The top 10 gin and tonics in Toronto
Gin and Tonics were afterthought drinks for Toronto bartenders a couple of years ago. Had you ordered one back then, virtually every bar in the city would have handed you a glass of Beefeater & Canada Dry Tonic Water with a lime wedge on the rim. Since the craft cocktail explosion, however, it's become very much en vogue to jazz this standard bar order up in some fashion, be it by infusing the gin or by making the tonic from scratch.
Rather than creating a single drink, Nota Bene opt for a whole menu of different options, whereby you can choose from a range of gins, ices, and tonics, including a housemade recipe that is carbonated using a sodastream (as opposed to topping it with soda). It's a hefty $17, but that gives you carte blanche to do whatever you want. The whole thing is served with additional juniper berries, dried hibiscus flowers, and slices of cucumber.
Toronto Temperance Society
TTS was one of the original bars to adopt my favourite of the housemade tonic syrups on this list, and combines it with gin, fresh lime, and soda water for a distinctly refreshing drink. They have a knack for providing just the right glassware at Temperance. Combined with the convivial atmosphere, enjoying one here makes for a great all-round experience.
Kyle Burch's recipe calls for a liberal splash of Citadelle gin and a tonic composed of various spices found in gin recipes: angelica, orris root, grains of paradise, juniper, quinine and allspice all make an appearance in this fabulously fragrant drink.
The County General
The County General's option has terrific flavour, and gets bonus points for being served in an enormous half-litre mason jar. The complex recipe's a bit of a trade secret, but I understand that there's agave syrup in there (as opposed to sugar) as well as cinchona bark, cardamom, and juniper berries.
Salt uses food-grade leather, and ages their gin for anywhere between 2-7 days. The end result is a beautifully coloured drink, with the bitterness of the tonic mellowed by the warm tones of the leather.
Barchef offers a variation involving dill bitters and a rosemary syrup. Given Frankie Solarik's propensity to spend a (very) long time making the drinks, these arrive relatively quickly, and taste unlike anything else on the list. (or I have ever tried)
Parkdale's charming little kitchen space also knocks out some excellent cocktails to accompany the tasting menus. The house recipe here is complemented with fresh grapefruit, which adds a deliciously fruity edge to the bitter tonic.
Sandy de Almeida's recipe uses a cedar-infused tonic syrup. She sprays the oils from a huge grapefruit zest all around the inside of the glass before topping with soda water. It's best to go on a weeknight, as this place gets absolutely packed on Fridays and Saturdays, when grabbing much more than a beer can be little crazy.
Robin Goodfellow's take on the G&T isn't a million miles away from that used at Churchill, though he infuses cedar flavour directly into his gin, which seems to impart a more distinct (and delicious) woody note. This one is also garnished with grapefruit zest.
The tonic syrup here is in keeping with the rest of the bar menu, well-crafted twists on established classics. Based off cinchona bark with a variety of citrus peels and juice alongside coriander seeds, allspice berries, star anise and a hefty pour of Beefeater gin.
Hole in the Wall
Only available at this Junction hotspot in the summer, this beautiful drink with lavender-infused gin, house-made tonic and soda would be far higher up this list if it was available year-round, but you'll have to wait until the weather improves.
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