The top 10 martini bars in Toronto
The top martini bars in Toronto haven't been chosen for their ability to mix the best classic martinis (gin or vodka with dry vermouth). The drinks rounded up below are, in fact, more of a throwback to the era when anything served in a cocktail glass (served "up," in bartender parlance) was mistakenly referred to as a "martini."
Though most bars in the city have evolved past this confusion, the martini is still considered a viable category of cocktails. Generally, the name refers to an 'up' cocktail that is based on vodka, before being mixed with a variety of fruit juices (or purees) and liqueurs.
Here are the top martini bars in Toronto.
Eat My Martini
College St.'s shrine to the flavoured martini is a veritable haven for those in search of a cheap cocktail. There are over 130 different varieties of martinis to choose from, though around 100 of those are vodka-based with the addition of fruit juice or liqueur. The decor might be something of a blast from the past, but so are the prices, with all martinis at $5 during the week, rising to a heady $6 on the weekend.
Declaring itself "officially the first martini bar in the city," Byzantium, located in the Village, has seen no shortage of martini pretenders come and go. Their list is helpfully broken down into styles of martini in order to help guests navigate their way. Byzantium operates as a supper club, offering both a full dinner menu as well as the chance to party all at once.
A block away from Eat My Martini, and only steps away from its former location, Souz Dal labels itself as Toronto's original cocktail bar, and offers a much shorter list than many of the other spots mentioned here. The drinks, however, are a little more curated than most, with concoctions featuring ghost pepper-infused honey syrups, strawberry shrubs, and even craft-cocktail fanboy classics like the Last Word ($14) and V for Violet (otherwise known as an Aviation). Also take note of the fabulous "beach patio" out back.
Visit this Annex cafe on a Wednesday, and you can enjoy a martini for a staggeringly cheap $4.49 ($8.99 at other times). Unlike other bargain martinis on this list, you're guaranteed at least two ounces of alcohol for that price. The list isn't as extensive as others, but they cover the basic flavours (Cosmopolitan, chocolate and apple, to name a few) reasonably well.
7 West Cafe
Just south of Bloor and Yonge, this former Victorian home has been converted into a 24-hour casual eatery and bar with an extensive menu. Their selection of martinis is comprehensive, and each features a generous two-and-a-half ounces of alcohol for $10. Alas, despite their hours, last call still happens at 2am.
Another Village favourite, Boutique Bar offers martinis for a bargain $6 on Tuesday nights ($10.50 at other times), and further ups the ante in the booze stakes, with three ounces in each one. There's also a few premium martinis for $12, such as the Blueberry Yogurt Martini, featuring berry and vanilla vodkas, yogurt, honey, and fresh blueberry puree.
Another College St. nightspot, Wild Indigo breaks its martini list into three price points: "Business Class" drinks are $8.50, "Executive Class" are $9.50, while "World Class" (topped with sparkling wine) sell for $12.50. There's an excellent patio out back, and DJs on the weekends.
The Kennedy Public House
Bloor West Village's Kennedy Public House sells martinis for $8.50 all week long, and features favourites like the French Martini alongside house creations like the Strawberry Rhubarb Martini. This place isn't a party spot by any means, but it's an excellent place in the area to head for food, and to enjoy a boozy cocktail.
Insomnia operates in a similar fashion to Byzantium, offering a full dinner menu (and an excellent brunch on the weekends) before giving way to a DJ-helmed dance parties as the night closes in. Martinis are priced at either $9, $10, or $12, and are largely made with SKYY vodka, though the Strawberry (with Tequila rose, strawberry grappa, milk, and grenadine) certainly sounds interesting.
Proof Vodka Bar
Located in the Intercontinental Hotel in Yorkville, Proof features a selection of over 50 vodkas, and a range of fruity martinis ($14) to enjoy, with the option to add a crystal clear ice sphere ($2) to keep you cool on those hot summer days.
Pravda Vodka Bar
Head to Pravda (near St Lawrence Market) between 4pm and 7pm on a weekday to enjoy martinis for only $6.15 (otherwise $11 or $13). With what appears to be Toronto's largest vodka selection, Pravda runs with a Russian theme, and drinks are named appropriately: the Brezhnev's Latte Martini merits ordering just for the name alone.
Troika Vodka Boutique
Another specialist vodka house, King and Church's Troika prices their martinis between $9 and $12 for those who don't feel like dropping a few hundred bucks on bottle service. It's the opulent decor, however, that makes Troika stand out. Take a seat in one of the enormous leather chairs and feel like a baller.
Photo of a martini from Byzantium