The Distillery Historic District at 55 Mill St in Toronto is an exciting place – there are fun things happening here all the time that are FREE. Its a hub for cultural festivals, feasts, film shoots and drum circles with world famous musicians. Its the home of the Toronto Christmas Market and ARTFest, Food Truck Eats and Diner en Blanc – There was one day last summer when 450 young people showed up wearing all white clothing and had a pot luck dinner in the courtyard – all organized on Twitter and Facebook. There are 96 businesses in The Distillery District. With two new condominium buildings reaching completion on the east side of the complex, the number and quality of new attractions is expected to rise. Getting inside information is critical to saving money and having better and perhaps more ‘insider’ experiences while attending the many cultural festivals and feasts in this facility.
Today the Distillery is home to a thriving Arts Community and Tech Community and so it plays host to a wide variety of educational, motivational and inspirational public events. If you live in downtown Toronto or close enough to make the trip, you’ll want keep on an eye on what’s happening here, and that’s easy to do on Twitter. Here are some of the strongest and most informed local voices,
@DistilleryTO The Distillery Historic District in Toronto
The first and best place to find out what’s going on is to check the Distillery District website and blog wherein you’ll find a list of upcoming Distillery District attractions and documents and photos chronicling past, present and future events. If you run a business down here and you’re hosting an event it would certainly behoove you to email the site administrator and pass on the details so your occasion can be promoted on site and on the Distillery District Facebook page(s).
If you have an active twitter account and would like to be added to this index please email the Rob AT smojoe DOT com. We have a mission to grow this community for our mutual benefit and to help everyone out there share in its goodness.
@EngineGallery Engine Gallery
An incubator for emerging talent in Canada, ENGINE Gallery helps established painters and visual artists of all descriptions grow a larger and more dedicated patronage. The ENGINE Gallery Blog profiles famous artists that have displayed their art works in the 1500 sq ft. of main floor exhibition space. Everything hung here looks quite impressive at night and during the daytime the canvas and sculpture is nicely illuminated by ambiance lighting created by 15 ft floor to ceiling windows that are well shaded by Locust trees at the westernmost extension of Distillery Lanes. Located directly below the Pure Spirits condo building, I come here regularly during the summer to mingle and sip (free) wine, digest powerful visuals and conduct stimulating conversation with smart sexy people.
ENGINE Exhibitions and art openings showcase Contemporary Canadian artists and usually feature original works of art from domestic geniuses and freshly imported minds from abroad. Established in 2003, ENGINE was one of the premier galleries to develop the Queen West Art District in Toronto, and has now found a permanent home in the Historic Distillery District, where it is becoming known as a major player in the Canadian Art Scene.
@Balzacs Balzacs Coffee House in The Distillery District
Centrally located in the middle of the complex, Balzacs Coffee House is the hub by which most residents orientate themselves every morning. Balzac’s Coffee is a moderately priced casual cafe that features a sunny outdoor patio with French marble pedestal tables and bentwood wicker chairs. Inside what was once the former pump house building is today a European style café / coffee house setting with a marvelous black and white tile floor under an enormous Queen Anne style gilt wood chandelier. Sixty year old paintings and prints, antique coffee cans and vintage tin signs frame the bean grinders and confectioneries available under glass on the wide marble counter beneath the staircase that leads to a seating area above. Coffee baristas use a variety of stainless steel appliances to serve fresh roasted coffee in just about any size and description imaginable. The venue commonly hosts uncommon attractions and their twitter feed is full of odd insights into the daily happenings and events at the Distillery District.
@Lenzr Lenzr Corp
Self appointed documentarians, the hip staff members who preside over Lenzr photo contest communities really do have their ears to the cobblestones in terms of knowing about upcoming events and cool promotions, TV shoots, book signings, dance rehearsals and theatre auditions being held at the Distillery District. They seem to know and tweet the pertinent details days or weeks before other residents hear the rumours. They start the rumours. Maybe this is because Lenzr is located right above the DHD headquarters, or because of the gregarious nature of Rob Campbell and his coworkers at Jib Strategic, a boutique advertising agency in Toronto. The two organizations work together four times a year to produces their quarterly tech speaking series known as the Search and Social Rank Symposium that gathers together the Distillery’s brightest web innovators, speakers and authors to discuss the ‘weird science at the intersection of search engine optimization and social media marketing’.
