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Toronto liquor store hours make for a beer buying adventure

A couple of weeks ago I made my first trip to Toronto for the TBEX Travel Blogger Conference, and to my surprise found the Toronto liquor store hours less than convenient. I adapted, persevered, and overcame.

Toronto liquor store hours

When the lights go down the Toronto liquor store hours end

Canada a blue state but liquor laws resemble a red one

Some refer to Canada jokingly as a blue state due to the fact it is close geographically to the United States, small in population despite its epic size, similar in culture to the U.S., and also for their liberal tendencies. This is why I was shocked when I found that you could not buy beer or liquor after 9:45 p.m. on a Saturday.

Their rules resembled a red state like Tennessee or Indiana. Speaking of red, the name of the governing body of alcohol in Ontario is the Liquor Control Board. It sounds downright Communist.

Toronto Flipkey House

The living room was spacious and comfortable where we felt we could relax and be ourselves – We made a run during Toronto liquor store hours

Flipkey RWTBEX house

I was staying at a Flipkey house with several other bloggers. We mostly arrived on Friday and thanks to Lola were well supplied for Friday night. Lola also provided a makeshift cardboard bar that was constructed. In fact, I would say we over served ourselves, and this fact caused me to miss the TBEX conference entirely on Saturday.

Toronto liquor store hours

Over RWTBEXed on Saturday during Toronto liquor store hours

I did rebound in order to make it to the Expedia party later that night, but this ended at 10 p.m., so we needed a new venue to kick our heels. The obvious answer was our bar and home we named the RWTBEX house (real world TBEX).


Proof that I did emerge from the RWTBEX lair on Saturday night – Little did I know that Toronto liquor store hours were about through for the night

Toronto liquor store hours

To our consternation, and my disbelief, Toronto liquor stores closed at 9:45 on Saturday night. I did a double take when I heard the news and said “Watcha you talking about Captain.” I could not believe a liberal Canadian city had stricter rules than many states in the United States. I was out of beer, but fortunately, GQTrippin had some good black rum and coke in the fridge, so I was able to make it through the night without withdrawal symptoms.

There was one more day of TBEX left and a predicament followed: the kind that that tries the souls of man.  I knew if the Toronto beers store hours closed early on Saturday, they certainly would close even earlier on Sunday. I got online and found they closed at 5 p.m. The problem was I had appointments with some speed dating partners all the way to 4:45. There was no way I could speed date until that time and then speed buy beer for Sunday night.

All day long I struggled with this dilemma. How could I be in two places at once? I had two speed dating appointments right away at 2 p.m. and then two at the end. I came up with a plan. I would go to my two early appointments and then try and hit my other appointments early, then bail and get beer.  Not only did I want to make sure we had enough to have fun, but I felt I needed to repay GQ for consuming half a bottle of their booze (not to mention a few beers).

TBEX Conference

Proof that I made it to the actual conference the next day even during Toronto liquor store hours

As soon as my two appointments ended I turned into a vulture and hovered around my later appointments. The Clothing Arts were free and I began to talk to Adam. I asked since he was free if it was okay to do the presentation now. He gladly agreed and it was now 2:30 p.m., and I had one appointment left.


Here I am hovering over my later appointments early trying to make it to an LCBO during Toronto liquor store hours

My last appointment was with Israel. Unfortunately, they were a popular stop. I waited for almost an hour, but there was someone always there. A tough decision was imminent. I was sure Israel would invite me to fly to their country, and I would be the biggest travel hit in the country since Jesus. This was going to be my chance at fame.

Toronto liquor store hours

I wish Toronto liquor store hours reflected the same hours as RWTBEX

Time to beat Sunday Toronto liquor store hours

The first coming of Traveling Ted to the promise land was not to be. I made the tough decision and bailed on my last appointment. Sorry and shalom Israel, but I needed to provide holy beer and wine so the RWTBEX peeps could inherit the earth, or at least have something to drink.

