Toronto's Best Cocktails: Must-Drink Sips in the City's Cool Bars

  • Toronto's Best Cocktails

    You could always buy a cocktail shaker and make your own at home, impressing your friends with your ability to whip an egg white into a frenzy (and your ability to drink egg white without flinching). Or you can get yourself to one of Toronto's spectacular barstools, and let the experts make you the drink of your dreams. Whether your preference is heavy on the ice or heavy on the liquor, years of bartending experience translate into flawless drinks that you need only sip with appreciation. Here are the 10 we put in the category of "must-drink Toronto."

    Photo courtesy of Oliver Stern / Toronto Temperance Society

  • All smoke and mirrors? No, this drink is clearly delicious.

    Barchef Toronto's Vanilla and Hickory Smoked Manhattan

    Having the Barchef's Smoked Manhattan is an experience that shouldn't only be saved for Halloween. The cocktail is presented inside an antique marble, iron and glass cloche and sits on top of glowing embers. You'll immediately smell the tantalizing smoke of hickory wood and vanilla beans. Beyond the smoke and mirrors, you'll be drinking Crown Royal Special Reserve Rye, vanilla brandy that's infused in-house for six months, cherry vanilla bitters and hickory-smoked vanilla syrup. After you order, you'll watch the cocktail smoke for one minute and then you'll be able to drink its exquisite elixir.

    Photo courtesy of Leanne Neufeld

  • The classic Canadian Caesar...with a twist

    T Bar's Specialty Caesars

    A Caesar is a Caesar is a Caesar, right? Not when it comes to the T Bar in the Chelsea Hotel. The classic Canadian Clamato drink is all grown up, with local tomatoes used in favor of a bottled mix and garnishes that range from edamame on a wasabi-spiked version to bacon and egg for a breakfast that is probably best suited for vacations. Served in mason wine glasses, they are delightfully filling and complex enough to warrant sipping. As opposed to, you know, guzzling.

    Photo courtesy of Chelsea Hotel, Toronto

  • You might want to take this porch off the punch

    The Drake's Porch Punch

    The Porch Punch sounds like something you can drink on a swinging chair in the deep South, but instead, it's found in the heart of downtown Toronto at The Drake. The booze comes from No. 40 rye whiskey, which is refreshingly watered down with Earl Grey and mint tea. With a pop of citrus in the form of orange bitters and orange flower water, this may be the drink you've been waiting for. Where have you been all our lives? We will stop flirting with the drink now.

    Photo courtesy of The Drake Hotel

  • Where vodka and berries make beautiful music together

    Thompson Hotel's Wildberry Caipiroska

    Even if you think a vodka based cocktail isn't your thing, Thompson Hotel's Wildberry Caipiroska is the best chance you have at changing your own mind. Grey Goose L'Orange is sweetened with house-made wildberry syrup and fresh lime juice. Frankly, it tastes like summer in a glass, going down a little too easily, as you revel in one of the best views in the city.

    Photo courtesy of Thompson Toronto

  • Local flavour that is as strong as a moose

    The Ace's Canadian Sour

    The grand pendulum that swings back and forth in trends has moved to the side of "Whiskey sours are cool again." This Canadian sour at Roncesvalles' The Ace uses Forty Creek Canadian Rye to stick it to you, patriotic style. Combined with fresh lemon juice, triple sec, simple syrup and served with a lemon twist, it could convince any foreigner of the benefits of the word "eh."

    Photo courtesy of Meghan McKnight

  • You don't need an actual expense account (thankfully)

    DEQ's Expense Account Mojito

    We don't want to lie; a lot of people who drink at DEQ do have expense accounts. This drink is $20, and it's worth the occasional splurge, even if you wear sandals more often than leather shoes. The crafting of the cocktail is done deliberately, attempting not to wilt the mint leaves prematurely. Indulge in Bacardi 8 rum, maple syrup, lime, organic mint leaves and Cuvee Catharine rosé just to see what it's like on the other side.

    Photo courtesy of DEQ Terrace & Lounge / The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto

  • Will this drink help you to find inner peace? We won't give it away.

    Luckee's Calm Cocktail

    Cocktails may calm some people down, but other drinkers amp up significantly, becoming the human equivalent of techno music. We'll let you figure out if the title of this cocktail at Luckee is cloaked in irony or not. This calm oasis sits in a martini glass with a fragrant flower floating on top, like a lotus in a calm pond. Plum sake, junmai sake, yuzu juice and Belvedere Vodka come together for a drink that packs a punch. It also goes incredibly well with brunch, which is startlingly convenient, considering the location.

    Photo courtesy of Luckee

  • Toronto was never synonymous with tiki bars. Until now.

    The Harbord Room's Monkey Punch

    Famed Toronto bartender Dave Mitton is now at The Harbord Room, paying homage to old cocktail recipes as well as concocting what are sure to become the new classics. There's an emphasis on modern, seasonal ingredients at The Harbord Room, with a creative Punch It Up program dedicated to transforming their bestsellers into a two-person punch by the addition of local tea and spices. The Monkey Punch is served in a copper pineapple and blends Havana Club Anjeo, amontilado sherry, falernum, banana syrup and roasted pineapple green tea. It's the best thing since Hawaii!

    Photo courtesy of Ashlee Jarvis

  • This isn't your high school dance punch. Isn't it time to grow up your punch?

    Geraldine's Parisienne Milk Punch

    The labour-intensive Milk Punch may sound like a modern concoction, but in fact, it's a 300-year-old recipe. Silky smooth, the Parisienne Milk Punch is one of Geraldine Toronto's most popular drinks. The ingredients are some that you would rarely put together, were you alone with your cocktail shaker: calvados, rum, absinthe, coriander, dandelion, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and pineapple. And, of course, milk. If you like to share, order 16 ounces in a traditional tea set. Just make sure to put your baby finger up.

    Photo courtesy of Rob Xero / Geraldine

  • Don't let the word "muddle" fool you. This is one classy drink.

    Toronto Temperance Society's Peaty's Muddle

    Perhaps Toronto's most exclusive cocktail club, Toronto Temperance Society is a members-only (or invite-only) kind of place. This inventive and spicy drink makes it even more enticing to want to sit at the popular kids' table. Mescal, lime, cilantro, jalapeño syrup and Bittermens habanero shrub is misted with Laphroaig Islay single-malt scotch whiskey. It's a smokey, spicy variation of a margarita. This is a cocktail for the person who declares that they just like their drinks straight. One sip will set them straight.

    Photo courtesy of Oliver Stern / Toronto Temperance Society

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