10 cocktails to drink in Toronto this winter
With El Niňo ensuring a mild winter in Toronto, seasonal cocktails haven't taken quite as dramatic a turn as they often do. Hot Toddy variations or delicious brandy Blazers have yet to become a fixture on bar menus, but there has been an excellent array of tasty drinks. Some are light aperitif cocktails, while others delve into more traditional wintry flavours like maple and walnut.
Here are my picks for must-try cocktails this winter in Toronto.
Boralia - North of Vermont
Lower Ossington's Boralia is a fabulous little space. With dishes ripped straight from pioneer times, the cocktails play with the Canadiana theme too. This one is inspired by those maple snow cones you can make in late winter. Shaking Buffalo Trace bourbon with Cynar, maple whiskey liqueur and black walnut bitters, the whole concoction is served over crushed ice.
Little Sister - Third One Down
Davisville's Little Sister has an outstanding new cocktail bar upstairs from the main restaurant which worth a visit. There's loads of great drinks, but I was particularly enthralled by the Third One Down, with Earl Grey-infused Bushmills, Averna, Campari and lemon. It's garnished with a pretty little dehydrated plum.
Track & Field - Tis the Whatever
Jesse Borg has been serving up all manner of funky drinks since Toronto's premier lawn games 'n' cocktails joint opened last year. This one mixes up a mulled vermouth with Buffalo Trace bourbon, lemon juice, demerara syrup and Fernet Branca. It's garnished with a sprig of thyme.
Montauk - Mick Jager
Recently under new ownership with Mike Young at the helm, Montauk has slowly evolved from fun party spot with good cocktails into a well-stocked cocktail bar with great cocktails. Some are on the serious side, but the Mick Jager is a happy balance. Wiser's Deluxe Rye is shaken up with Jagermeister, Capo Capo bitter aperitif and Peychaud's bitters with lemon juice, mint, and simple syrup.
Byblos - Smoked Manhattan
This smoked Manhattan from Clayton Cooper at Byblos is a delicate treasure. Using a lightly-smoked Bulleit bourbon and a house blend of sweet vermouth, it's mixed in large batches to ensure consistency, and served on tap with both an orange peel twist and a cherry.
Figo - Punch Americano
On a lighter note, Figo, the gorgeous new addition to the INK/Icon Legacy empire, serves up decanters of its Punch Americano for four people at a time. Mixing white rum and white wine with Cocchi aromatized wine, white cranberry juice, fresh lemon, and bitters, it's a fantastic aperitivo.
Goods and Provisions - Hand in Glove
Goods and Provisions' Smiths-inspired Hand in Glove cocktail really throws down some seasonal flavours. Hickory-smoked Jameson is shaken hard with 10 year old port, walnut syrup, lemon juice, orange bitters and egg white. Enjoy responsibly with your Girlfriend.
Miss Thing's - Butter Rum
Robin Wynne has taken over the bar from the outgoing Reed Pettit at Parkdale's tropical haven, and the drinks have already taken on some of his signature twists. Mixing a brown butter-infused rum with spiced pear cider and chamomile syrup, Robin adds his house Kola bitters and toasted coconut sugar to create a warming cold drink that's both smooth and spiced at the same time.
Parlor - Smoked Manhattan
The second smoked Manhattan on this list (they seem to be everywhere these days). This one is for those who like their smoke up-front and centre. The glass is dramatically smoked with torched maple chips before the mixture of Crown Royal, Dolin Rouge vermouth, and walnut bitters is added. The cherry garnish is house-infused with port for added depth.
The Comrade - Parallel Line
Riverside's The Comrade has a spicy answer to beating the winter blues, stirring Bulleit bourbon with Cynar, and a homemade red chili cola syrup. The combination of bitterness and heat make this a lovely cold-day sipper.
What did I miss? Add your favourite winter cocktails in the comments.
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