LCBO Toronto

I made it to the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) during Toronto liquor store hours

I pulled into the house and headed over to the LCBO.  I came back to the house carrying my box of goodies and collapsed. I then of course had a couple of beers while waiting for the rest of the crew to come back from the conference. What transpired was an afternoon of beer plane, a new fabulous drinking game, and many more fun times fueled by my beer adventure in Toronto.

Toronto liquor store hours

I arrive with my box of goodies in plenty of time to beat the closing time of Toronto liquor store hours

Toronto liquor store hours

RWTBEX was back in business thanks to my run in plenty of time during Toronto liquor store hours

Toronto Flipkey House

We were back in business at the RWTBEX house thanks to beating Toronto liquor store hours

Some may wonder the point behind this post. The one seminar I did attend the speaker said that we (meaning bloggers) provide value. That piece of advice really resonated with me. If I can save one other drinker from being disappointed at a closed Toronto liquor store and help them plan ahead, then I have done my job.

Toronto Liquor Store hours

The LCBO Toronto liquor store hours

If you are coming to Toronto from the U.S., do not assume the alcohol sales will continue all night. If you do you will be out of luck after 9:45 and 5 p.m. on Sunday. See the photo above for LCBO beer hours in Toronto near our house. Ours vary at LCBO stores, but not by much. Some stay open until 10 p.m. and 6 p.m.  Click here for a store locator to check the hours at your local store. Whatever the hours of the store closest to you, make sure you have your act together if you want to party like the RWTBEXers in Toronto.

For a $9.00 extra charge you can also have you beer and alcohol delivered to your door thanks to dial a bottle. Their services are only open at the same time as the LCBO, but having the option of calling ahead might make it more convenient for you if you are strapped for time like I was. Thanks Jessica for the tip in the comment section.


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35 Responses to Toronto liquor store hours make for a beer buying adventure

  1. Jessica June 20, 2013 at 10:56 am #

    When I lived in Toronto, it used to be so thrilling to venture outside Ontario and buy liquor in regular stores. “Dial-A-Bottle” is a good back-up if the LCBO closes – it’s a beer and liquor delivery service.
    Jessica recently posted..Taiko: Sweat and Rhythm

    • Ted Nelson June 20, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

      That is funny you used to pine to buy alcohol elsewhere. Kind of like how a person in a communist country used to look over the wall. Thanks for the Dial-a-bottle tip. I will look into that.

  2. Charli | Wanderlusters June 20, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    Sounds like you managed to pull through the weekend and get your fix despite the bizarre hours alcohol is available for purchase! Glad you had fun, looks like you had a hoot!
    Charli | Wanderlusters recently posted..The Retreating Tasman Glacier | Mt Cook

    • Ted Nelson June 22, 2013 at 7:03 pm #

      We did manage to persevere and make the best out of a trying situation. Since I live in the states, I am used to having to adapt to the local alcohol laws as they vary by state and sometimes by city and county, but I was surprised to have to do this in Toronto, so it initially caught me off guard.

  3. Trips By Lance June 20, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

    I knew you guys had fun in the house but until reading about your experiences I didn’t grasp how much fun. What you describe pretty much sums up my college experience. TBEX conference for you was class for me. I think I went once or twice, but still came out with a degree (two actually) along with the fun memories. I inspire to be you at the next TBEX.
    Trips By Lance recently posted..How Do You Bonnaroo?

    • Ted Nelson June 22, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

      The fraternity analogy is quite an accurate one for me. I did drive to TBEX on Saturday to drop off a few bloggers, but then back to the couch. We had an absolute blast.

  4. Leigh June 22, 2013 at 1:17 am #

    You sure made me laugh on this one – and no wonder I never saw you. I can’t believe you bailed! I bailed on Sunday Am’s keynote and heard it was dull so feel like I made the right call. But you – you may have missed an opportunity for Israel – but then there is always next year.

