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Best Bar Award 2024

Bar Pompette

Although it’s hard to imagine, the original plan for the French takeover of Toronto’s Little Italy didn’t include Bar Pompette. It was Restaurant Pompette that opened first, in 2020, and was initially envisioned as a casual brasserie with wine and cocktails. But any hope for a lively bar scene was nixed by pandemic restrictions that limited seating to the patio.

Everything is focused on the drinks. Manager and co-owner – Bar Pompette Hugo Togni

When a space a few doors down became available the next year, Maxime Hoerth and his partners snagged it, so that Hugo Togni’s exquisite cocktails would finally have a chance to take their rightful place. “Everything is focused on the drinks,” says Togni, the bar’s manager and co-owner.

While there are some delicious snacks to be had, including decadent béchamel-heavy croque monsieurs assembled in a makeshift mini-kitchen at the end of the bar, the cocktails are the undisputed stars of the show.

Almost 95 percent of the drinks ordered are cocktails. That’s testament to an expertly designed list, featuring the bar’s famed nitro cocktails on tap, oddball drinks made with micro-distilled flavour bombs and perfected modern takes on classics.

Togni was practically born to work in this industry, having grown up on a vineyard in Alsace, in a family stacked with chefs and people in the wine business. Before he discovered his love of bartending, he went to culinary school and worked the brigade in several Michelin-starred kitchens.

Favourite Drinking City

“Paris. I’m really in love with the cocktail scene there right now because it’s taken a big step forward in the past few years.”

Booze of Choice

“It’s hard to choose, but, at the moment, I’d say Calvados.”

Favourite Drink

“Calvados Daiquiri. Or a bourbon old fashioned with a half-ounce of Calvados, which adds this fruitiness that mixes so well with [bourbon].”

Fun Fact

Togni is known for his corny jokes, not all of which land perfectly.

–Christine Sismondo

Photography by (Split and Crack) Jessica Blaine Smith, (portrait) Ashley Van Der Laan

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