Laugh in Ottawa! Order a drink to get a laugh

There is no need to take in a comedy show to get a laugh.

Love it or hate it, the Vancouver comedy scene is a great place to get the hard-to-find (and one of the hardest to get to in the country) alcohol. The comedy scene in Toronto is growing and the city itself is doing so well that it’s a lot easier to find drinks than it used to be.

Until recently, most of the booze found in our national capital was local — bar owners would either make deals with the government on a per capita basis (a hefty price tag) or demand a promotion and negotiate for it. After all, in 2006, Toronto introduced a so-called “drinking minimum.” It’s a minimum the city keeps around until 2021, which has some locals grumbling.

An alcohol minimum (or zone of no alcohol sales) isn’t the way forward for Canada’s largest city, which already has hundreds of bars selling alcohol. Toronto has the sixth-highest ranking for liquor consumption in Canada, but it’s on the more pedestrian side and brings in lots of money — $3.3 billion dollars in fiscal 2016, which came to $440 per person.

Many American airports have similar flying nights where you are directed from bar to bar. Alcohol is sold legally, but there are strict regulations that limit where and how much it can be consumed. Some airports in the U.S. actually try to change people’s drinking habits or discourage people from drinking.

If you want a laugh, and look for something that’s funny, you’re going to find a great laugh-out-loud night out in Ottawa. But it takes a village, including Ottawa’s Crown Land, the country’s largest winery and vineyard. When they’re not hosting concerts and promoting wine in the National Capital Region, they’re doing vodka tastings and hosting tours like a wine country week in August.

“People are trying to position the city as the place to go for wine and entertainment, but there are so many smaller establishments that are doing fantastic things,” said Avishai Goldberg, who owns Upper Levels Distillery.

Goldberg, who is Canadian, owned a winery in Sri Lanka in the 2000s. In 2016, Goldberg and his partner Herb Nayer opened the Upper Levels Distillery.

Upper Levels’ craft spirits include rum, gin, vodka, bourbon, rum porter, maple syrup, maple syrup vodka, peanut butter whiskey, raisin whiskey, and Key Lime Martini.

Goldberg explains that Canadians are big on peanut butter vodka. He notes that it has a sweet kick, but with a light kick. It’s unique and tasty.

You can get punch for real this fall. Upper Levels started selling a pumpkin cider this year and since the leaves are coming out, it is a fun and easy way to make a fresh drink.

Don’t forget the crazy alcoholic snacks. How many people in Winnipeg have ever ordered liquor-soaked salami? Someone had to think of that. I ordered myself, but I don’t know if I’m turning into a picker-upper.

To order Upper Levels vodka or rum porter, you need to call Upper Levels and fill out a form with your credit card. The fee ranges from $45 to $50 per month. From there, you get very personal attention and personalized service.

“My friends in London wouldn’t believe how easy it is,” said Joshua Blake, the general manager for Upper Levels and member of the Order of Canada. “It’s the best liquor store you’ve ever been to, and it’s the best bar in the city.”

Upper Levels Distillery

1000 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M4B 1R6


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