This past Thurs, Friday and Saturday, Sugar Beach in downtown Toronto was transformed into an open bar under a moonlit Toronto sky. Running for now 8 years, this event always proves to be a fun-filled, tipsy evening. Located next to the Redpath Sugar Factory, Sugar Beach is man-made complete with Muskoka chairs, pink metal parasols and soft sand. There is actually no access to water (probably a good thing when you have thrown back a few cocktails), but that isn’t really the point of the space. It is a great place to come to relax and unwind in your bathing suit right in the heart of the city.
For the Wine and Spirit Festival, the beach and adjacent pathways are lined with various alcoholic beverages from wines, to beers, to cocktails and spirits and a few food vendors as well. A place even sells cigars so you can enjoy one in the open air as you sip on your cocktail!
If you have never gone to this event I would HIGHLY recommend you plan to next year. Here are a few tricks to make your night more enjoyable
1 – Watch out for deals/promos on tickets, leading up to the event. Often there are Groupons with discounted entry. OTHERWISE be sure to buy online ahead of time as there is a $10 difference in price online vs at the door.
2 – Don’t go to crazy on the drink tickets in the beginning. I never find there to be a long line up to get drink tickets, so it is worth pacing yourself. Too many times have I had a handful of tickets left with only minutes to spare before the event shuts down. Talk about a SCOOP & HAMMER moment!
3 – Go early to get the full enjoyment of the festival! My friends and I always end up going on Friday night and we try our best to get there right when it opens. We always find the evening ends too quickly.
4 – Be sure to enjoy the food and pace yourself. Last thing you want to do is cut your night short due to overindulging on booze. The drinks are really cheap at this festival (often $1-$3 a glass) so it is easy to over do it.
A few highlights for me this year as far as vendors go includes:
Smirnoff – Coming out with some new beverages, Smirnoff was sampling their Electric Apple and Electric Berry spirit (a shot). If you like Jolly Rancher candies you will really enjoy this drink. I ended up preferring the apple over the berry myself, but to each their own.
Fancy Farm Girl – This was a new wine for me and like many I often chose my wines on the labels and name so this drew me immediately in. I ordered their Rose and really enjoyed it. Wasn’t overly sweet and a perfect summer wine to be sipping on the patio. I am hoping to find this in the LCBO!
Root Beer Beer – Ok, I will admit that I am really not a fan of root beer. That being said, I have many friends who are and they raved about the new Root Beer beer that has 5% alcohol. Bringing them a sense of nostalgia, this beer truck was frequented by my friends throughout the night.
Hot Bunz – This food truck has some unique varieties of sandwiches that are bursting with flavour. Circular in shape, this stuffed bun is a perfect way to soak up some of the drinks from the night. They also typically have fun topping and sauces on top. As there was only one vegetarian option, I had that which consisted of cheese, mushroom, spinach and quinoa with fried onions on top. Very good and pretty cheap too!
VIP Lounge – If you are lucky enough to get into the VIP lounge do it! A free buffet of fruits, cheeses, crackers, dips, roasted chicken, potatoes and even sushi, plus your own bar that serves a variety of beverages from wines to beers to cocktails. There is lounge seating, tables and of course a less crowded space. Was so thankful I got to be a part of it (thanks Katelyn for the hook up!)
In conclusion if you can go to the Wine & Spirit Festival, do not hesitate to buy tickets. For myself it goes: Christmas, my birthday, Halloween then Wine & Spirit Festival in terms of things I look forward to during the year. Great atmosphere, cheap drinks (and huge variety), live music and sometimes good food (although not vegetarian friendly, I can typically find at least 1 or 2 thinks I can eat). You will not be disappointed in this amazing Toronto event!
For more information visit http://www.wineandspiritfestival.ca