Sip on Manhattans at these Toronto cocktail bars

When it comes to vintage cocktails, the Manhattan is a timeless standby. Dating back to the late 1800s, this boozy beverage is traditionally made with whiskey, vermouth and bitters. You’ll find unique adaptations on the classic Manhattan at these bars across the downtown.

Gladstone Hotel

1
1214 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1J6

This landmark hotel dates back to 1889 and attracts tourists and locals alike with its funky vibe and creative artist-designed rooms. The ground-level Melody Bar features restored Victorian-era windows and grand faux marble pillars finished in a European fresco style. Grab a spot at the bar and soak up the historic ambiance with a classic Manhattan made with Pike Creek rye, dry vermouth, sweet vermouth, a couple dashes of bitters and a muddled cherry. Be sure to take a ride in the vintage hand-operated elevator before you leave.

Northwood

2
815 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G 1M1

You’ll find talented baristas and bartenders doing double-duty at this hybrid hotspot located just steps away from Christie Pitts Park. Neighbourhood locals fill up the café throughout the day, enjoying fresh-pressed Americanos in the morning and handcrafted cocktails at night. The house Manhattan recipe is inspired by the bar’s coffee-shop alter ego and combines Elijah Craig 12-year bourbon, Dolin vermouth and Northwood’s own cold brew coffee.

The County General

3
936 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1G6

Jeff Carroll, the skilled bartender behind the County General’s renowned cocktail list, has earned a cult following among Toronto boozehounds for his unique approach to mixology. His signature 3 oz Manhattan features a fragrant combination of Knob Creek Bourbon, Dolin vermouth and his own Carroll & Co. homemade cherry masala chai bitters.

The Carbon Bar

4
99 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M5C 1S1

Get all your vices in one shot and order a Smokin’ Manhattan at this Old Town bar from the folks behind Nota Bene. The somewhat self-explanatory guilty-pleasure features tobacco-infused bitters from Maker’s Mark, oak-infused Dolin vermouth and booze-soaked cherries. The food menu here focuses on refined Southern comforts — think elegantly plated bar snacks and barbecued meat — while the high ceilings and funky décor give the space a cool-yet-approachable vibe.

The Library Bar

5
100 Front St W, Toronto, ON M5J 1E3

Situated inside the historic Royal York Hotel, this storied bar feels like a step back in time with its elegant Edwardian-style drapery, dark wood-paneled walls and plush oversized armchairs. The leather-bound drinks list relives the golden age of cocktails with its selection of classic libations aptly named after the country’s esteemed authors. Mordecai’s Spiced Manhattan (an ode to the legendary author, screenwriter and essayist Mordecai Richler) features a seductive blend of Woodford Reserve bourbon, house-spice infused vermouth and cherry bitters. Garnished with Amarena cherries, this CanLit-inspired libation is a sweet-and-spicy indulgence.

Speakeasy 21

6
21 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5H 1N1

Despite the prohibition-era inspired name, this sleek downtown restaurant isn’t exactly hidden behind an unmarked door. It’s hard to miss the oversized glass windows on Adelaide Street that reveal the 4,000-square-foot dining room inside. The restaurant is routinely filled with Bay Street suits enjoying contemporary pub food and handcrafted cocktails. The classic Manhattan (a popular choice among the Mad Men wannabes) is made with 40 Creek double barrel rye, sweet vermouth and bourbon soaked cherries.

The Ace

7
231A Roncesvalles Ave, Toronto, ON M6R 2L6

This classic Roncesvalles diner got a serious makeover back in 2011 and the revived space has quickly turned into a neighbourhood destination. The narrow restaurant turns out elevated comfort foods and old-world cocktails that pack a potent punch. The Ace Manhattan is made with Crown Royal Black (an extra bold whiskey matured in oak-charred barrels), sweet vermouth, bitters and spiced apricot.

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