Emmet Ray is somewhat of a mythical character. Some claim he did not exist, some know he did. Jazz aficionados may be aware of this little known gypsy jazz guitarist of the 1930s and 40s. And Woody Allen’s 1999 film “Sweet and Lowdown,” aimed to shed some light on his life and times. Like many jazz legends, Emmet Ray was an anti-hero, a hard drinker and a bit of an ass – but his stellar guitar playing made up for his long list of character flaws. And so in trying to come up with a name for a whisky bar, the moniker of a myth, musician and man who lived in perpetual sin seemed more than fitting.
In December of 2009 The Emmet Ray opened at 924 College Street, hosting an array of live musical acts, a growing whisky list – over 230 bottles and counting, from all corners of the globe – and a food program that elevates an environment already balanced with music and spirit. Like its namesake, this bar is about character not polish. Warm and unassuming, The Emmet Ray offers quality products alongside living room service.
Whether you’re lounging in our front-window living room, enjoying some entertainment in the back or at the bar with friends, our regulars and staff, you’ll always find a spot waiting for you at The Emmet Ray.
Andrew Kaiser, Partner/Operator
Drawn in by the social nature and unconventional work environment, Andrew’s had a long fascination with the pub and bar industry. He “fell into” an appreciation for whisky in his early days and the relationship was solidified in the late 90s when he bartended a whisky event at The Tranzac Club in the Annex. In 2004, Andrew decided to test his luck in Europe and start his bartending career anew. Finding footing in a growing company that owned several bars, clubs, hostels and hotels, he managed to work his way to becoming an area manager after a just a few years, running 22 venues in six countries. Still, he wanted his own establishment. So Andrew took what he learned in Europe back to Canada, in hopes of opening a whisky bar, and thus came about The Emmet Ray, which he now co-owns with his brother Derek. Andrew is also a Partner/Operator at The Dock Ellis, a popular sports pub in Toronto’s Little Portugal.