Food & Drink, Venues

Reserving The Holidays

Drake One Fifty just opened in the Financial DistrictDrake One Fifty just opened in the Financial District

Hosting holiday events needn’t be stressful. Keep logistics simple by booking the season’s gatherings into sensational restaurants. Whether for a merry team luncheon or dinner, celebratory client toasts, or a festive cocktail celebration, choose a dining establishment that tops everyone’s “must-try” wish list.

The last year, and the last few months in particular, has seen some amazing holiday party-worthy restaurants open. Here’s just a handful for group reservation consideration:

After-work Toasts

Douglas Coupland's graphic sunset fills a wall at Drake One FiftyDouglas Coupland’s graphic sunset fills a wall at Drake One Fifty

The Setting: The Drake Hotel recently hitched its scene-making hipness to the Financial District with the just opened Drake One Fifty. The standalone resto-bar is eclectically post-modern stylish, with teal, navy and red leather banquettes topping custom-designed geometric tiled flooring. Phenomenal artwork graces walls and space including a sunset mural by Douglas Coupland and recycled paper and Styrofoam cup sculptural installation by Eleanor King.

Event Perfect Because: Besides the mouth-watering brasserie-style menu and vintage-style photo booth? Then it’s the 60-foot circular marble bar crowned by a Micah Lexier art piece. A performance stage area is home to DJs and live programming. Large group bookings include a 12-seat semi-private alcove. Private buy out accommodates receptions of up to 260.

Drinks Worthy: Call on the French 75 (Hennessy V.S. cognac, lemon juice, sugar and Prosecco) for a yummy holiday sparkler! A carefully curated wine and drinks menu gives a nod to every season with featured cocktail themes and ingredients.

Added Bonus: There’s also an 80-seat landscaped patio in season. Plus the location in Adelaide Place tower means cheap post-6 p.m. parking in the underground garage and easy accessibility from the PATH.

The Cocktail Parlor in the Storys building is a crowd pleaserThe Cocktail Parlor in the Storys building is a crowd pleaser

Lounge Into The Season

The Setting: The Cocktail Parlor, housed on the second floor of the historic Storys building, a converted brick-and-beam warehouse, is a little bit Art Deco, a little bit to the manor born. Globe lighting fixtures dangle down from the exposed ceiling over luxe leather banquettes and warm wood flooring. Industrial metal accents are unique. A gorgeous back-lit bar wall spotlights the Parlor’s main reason for being — liquor to mix, muddle and shake into fabulous cocktail creations.

Event Perfect Because: Four floors within Storys – street-level The Tavern is slated to open early winter – means there’s room to move events around. Start with drinks in The Cocktail Parlor which seats about 100, then move on up to the third or fourth floor where raw event space lets you customize staging for 150 guests. Food menus spotlight cocktail-perfect canapés small plates and inventive bar bites with options for customized sit-down dining.

Drinks Worthy: A gorgeous magazine-style drinks menu lists over 65 handcrafted libations that twist up cocktail classics such as the Orange Spice Old Fashioned – bourbon, orange spiced simple syrup, angostura bitter, xocolate mole, and orange oil.

Added Bonus: Give holiday gathering an interactive spin with an in-house mixology tutorial. A Storys’ bartending pro leads the group in the art of cocktails shaking and stirring while the kitchen offers up delicious food pairings.

The Living Room at the Windsor Arms HotelThe Living Room at the Windsor Arms Hotel

Hotel Party

The Setting: Hotels offer loads of versatile holiday options. New this season is The Living Room at the Windsor Arms. The resto-lounge is shabby chic sublime with distinctive British parlour overtones. Oversized, cushion-strewn leather chesterfields, dark woods, vintage accents and plaid-papered walls give the space for 150 reception-style a cozy embrace. A private back dining room takes on a more regal fine-dining air for 35 seated VIPs.

Event Perfect Because: The posh location and its rep as a well-known celebrity haunt guarantees a “Yes” to the holiday invite. The Living Room’s long marble bar and arranged seating nooks are socializing friendly. There’s even a stash of board games for team fun. Comfort foods are the menu focus including pub favourites such as shepherd’s pie – a perfect tummy warmer over the holiday season.

Drinks Worthy: Reserve the pour-your-own-draft table where guests draw their own pints from Amsterdam and Mill St. local micro-brew taps. Over 50 local craft beers are available including a vegan beer on draft. As a Wine Spectator-recognized establishment of vintage excellence, the wine list is understandably long and impressive.

