UNIT, like a barfly’s Diagon Alley, has been on Queen between the Drake and the Gladstone for four years, even though many people don’t know it’s there. It’s been quietly existing in the shadow of the neighbourhood’s heavy hitting bars – never asking for your attention, never calling out to you. But there when you need it: a bar that captures the old junk-store spirit of the Parkdale of days gone by, while at the same time managing to feel like an elegant space that’s been carefully curated.
That’s because it has, by art-savvy owners with an eye for found /objets/ and sufficient side projects to allow them to take it easy with UNIT – the bar is only open Thursday to Saturday, from 7pm on, and it’s not the most easily spotted (for those of you who didn’t get the Harry Potter reference).
UNIT’s storefront-style window is home to an eerie doll/mannequin, an old lightbox sign that says “LIQUOR” and a lot of dust. The bar name is written in chalk on the wall beside the door. During the week, UNIT looks like the last retail outpost of yesteryear’s West Queen West, but walk past when the bar is open and you’ll find a crowd of smokers and gawkers outside. It’s not easy to spot, but people know it’s there, trust me.
Early on, it’s a quiet, friendly place to catch up with friends and kick back. As the night-owls start crawling in, live DJs get the party started with different beats, and thus, a different vibe, every night. Geriatrics like me will truly enjoy the early evening calm at lovely UNIT, ordering beer by the bottle (over the counter made from reclaimed gym floor wood), and examining the bizarre knick-knacks lining the ceiling-high bookcases.
Party animals will feel right at home after midnight; the space is narrow but there’s plenty of dancing going on in the back. Recovering alcoholics and the friends of messy drunks will appreciate the espresso machine that brings caffeine and night life together at last.
There’s no beer on draft, but all the usual suspects are available in (reasonably-priced) bottles. The bar’s blog recommends you try a Dark ‘n’ Stormy if you’re up for a cocktail. If you’re feeling hungry, there’s… well, there’s a wide selection of packaged nuts. Check back often to marvel anew at the latest décor or newest DJ. One thing that’s always consistent, though, is that the bar only takes cash, so
fill up your billfolds before you go, Muggles.
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