Before Mother swung open their doors for the first time last week, limes were cut, high-tops
were wiped down, yes, but the team was also busy lacto-fermenting local plums and carmelizing yogurt, distilling birch syrup and homebrewing kefir.
This is not your standard Queen Street bar.
Though Mother has the standards trappings of a craft cocktail drinkery – ice is cut to order, and bartenders are well-versed in the cocktail canon – the bar is a shrine to preservation and fermentation techniques. Even the name, Mother, stems from a nickname for Scoby yeast culture.
The menu, created by Massimo Zitti and with food by Lionel Duke, is broken into three categories, threaded together by the theme of ‘time.’ Past pays homage to classic cocktails, from Negronis to Pina Coladas. The former looks to lacto-fermented plums to add a rich, savoury undertone to the drink and the latter, uses coconut and Galangal to mimic the frothy flavours of a Lassi. It lacks any of that overt sweetness that has made Pina Coladas such an umbrella-drink staple, and it is dangerously drinkable.
A glimmer of the team’s Bar Chef pedigree comes in Mother’s signature cocktail – an Old Fashioned nestled amidst a tray of greens and creeping dry ice.
In a quirky ode to the clubby strip Mother is situated on, there’s an entire page of the menu dedicated to simple pours; think elevated G&Ts (with a blend of gins, lemon, thyme, olive and quinine) and Tequila & Sodas (with housemade tepache).
The team goes on weekly foraging expeditions to curate the Tomorrow section of the menu. It flickers to meet availability and seasonality, but expect things like falernum made from Trinity Bellwood’s pinecones and Citric Birch Syrup born in High Park. On the culinary side, the foraged greens top a chicken N’ chamomile soup, and local spruce adds a deep earthiness to a crispy duck breast. For the less hungry, lighter ‘zero waste’ bar snacks include buckwheat popcorn and cured egg croissants.
Though the menu is cerebral, the space is anything but – cozy velvet bar stools beckon you to linger a little longer, as does the energetic presence of the bar staff. The drinks make you think, but the concept still lets deliciousness shine.