A recently-opened Toronto bar has Potterheads bewitched.
The Lockhart, located in downtown Toronto at the intersection of Dufferin Street and Dundas Street, features carefully concocted alcoholic brews, tapas, and nods to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.
Since opening in September, the bar has already gone viral online for being a Potter-themed bar, but co-founders Matt Rocks and Paris Xerx said The Lockhart is simply inspired by the book series.
"We wanted to go with a modern apothecary theme," Mr. Rocks said. "Paris loves mixology, alchemy and potions, all that kind of stuff. We just combined our two loves and came up with this."
Mr. Rocks added he doesn't want The Lockhart – the name of an infamous Defence Against the Dark Arts professor from the series – to become too niche.
"People love it, but other people are like, 'Oh, we thought you were going to be wearing robe,'" he said. "We didn't want it to be too kitschy. It's a cocktail bar that just happens to have a theme running through it."
But The Lockhart has attracted a niche market. People have travelled across Canada to see it and it has garnered international attention online. The staff had to turn away hopeful customers before even opening for their Halloween festivities.
To celebrate Halloween, which also happens to be the day Voldemort tried to kill Harry Potter the first time, The Lockhart is holding a costume contest, silent screening and dance party.
Mr. Rocks spoke fondly of the bar's clientele, adding, people sometimes come dressed as characters from the series. Most memorable were Bellatrix Lestrange, Narcissa Malfoy and Ron Weasley – dressed in a Quidditch uniform.
The décor has some Harry Potter inspirations. The Lockhart's stag insignia – a reference to Harry Potter's patronus charm, which he uses to ward off evil – is painted on the wall, a Deathly Hallows light hangs on the ceiling and a creative customer has written over the bathroom toilet: "This way to the Ministry of Magic."
The atmosphere was envisioned by The Lockhart team, and they did the renovations themselves. Downstairs, where the bathrooms are located, is still painted teal. Originally, Mr. Rocks said they were planning a tiki theme for the space.
Mixologist Mr. Xerx created a drink menu chock-full of allusions to the wizarding books, made with house-infused liquor.
Customer favourites include "The Shacklebolt," made with house-made ginger beer and infused spiced rum, and a "Befuddlement Draft," a shared cocktail served in a cauldron.
There are plenty of other cocktails that can help customers get "up to no good," too.
The drink menu also references Star Trek with it gin-based Captain Picard and includes Watchmen-themed Dr. Manhattan.
As for business? Mr. Rocks said all is well.
The Lockhart is cozy, with a seating capacity of 36 guests, but there are rumours of expansion. The line to get in often goes down the street.
The owners are fans of Harry Potter, themselves. Mr. Rocks has four Potter-inspired tattoos, including Sirius Black's Azkaban identification number on his hand, and said the books were a childhood favourite.
He said he doubts Ms. Rowling is aware of The Lockhart, but he would love to hear from her.
"If she's out there, J.K., we love you," Mr. Rocks said.