By Amy Sanderson
CC Lounge on Front Street East wasn’t fully open when I was invited for the media party on December 8, 2014, so there wasn’t clear signage out front to find it. Either this or they are harkening back to the Prohibition era where you needed a special password or handshake to get into the gin joints.
In any case, I was welcomed warmly by a staff member who promptly guided me to the bar for my first cocktail, the Dizzy Dame, which featured Wiser’s whiskey, green tea and a splash of ginger beer. Tasty and refreshing. I also sampled the Kitten Cocktail made with Smirnoff Double Black, Pama liquor, Chambard, muddied raspberries, and topped with champagne.
There was a gal in a big birdcage near the door. This seems to be the in thing to do for openings these days. I’m going to say it seemed a bit odd. She wasn’t really doing anything except having a drink looking odd, cooped up in a massive, ill-placed cage. You would think she might dance or caw or something.
Other than the birdcage thing, the evening was lovely. The bar is large and opens on to several banquettes. The tilted chandeliers and disco balls add some festivity to the scene.
Now, I am going to preface my glee with the CC Lounge offerings by saying I am a huge whiskey fan. I was delighted by the whiskey gauntlet. They let me know that they would likely be having some kind of secret sign for select patrons to let them know the hall is open for them.
I was led into this “secret” hallway and dazzled by the double old fashioned glassware supplied under the well-stocked shelves of whiskey lining the wall. A few of us were given a history of the Canadian whiskey story, which started with Wiser’s. The hall continued with bourbon, blended scotches and then finally my favourite, single malts.
We were given a small taste of dark sea-salt Lindt chocolate and asked to let it melt in our mouth before sampling Forty Creek Spike Honey Spiced whiskey. It was amazing to detect the extra complexity the scotch nose gives when this flavour is introduced to the palette.
I never met a Glen I didn’t like (Glenmorangie, Glenfiddich and Glenlivet). The scotch expert, James Arvanitopoulis, the Director and CC Lounge’s historian, treated me to a very special 21 year old single malt scotch: the Glenlivet Archive 21. This was truly a phenomenal flavour. The dark caramel and orange smokiness enveloping my senses brought me to a Scottish peat fired keg.
The delicious shrimp cocktail shot glass was filled with shrimp, mayo and a sprig of coriander for a lemony fresh aftertaste. My favourite.
The poutine with veal and beef gravy was tasty and they gave us a generous portion to enjoy.
I also enjoyed the PEI oysters with apple whiskey mignonette.
Brent, the chef was poached from a trendy bar in Leslieville. He seemed a little nervous to be out mingling with the guests, but was happy to discuss his research on the Prohibition era and his take on creating updated versions of the Prohibition style menus of the time, which include the Waldorf salad, shrimp cocktail and roasted trout and shallots avocado.
The former tenant at the CC Lounge location was a Toronto bookstore. This location, in the heart of the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood, should attract local condo dwellers and Sony Centre patrons. Maybe even sneak a few customers away from O&B and Houstons on Yonge.
A great place to tuck into if you are a scotch aficionado.