Sweaty Betty’s is a small, unpretentious hangout with mismatched furniture, a loungelike back room & a cozy patio. With its large back patio and dimly lit lounge, Sweaty Betty’s is one of Toronto’s oldest dives. At the buzzing intersection of Queen and Ossington, enjoy no-frills cocktails, plenty of beer, and a great selection of whisky. Sweaty Betty’s keeps you fueled without breaking the bank, whether you’re looking for a casual meeting place for a quick drink or lucky enough to snag seats on the bar’s back patio. One of the first bars on the Ossington strip and has been going strong since 2004. A quintessential dive bar with dim red lighting, neon signs, mismatched furniture, classic cocktails, and a hidden gem of a back patio open all year round.
They have a rotating cocktail menu and specials, including their famous pickleback shots and vegan Caesars. Perfect for a first date, a drink after work, or a night out with friends. No attitude, LGBTQ+ safe space. They take their Covid-19 regulations seriously and try to protect staff and patrons during these strange times. Their covered back patio is heated and covered, and their huge curb lane front patio offers extra outdoor seating through the summer. Sweaty Betty’s has been a notoriously packed dive bar in Toronto for over 20 years, so the name seems appropriate. May Brand, the woman who’s been managing here for nearly a decade, now owns it. She’s also worked behind the bar at the nearby Gladstone and Beaver. Framed flash art covers the maroon walls from top to bottom.
Brand added her vintage mirrors and twinkly lights to the appropriately cramped and poorly lit front area. It almost serves to keep the uninitiated away from the more exciting areas beyond, such as a back room with couches and frames on the walls filled with portraits. In typical dive bar fashion, beer and whisky dominate, and Betty’s has always had a good selection of the brown stuff for a small bar. Pulling pints of craft beer like Amsterdam, Creemore, and Beau’s since before it was everywhere, their inventory has changed a lot over the years, incorporating cocktails, whereas the word alone was previously blasphemy. They are famous for their “pickleback” shots ($6.25), which consist of a shot of whisky followed by a shot of pickle brine (which, yes, has been used for pickling).