@spiritspure Pure Spirits Restuarant in Toronto
The interior Pure Spirits restaurant is one of the most venerated spaces in Toronto. Nearly one hundred years ago, when temperance societies and prohibition ruled America, it was from this very room that the whiskey barrels began their clandestine journeys across the lake and around the world. Today people come for the ambience and amazing food, particularly the fresh fish and oysters. The 28-seat long bar provides ring-side seating and spectating as oyster- shuckers satiate their audiences. Private booths with wooden benches line the exposed brick east wall under curious blue lamps shades. Outside there exists what many peoiple describe as the “Best Patio in Toronto”. Its just large enough to host the entire cast and crew of a Hollywood feature film, yet small enough to have its own intimate personality. The Pure Spirits’ patio is extremely visually striking; the red-brick walls of the nearby buildings are the backdrop for flowering plants and green tables tables shaded by cool white umbrellas.
@somachocolate SOMA Chocolate in Toronto
Every morning at sunrise the pungent aroma of roasting chocolate hangs in the morning air above the cobblestone lanes of the Distillery District. One visit confirms the accolades; SOMA Chocolatemaker provides exceptional quality product in an engaging atmosphere. Having the process on display and providing “tasting notes” adds to the feeling of contributing to the chocolatemaker’s art.
These people are unique culinary artists, and their medium sized event space and market should be seen as another facet of the Distillery District artisanal tasting experience. Follow Soma Chocolatemaker on Facebook to get insights into the ever changing chocolate flavoured attractions at this unique art gallery.
@Boiler_House The Boiler House Restaurant in The Distillery District
Exposed brick & beams, soaring ceilings and seating on two levels make The Boiler House restaurant a very popular event venue, especially during the Toronto International Film Festival when the place is booked solid for photo shoots and wrap parties. Just about every weekend there’s something extraordinary happening here and the Boiler House summer patio at night is simply breathtaking and rivaled in beauty only by the Pure Spirit patio next door. This is a premier Winterlicious venue and contains more than its share of unique culinary delicacies. The restaurant can comfortably accommodate hundreds of diners with plenty of room for a musical orchestra in an elevated terrace section of the unusual shaped room.
@StirlingRoom The Stirling Room
Just inside the front gate of the Distillery District complex, in the bottom of Bldg 36 there’s an elegant, upscale lounge with a sophisticated atmosphere for young professionals. The Stirling Room showcases Toronto’s best DJ’s and most eligible elites. The lounge offers the ideal setting for a slightly louder style corporate and social event. Inspired by Victorian Gothic art and architecture, the interior of this nightclub is a marriage of contemporary design and historic themes that combine to create a unique and intimate experience. In here the Distillery District’s exposed brick, large wood beams, and original plank flooring are showcased by metallic light fixtures. At the back of the hall, there’s a baby ground piano that has been converted into a DJ booth. Stirling Room prides itself by catering to a wide clientele through themed events, a variety of guest DJ’s and independently promoted nights. It is the ideal venue to suit all of your event needs including a night out to relax and have fun.
@MillStreetBrew The Mill Street Brew Pub
Halfway down Tankhouse Lane, on the east side of the complex The Mill St. Brew Pub already has a long tradition of hosting memorable events. A favorite lunch spot and after-work hangout for the many internet technology business types in the area, this restaurant is down to earth and friendly, and is actually the oldest business in the Distillery District. The pub opened in October 2006 in the tank house where the original Mill St brewery had begun operation in late 2002. The venue is part functioning brewery and part restaurant and the two are separated by transparent Plexiglas panels that gives the impression of dining in a working factory – well not really but you can occasionally catch the scent of fermenting grains and copper bottom cookers brewing up delicious fresh beer for immediate consumption. There are plenty of events here all year round because of the cozy patio and fresh beer and the bright natural sunlit interior with large windows and high ceilings, skylights and wooden beams.
@pikto Pikto Gallery in The Distillery District
Famous for custom photo finishing services, including world class photography b0oks. Pikto Gallery offers a cool exposed brick and wood beam interior gallery space dedicated to the best of the best in photographic arts. The organization plays host to several annual events that regularly feature internationally renowned and emerging photographers, who seem to provide inspiration for all caliber of camera owners, local residents and visitors from abroad. Pikto Gallery shows and services have been featured in national newspapers, magazines and on television.
Keep an eye on the Pikto Facebook page for contests and interactive challenges for worthwhile prizes.
@Soulpepper Soulpepper Theatre Company
The Young Centre for the Performing Arts is the home of George Brown College and Soulpepper