Despite a few rather outdated bylaws and policies, there are many options waiting for those wanting to enjoy a drink in the city of Toronto. Summer, in particular, is a popular time to tip the wrist, with a staggering number of patios available to enjoy a beverage in the sunshine.
Bars and pubs in Toronto generally do not open for business until after 12:00 PM. According to city law, all bars must close at 2:00 AM, and cannot serve alcohol after this time. Businesses that do not adhere to this law will be severely fined, or have their liquor license removed, so don’t bother sweet-talking your server or bartender…there is literally nothing they can do.
Unfortunately, unlike most cities its size, Toronto does not sell beer, wine, or spirits in corner stores. Alcohol sales are regulated by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, which grants only a few stores the right to sell booze in Ontario. While store options are limited, locations are not, and most Toronto neighborhoods boast at least one, if not more, of the stores listed below.
Run directly by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, the LCBO is a one-stop shop for wine, spirits, and beer, with a multitude of locations throughout Toronto. The city boasts more than 50 locations of LCBO’s, found in every neighborhood. There is a huge variety of goods available at each location, and a friendly, knowledgeable staff is more than happy to help you find what you need at every store. Most stores open at around 10:00 AM on weekdays and Saturdays, and 12:00 PM on Sundays. Closing time is usually at 9:00 PM weekdays, and 11:00 on weekend evenings. Most locations close at 6:00 PM on Sundays.
The Beer Store
This is your one-stop beer shop, with about 70 locations throughout the city. The Beer Store offers a staggeringly huge variety of beer from all over the world, and a friendly staff to take your order and deliver the goods. You can also bring your empty bottles back to any location for a cash rebate, or discount on your next purchase. Most Beer Stores open at 10:00 AM on weekdays and Saturdays, and 12:00 PM on Sundays. Closing time is usually 8:00 PM on weekdays, 10:00 on Saturdays, and 5:00 PM on Sundays.
The Wine Rack
With 15 locations throughout the city, and over 160 throughout Ontario, the Wine Rack is a well-stocked store filled with a huge variety of Ontario wines. Hours of operation tend to be 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM, Monday to Friday, 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM on Saturdays, and 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Sundays. Some of the busier locations stay open until 11:00 PM on weekends. Check the location nearest you for more details.
About an hour and a half drive to the west of Toronto is the Niagra Wine Region, which produces some of the country’s finest wine. There are hundreds of wineries located in rather close proximity to one another in this beautiful region. It is highly recommended that visitors to Toronto take a drive out to the Niagra area and visit a few wineries to find unique labels and vintages on their very own. A complete list of wineries and directions are available at the above link.
Ontario is also the home to a huge number of high quality microbreweries that produce superior beer. Some of the larger breweries offer tours, but visitors are often required to call ahead to book a time. For a complete list of beer makers in Toronto and the surrounding area, click here.