    That’s one reason why I have a well stocked wine fridge – I never like to run out and if you’ve heard about Calgary lately with unprecedented flooding even getting to a liquor store is a problem. Half the city (not quite but 100,000 evacuated) is underwater so one might have to go diving for beer.
    Leigh recently posted..Beautiful Blue Rocks, Nova Scotia

    • Ted Nelson June 22, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

      Interesting you made this comment as I saw a Facebook post from Traveling Canucks about Calgary, and I did not know what they were talking about. I left for Wisconsin last night and was going to camp and then go canoeing the next day. When I arrived it was pouring buckets and the radar showed more bad weather on its way. I turned around and came home because I did not want to set up camp in a monsoon, and I knew canoeing would be out the next day due to high water on the rivers.

      Sorry again that I missed you. I wish I would have made it to the first day in retrospect, but after driving all day and partying too hard at night, I was wiped out. I do not regret bailing on Sunday. I had business to conduct elsewhere.

  5. Charu June 23, 2013 at 2:28 am #

    I am very proud of you for making that Expedia party! And no, Toronto isn’t Rome, where you can buy anything at any time. Odd eh? Extra brownie points for hovering like a vulture and getting a time slot you didn’t own.
    Charu recently posted..Raft Building on the Banks of the Lake Palace, Udaipur: Changing the World One Bottle at a Time

    • Ted Nelson June 23, 2013 at 4:34 am #

      I am a mover and a shaker Charu, it is just how I roll 🙂

  6. gregory urbano June 24, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    definitely looks like you had fun and shattered the myth that bloggers are introverts!
    gregory urbano recently posted..Welcome to Gulfport

    • Ted Nelson June 24, 2013 at 11:36 pm #

      That may be true with bloggers in general, but I don’t think that applies to travel bloggers. Although with 1,200 alone that attended TBEX, it is hard to generalize about so many different people. We definitely had a great time.

  7. Lola DiMarco June 25, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

    What a tragedy! I so appreciate that you dedicated a whole post to this unjust predicament. The people have been warned!
    Lola DiMarco recently posted..i spy eye candy! – Cabo San Lucas

    • Ted Nelson June 29, 2013 at 4:06 am #

      They have Lola. Drunkard travelers like ourselves will now plan ahead.

  8. Aaron June 25, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

    Great, great post! Glad everything worked out the way you wanted on Sunday. Reminds me of being Down South compared to around the Midwest/Great Lakes. I need to remember where I’m at and what days, times and places I can go to get stuff. Always seem to run into those closed signs Down South. 🙂
    Aaron recently posted..Toronto: A Million Skyline Looks.

    • Ted Nelson June 29, 2013 at 4:08 am #

      I have had that happen to me before down south. Then there are the heinous dry counties. Don’t get me started about the south.

  9. Erin at The World Wanderer June 25, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

    Hahaha, favorite post ever! Love that you ditched Israel for beer. We all appreciated your dedication. 😉
    Erin at The World Wanderer recently posted..Music Monday: Gatinha Assanhada.

    • Ted Nelson June 29, 2013 at 4:09 am #

      I tend to think Jesus would have done the same in a similar dilemma.

  10. Pola (@jettingaround) June 26, 2013 at 7:01 am #

    Oh yes, I remember making this discovery a few years back, when I was in TO with a group of soccer fans… I don’t think the shock has subsided to this day. And uhm, dial a bottle?? Good to know!
    Pola (@jettingaround) recently posted..Photo of the Week: Winnipeg skyline

    • Ted Nelson June 29, 2013 at 4:10 am #

      Just the thought of a bunch of rowdy soccer fans SOL on the beer because of stupid liquor and beer store hours makes me sad.

  11. Tawny of Captain and Clark June 27, 2013 at 6:49 am #

    “Their rules resembled a red state like Tennessee or Indiana. Speaking of red, the name of the governing body of alcohol in Ontario is the Liquor Control Board. It sounds downright Communist.”

    I want to quote every other sentence in this post! I remember you pondering this very dilemma at the conference. You made quite the sacrifice and we are forever in your debt. We hereby knight you, Sir Traveling Tedward.

