I’ve been dreaming about Tiki Tuesday since last summer, when a friend posted a picture of a big-ass drink in what looked like a freakishly large coconut, complete with umbrellas and fresh mint and pineapple and, if memory serves, a small pirate boat with real live miniature pirates floating on the warmly undulating surface.
I’ll admit that the image may have taken on epic proportions between my first viewing of it months ago and my real-life outing to Bar le Lab a few days ago. There were no pirates in my drinks, but they weren’t needed — these tropical delights were enticing enough on their own. Concocted with the Lab’s homemade syrups and sodas and perfectly proportioned recipes, these cocktails are big enough and strong enough to get you through any polar vortex.
To start with, my friend ordered a Hurricane Dragon, which is made from rum, ginger, mango, lemon, grenadine, and homemade soda tonic. She ordered the small size, which looked like at least 16 oz. of orangey pinky yumminess, topped with a hunk of raw ginger and a handful of mint. I was reluctant to start with something too sweet, so I took the Legendario Mojito -— white rum, lime, soda, mint, and a little bit of cane sugar. I was immediately transported to my happy place, namely, Cuba, where the mojitos err on the side of refreshingly sparkly rather than sickeningly sweet.
For round two, my friend tried the Plantar’s Punch: rum, curaçao, lime, orange, Angostura bitters, soda, and vintage Grenadine. The bitters balanced the sweetness of the fruit and grenadine perfectly. I, however, decided to go off-menu, wanting to experience one of the Lab’s equally famous non-tiki drinks. I asked the gracious servers for recommendations, and couldn’t resist Lemon is the Sky, in which the Lab mixologists have created a perfect alcoholic rendition of Lemon Pie, in a martini glass. This drink is definitely all about the sugar buzz: it was the perfect desert to my on-the-dry-side mojito. The flavours were rich and complex, evoking eggy meringue and marshmallows. Gin, lime and ginger liqueurs, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and the Lab’s delicious Gingembre Infernal syrup, were all topped with a whipped vanilla cream that was so rich and tasty you could eat it with a spoon.
Having perused the extensive cocktail menu I will definitely commit to going back to the Lab, although I think I would opt for the “Chic and Swing” night, the first Wednesday of every month where a DJ and sometimes a live clarinetist gets things grooving. And apparently the servers specialize in fire shows when the place is packed, so my next outing will definitely be on a weekend. But with or without fun distractions like music and fire and people, I’m pretty sure there’s enough cocktail ingenuity on the Lab’s menu to get any Grinch through the winter.
Bar Le Lab is located at 1351 Rachel East.