It’s no secret that I often prefer to go out in the gay village, especially when it’s just my lady roommate and I. It’s no secret, too, that one of the reasons I prefer that neighborhood is because when the men are locked in an aggressive pursuit, it’s usually with each other. But even then, both she and I have experienced unwanted, intimidating, awkward advances and flat out rude men in these environments; it was actually because of an experience in an ostensibly gay club that we invented the ‘rescue me!’ hand signal we use to this day, two years later.
It has come in extremely handy on the rare occasions we’ve gone clubbing on St. Laurent, the Prince Arthur portion of which is kind of notorious for prowling undergrads, many of whom leave their manners in the bottom of their fourth drink.
So I was a little bit guarded when we decided to go out last night, to this very area. The last time we visited and went to a club, it was a circus.
But we had decided we felt like something fancier than a pub, but not quite a club, so we settled on the perfect middle ground of a lounge. There are several very close to each other on St. L, including GoGo Lounge and Pinq Taco, which we’d heard of and seen. We breezed by GoGo, glanced in, but didn’t feel the music that was coming out.
As we passed by Pinq and tried to scope the inside, we saw that the front windows were covered by curtains. We’d been in there once before and had a decent time, but it had been closed (to our knowledge) for a while and we weren’t certain if it was revamped or not. While we hesitated on the sidewalk, a well-dressed young man ushered us into the lounge with polite invitations and promises of a good time. I forget what this guy’s job is called, but he did it well — we found ourselves in the lounge in no time flat, and very soon one of the other men at the door came in and introduced himself, and quickly arranged for a shot and a mixed drink on the house to get us started. It’s the kind of treatment you see on HBO.
The drinks were excellent. As the waiter explained, at Pinq, they don’t do their tequila shots with lemon and salt, but with a slice of orange. The tequila was smooth, and the orange was a much gentler follow-up that really made more sense than the song and dance of salt and lemon to cover up bad tequila which leaves you grimacing anyway. The tom collins cocktails were also perfectly balanced in strength and flavor.
First impression: very, very solid.
It was quiet in there at first — maybe 30 people at 11:00 — but as we sipped our drinks and had a great conversation with one of the waiters (who also took care of our bags for us, and personally ensured we were having a good time), people filled in rapidly.
The next thing we knew, we were on the crowded floor, dancing away. We’d bought ourselves some gin and tonics (delicious cucumber gin and tonics, I might add), but once we finished those we were presented with free cranberry vodka shots and then a free gin and tonic.
That’s two free cocktails and two free shots for two girls, on the house, just for being new faces. They know how to dish out the V.I.P. treatment at Pinq; that alone is impressive, when the party population on St.L can keep most places afloat without them having to bother. No door charge and no coat check charge seems to be their policy, at least if you arrive a little early.
It wasn’t just the drinks, or the great staff. The attitude of the crowd really impressed me as well. It was very crowded in there, but everyone was extremely polite when they passed by you or bumped into you. The men that came to speak to my roommate and I were good-looking, friendly, and amusing, and above all, respectful. The women there were pretty and convivial, complimentary of fellow girls dancing and having a good time. There were girls dancing up on the bar before the night was through, and no one grabbed them or copped a feel even as they poured champagne down into the mouths of the dancers on the floor. People were ordering bottle service, and waiters swam by with buckets above their heads, sparklers sticking out and firing away like shooting stars over the dancers. The air smelled deliciously of humans and fireworks.
The quality of the mixed drinks didn’t go down as the bar staff worked harder, and they seemed able to get to everyone in a timely manner, passing drinks around the legs of the ladies dancing. People were dressed in all sorts of ways, from clubgoers slicked back to the nines, to college guys in more understated plaids, but the vibe was homogenous and the music was great, with enjoyable remixes of popular earworms that had people shouting and dancing and drinking.
As things wound up to 3 o’ clock, we decided to beat the exodus rush out the door by a little bit. Our feet were killing us, too. As if by psychic powers, our waiter found us and asked how we were doing. We thanked him warmly and he retrieved our purses for us, sending us out into the night with a smile. We passed by a lineup outside the door; I can see why people would wait to get in there.
We ended up walking barefoot down Sherbrooke, our heels in our hands because our feet were just done for the night. That’s usually a sign of a good time.
I haven’t felt so excited about going back to a place in ages. Usually lukewarm interest or ambivalence about an establishment follows a night out, but not with Pinq Taco. It’s a place I very much want to experience again, with even more friends in tow. It’s the sort of place where you feel happy to spend your time and, moreover, your money. Fishing around for a good venue for the inevitable ‘Marri Got a Job’ party, Pinq Taco seriously puts itself in mind.
I’ve heard it said that Pinq Taco is where the party’s at. Friday nights? You bet.