The best cocktail bars in Toronto

At some point in the new millennium, ‘going for a drink’ evolved into a spectator sport. Bartenders are the new celebrity chefs and some bars even take reservations so they can treat clients to limited edition spirits mixed in new and delicious ways. Check out these nine hot spots that feature talented mixologists.


472 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2B2

This is the nexus of the universe where the current cocktail zeitgeist is concerned. Frankie Solarik represents a new hybrid of chef/mixologist, one of the first of his kind. He’s the kid with the chemistry set trying to get a reaction where no one gets hurt and everyone leaves happy.

Drake Hotel

1150 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1J3

Welcome to one of the hippest bar scenes in town. Fans of food, drink, dance and music flock here for special events and liquid creations fashioned by resident bartenders using house-made ingredients. The Drake’s own lavender syrup goes into the vodka-based, Lavender Lemonade.

Shangri-La Hotel Toronto

180 University Avenue, Toronto, ON M5H 0A2

Thirties-era swank meets contemporary style in this retro-flavoured martini lounge based in the luxury downtown hotel. The vintage vibe extends to a cocktail list that includes mid-century classics like the French Connection and Gin Basil Smash. Try the signature Sapphire Martini.

Pravda Vodka Bar

44 Wellington St E, Toronto, ON M5E 1C7

A red velvet room reeking of czarist opulence is the perfect spot to sample Russia’s best-known export (that doesn’t wear skates). Bar staff will guide you through the biggest selection of vodkas this side of Red Square. Tasting flights come in threes, poured from frozen bottles. Da!

County Cocktail

798 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1H4

What happens when someone decides to mix craft beer with spirits? Why, a happy mash-up called a craft beer cocktail, that’s what. This is home to the ‘Saisons Greetings’, an inspired blend in which the key ingredients are unfiltered gin and craft suds from Kensington’s Bellwoods Brewery.

Bar Isabel

797 College St, Toronto, ON M6G 1C7

Toronto’s hottest resto didn’t make its bones on food alone. The cocktail menu is either the perfect preamble to a memorable meal or a surefire way to forget you were ever hungry. Try a drink called ‘A Woman Scorned’ or the ‘Bullfighter.’ Only then, should you eat

Never mind pearls, Victorians know the real treasure to be found in oyster shells is the fresh, briny taste of the ocean. Whether you chew or swallow them whole, enjoy garnished or baked, once you get a taste for fresh BC oysters, you’ll be hooked. The next time the craving hits, here’s where to go for your shellfish fix.
Caesars are a staple in Canadian cuisine; they're right up there with poutine, Nanaimo bars, maple syrup and Kraft Dinner. The unlikely combination of vodka, Clamato and Worcestershire sauce with some celery, asparagus or even bacon thrown in for the grand finale, doesn't sound like it should work. But it does. Here's where to go in Victoria to enjoy some of the best Caesars in town.
Charcuterie, a French method of cold meat preparation, has taken off in Victoria and the results are delicious. The intense flavour created by the curing of pork and other cuts of meat, pairs wonderfully with artisanal cheeses, pickles and condiments for an elegant and social snacking experience. If you're looking to get in on the culinary fun, head to one of these charcuterie hotspots.
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