The Best Martinis in Toronto
The best martinis in Toronto are deceptively simple, but frighteningly subjective. While purists will insist the drink be made with gin, vodka is often the more popular choice. Either way, the liquor is traditionally chilled and poured into a cocktail glass that has been rinsed with dry vermouth, and garnished with either a twist of lemon zest, or either one or three olives on a skewer. Adventurous types can ask for olive brine to be stirred with the spirit, resulting in a 'dirty' martini.
Finally, devotees will often specify exactly how 'dry' or 'wet' they like their drink - relating to the amount of vermouth in the cocktail. The range of options available is why you frequently won't see them listed on a cocktail menu, but any decent bartender should be more than capable of producing a good one.
As such, presenting a list of the best martinis actually implies a list of the best places to enjoy the drink, factoring in the setting, the expertise of the bartenders, the quality of the ingredients, and the glassware.
Here are the best martinis in Toronto.
See also: the top 10 martini bars in Toronto
The rooftop lounge at the Park Hyatt is a must for tourists or city dwellers in need for a little opulence. Located on the 18th floor, you're guaranteed a breathtaking view of the city if you can snag a seat on the patio. If not, don't worry, the indoor lounge is cosy and personal. The bartenders have all been here for years, and have served up drinks to some of the city's most prestigious guests. Their three-ounce martinis start at $14.
Since opening last year, Bar Isabel has generated quite a buzz for Mike Webster's creative bar program. While getting a table is an exercise in forward planning, the bar is always available for walk-ins. Their take on classic drinks never disappoints. Cocktails start at $14; bonus points for using the fantastic Dolin Dry vermouth for their martinis.
If a vodka martini is what you are after, look no further than Pravda at Wellington and Church. This Russian-themed bar has over 85 vodkas on the menu from 20 different countries. The Louis XII decor might appear a little over the top, but it's certainly a unique space, and it's unlikely they won't have your favourite vodka available. Gin and vodka martinis start at $11.
If, however, vodka martinis are most definitely not your thing, then head on over to Cocktail Bar on Dundas, where an ode to the "stupidity of vodka" is printed on the wall for all to enjoy. Jen Agg's bar menu favours gin and brown liquors. It's another tiny, cosy, candlelit spot, and a lovely setting to escape from the rat race with a well-deserved drink. Prices range from $9-16.
SpiritHouse is partnered with the Toronto Institute of Bartending, so you can be sure that every drink they produce is as authentic and well-crafted as it's possible to make. Prices will vary depending on how you like your martini made, but there's an excellent range of vodkas and gins to choose from. Have a cosmopolitan the way it was intended - citrus vodka, Cointreau, and fresh lime with a splash of cranberry for $12.
Harbour Sixty has been regarded as one of Toronto's best splurge spots for over a decade - a $1000 wagyu steak was recently added to the menu. The Harbour Sixty Martini ($21) features both Grey Goose vodka and Johnnie Walker Blue scotch whisky with Noilly Prat dry vermouth and blue cheese-stuffed olives. (They also carry Stoli Elit for a staggering $31 an ounce.)
Located in the heart of the village, Boutique has a loyal following of neighborhood folk, and offer martinis for the bargain price of only $6 on Tuesdays (usually $10.50 or $12 for premium) along with complimentary bar snacks. There's a great patio out front for those who want to enjoy their martini in the sunshine or for a twilight tipple. If you're in the mood for a flavoured martini, try the Vanilla Tea - a combination of spiced rum, St. Germain, simple syrup and vanilla rooibos tea.
The Royal York Hotel's Library Bar is an oasis of calm. Some might find it a little old-fashioned and stuffy, but there's a solid commitment to classic drinks and food that have been overlooked in recent years. It's almost like travelling back in time. The Yann Martell's Divine Martini ($15) riffs on the Vesper (made famous by Ian Fleming's James Bond), combining Tanqueray gin with Grey Goose vodka and a chamomile-infused Lillet Blanc and finished with a 'spritz of coriander essence'.
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