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How Toronto’s Leading Chefs, Somms and Bartenders Celebrate Valentine’s Day

February 11, 2019

By Erin Henderson | Certified sommelier and co-founder of The Wine Sisters and Drink Toronto

Let’s talk about the holiday everyone loves to hate.

Valentine’s Day – a day created to celebrate love and joy – has somehow lost its cool. Couples brag they don’t need just one day to mark their adoration (sure), and singles dismiss the day as another corporate ploy created by the greeting card industry (whatevs).

I say nuts to that. And not just because Valentine’s Day is also my birthday.

Approximately 94 years ago I worked in radio, and a fellow broadcaster would always refer to February 14th as “get lucky day.” Not that he’s wrong. Just like birthday sex, Valentine’s Day is kind of a guarantee of a little bedroom boogie, no?

And like I said, it’s my birthday, so that means I get two helpings. I’m currently carbo-loading.

(Do you think Tinder sees a spike in activity on Valentine’s?)

LOVE sign - Valentine's Day Toronto

In fact, we here at Drink Toronto love love so much (and food and wine)… we created a special Valentine’s Day wine tasting AND a limited run drink tour. Oh, yeah, baby, we’re pulling out all the stops and smearing our love all over Toronto – or at least the downtown core.

And we thought to ourselves, “Selves? Are we the only ones eager to sink our teeth into this holiday and lap up every last ounce of goodness?” So we went to some of our favourite chefs, somms and barkeeps to find out if we were really just islands in the stream.

Evelyn Chick, Bar Manager, PrettyUgly

Pretty Ugly Bar - Valentine's Day Toronto

"Because February is a month dedicated to love – for yourself, your partners and your friends – we’ve teamed up with our good friend Nitasha from The Cure Apothecary to bring some Canadian-made natural beauty items to our rug store [that’s the tiny shop at the front of the bar].

Between 2 pm and 9 pm Feb. 12 to Feb. 14, guests can shop the popup and treat themselves and friends to items otherwise only sold online – and stay for a feel-good cocktail.”

Drinks will be served after 6 pm. There’s also an omakase-style menu for $35 (enjoyed by one guest, or can split for 2 guests max). The menu runs through a tasting of an aperitif, mid and digestif cocktails all inspired by Cure Apothecary’s scents and flavour profiles. The cocktails are low-alcohol in a healthy vein, fitting to the theme of 'self-love.' "

Guy Rawlings, Chef + Owner, Montgomery’s

“Our favourite memory — that is, my wife and business partner Kim — is cooking at home and making a slutty pasta and drinking a nice bottle of wine. Two pounds of side stripe shrimp each in rosé sauce with linguini and just talking with each other.

We are actually putting this on the menu at Montgomery’s this Valentine’s Day, as a cheeky treat.”

Liam Callaghan, Bar Manager Death + Taxes

“My girlfriend also works in the hospitality industry, and through that, we have both developed an appreciation for keeping Valentine’s Day as low maintenance as possible. We know how hectic Valentine’s can be for the restaurant industry, so we find it more relaxing to avoid that all together ha-ha!

Our tradition has become going to Duff’s on College Street for wings, beer, and to watch a Leaf game (if one is on).

After that, we’ll go on a little crawl around the city. We love cozying up in a small, intimate bar with good beer, cocktails, and/or snacks.

Our favourites: 416 Snackbar, Hanmoto, Cocktail Bar, Pinkerton’s, Thirsty & Miserable, PrettyUgly and Gift Shop.”

Death & Taxes - Valentine's Day Toronto

Heather McDougall, GM + Sommelier, Montecito

“Valentine's Day has always been just another busy day at work for me. Setting the stage for everyone else to love love means that at the end of my day, all I want is refreshment. Spritz-y Riesling with just a kiss of sweetness paired with my feet up, hair down and my best fella.”

Come celebrate love with us this Valentine's Day! Whether you're celebrating your love for with a special someone, or your love of food and drink, we have a great lineup of festivities.

Join us for our Special Valentine's Day Wine Class on February 14th at Vantage Venues.

Join us for our Valentine's Day Tour on February 14th and 15th