Happy Cinco de Mayo - celebrate with mezcal! 1 King W. Hotel smashing party
Star Travel correspondent Bert Archer files this report on celebrations for May 5 down south of the border...
Cinco de Mayo is a sort of Mexican St. Patrick’s Day. It’s bigger with the ex-pats than it is back home, where it’s mostly celebrated in the state of Puebla, where that battle against the French that it commemorates was fought.
And like St Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo has a drink attached: tequila. But the Mexicans do something better with agave than that, and though there’s only one example of it available at the LCBO, it’s worth a shot. Or three.
Mezcal hasn’t yet got its kick at the can hereabouts, but when I tried it for the first time last month in Mexico City's La Opera bar, I was hooked from the first smoky, peppery sip. I had my second a few hours later, and my third the next day. Then I brought some home and vowed I’d do what I could to make Ontario a safer place for what some call Mexico’s cognac.
Turns out, Allan Fryman had the same idea, and a good deal more wherewithal. He’s the organizer of the Tequila and More Show, which happens Friday May 6 at the Convention Centre from 4-11:30pm. In addition to all the tequila, he’s bringing up 12 mezcals in addition to the one – Jaral de Berrio – the LCBO carries.
I suggest trying at least three – a young one, a reposado, and an anejo. The flavours are deep and rich, even with the youngest of them, and if you’re over about 21, you may find yourself forsaking tequila for its brooding older brother.
Sounds great, Bert. Maybe I'll try some tonight in celebration of Cinco de Mayo and something that feels suspiciously like spring weather in Toronto, not that any of us remember.
Back to Travel Edito Jim Byers for now....
ONE KING WEST HOTEL/CONDO
The folks at 1 King W. hotel and condos put on a Wowser of an open house on Tuesday night, complete with a fabulous oyster bar, Asian food and plenty of nice spirits. That was great but what blew me away was the main hall on the second floor.
It's the former main hall of the old Dominion Bank at King and Yonge, and it's definitely one of this city's hidden architectural highlights, with soaring arches some three-storeys high, painted ceilings with coats of arms and lots of gold and burnished wood. A stunning place for a reception, for sure (see photo with dramatic purple lights below).
The main floor entry is a tad small, but it's a nice lobby with a good-looking bar called Henri's, right off the street. They also will serve dinner or do special occasions on the lower level, even inside the massive vault. I'd never seen a real bank vault, and to witness a giant, round silver door that had to be 10 feet wide and 10-feet high and five-feet thick was pretty cool.
They also had food and drinks upstairs on the 12th floor in what was the old headquarters of The Ontario Club. It's a lovely, warm room with lots more polished wood, big windows looking south towards the bay and a giant fireplace; the sort of spot where captains of industry met in days of yore to plot out the next mayoral election or stock market takeover. Very cool, and it's another spot that would be a great place for a private function.
I didn't get a look at any of the hotel rooms, but perhaps some other time....
They served some pretty interesting drinks, including one called The Royal Reserve with sparkling wine, aged Appleton rum and lemon juice. I tried one, but I probably won't do so again. Too bitter, I thought.
Sparkling wine is great with a bit of lemon juice and a splash of cognac, but not so much the rum in my book. And, anyway, Appleton rum is great stuff so why ruin it with adding sparkling wine? Orange juice and pineapple and a maraschino cherry in a tall, frosty glass on the beach in Jamaica? That's another story....