The top 10 cocktails to drink this fall in Toronto
Fall is my favourite time of year, but can easily be split into two categories. Early fall is when fantastic seasonal produce hits the shelf - squash is amazing, heirloom tomatoes are everywhere, and pumpkins abound. Later on in the fall, when the fresh produce runs dry, is when your pickles and preserves come off the shelf, and spices like clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon find their way into everything you eat or drink.
Each of the drinks on this list have taken a different approach to representing the quintessential fall experience, but there are a few recurring themes. This is definitely the time of year to be making cocktails with calvados, and any of the many amaros available at the LCBO are ideal for adding a delicately spiced bitter element to a drink. I'm also pleased to see anise working its way into drinks, in either absinthe or Pernod.
Here are my picks for the top 10 cocktails you need to try this fall in Toronto.
This isn't the first time I've seen a bartender br没l茅e the cap of a sour, but the Farmer's Daughter cocktail ($12) seems to be the perfect use for the technique. Angostura 1919 rum is shaken with egg whites, lemon juice, a spicy ginger syrup and a house-made allspice dram. The foamy head is then dusted with brown sugar and torched to create a delicious meringue-like treat to slurp up once the drink is finished.
James Taylor (Barchef, Happy Child) is helming the bar program at Ivan Reitman's much-lauded collaboration with chef Jonathan Waxman. It's nice to see Taylor's English roots make their way into his drinks, with cheeky names like the Up The Stairs cocktail. A blend of brandy, cider, pear liqueur and mint syrup is given a refreshing jolt with the addition of absinthe. It's a short, punchy cocktail without feeling boozy, so don't be surprised if you feel like immediately ordering another.
Toronto Temperance Society
Oliver Stern's cocktails over at this College Street member's bar might be a little difficult to try, but if you know somebody who can get you in, bite their hand off - the place is well known for making the most sensational drinks in the city. The Cary Grant is a blend of classic ingredients: bourbon, amaro, Grand Marnier, and Lillet Blanc, with a few dashes of cardamom bitters and a spritz of orange oil.
The Corn Star features a heavily infused Tito's vodka. First, grilled corn husks marinate in the liquor, before it is fatwashed with brown butter. The resultant alcohol is rich and creamy; it's then shaken with salted caramel and almond milk before being dusted with a healthy portion of nutmeg. Reminiscent of an eggless flip.
Jordan Bushell takes up only one part of an all-star cast of bartenders at this dedicated cocktail spot that neighbours Queen Street's famous Graffiti Alley. Together they've amassed an incredible collection of tools and toys to make cutting-edge drinks. The Cuban Shrub employs a brown sugar and apple cider vinegar gastrique, Havana Club 7, Zubrowka bison grass vodka, and Angostura bitters. The crystal clear ice sphere is pressed into shape before your very eyes too. The tartness of the vinegar is balanced exceptionally well. A must try.
Jake Valianes is something of a newcomer to the Toronto cocktail scene, but he's not been afraid to stand out, with recipes involving PBR syrup and drinks served inside of books amongst many ideas that need to be seen in person. His fall offering, Uncle Randy's Dream Thanksgiving, is no exception. Shaking up cranberry-infused Havana Club with a carrot-infused maple syrup, lemon juice, parsnip tincture, and Angostura bitters, the only thing missing here is the turkey.
Lo Pan (upstairs at DaiLo)
Having relocated from the swanky surroundings of The Chase to the bar upstairs at one of Toronto's hottest new restaurants, Shane Mulvany has been hard at work making drinks to match the pan-Asian fare. The Itchy Go, Itchy E stirs together a nori-infused Bowmore single malt, Lillet Blanc, and roasted barley tea syrup before serving it up with a twist of lemon.
Wes Galloway, formerly of Byblos, is now producing cocktails for this Mink Mile brasserie, as well as for the Trump Hotel's brand new Calvin Bar. His Autumn Sazerac stays faithful in technique to the classic drink, but mixes up the ingredients, pouring a stirred blend of calvados, turbinado sugar honey syrup, aromatic bitters, and cinnamon tincture, right into a chilled, absinthe washed glass.
With Josh LeBlanc working on a new project with Montauk owner Dustin Keating, there's been a new cocktail sheriff in town. Step forward Michael Young (Spin, Blue Blood Bartenders) with a terrific range of new drinks at this snazzy little spot at the blooming corner of Dundas and Bathurst. Mount Gay rum is stirred with Amaro Nonino, Calvados, and a pumpkin spice vanilla bean syrup, strained into a Pernod-rinsed glass.
Down in St Lawrence Market, this cocktail haunt has been defying the usual tourist-trap stereotypes that the neighbourhood dictates for a few months now - it's an excellent escape from the throngs on a busy weekend. Their ode to fall, Bright Autumn, uses Collingwood whiskey, Benedictine, sweet vermouth, tobacco bitters, and grapefruit zest to create a zippy, honeyed cocktail that can soothe a weary soul with ease.
Did I miss any? Leave your favourite fall cocktails in the comments.
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