Rails and Ales located at 1160 Danforth Ave.
Once, some years ago, my brother, his girlfriend and I all got it into our heads to have a Hallowe’en pub crawl. Never mind that it was only halfway through October, we were young, exuberant, and determined to show off our costumes. Our efforts began at Factory Girl in the west, and concluded at The Only Café in the east. Some of the memories may be blurry, but I know I definitely had a good time. The following is a list of helpful tips that will aid any of you aspiring local revellers in navigating the neighbourhood’s drinking establishments safely and responsibly.
Have a theme. It was Hallowe’en(ish) when I went on my little adventure. Unless you’re a frat boy, pub crawls really need to be for special occasions. Having excellent costumes can only enhance the experience. I was dressed as a hipster pirate, and went around asking all my servers for P.B.Arrrr.
Make a plan. Know which bars you’ll be headed to beforehand. Make sure everyone knows how they’re getting home, and have each other’s numbers or other contact info in case you get separated. As time and alcohol take their toll, this will happen. The buddy system is your best friend, and the Danforth is easy to get home from, thanks to the abundance of transit stops with trains, buses, and streetcars heading in all directions.
Set a reasonable, staggered pace for yourself. Just because you are going to multiple (or sometimes 13) bars doesn’t mean you have to get carried away at each one. You should always drink responsibly and pace yourself. Not everyone can handle the same amount of alcohol: know your own limit and stick to it. Encourage people to duck out early or show up late, to slow down or drink non-alcoholic—this is a night to enjoy yourself, not to get sick.
Show up unannounced. We did. Some of the bartenders didn’t care for it. They all appreciated the business on some level, I’m sure, but having a gang of 20 inebriated and costumed lunatics come through the door without advance warning can be stressful for them, especially if they’re the only ones working a busy night. I’ve worked in the service industry since, and learned better. Give them a heads-up.
Be rude or obnoxious. Be aware of your surroundings. There will be other people out where you are drinking that won’t be on your level. Respect the space of others who just want a quiet night, and if your crowd shows up at a bar where the server says they can’t seat you, move along. Odds are they are just doing their job and looking out for everyone’s best interest.
Only drink alcohol. Get some food and stay hydrated. Eat something early in the evening so you have a solid base for the booze, and again, later, for reasons of self-preservation. Try drinking a glass of water after every boozy beverage. Your sober selves will thank you the next day, and the bars you visit will appreciate that you can handle your drinks more responsibly than those who skipped dinner.
Photography by Brianna Benton and Michaela Wong.