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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cask, Fire, Skating Rink, Peat Smoker - In Toronto?

I've written about the Ceili Cottage a number of times back when owner Patrick McMurray was working on the building it now resides in. I posted a review of the place after it was up and running, after spending many a long nights at the bar soaking up the atmosphere, along with pints of real ale.

I was back yesterday for the 4th CASK! Social that was held at the Cottage between 3pm and 6pm, and let me tell you, there is no other drinking establishment in Toronto quite like the one McMurray has created.

From the very start McMurray has been attracting customers with his oyster shucking prowess. Then they started offering traditional sessions every Tuesday evening with local performers. They smoke peat moss in a little smoker behind the bar that fills the air with a pleasant aroma and it takes you back to the country, for me, the farm. In the summer on hot nights some of the Irish dancers that occupy the back portion of the building would show up on the patio and do a number of dances for the crowd.

Then it started getting cold and no one was sitting out on the large patio. The chairs and tables were put away until the spring and McMurray threw down some plastic wrap and started flooding the area with water, creating a skating rink. Every person that showed up yesterday for the social thought it was pretty cool to see a local with a skating rink (although the last couple of days featured warm warmer which melted away much of the rink). McMurray stated that his plans are to have people show up with their skates, grab a pint from inside and go for a skate (drinks won't be allowed on the ice surface).

To go along with the skating rink McMurray has also started having contained fires on the patio and the campfire smell can be detected blocks away from the Cottage. "We've only had the fire department called once on us and I think it was a passerby who didn't understand what was going on," McMurray told me yesterday. "We've actually received a lot of positive remarks from people in the area, and our customers love it."

Yesterday, during the CASK! Social, a bunch of people decided to stay outside huddled around the fire while drinking pints of County Durham's Triple XXX IPA on cask while others were sitting in the old church pew inside drinking ESB. It was a beautiful day and the company was good, so I stood by the fire for over 2 hours and enjoyed every second of it.

Where else in Toronto can you do this? Where else in Ontario can you do this? I certainly don't know of any other place. Skating (when the ice is back), outdoor fires, oyster shucking champion working his magic, traditional Irish music sessions, and cask conditioned ales - all found in the city of Toronto at the Ceili Cottage.


Jeremy said...

That's pretty funny actually - when I was walking down queen for the Cask Social I saw the smoke and flashing lights down the road. I totally thought there was a fire truck making a call in the neighborhood but it turned out to be the Ceili campfire and a police traffic stop on Queen.

malcolm said...

I've got to check this place out soon.

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