Added Bonus: The Living Room opens at 7 a.m. — consider putting a holiday breakfast on the hosting calendar. There’s also a beautiful private patio seating 40 that can be tented for winter.

El Catrin is a vibrant setting in which to dineEl Catrin is a vibrant setting in which to dine

Add Festive Heat

The Setting: Say ole to the holidays with a Mexican party at El Catrin, which recently opened in the Distillery District’s former Boiler House space. Big, vibrant and colourful, the restaurant is packed with eye-popping décor and details. Oversized black hooded, filigree-trimmed chandeliers are everywhere. A massive floor-to-ceiling black light-lit street art mural covers one wall, a wood-framed collection of neon-lit skull masks, another.

Event Perfect Because: It’s holiday atypical, from décor to vibe to food and drink. The resto accommodates 174 with seating for groups of up to 18. An extensive tapas menu of exquisitely plated authentic traditional and modern Mexican cuisine gives party food a delicious twist. Long harvest tables furnish two semi-private dining rooms. One on the upper mezzanine seating 14, gives guests a bird’s eye view of action below. The other, seating 18, is located in the main floor’s candlelit bodega.

Drinks Worthy: Authentic margaritas – four flavours – by the glass and pitcher, gorgeously garnished tequila and beer-based cocktails, plus 120 different tequilas and mezcals. Kick things off with tasting flights of top brand tequilas.

Added Bonus: Outside, beneath a chandelier-strewn pergola, a heated 190-seat patio with central fire pit that is open year-round.

Elegance reigns at The Chase Elegance reigns at The Chase

Take It High End

The Setting: Events at The Chase are more on par with entertaining in a luxury penthouse than sitting in a restaurant. With a view to the Financial District, the fine-dining lounge is housed in the new glass-clad fifth floor addition to the historic Dineen Building. There’s also The Chase Fish & Oyster restaurant on the ground floor with upscale nautical design and seating for 130. Features include an oyster shucking station at the bar.

Event Perfect Because: The Chase’s swank interior impresses, perfect for power suits and high-end client wowing. Enter through the foyer and into the library bar featuring bi-fold windows. Take a peak into the open-concept kitchen as you make your way into the main dining room, awash in cream and neutral hues, gorgeous chandeliers and luxe banquette seating for 94. A gorgeous fifth-floor terrace patio accommodates spillover. Full buy-out fits 220 guests.

Drinks Worthy: Order up The Chase’s GIN, a refined cocktail of Beefeater gin, Fino sherry, lemon, grapefruit and sugar. Make it a coastal sipper at The Chase Fish & Oyster with the Batten Down The Hatches, a mix of scotch, pineapple, ginger and mint.

Added Bonus: A private dining room on the lower level of The Chase Fish & Oyster features heritage brick exposed walls, full a-v and seating for 16.

Noodle Bar Toronto at Momofuku. Photo credit: Gabriele StabileNoodle Bar Toronto at Momofuku. Photo credit: Gabriele Stabile

Lunch And Dinner Celebrations

The Setting: The three-story glass cube adjacent the Shangri-La Hotel is home to Momofuku Toronto, which recently celebrated its first-year anniversary. Contemporary with modern, clean, spare lines and décor, textured wooden slat walls flow throughout its four restaurant concepts. The cafeteria-like Noodle Bar Toronto on the ground floor seats 60 at communal tables and is available with full venue buy out. Nikai, the second-floor bar lounge, is ideal for cocktail events for up to 60. On the third, there’s Daisho, seating 80, and the exclusive 22-seat table at Shōtō.

Event Perfect Because: Because we like saying “Momofuku” – it just rolls off the tongue! Menus, inspired by seasonal ingredients, are perfectly – and deliciously – geared to group dining. Tempt palates with the Noodle Bar’s chicken meal that includes two whole fried chickens (southern-style and Korean-style) served with a load of sides including scallion pancakes. Daishōs’ large format meal options include bo ssäm, salt and pepper lobster, beef short rib and beef ribeye. For elite hosting, book Shōtō‘s table where guests dine on a 12-course tasting menu served personally by the culinary team.

Drinks Worthy: Go for the Smoke + Mirrors – tequila, chamomile, bitters and togarashi.

Added Bonus: Guests can name drop that they’ve dined on the renowned cuisine of Momofuku’s creator, the infamous Chef David Chang. Momofuku, by the way, means “lucky peach.”