“Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
It’s a shame that in today’s society we are all so busy rushing around, being slaves to the clock and our devices. That we are constantly under the scrutiny of our individual productivity and how it counts more than one’s quality of life. We here in North America are always constantly on the perpetual treadmill or putting the axe to the grindstone. In my heart, I have always asked why? Why, can’t we be more like our European counterparts? They work, but they take great care to ensure that they have time to enjoy, the simple things, good food, good family and great conversation…not so here I feel...it is truly sad.
As I sit at my desk taking a moment to pause before I get down to the heart of writing this blog post. I take time to reflect on the experience that I and my fellow media took in tonight at RAKIA Bar. It is this pause to reflect that has got me thinking, how refreshing it is to sit, talk and relax with friends and enjoy each other’s company. Those of you, who know me and know of my involvement with Diner en Blanc, know why I dedicate my time for such an event. It is in the very essence of my love for joie de vivre that encouraged me to participate and found/host the Toronto event. RAKIA Bar located in the trendy up and coming hood of Leslieville has at its core a laid back eurocentric mentality that is sorely lacking in this rat race city. People today are way too concerned with work, paying bills and bearing the bonds that weigh each and every one of us down. In my opinion, this has got to change; it is so refreshing to see this new addition to our fair city. Here at Rakia Bar, you are encouraged to come and stay awhile, sip and enjoy lovely artisanally created fructose based spirits, that are as sophisticated to the nose as they are to the palate. Along with the sipping, there are the bites to accompany and accentuate these unique and lovely brandies. The guys, who are behind the movement of introducing Rakia wish to encourage you to come, chat and stay awhile.
What is Rakia? Rakia encompasses all types of fructose based alcoholic spirits. The Rakia family includes Eau-de-Vie, Calvados, Schnapps, Palinka Brandy, but by any name Rakia is a social thread that connects the cultures of much of Europe. At the roots of many eastern European cultures there is a form of Rakia. Mostly created by using ingredients of what was readily available: the must of spent grapes, the abundance of fruits and their regional climate. Individually, each culture created their own form of “Rakia” but not necessarily specifically known as Rakia – but it is in the similarities of the distillation methodology/consumption that makes this a unified classification possible.
Its popularity has spread all over from France and heading into the heart of Eastern Europe – Rakia has flourished not exclusively with the upper class but will all classes. The New York Times describes it as, “Fruit’s essence captured in a bottle.” Rakia is an all-natural, artisan distilled fruit-spirit that is meant to be sipped, savoured and contemplated. It is the traditional offering that one receives as a guest in one’s house, usually accompanied with a small taste of whatever is available.
Dušan Varga, Rakia expert and the Rakia Bar Team have come up with a unique formula that sticks to the traditions of Eastern Europe but have incorporated twists to cater to our North American sensibilities in terms of cocktails and a lovely menu. Having the opportunity to have been invited to the media event hosted by Mary Luz and her company Sizzling Communications, I experienced a great detailed education into the world and craftsmanship of what makes fine artisanal quality Rakia. I wish to thank them; it was a lovely evening and a truly enjoyable event. I will most certainly want to share this new restaurant lounge with my friends and colleagues anytime.
Rakia Bar is a truly unique Toronto feature. It is at its very essence a meeting point where one can come after work, meet old friends or make new ones, enjoy food and Rakia and reflect on the day in a lovely atmosphere. Rakia and Food are inextricably linked and is at the heart of how it is meant to be consumed. Rakia Bar’s kitchen is proficient and is a hub of activity as Chef Brook Kavanagh creates dishes inspired by the bar/salon culture of Central and Eastern Europe fused with Canadian sensibilities especially in their brunch items.
I’ll have to admit that I have yet to enjoy a full meal of the Eastern European inspired menu. From what I have seen, their food will impress. They offer a brunch on the weekend and a full menu throughout the week for dinner. But what I can say with certainty is that the guys are as passionate about their food as they are about Rakia. You can hear it in the voice and soul when you discuss their food, I will most definitely be having a meal sometime very soon, brunch (which I love) in particular. I’m really excited about their brunch which sounded absolutely magnificent. What I can and will rave about are the mezze that they prepared to accompany each of the individual Rakia’s for the tasting. They were delish and complemented each of the different flavours either by enhancing/contrasting the Rakia.
At times, the flavours that came out of the combination struck me as a revelation in taste, without exaggerating it created a symphony of both aroma and taste to my senses. It was truly an epiphany that I had not up till then experienced as it relates to spirits. Never have I ever experienced such a complexity of taste, clean on the tongue, smoothness in throat and warmth all at once, it has left me craving. Incredible!
My overall impressions are as follows: I love the vibe, the guys are magnificent and their passion towards food and drink is infectious, the décor is lovely, the patio will rock in the Summer and if they provide awesome music (Lemon Bucket Orkestra) like they did during the media event…this place is going to be a very prominent hotspot in Toronto.
RAKIA Bar is located within the same building shared with Queen MargheritaPizza I can see how this will only benefit and compliment each of these establishments very well! I would encourage you all to visit and experience the tastes of Rakia Bar soon!
1402 Queen Street East, Unit B