Bar Review: Pretty Ugly, Toronto

Pretty Ugly neon sign

I found my favourite bar in Toronto. Venture down Queen Street West into the residence of Parkdale, and you’ll find this unassuming bar with the neon pink sign. Push the door and you’ll enter cocktail heaven, in sophisticated and secretive surroundings.

Pretty Ugly front bar

OK, it may sound like I’m being slightly over the top here, but Pretty Ugly is literally my kind of bar. As we walked into the place, to our left was a small area with bars across it (not sure if it opens over the weekend or not, but either way I’m cool with it). Instead, keep walking straight, pushing back the curtains and you’ll enter the actual bar.

Pretty Ugly is fairly small and intimate – as I found with most bars in Toronto, which I really liked. There were two big booths at the front, of which we grabbed one; in addition to the stools by the bar, and that was pretty much it.

Cocktails at Pretty Ugly

The cocktail menu may have been small, but it was extremely interesting, with drinks and ingredients I’d never even heard of. I chose a Pink Porcelain – not just because I liked the name, but because it gave a nod to Scandinavia as it consisted of aquavit, in addition to cynar (the ingredient I’d never heard of – FYI it’s a bitter Italian liqueur made from herbs, if you’re as uneducated as me!) lime, grapefruit, soda, apple and a flourish of celery. It was tangy and refreshing, and one of the best cocktails I had whilst I was in Toronto.

Pretty Ugly drinks menu

The other cocktails we sampled at Pretty Ugly were The Venus, which also had aquavit in (yay Scandinavia!), vermouth, wormwood, limestone and fern (elusive, right?); and the Compass, which was almost (but not quite!) as delicious as the Pink Porcelain: vodka, elderflower, bianco, vodka and limepocalypse juice. Yum.

Pretty Ugly bar

Pretty Ugly just seemed like a really cool, unpretentious bar that you could nip in for a drink even if you were by yourself, and just chat to the bartenders all night.

If (and that’s a big if), I ever find myself back in Toronto, you can bet that I’ll be spending at least one of my evenings sipping on Pink Porcelains at Pretty Ugly.

Pretty Ugly: 1237 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M6K 1L5

Elle Pollicott

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