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Saturday, March 10, 2018

For eerie, fun drinks on Toronto's Queen Street West, it's Hocus Pocus

Queen Street West in Toronto is one of those destination spots where new businesses frequently appear and disappear. That's the economics of retail and sales rather than magic, however a new, very intriguing place on Queen West materialized recently and magic does play a big role in it.

I happened to stumble upon it a couple of weeks ago, and almost passed by it entirely until something on the chalkboard placard outside the Hocus Pocus Witchery (at 592 Queen West) caught my eye. With its storefront appearance, looking in from the street, the place appeared to be a sort of occult shop, selling Wiccan and magic paraphernalia. It's something I found interesting from an academic perspective when I wrote a screenplay once dealing with some of that subject matter, but that was a while back. So I only really qualsi took in the place as I was passing by until I almost tripped over their chalkboard, on which was written, 'Come and check out our smoking cocktails.'

While communing with Beelzebub wasn't on the forefront of my mind, I was indeed seeking out a place to get a drink. The prospect of booze in the witchcraft store was interesting enough to explore, so I got a notion to get a potion, so to speak.

There is indeed a bar at the Hocus Pocus Witchery, and a few tables, as well as plenty of items for sale, from magic potion ingredients to statues of ancient Egyptian deities to a wide assortment of Tarot decks to  $1000 'Love Wands" which I can only assume is something the parents of rich kids at Hogwarts would buy for their forlorn children. However, from my perspective, they had an impressive drinks menu, and the "smoking cocktail" description was not a metaphor.

There are a number of drinks at Hocus Pocus Wichery which literally smoke and bubble, and create an eerie graveyard mist which flows over the rims of the myriad of unusual receptacles that contain the concoctions. The drinks are delicious and quite reasonably priced for such elaborate recipes and presentation.  

Despite the ominous theme, the staff are rather friendly. Although to a point. I have some vague recollection of the suggestion that I could be turned into a newt if I didn't behave myself. Although that could just be part of a hallucination from the wormwood in the genuine French Absinthe contained in one of the beverages, the preparation for which is a ritual in itself.

My only complaint about the Hocus Pocus Witchery is that they close rather early for a bar on weekdays, at 9 pm, but they are open late on Friday and Saturday nights, and on the late closings, they frequently have entertainment. The last of which I saw was a burlesque dancer named Pastel Supernova (although I strongly suspect that is not the name she was born with) whose performance somewhat evoked the dance Salma Hayek did in From Dusk Till Dawn, minus the boa constrictor.

Considering how much fun I had there, I hope the Hocus Pocus Witchery doesn't vanish anytime soon.


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