On the menu at the Library Bar, the recently renovated lounge bar at the Royal York
Name: The library bar
Contact: Lobby Level, Fairmont Royal York, 100 Front St. W., librarybartoronto.com, @librarybartoronto
District: Financial district
The owners: Fairmont Royal York (KingSett Capital)
Chief: Jw foster
Accessibility: Fully accessible
The Library Bar reopened to the public on November 4 after a year-long renovation that turned the famous martini den into a centerpiece of maximalist Art Deco. Stylish versions of nostalgic classics are reminiscent of this place’s almost 50-year history. The Canadian Pacific hotels, owned and built alongside the railway, are the great-grandparent of the Fairmont brand. Order the chowder and imagine yourself as a turn-of-the-century train traveler warming up after a long journey – the comfort food was served to weary travelers at every railway hotel of yore. Or grab the Bay Street, a prime rib beef dip sandwich that’s been a staple since the bar opened in 1972. Back then, the roast was carved next to the table on a cart. formal (which took the path of the Watergate salad). Cocktails like Rockefeller oysters and a few eye-catching desserts round out the menu.
Drinks director Rus Yessenov has organized the cocktail menu around literary genres: romance for easy-to-drink appetizers, mystery for tantalizing curiosities, and fancy for potions which, in part due to the alcohol content, help to facilitate respites from reality. Library Bar’s signature drink, the Birdbath Martini, is mixed at the table and features bespoke vodka or gin distilled for exclusive use in this cocktail (in case there is any doubt as to how seriously this place takes his alcohol). The tight wine program focuses on small, sustainable producers; and for beer drinkers, a few Bellwoods beers are on offer alongside Belgian Golden Beer Heineken and Duvel.
Think minimalism… then imagine the opposite. Jewel-toned velvet upholstery covers plush armchairs and sofas, chandeliers hang from coffered ceilings, and fringed shades are reminiscent of Toronto’s more jazz early days. Tables are in semi-translucent onyx marble and dramatic paintings of flora and fauna line the walls. Above the fireplace is an oil painting commissioned from George Locke. A leading librarian and literacy advocate, he selected books for the Fairmont Library when it opened in 1929. (And judging by the paint, he had an impeccable hat set).