, Zipperz/Cell Block, Byzantium, the Black Eagle, the Barn/the Stables, The Looking Glass, Wilde Oscars, Le Petit Liban, Bar 501, Crews And Tango, El Convento Rico, the Croissant Tree, Pope Joan, Fly/Fire On The East Side, Five and Lula Lounge – way out on Dundas St W – have all been included in the Pride committee’s application to the AGCO.

If your favourite watering hole is missing from the list, it could be because it is not an official Pride sponsor.

“For liquor extensions, we are applying only on behalf of our sponsors and community supporters,” says Pride co-chair Ayse Turak.

To become an official sponsor and be eligible for extended hours, a business must donate at least $5,000 to Pride. Or, in the case of smaller businesses, make a more humble gesture of support such as holding a fundraiser. “These smaller organizations fall into the category of community supporters,” says Turak.

But simply being named in the application is no guarantee that a bar or restaurant will receive an extended liquor licence. The AGCO and City Hall can veto extended hours for any business.

“We review the background and record of each applicant to make certain that we haven’t had any problems with them in the past for overcrowding or any offsides on the Liquor Licence Act,” says Ab Campion, spokesperson for the AGCO.

While Campion expects that the applications will be processed when City Hall votes on the matter later this month, he says that once Pride has submitted its list, a bad record is the main thing that could prevent an individual bar or restaurant from getting extended hours.

“There was one facility last year that was included in the list requesting extended hours,” he says. “When we looked at their record they had had a number of liquor licence infractions and therefore we would not agree to have that establishment participate in the extended hours program,” says Campion.

He’s talking about the Barn, which has an ongoing legal tango with the AGCO over alleged liquor infractions.

For daytime and early evening drinking, the beer gardens are back.

“As always we are going to have the three main beer gardens along Church St; one at the north stage, one at the central stage [the Down Under stage, off Church St between Wilde Oscars and Crews And Tango] and one at the south stage,” says Turak. The south stage will be bigger this year, as it’s moving into the parking lot across from Maple Leaf Gardens, behind Zipperz.

“So rather than being on the street, where it has been traditionally, it’s going to be in a parking lot very similar to the way the central stage is,” she says.

And if that’s not enough drinking for you, Labatt Breweries is back again this year as the event’s top sponsor, and will be promoting its Pure Source vodka drink.

Of course, to avoid the boozy side of the fest, Pride celebrants can visit the Sunday Freezone, an artsy chem-free space in the parkette on Wellesley, just west of Church.