Where Bartenders Drink in Kingston

By Jordan Whitehouse

There are few who know a city’s bars quite like the people who work behind them. That’s why I went straight to the source to hear where some of K-town’s finest bartenders go when they’re off the clock and thirsty for a cocktail, beer or glass of wine.
Have a bar recommendation of your own? Let us know in the comments section.

Joel Lockerbie, Tango Nuevo


What’s your favourite bar in Kingston?

My bar of choice is so dependent on my mood, time of day and who I’m with or whether I’m solo. The Toucan has been a popular industry spot for years downtown. I’ve sipped many a Guinness on my own there while writing cocktail and wine lists and pondering the great questions of the universe, yet I’ve also had so many fun, exciting social nights with so many groups of wonderful and interesting people there!

Where do you like to go for a drink after work?

It’s all about proximity! I’m rather spoiled given that I both work and live steps from each other in the heart of downtown Kingston. My local watering hole has definitely become Red House. Steps from my door aside, the staff are awesome, the beers are great, and it has an awesome look and really open, social atmosphere to it.

Where do you go for the best cocktail or beer in the city?

I may or may not mix myself an absolutely dynamite cocktail now and again at my evening’s end, but that doesn’t count! Shout outs go to Atomica, Dianne’s and the Island Grill [Wolfe Island] on the cocktail side of things. Beer is tough. I love a bar that switches things up and throws you some curveballs now and again. Red House carries some cool options, and I love their cask festivals, but I can’t not mention great tap choice bars like The Iron Duke, The Brew Pub and Stone City.

 Sophie Saxe: Red House

Photo by Suzy Lamont]
Photo by Suzy Lamont] 
What’s your favourite watering hole in K-town?

I spend a bit of time mainly at Wooden Heads for dinner and after dinner drinks. I like it because of the great food, a good environment, it’s nice and warm, and, what, hot staff [laughs]!

How about after work drinks?

If I can make last call, I’ll spend most of my time at The Toucan for drinks after work. I like the staff there again (definitely not the ambiance). I’m a downtown girl, so I don’t venture too far past Wellington Street.

Who serves the best cocktails?

I’m mainly a wine drinker, but I think the cocktails at Tango Nuevo are terrific. They do some really interesting things. One cocktail I really like there is the Campfire Manhattan, which has some interesting smoky and maple flavours.

Casey Grant, Kingston Brewing Company


Do you have a favourite bar?

I have a couple of spots. One is The Pilot House; I really enjoy that it is small, quiet, and that the staff are really outgoing and know everyone that comes in, so it feels homey. The other spot is The Brew Pub; I really like the beer selection, the atmosphere is relaxed and once again the staff get to know the customers that come in.

The craft beer scene is really taking off in Kingston right now. Where do you go for the best craft suds?

One spot is Stone City Ales, a new brew pub in town that’s experimenting with new beers. The Alibi is another great one to go to. They have been serving craft beer since they opened up, and the staff are really knowledgeable about the beer they serve. But the craft brew industry is big right now in Kingston, so you can find great beer all over this city.

Are you a cocktail fan?

I’m not one for mixed drinks, but the best places would be the chain restaurants and a few mom and pop spots like Tango Nuevo, Red House and The Iron Duke.