A Toast To The Past: The Speakeasy At Muskoka Foundry Hosts Grand Opening On May 18

The Speakeasy At Muskoka Foundry
Guests enjoy the Speakeasy during a private event on May 10. Photo by Scott Turnbull

The owners of The Farm Store are launching the Speakeasy on May 18, offering artisanal cocktails, mocktails and appetizers as a toast to the past in the heart of the Muskoka Foundry.

The Muskoka Foundry, which started as a manufacturing plant in 1904, is a retail and event space in Bracebridge. The Farm Store has been a vendor at the Foundry for two years, offering a range of locally sourced foods and boutique wines. Chris Finlay and Alexandra Roth, owners of The Farm Store, were offered a space to sell drinks during events, which sparked the idea for the Speakeasy. They decided to create an artisanal cocktail bar that married the mission of their store with the history of the Muskoka Foundry.

“The bar is the connection between the two,” Finlay said. “It’s luxury cocktails, selected wines, we have a bottle shop attached to us, and a bunch of different beers from local vendors, and then it’s all hosted in this beautiful industrial space that has a ton of history and legacy in it.”

The building was made in 1903 and Dominion Linen Mills took over from 1904 to 1912. The Muskoka Foundry and Bracebridge Manufacturing each ran the plant for periods during the 1900s, creating metal products like signs, steel beams and parts for the timber industry.

Alexandra Roth and Chris Finlay, owners of The Farm Store and The Speakeasy.
Alexandra Roth and Chris Finlay, owners of The Farm Store and The Speakeasy. Photo by Scott Turnbull

Now, with a name calling back to its history, the building hosts weddings, concerts and other events in addition to the retail space. During renovations for the bar, Finlay and Roth installed a larger stage to host live music. They’ll feature local musicians on Fridays and Saturdays in May and June and every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in July and August.

“The place is filled with antiques, it’s eclectic, there’s exposed brick – it was just a really great fit for the building,” Roth said. “Along with that, the era matches the Foundry as well, and we wanted to tie in that high-end cocktail and wine bar because we also believe that’s something that’s needed in Bracebridge.”

Finlay and Roth worked with their mixologist to create a menu of signature cocktails that fit the 1920s theme. They’re also offering drink and charcuterie menus that, like the products in their store, are curated to include local ingredients that change throughout the year, highlighting the best each season has to offer.

“Most of the cocktail menu items are all made from Ontario distilleries or sourced from Ontario breweries, so for example, most of our spirits are all from Copperhead Distillery, which is just from Sundridge,” said Ken Elo, consultant and manager for the Speakeasy.

Even the tequila they use comes from a brand with Canadian founders. “All of the signature drinks incorporate seasonal fruits and vegetables to try to have a very local, luxury, curated menu,” Elo said.

The Farm Store has been closed during renovations, but they’re excited to be putting the final touches on the bar as they prepare for the grand opening. Bracebridge musician Carter Pharoah is performing from 6 to 9 p.m. as they introduce the Speakeasy to the public.

The Speakeasy At Muskoka Foundry
The Speakeasy At Muskoka Foundry. Photo by Scott Turnbull

The Speakeasy will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays until Father’s Day. After that, the bar will be closed on Mondays, open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. for the rest of the week.

“We are also opening up an artisan food and drink market, so there will be other local food and drink vendors open here as well,” Roth said. “Customers can come to the Foundry, purchase food from some of the other vendors, and sit at the Speakeasy and enjoy one of our signature craft cocktails, so it’s a really unique experience.”

The market will offer barbeque from TheBack40 Smoke Box, salads from The Balancing Way, and gourmet donuts and ice cream from Lil Tuck’s Donut Shop. Muskoka River Bagel Co, one of the Foundry’s existing tenants, will have fresh-baked bagels, bread and Detroit-style pizza. Enchanted Florals will also be there to sell bouquets and other arrangements.

The bar and market will open as of May 18, and an outdoor patio is slated to open sometime during June. Scott Harkness, owner of the Muskoka Foundry, said it’s been great having The Farm Store as part of the Foundry family, and he can’t wait to see where they go from here.

“They offer a very unique selection of locally produced foods that are typically not available elsewhere, and they also have an absolutely fantastic wine selection that is definitely not available anywhere else,” Harkness said. “All of their wines are from all over the world from boutique wineries and not available at the LCBO.”

The Speakeasy At Muskoka Foundry
Photo by Scott Turnbull

Harkness said the concept behind the bar is the perfect blend between the high-end food and drink at The Farm Store and the history of the Foundry. It’s a special building that requires a bar that’s just as memorable, so he’s excited to be able to offer customers a full selection of food, drink and entertainment.

“It was just really crying out for a bar that would be unique to the Foundry and to this area, and the Speakeasy obviously just screams that,” Harkness said. “Also, the Speakeasy vibe [dates] back to Prohibition, which is getting back closer to the date that the Foundry was originally built.”

He’s gotten a sneak peek of the bar’s offerings, and he’s already impressed with their selection of cocktails, mocktails, wine and beer. He has owned the building for eight years, and it’s taken substantial work to get the Foundry where it is now. Though it’s been a grind, he can’t wait to see the new and improved Foundry open later this month.

“To really have the vision of the market now finally coming together at the south end of the building – the Speakeasy obviously as an anchor to it – it’s absolutely wonderful.”

Visit 101 Entrance Drive in Bracebridge from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on May 18 for the grand opening, and follow the Speakeasy on Facebook and Instagram for updates.

This article is sponsored by The Farm Store.


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