    Also, this was our favorite post of yours to date. I think I actually snorted a few times…
    Tawny of Captain and Clark recently posted..When travel bloggers collide

    • Ted Nelson June 29, 2013 at 4:14 am #

      Although the tone of this post was done in a joking matter, the dilemma I faced from the moment I woke up on Sunday was real. I was not going to be fooled again by the LCBO and made to drink rum and cokes when I wanted beer or even worse have to drink water because we ran out completely. Thank you for knighting me. It is an honor.

    • Craig Zabransky July 7, 2013 at 12:36 am #

      this was such a quotable line… loved it. loved it. loved it.
      stay quotable, Craig
      Craig Zabransky recently posted..Six Reminders from TBEX Toronto

  12. Anita Mac June 27, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

    As a Canadian, I already knew about the limited opening hours of our province run purveyors of drinks with a percentage, but I did not know about Dial-a-Beer! Very cool. Thanks for your tips Ted…may the bar always be full and the LCBO someday expand their hours! (Luckily, during TBEX there were no strikes – as a government agency, they have been known to do that! Usually ends up in bumper sales as everyone runs to the liquor store to stock up in case of emergency!!!)

    On a positive note, there is talk of allowing convenience stores to sell beer and wine – while I won’t believe it till we see it – it is a talk in the right direction!
    Anita Mac recently posted..Monday Morning Series: Carousel in Paris

    • Ted Nelson June 29, 2013 at 4:17 am #

      The Dial-a-beer tip was a tip from my first comment on this post, and I added it since it was so useful. I did find that place online Sunday morning when I was researching the hours for Sunday.

      Wow, a strike is just to frightening to even ponder. Can you imagine if that happened during TBEX? I think it would almost be a good thing as criticism would be so intense it could lead to change.

  13. Leah Travels June 29, 2013 at 1:14 am #

    I’ve always thought of you as a “Mr. Fix It” type. Now I’m certain. I kind of think you now a superhero. Yes, for certain that.
    Leah Travels recently posted..Two Things to Love about Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

    • Ted Nelson June 29, 2013 at 4:18 am #

      I am not really a fixer in the pragmatic sense, but I am good at problem solving and work arounds. There is a work around for everything. In this case it was blowing off Israel. Not an ideal solution, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices.

  14. @mrsoaroundworld July 1, 2013 at 8:52 am #

    I really don’t understand these liquor laws to be honest! Had the same in South Carolina and thought it was a joke!
    @mrsoaroundworld recently posted..Mallorca, island lux in Spain

    • Ted Nelson July 1, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

      South Carolina has some of the strangest laws. I don’t understand them either, and I am glad I live in a state that has liberal purchasing laws.

  15. D.J. - The World of Deej July 1, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

    So let me get this straight. All liquor stores in Canada are called LCBO? You’re right, that does sound communist. Can’t blame you for choosing a beer run over the Promised Land. It will always be there, beer it seems will not…
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..Specialty Restaurants Aboard Oasis of the Seas – Bon Apetite

    • Ted Nelson July 1, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

      This is only in Ontario Deej. LCBO stands for Liquor control board of Ontario. I hear Quebec is quite liberal, but I don’t know about the rest of the country.

  16. Craig Zabransky July 7, 2013 at 12:40 am #

    hopefully peace was made with Israel… i hope they understand. I here Tel Aviv has quite the liberal scene, so I am hoping they might… stay committed, Craig
    Craig Zabransky recently posted..Postcard-God Bless Buffalo, America

  17. Matt C. November 7, 2013 at 2:58 am #

    Well, all LCBO stores close at 9 pm or 10 pm and there is no place to get booze from after hours. Occasionally when I can’t make it to the store the Dial a bottle service in Toronto is my savior:

  18. Pearl December 13, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    I have Beer Delivery in Toronto fast when I already had a glass or two, really convenient service. Thumbs up!!!

  19. Fabian June 17, 2017 at 12:31 am #

    Wow, what a great article about Toronto, I am looking for information about Toronto. Because I have a plan to visit there after few days. And you just showed me the Toronto city! Those photos are awesome and it gives me refreshment pleasure.
    Thank You very much.

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