This is part one of a two-part series.
Reposado Bar was one of the inspirations for me to start my blog. It’s stylish, cozy, popular and absolutely stacked with a wonderful variation of tequilas.
It’s been proclaimed as one of Toronto’s Favourite Bars, by citizens and critics alike, so you can imagine my pleasure and excitement at the chance to spend some time hanging out at the bar and talk shop with Reposado’s co-owner & tequila connoisseur, Sandy MacFadyen.
He and his wife, Catherine, are partners in the business, and even on the cold and rainy Thursday night I attended, there was an above average number of people sitting around, enjoying the live jazz band, The Reposadists, and a varied selection of tequilas and mescals.
“All our friends thought we were crazy to do it, ” says MacFadyen of when he and his wife first pitched the idea of a tequila bar in Toronto. “Seven years and we’re still going strong.”
Although the landscape may have changed quite a bit since they first installed themselves as the premier tequila bar into the Ossington strip. Back then, it was different kind of strip. “There was Sweaty Betty’s, the Crooked Star, and the rest was all auto shops,” he describes. Nowadays, Reposado is one of many well-known and well-visited social hangouts down the street. It bodes well, however, that their crowd is as eclectic and as varied as their tequila stock, just what the owners would have hoped for.
“The thing I love about New York bars, you can have patrons 21 or 61 and you’d be fine.” MacFayden says he and his wife would often visit the Lower East Side in Manhattan, and they would enjoy the ambience and intimate feeling one would feel in a New York bar; they ultimately decided to model their space after that, and they’ve done well. Maybe too well. “I wish I had more space on the weekend; we got the private room next door, we’re debating whether to go to that (expansion). Because I like the idea of having a small bar, that’s what’s cool about the smaller New York bars, even if there’s only ten people in the place it still feels relaxed, and you can talk to your bartender.” He admits that he’s been toying with the idea of opening a second location on the other side of the city, to appeal to Torontonians who love tequila but hate crossing the Don. “Most of my friends that live on the other side of Yonge street never cross that river.”
Truly, one of the best things about Reposado is it’s knowledgable, and not unattractive, staff behind the bar. They know their tequila, and it’s a point of pride for MacFayden that their various patrons come back to taste another great recommendation. Pauline, one of the staff tending to patrons on the night of my visit, recalls the name of a known actor who refers to her by name: “Peter Gallagher, ” she remembers, “we’re fans of each others.” “He loves this place… And He loves Pauline,” MacFadyen confirms. “Celebrities will come here and nobody bugs them, which is great.”
In their continuing success, MacFayden describes various plans and ideas they have for the future, including bringing in a new musician to play live, perhaps starting an industry night on Sundays, and themed specials for weeknights. “Tuesdays we’re going to do Tequila Tuesdays, where we’ve taken like $2 off (the price of our premium tequilas). We try and move around all the different styles,” he says, adding they would try to get a good sampling of all the aged tequilas on display. “Mondays are mezcals, so this is the place to be in Mondays.”
…Make sure to check in next week for the second half of this interview.