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Prodigal Sons return home to open new downtown cocktail lounge

The Rennie Brothers, Brandon, MacKenzie, Josh and Spencer, are behind a new boutique high-end cocktail bar opening March 15 on Macdonell Street

The Rennie brothers think Downtown Guelph is ready for high end cocktail lounge where almost all the ingredients are made in-house.

The four brothers - Brandon, MacKenzie, Josh and Spencer - are set to open that lounge, Prodigal Sons, Friday at 35 Macdonell St.

The lounge shares space with Quick Chicken Pickup, which is also revamping its menu, including some vegetarian options, for the 28-seat location.

"High-end prohibitionary cocktails and gourmet fried chicken: it's an interesting pairing," said Brandon Rennie. "We want to deliver an intimate atmosphere. As far as we know there's nothing else going on like this downtown."

All the cocktails are made from scratch.

"We do everything we can from scratch. We make all our own syrups from scratch, we infuse all our own alcohol, our garnish. Nothing we can make ourselves do we buy."

That includes making their own mix for caesars and a signature gin and tonic, with the 27-ingredient tonic being made in-house. 

Brandon and his brother Josh own Gin Mill, a brew pub/gastro pub/cocktail lounge in the Bloor West Village. Their two other brothers, Spencer and Mackenzie, are joining them in the Guelph venture.

"This is a chance for us to really branch out. Every month will have different drinks," he said.

Rennie is from Guelph but moved to Toronto about 14 years ago. He opened his first restaurant in 2011, sold that in 2017, then opened Gin Mill at the beginning of 2018.

"This is a chance to bring everything we've learned home to Guelph," Rennie said. Prodigal Sons will serve some craft beer, but the focus is on the cocktails.

"It's a lot of work doing everything the way we do it, but it's well worth it," he said. "People in Guelph have a high standard in what they expect and we're striving to meet that."

How far do they go? Well they don't use clamato juice in their caesar's they make their mix from scratch. 

"The whole craft cocktail thing has become a real big deal in places like New York and Chicago. You're seeing a lot in downtown Toronto now as well. We're hoping to be the first to bring it to downtown Guelph.

"We're looking for people who are looking for an intimate evening and try something new. A lot of date nights and a lot of people just looking to try something new. I think the same old drink list at the same old places gets kind of stale."

Prodigal Sons will be open 6 p.m. to midnight, Tuesday through Sunday.