You know what question I get asked most as a bartender (other than “What’s good?”)?
“Where did you get those big ice cubes?”
For six years I have been trying to think of a way to say “From a big ice cube tray” without sounding like a jerk. Of course, after I convince the questioner that I am not just making some lame joke, I direct them to BYOB Cocktail Emporium located on Queen Street West in Toronto.
Kristen Voisey opened BYOB in 2011 after a trip to L.A. got her inspired. Until that trip, she really had little interest in Cocktail Culture or cocktails at all. I remember stopping by the store around then and thinking how cool it was that someone had opened this store in Toronto. After meeting and talking with her about once a month for the past 5 years she has become one of the faces I most like seeing around the city.
If you are a cocktail enthusiast, this place has what you need. If it doesn’t, just ask and they will help to hunt it down and get it for you. Kristen actually likes the challenge. Cardamom bitters? You got it. Almond and/or Cheese stuffed olives for your martinis? No worries. Limited Edition Bittered Sling Tales Of The Cocktail Bitters Sampler Pack? Just over to the left.
With every purchase from the shop you get a cute recipe card with drinks from Toronto bartenders that Kristen knows. (Some of whom you will find here.)
The general public has come a long way since the shop opened. “Three years ago it was, ‘what goes with a vodka soda?’ Now it’s, ‘I really like old fashioneds, what bitters should I use?’ ” Kristen explained on the day we went to photograph the shop.
While, as a bartender, finding a wholesale distributor for your bitters might be a more time and cost effective way to go about stocking your bar, BYOB is a great spot to see what all is out there and to inspire you to try out new things.