Mediterranean restaurant Byblos reaches back to Britannia for its gorgeous, flowing punch bowl.
The concept: A few years ago, some Toronto bars put punch on their menus, but the beverage failed to pique customers’ interest. Byblos bar manager Wes Galloway wanted to give the bowl a second chance. “I love the idea of traditional drinking culture,” he says. “I’d love to own a bar with a massive communal punch bowl like they had in the 17th century.” On busy nights at Byblos, in the Entertainment District, the two (smaller) bowls are out at tables for the entire service.
The cart: Galloway wanted to add the punch’s finishing touches tableside, so he hunted around for a classic mid-century bar cart. “We found this cart online after browsing through about 150 of them. I went to get it at some creepy antique dealer’s apartment in Moss Park. It all worked out. I’m alive still, obviously.”
The vessel: The drink comes in a soup tureen from William Ashley that serves three to six people. “We won’t do it for fewer, because we don’t want people to overindulge,” he says. “But people love to see [the tureen]go by. When we get it to the table, all the flash photography starts going off.”
The recipe: “Even though we change it up every week, I always try to keep the punch really old-school,” Galloway says. “Like the kind that was introduced to England by the British East India Company.” His current punch softens the stiff upper lip of gin and astringent Earl Grey tea with bright, fresh pomegranate-citrus flavours.
The ice: The punch is served over a solid, two-by-four-inch block of ice, custom-made for Byblos. “We didn’t want the drink to get watery,” Galloway says. “The nice, clear brick just keeps everything super cool.”
The Flowing Bowl, $65. 11 Duncan St., 647-660-0909.