The Great Toronto Cocktail Challenge: Whiskey Sour
The first time I remember ever trying a whiskey sour was at the El Mocambo back around 1999. I was away at University in Ottawa and whenever I came home, four of us would drive in from the suburbs to go to Blow Up and sip on these ghastly green cocktails all night long, dancing to Fat Boy Slim vs. The Rolling Stones and ruining our chances of meeting any girls by being way too self conscious. It was a transitional time, halfway in between being an awkward angsty teenager and an obnoxious know-it-all college student. Neither are particularly pleasant things to be (or be around), but they're both essential phases in becoming a real person.
Despite being much happier these days and more comfortable in my own skin, I still look back on that time fondly. Sure, I've matured into better drinks, newer music and for the most part, I'm much better at speaking to people in general, but there is a certain level of naivety in youth that cannot compare to any amount of knowledge or wisdom you can pick up throughout life. Bottom line--you think you're smarter as an adolescent than you'll ever actually be in your life. And it's that arrogant naivety that leads a person to so many unfortunate decisions, whether it's a relationship, a hair cut or a whiskey sour.
I haven't had a whiskey sour since then, which actually means I've never really had a whiskey sour, since my only experience with the drink is that powdery sour/sweet atrocity--like a glass of Kool Aid after it has been used to macerate a jar of sour keys.
So when I strolled into Table 17 in Leslieville and began scanning the drink menu, it was the first thing that jumped out.
Whiskey Sour - 1.5oz, $12.00
Top Notes - 9/10
I think my eyes actually lit up when the barman set this down in from of me. It's nothing like I remember. First off it's elegant, something appropriate for a classy joint like Table 17. It's served in beautiful tear drop glassware, with lots of ice and a skewered, house made, maraschino cherry.
The yellowy, straw-coloured drink is full of small cubed ice and - despite the tragic, gloomy day - immediately speaks to the warm weather ahead. It's just the breath of fresh air to turn the attention away from the frigid rain outside and onto well, this fabulous cocktail.
The Back End - 8/10
Imagine sipping on the best lemonade you ever drank--a really tart kind of lemonade that makes your cheeks pucker a little bit. One that slows you down because even though it tastes so good, you can only handle a little sip at a time.
Then, if that perfect lemonade that is already bursting with so much flavour, isn't full of whiskey, imagine it is. Imagine it's got a generous splash of Wisers mixed right into it, deep enough that it's barely there, but as you're sipping, if you let the liquid roll around on your tongue a bit, you taste it. That my friends, is a a real whiskey sour.
Finish - 8/10
A Table 17 whiskey sour isn't the kind of cocktail you spend a whole session drinking, partially because Table 17 isn't the kind of place you have a "session." But also because something this sour just has too much flavour. It's a perfect drink to shock your taste buds into things to come, the kind of drink you have before your meal to whet the appetite or on a a summery afternoon in a garden while sporting some pleated white pants and a croquette mallet.
My teenage self would despise future-me for thinking that sounds pretty alright, but we don't really get along anyway.
Total Score: 25/30 (83%)
Previously in the series
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