National Post (Latest Edition) - Financial Post Magazine - - COLUMNS & DEPARTMENTS - BY ADAM M DOW­ELL

LoPan’s cross-cul­tural mashup de­lights Toronto cock­tail crowd.

DaiLo is typ­i­cal of Toronto’s pen­chant for cre­at­ing cul­tural mashups that lo­cals never think twice about: It’s a Hong Kong-themed bar/restau­rant in Lit­tle Italy with an Ir­ish head bar­tender. No big deal.

Shane Mulvany ex­plains that DaiLo, opened last Au­gust, means “big brother” in Can­tonese, or, more col­lo­qui­ally, “boss.” That’s his role at the up­stairs bar, which of­fers its own dim-sum-and-cock­tails menu and has a name of its own, LoPan, af­ter the vil­lain in the 1986 film Big Trou­ble in Lit­tle China . The at­mos­phere evokes Hong Kong as well as any­where else in town: leather ban­quettes; teal walls with gold sten­cils that echo chi­nois­erie pat­terns; and bird cages hang­ing from the ceil­ing that might cause déjà vu for those who have vis­ited the fa­mous tem­ple of Man Mo, the Chi­nese de­ity of learn­ing. If it’s not too busy, Mulvany may have time to re­gale you with the sur­pris­ingly deeply thought-out in­spi­ra­tion for the cock­tails, all of which speak to Asia in some way. Take the Katipunan, whose ev­ery in­gre­di­ent re­calls the his­tory of Filipino free­dom fighters (see side­bar).

That sort of cross-cul­tural lit­er­acy would be some­what alien to some of the folks back home, since Mulvany comes from a small town north of Dublin that didn’t have an “eth­nic” restau­rant of any kind when he was grow­ing up. Now when he re­turns home, he be­comes a cul­tural am­bas­sador for the whole con­cept of high-end cock­tails, which are still mostly un­known in ru­ral Ire­land.

Con­versely, there wasn’t much cul­ture shock for Mulvany by the time he moved to Toronto in 2012 . Mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism was al­ready old hat, as he had pre­vi­ously lived in Lon­don and New York. What did take some get­ting used to were On­tario’s liquor laws, and Cana­di­ans’ re­serve while drink­ing — es­sen­tially, our habit of try­ing never to look too smashed in public. Says Mulvany of the low-key vibe at LoPan: “Ev­ery­one’s a bit more re­laxed here.”

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