Bangarang: An electric cocktail bar we love built on comfort, fun and … cornhole?
There’s nothing quite like a venue where you can enjoy everything from games to drinks to dancing with friends and never feel like you’re out of place. You know—the kind of fun, engaging atmosphere that has the vibe of a super-charged house party but with the design aesthetic of a hip nightspot.
Look no further than Bangarang, one of College Street’s most enticing venues—and that’s saying a lot on a strip jam packed with posh lounges, trendy bars and nightclubs and world-class restaurants.
When the doors opened at Bangarang in 2017, the local denizens of cool immediately flocked to its cozy confines. What they found was a 2,500 sq. ft. pink neon room filled with live plants, a slick dancefloor and games. Yes, games.
Never a dull moment
“We consider ourselves a games-cocktail bar with a solid DJ line up. It’s a great party, where you’re just as likely to hear Trap as you are Spice Girls,” says Bangarang owner and operations manager Jesse Borg.
“We tried to build a space where you could play cornhole or dutch shuffleboard—or not—and just drink and dance instead.” Cornhole lanes can be reserved for $40 an hour, but hurry. They book up fast. Or feel free to roll the dice; they always keep a lane available for walk-ins, free of charge.
They went so far as to put their own spin on cornhole with a game called Elimination—a version of the traditional backyard beanbag toss game that follows beer pong rules. Eliminate all six holes and you win. No word on whether free drinks come with a victory.
Arms open to everyone
Here’s what we love most about Bangarang: they take huge pride in keeping this a safe, inclusive, comfortable and fun space. Attitude gets parked at the door and everyone who comes here is expected to have a great time with new or old friends. The mainly 20 to 35-year-old crowd can include everyone from students to Bay Street bankers looking to let loose on the weekend. That eclecticism makes generates a unique energy that only reinforces Bangarang’s appeal.
As Borg points out, he and the rest of the staff want to attract patrons who are the right fit (e.g., easy-going and without pretense) and who will leave happy (which could include almost anyone given their open-arms approach).
“I think the idea was to create another space similar to Track and Field that wasn’t self-serious, and was just a celebration of fun,” he says of Bangarang’s sister bar. The only bad news: Track and Field is set to close in August, so get your fix of that equally exciting space now before it’s too late.
“The bar industry has exploded in Toronto over the past 20 years, but there’s a lot of cool-guyness about it with people taking themselves too seriously,” Borg adds. “We wanted to have fun, too.”
Eclectic tracks, corporate parties and an awesome cocktail list
With a maximum capacity of 204 people, Bangarang can host a wide range of gatherings, but corporate parties are their big-event bread and butter, with most clients booking out the entire venue for a night of partying with staff or to let loose with their clients.
Hungry? Food is provided by off-site caterers because they don’t have an in-house meal program (did we mention we love cooking up our delicious dishes in this funky space?!). On the musical side, they regularly team with like-minded tastemakers such as BoozyFade, two DJs who started an online hip hop group over Facebook that has grown to number several thousand fans/collaborators.
They also have a great full-time events coordinator with a very open mind who welcomes fresh ideas when it comes to event styles and themes. They could even do weddings if requested.
“It’s important that the events we host not only work for us, but are also good for the person who’s booking,” Borg stresses.
What’s always great is their reasonably-priced drink list. Bangarang features a wide range of craft and small batch beers, not to mention a tasty-creative house cocktail list. Try the Weird Flex (coconut-infused pisco, Wray & Nephew rum, lime and passion fruit), the Higher Love (gin, rose-infused Lillet Blanc, lemon, cucumber juice, grapefruit and absinthe) or the signature Banana-rang (rum, Cynar, lime, banana, honey and orange bitters).
You may come for the libations and love the space, but it’s the staff that will have you coming back again and again. They’re an amazingly warm, courteous and professional group. You can tell they take pride in creating an inviting ambience where everyone is welcome. To us, there’s nothing cooler than people who never try to act cool. They’re secure in who they are as a group and the experience they want to deliver to their patrons. So refreshing!
“We’ve really built our culture through our staff,” Borg says proudly. “We’ve had people work at both bars and really created a family kind of atmosphere.”
Bangarang is located at 552 College Street. They’re open for business Wednesday to Sunday, 6 pm to 2 am.
Fia Pagnello, Founder and CEO
Contact us now to book your next event at Bangarang!