When I read about a wolf-themed bar opening up in Koreatown, I have to admit I was intrigued. It seems like half the bars opening up in Toronto lately are themed, and I — along with every other twenty-something in Toronto — eat those themes up. Who wants to go to for a regular ol’ beer at the Get Well when you can have a gin-based drink set on fire in a cauldron-shaped stein à la Harry Potter at The Lockhart? Or Trap Queen cocktail at the lawn games-themed bar, Track & Field?
So last week I stopped by Wolf Like Me, a brand-new dive bar on Bloor Street, just west of Christie Pits. When I arrived, there was only one other couple, sitting at the back of the bar. Call me crazy — or an old woman at 22 partying too hard in university or whatever — but I prefer going to bars on weeknights. It’s usually quieter and it gives me the opportunity to catch up with a friend and engage in some pleasant banter in a way that could happen on a coffee date. Plus, hitting a bar is often easier, given our work schedules, and doesn’t mess up our sleep patterns.
Despite the bar being nearly empty, bantering was almost impossible. I could barely hear what my friend was saying to me over the overwhelmingly loud music booming throughout the space. (This is the only thing I can complain about at all, so I thought I’d get it out of my system right off the bat.)
Otherwise, the music was great — an eclectic mix of modern alternative hits and 80s classics that any patron would like. Friday and Saturdays are DJ nights.
When I discovered the bar was, in fact, named after the TV on the Radio’s song “Wolf Like Me”, it grew on me even more.
The small turnout on a stormy Tuesday evening gave me the opportunity to really take in the aesthetic of the bar. The walls are painted black with forest and wildlife motifs (trees, wolves…more trees, more wolves) painted in simple white lines. The bar offers two arcade games, as many new bars in Toronto do now as a novelty. In one corner of the room stands a deer-hunting game that made my vegan heart ache, and by the window a tabletop system offers classic pixelated games like Donkey Kong.
I’m a creature of habit, so I ordered a Brickworks cider, but my friend opted for an Old-Fashioned (whisky, sugar cube, orange bitters, ice) and couldn’t stop raving about it. Some of the menu incorporated the bar’s theme, such as the “Wolf Pack” deal, where you get a beer and a shot of for $9. Now that’s impressive.
I did a quick ’n’ dirty Q&A with Kevin Kennedy, co-founder of Wolf Like Me:
What’s the bar’s most popular drink?
I’d say one of our signature, handcrafted cocktails by our bartender, Mike Taylor. Let’s go with the Old-Fashioned. [I guess my friend chose well!]
What was the process of opening this bar like?
Madness. I had a one-month-old baby, but this is our third bar [Tallboys Craft Beer House and Wenona Craft Beer Lodge, both in the neighbourhood], so we’re getting better, and this time around was relatively smooth.
What’s the busiest time to visit Wolf Like Me, and the least busy?
We’ve got a late crowd, so you should be able to get a seat on a weekend night around 7:00.
What’s this I hear about the bar’s full-moon parties?
Wolves like to party, and so do we.