The top 10 daiquiris in Toronto
The top daiquiris in Toronto aren't quite enjoying the renaissance some other trends are seeing in the city's most recent cocktail boom. That's a shame, because the humble daiquiri, a clean fusion of white rum, lime, and sugar, when made well, produces one of the most stunningly crisp and appetite-whetting drinks in existence. There are a number of classic variations, though many bars have settled on the Hemingway Daiquiri (named after Havana's most famous adoptee, Ernest Hemingway) as the definitive iteration.
Here are my picks for the top daiquiris in Toronto.
At Queen West's ever popular rum 'n' bourbon bar, the Esteban Daiquiri ($12) has apparently been selling like gangbusters. Shaking up mint with a cucumber-infused rum, lime, and watermelon syrup may seem pretty far from a traditional daiquiri, but all of the requisite crisp flavour and bright punch remains intact, albeit in amazingly refreshing fashion.
Possibly the only frozen daiquiri really worth getting excited about, Rhum Corner's offering, at $7, also represents fantastic value for money. Yes, it gets poured from one of those slushie machines, but the devil is in the details - the classic combination of lime juice, rum and sugar is topped with grated lime zest and sprayed with a fine mist of Goslings rum to finish.
OK, so the Ti'Punch ($8) at St. Clair West's Haitian eatery isn't technically a daiquiri, but it is very closely related, mixing rhum agricole with cane syrup and lime juice. Their version provides a more pungent and spicy variation than the crisp and sour Cuban classic.
BarChef's basil daiquiri ($13) is, like the County General's offering, twisted with a number of flavours: coconut rum is shaken up with fresh basil, lime, a pineapple-infused honey, and black pepper, offering bite and subtle spice along with a delicious background fruitiness.
The Hemingway Special ($12) at SpiritHouse can't really claim to be a true Hemingway Daiquiri. After all, the great man himself was a diabetic, and required the use of maraschino liqueur and grapefruit as a substitute for sugar, producing a notoriously punchy cocktail. The one on offer here tempers that with a little simple syrup to provide a little more balance.
This King West saloon's take on the classic Cuban cocktail takes its name after the famous La Floridita bar in Havana. Known as 'the cradle of the daiquiri', La Floridita is credited with elevating what sounds like a devastatingly simple concoction and turning it into an art form. Weslodge provide a sparkling update to the Hemingway with the addition of cava, orange spiced simple syrup, and lemon oil ($14).
The Beverley Hotel
Since taking control of the front of house operations at Queen West's microscopic boutique hotel, Aja Sax has been developing a competitive bar program to draw people up to the outstanding roof patio. While there are a number of inventive signature creations, there's also a short, snappy list of classic cocktails made well. The daiquiri on offer ($12) is as classic as they get, shaking up Havana Club Blanco with lime and sugar.
By no means the most refined daiquiri on this, or any, list, Tortilla Flats merits a mention entirely on the basis of price. On Mondays, their frozen fruit daiquiris can be had for a bargain $3.50. With a base mix of lime and sugar working it's way around the slushie machine, punters can choose from a variety of flavours - peach, mango, strawberry, mojito, lime, raspberry, or pina colada. On any other day, they're available for $5.25.
This brand new spot at King and Portland is impressing with some deft and restrained use of molecular technique in a short, but well-worked, menu. The Hibiscus Daiquiri ($9) uses a dash of hibiscus water alongside lime and sugar, with a hibiscus flower infused Bacardi. It's floral and very fresh, and certainly worth a try.
The only restaurant on this list under authentic Cuban ownership, Mambo Lounge's Hemingway Daiquiri ($9) can also be served in Ernest's favourite style, as a 'Papa Doble' (requiring a double helping of rum) for $14. However, in place of the maraschino, you'll find that Mambo opt for triple sec, so not quite as authentic, though certainly still delicious.
Did I miss any? Leave your favourite spots for daiquiris in the comments.