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The Shore Leave
Makes a Splash on the Danforth

Words and Photo Essay By Ryan Thompson
(Originally written for
Suggested listening:

It's March, all of your friends have either returned from Tulum with full-bodied suntans and stories of whales dancing in the sunset, or they’re currently overrunning your social media feeds with slow motion clips of the ocean lapping up against their ankles, somewhere far from Toronto, far from here.
But you deserve better.  You’ve been working hard since festival season, and a couple days over the high holidays surrounded by family barely qualifies as time off.  You and your Mai Tai deprived party mouth deserve a vacation of your very own.  So what to do?

Well, do we have the trip itinerary for you!  Gather up two or three of your fellow winter languishers and head out to the exotic and equally as remote Danforth and Coxwell, step through the doors of time and enter, The Shore Leave, the Danforth's first ever Tiki Bar.

Opened last Halloween, The Shore Leave, has been slinging up the best of a bygone era to a thirsty crowd of deservedly lucky locals.  Props to these two first time owners for avoiding the over crowded strips and skyrocketing rents of the west end, and just like the original tiki boats that carried their makers out over the waves of the pacific, for carving their own paths to success through uncharted territory.

“Wooden Tiki gods cajolingly grin out at you through the foliage.”

Walking through their doors makes you feel like you've just wandered down the pebbled pathway from your ocean-view hut and arrived at the beach front bar.  Wooden Tiki gods cajolingly grin out at you through the foliage, while kitsch patio lanterns drench the room in that oh-so-summery glow.  Claim one of their bar stools, and you’ve arrived.  With Link Wray ripping on the speakers and lava lamps bubbling at every table, this joint is offering simple and smooth in it’s purest, most honestly nostalgic form, and you don't need a travel guide to navigate this menu.  

Pals and Proprietors Zach Littlejohn, a sommelier and culinary grad, and born and raised Eastender, Julian Altrows, have got all your classics covered, but it's their effortless zests of personality that really make this bamboo clad Tiki bar stand out from the rest.

With a line of their own house made Shore Leave small batch bitters accenting some of their expertly, passion-crafted cocktails, these guys treat every splash that goes into a drink like it’s a work of art.

“Trippingly satiating, dangerously downable.”

You’re on vacation, so be adventurous, start off with one of their refreshing signature concoctions like the “Maiden Slayer”.  It’s a perfect evening primer consisting of gin, strawberry hibiscus, aka-kava (Tahitian style bitters), honey water & west avenue cider.  Trippingly satiating, dangerously downable.  

Now you could just dig your toes into the sand and safely slip into these all night, but that would be like going to the beach without your bathing suit, foolish and would undeniably force you to second guess your life decisions.  I’m speaking from personal experience here.

So have one of the equally talented and devilishly charming bartenders mix up one of their namesakes for you, “The Shore Leave”, a clean mix of zombie rum, ginger raisin liqueur, IPA ginger beer, citrus blend, cucumber & mint, and take it for a stroll around the room.  

The generously spaced out venue, affectionately aquamarine green, offers their holidayers a mix of environments to sip back in.  Whether it’s an intimate first date or a rowdy reunion, there’s a table for ten, lounge chairs, low tops and spaces to lean, all spread out with enough room to dance back and forth from the bar.

These guys have created what they call “a holy matrimony of art & drinks culture” and the proof is in their punch, enticingly titled “Jungle Juice”.  $65 gets you a party sized glass bowl full of zombie rum, gin, tequila, citrus liqueur, passion pineapple, mango ghost syrup, ginger ale & cider.  Ladle it into your glass, and you’ll find out why Tiki has taken over Toronto.

But why Tiki?  
Well, as every seasoned bargoer knows, ambience is a key ingredient when it comes to a night spent mixing it up with friends, jamming up a jukebox or ending up sideways on a bar stool, so it’s obvious why Tiki.  

Our forefathers and foremothers didn’t have much time to waste in their off hours, so it’s pretty safe to say if they thought it was cool enough, it probably was.  
xcept for knife fights.  Ok, even knife fights.

“A holy matrimony of art & drinks culture.”

With the help of Jeremy Lago from The Pantry, to complement their beverages, the kitchen offers a modest and expertly curated selection of local cheeses.  On top of that, once a month they host a PWYC family dinner night, all in the good spirit of giving back to the community which has supported and welcomed them onto their bar baron shores.  It could be lasagna, it could be a pork roast.  They just put out a collections jar and let the good tastes roll.

So this winter season, or whatever season you may find yourself in, save yourself the PanAm ticket prices, throw on your vintage caftan, journey over to The Shore Leave, and send your mouth on the vacation it deserves.


The Shore Leave is open every night except Tuesdays
1775a Danforth Ave
647 477 8833
4:30pm - 2am
Wheelchair Accessible
Washrooms on main level
Cocktail lists evolve, so be prepared to try new things
Follow their social media to stay on the current @theshoreleaveinc

Words & Photo Essay by: Ryan Thompson Creative
Styling By: Francesca Abony
Makeup By: Michelle Evans
Models: Shakira, Aramis Pacitto & Peter Hodgins