If you’re walking along Yonge — just south of Eglinton, and you see a sign with three vertical red Xs, then you’ve hit the Noorden Food Bar.
From the outside, it looks deceptively slim, but once inside, the modern Dutch restaurant and bar stretches far back into an extended dining space and kitchen. There’s also a spacious lower level for large parties.
I walked in one Sunday for their monthly liquor seminar. This one was an education in gin. The first time I had stumbled into the bar was with my flatmate, the bartender Mac told me they specialize in gin. My flatmate’s eyes lit up. We had just made a rose gin cocktail recently and she would love to try all the gins.
That night I tried Sibling Rivalry and since she was being difficult, she asked for the Bartender’s Choice. Luckily, it wasn’t busy that night so he created a drink for her on the spot. We also had two other drinks, but I wouldn’t be able to tell you what they were for the life of me. It was Friday night …
I went back a month later for the liquor seminar. It runs monthly, usually on a Sunday from 2pm-4pm. It’s not heavily advertised, but send them a line and they’ll add you to their email list.
I found out that Noorden is affiliated with Little Sister. They’re “sister” bars/restaurants. Sorry, I had to — only one Dad joke per article, I swear. I could see the similarity in aesthetics and why I was drawn to both places.
If you sign up for the seminar, you’ll first watch the bartender make about four drinks while he explains the history of gin and describes gin from all over the world. You’ll also get to smell or sample any gin that interests you. Once he’s completed the drinks, you’re able to sample them. They also send out appetizers from the menu as you’re drinking and learning. It’s best not to drink on an empty stomach, as someone’s grandmother used to say. After watching the cocktails being made, and asking any questions you might have, it’s your chance to make your own cocktail!
I was sitting beside a food writer, a banker and his date. There was an accountant there as well. I decided to make the classic Negroni. It turns out you stir Negroni cocktails, which was fine by me. One of the students was a bit overzealous. He was making a shaken cocktail and ended up smashing nearby glass. We all laughed, including him. It was definitely a learning experience.
I’d recommend going to the next seminar on Sunday, March 12, which is on bourbon. The seminar ranges from $60-$65 depending on the spirit or liquor.