Thursday evening: there are two ways your night can go. Your friends are rallying for pub night and luring you in with promises of free drinks. But, the thought of the cold weather is making your bed look awfully cozy and your reading backlog has been keeping you up at night. If only there were some way you could know that you were going to have a great night at— what was that bar called again?
To help you make the tremendously difficult choice between the bar and the bed (though let’s be real, the bed is always the better choice from November to March), Ultra Vires has compiled a guide to regular Call to the Bar venues, complete with student recommendations.
How are Call To The Bar venues selected?
Jen Crawford, 2L Social Affairs Representative on the Students’ Law Society (SLS), explained that pub night venues are selected based on wheelchair accessibility criteria, including an accessible entrance and restroom. This ensures that past, present, and future students are accommodated and able to feel comfortable attending the event. These requirements are sometimes relaxed, specifically when the SLS pairs up with other clubs or student bodies to host the pub nights.
The venues below are certainly not the only ones. Over the academic year, Call to the Bar can be hosted in more than ten venues. Jen also mentioned that the SLS is always open to recommendations if you do not see your favourite venue on this list.
The Firkin has two immediate and obvious advantages: it is close enough to campus that you could feasibly stick around before going to the pub, and it’s close enough to the subway that you could head home whenever pushing through the crowd to order a drink inflames your claustrophobia too much. There is a fairly large seating area at the back, but there is only one bar in a narrow enclave across from the stairway, so the space can (and will, closer to midnight) get quite crowded.
The drinks tend to be reasonably priced, but fans of draft beer may find themselves out of luck. “When Coors Light is one of the two domestic beers on tap, you know you’re going for the bottles,” according to Harrison Perry (1L), a self-proclaimed beer enthusiast.
However, a big pro of the Firkin is that it is one of the only spots on the usual rotation where you could also grab a late dinner and sit down at a table. “Grab the hummus platter,” advises Harrison, “it serves three, but if you’re anything like me, tease your friends and eat it all yourself.”
If you’re the type of person who’s willing to put up with some oppressive bathroom graffiti and cheap beer-fueled undergrad debauchery, you may find Sneaky Dee’s oddly charming. There are two floors with wildly different vibes: a bar with reasonably priced drinks on the ground floor and a dance floor that often runs theme nights upstairs.
While Sneaky Dee’s is fairly far from campus, it has the advantage of being located in the middle of a (relatively) cheap entertainment strip. “It’s also close to other bars at Bathurst and College like No One Writes to the Colonel and Nirvana, which makes it a great final destination for Thursday night bar hoppers,” says Maddie Torrie (1L).
If you do decide to stick around, there’s a wide selection of greasy nacho trays and a better atmosphere for chatting on the ground floor, she says. Of all the venues on the list, Sneaks, as students affectionately call it, is one of the least likely to break the bank.
A stone’s throw away from Union Station, the Pint may be a popular choice for commuting students looking to catch one of the late GO trains home after pub night. It is a more sit-down venue, so don’t expect to see anyone dancing, but a late pub fare dinner is certainly on the cards.
There are several drink specials on offer here, including $5 shots of liquor, pints of beer, cocktails, and glasses of wine—all guaranteed to make that deemed Friday extra dreary. For anyone looking to watch the game, the Pint has conveniently-placed TVs to keep tabs on the score. Of all the bars on the list, this one has the most sporty vibe.
The Fox and the Fiddle [note: now closed]
The Fox and Fiddle, or the Fox, as it is frequently referred to by students, is another spot with the obvious pro of being a short walk away from the school and close to St. George subway station. It is a popular choice for the monthly early Call to the Bar (usually 6-9pm), which means you could walk over right after finishing up your last class to start the weekend early.
The Fox is a quieter bar with lots of seating space, which can make for good conversation, but don’t expect dancing or too much rowdiness. There is a fairly extensive food menu, but the drinks are “expensive for what you get”, according to Aylin Manduric (1L). Aylin also warns to steer clear of the sangria, as it is allegedly watered down.
There is a karaoke machine and stage at the back of the bar, so if you stay long enough, you may be able to witness some off-the-cuff renditions of 90s favourites (or sing one yourself, depending on how the night goes).
Crews and Tangos
A popular choice for joint socials with Out in Law, Crews and Tangos is a queer-friendly dance bar/club in the heart of the Church-Wellesley village, and it is a winner if you’re looking to dance the night away. Depending on whether there is an event that night and how late you show up, you may have to pay a small cover charge (usually $5).
“Having Call to the Bar held [at Crews and Tangos] is really fun because we have the opportunity to dance away after a week of long days of sitting in class,” says Mandavni Dhami (1L). There are several dance floors to choose from, though most will be quite crowded and hard to push through, and a stage that often features drag performers.
The loud music and thick crowd, however, may make it hard to actually engage with your fellow classmates. Mandavni mentioned, “it is more challenging to network/hang out with peers that you don’t normally interact with at the law school.” This may be a detriment if pub night is your designated weekly social time, but if you are looking to just dance away law school stress, Crews and Tangos will be a great pick.
This list is by no means exhaustive, and every semester boasts several new venues in different parts of town which may appeal to you more. What makes Call to the Bar truly great is the opportunity to hang out with fellow students outside the suffocating confines of Contracts class and Torys Hall, so make sure to seize it as often as you can!