Bar Stray Toronto is located on College Street in the heart of Little Italy.
Owner Irina Rotar has created a restaurant and bar where motorcycle aficionados and craft cocktail lovers can enjoy a sip and snack while playing pool.
History of Bar Stray Toronto
The snack bar in Toronto’s Little Italy was originally an old print shop. Today, the space has been reimagined as a narrow and dimly-lit neighbourhood watering hole.
Rotar explains why she decided to open Bar Stray, “I was in the industry for 8 years bartending. With a love of hosting and being ambitious and stubborn it just seemed like a natural go to. Growing up I never quite fit in into any category. I loved ballet but I was also into dirt biking. So I felt like a stray in a way.”
So why open a bar and restaurant in Little Italy? Rotar shares, “I actually lived on College Street when I first moved downtown 10 years ago. But I have roots here and I have moved back to the area to be closer to work. So Little Italy is absolutely my home. I walk my dog/shop/hang out at all the local spots in the area and love to support the businesses in my hood.”
Step Inside Bar Stray Toronto
Rotar took care of all of Bar Stray’s interior design, keen to create a space that was industrial chic with a motorcycle twist. She describes the interior as “a classy bad ass look.”
Her favourite elements within Bar Stray include are its textured walls as well as the awesome black and white photography shot by a personal friend and local photographer and motorcycle mechanic Zerosixone.
Bar Stray’s main is 1400 sq ft and includes a barrier free washroom, bar and prep kitchen. The College Street bar offers 30 seats; 12 low top, 8 high top and 10 tucked into the bar.
The space is decked out in reclaimed wood and offers billiards fans a pool table to play, free of charge. A Yamaha motorcycle sits in Bar Stray’s window while inside the downstairs bathroom you’ll find walls covered in Playboy nudes.
Bar Stray Drinks
Head Bartender Alex Sousa describes Bar Stray’s cocktail philosophy, “For the Old Fashions I wanted to focus on making regional variations of the already popular format. For the sharable drinks the idea is to always have a rotating tea and milk punch cocktail the first iteration is a nod to “cold tea” an infamous China Town tradition. For the first milk punch I did a whiskey variation on the original Ben Franklin recipes from 1763. Whisky will be a major focus and I would like to showcase more aged Canadian whiskies as they become available.”
Sousa’s bartenders create their own syrups and infusions. Bar Stray mixologists even create their own mole bitters and black walnut and habanero tincture.
Bar Stray offers large format cocktails best enjoyed with friends who like sharing. These sizeable libations can be ordered to serve 2 or 4 people ($25/42). Highlights include Tea.L.C featuring sake, gin and green tea and Ben Franklin Milk Punch with bourbon, nutmeg, cinnamon and lemon.
Craft beer lovers can enjoy local brews from Ontario breweries such as Lost Craft, Blood Brothers, Collective Arts and Henderson & Woodhouse. Wine fans can order from a short but sweet list featuring red, white, rose and sparkling bottles from France, Italy and California.
Bar Stray House Cocktails
Bartender Alex Sousa offers a list of craft cocktails that switch up with the seasons. Prices range from $13-15.
- Lady Grey: rittenhouse rye, amaro nonino, lady grey syrup
- SYD Viscous: sid’s vodka, cynar, cointreau, hibiscus
- Hanlans Point: pine creek, rinomato americano bianco, tio pepe fino
- History of Violets: naked grouse, creme de violet, lemon, simple, egg white
- Head in the Clouds: imperia ipa, beefeater gin, lillet blanc, aquafaba
- Blushing Ruby: jaral de berrio, tromba blanco, cointreau, ruby grapefruit, agave, black walnut, habanero
- Go Go Juice: tomba blanco, sperone marsala, orange and vanilla marmalade, espresso
- Drop the Beat: te bheag, beetroot, aquafaba, ginger triple sec
Bar Stray Old Fashioneds
The Bar Stray cocktail menu features a dedicated list for fans of the Old Fashioned. Prices range from $12-17.
- House Old Fashioned: bourbon, bitters, simple
- Smoked: lot 40, bowmore 12 year, mole bitters, simple, cinnamon
- Rum: havana 7 year, goslings, wray and nephew, vanilla demara, ango
- Tequila: tromba balnco, layenda, aguave syrup, habanero bitters, mole bitters
- Rye: canadian club whiskey, maple syrup, black walnut bitters
- Irish: jameson cask mates, mint syrup, chocolate bitters, mint sprig
- Scotch: chivas, wisers 18 year, apple syrup, apple bitters
Bar Stray Menu
All of the produce at Bar Stray is local, including the craft beer list. Rotar shops at local grocers on College Street as well as Kensington Market. She adds, “Pasquale Brothers supplies our delicious cheeses and olives. The Meat Packers provides local cured meats, also a Toronto mom and pop shop. Prairie Boys just west of us supply our delicious sourdough bread.”
The kitchen at Bar Stray Toronto make everything in house. They even pickle their own vegetables. Depending on the season you’ll find crunchy cucumbers, watermelon rind, carrots or marinated red peppers.
Rotar shares her favourite dish on the Bar Stray menu, “Persian Feta, which is popular with staff is an addiction on its own. But with the new menu change, our Beer Braised Pulled Pork is to die for.”
- Olives: warmed in olive oil, lemon and rosemary
- Edamame: salt and pepper, za’atar, malay bbq
- Charcuterie: ermite, magie de madawaska, sopressata, summer sausage, capicolo, house pickles
- Hummus: za’atar, pomegranates, prairie boy sourdough
- Persian Feta: creamy feta, confit garlic oil, prairie boy sourdough
- Grilled Cheese: three cheese blend, tomato, sautéed onions, prairie boy sourdough
- Pulled Pork: lost craft lager braised pulled pork with prairie boy sourdough
Bar Stray Toronto Hours
532 College Street, 647-889-1366