In a city where you can find both Michelin-rated food and drinks and casual eateries and bars, why not make your next trip to Toronto a little more interesting with a visit to a unique bar? Toronto is home to several fascinating cocktail lounges and bars, from a rooftop lounge overlooking the city serving a drink in a glass case on a bed of moss, to a library-inspired bar offering drinks with literary origins.
Here are nine unique bars to add to your Toronto list:
Take a step back in time at this cocktail bar reminiscent of the Art Nouveau era of Paris. This bar pays homage to the Methode Classique. A philosophy of extracting essential oils of natural ingredients to highlight definition, vibrancy and structure. This bar’s signature cocktail is the Champagne & Absinthe, a concoction of vodka, Champagne, elderflower, fresh lime, tarragon, fennel, celery bitters, cucumber and basil.
A hidden speakeasy under Little Sister on Portland, this 16-seat bar is only open Thursday–Saturday. In addition to bar snacks, this speakeasy serves delicious cocktails, including the signature One in a melon, a refreshing, low-ABV cocktail featuring Fino Sherry, melon liqueur, southern comfort, pineapple and lime.
Showcasing the best, hyper-seasonal produce, this bar experiments with flavor through the medium of fermentation. The menu is split into three sections: Yesterday (focuses on principles of classicism or minimalism), Today (quirky house creations) and the weekly-changing Tomorrow (a dive into brand-new, house made drinks laced with cordials and kombuchas). One popular cocktail is The Petrichor, a drink reflecting the smell of rain, with Tanqueray Gin (Number 10), Laphroaig whiskey, eucalyptus and Pu-Erh Tea & Lodine.
This bar pays homage to classic cocktail culture with its Prohibition-era name for booze. The bar is called “project” because it embraces experimental approaches, with an ever-changing, detailed cocktail menu, as well as limited snacks. Signature cocktails include Faux-Groni (aromatic faux gin, faux rhubarb spirit, faux a-tivo) and Angel’s Envy Old Fashioned (Angel’s Envy Bourbon, maple vanilla syrup and chocolate/orange/ango bitters.
Overlooking Toronto’s Bloor Street, this rooftop lounge brings back the life and energy of the hippie revolution in Yorkville in the 1960s. Signature cocktails like High Park, a bourbon-based drink held in a glass case on a bed of moss with a smoke finish, includes coconut oil-washed mezcal and sherry, Amontillado sherry, Amaro Nonino Bourbon Barrel bitters and Demerara syrup.
Designed to meet friends over great drinks and unpretentious service, Civil Liberties is unique in one aspect: It has no cocktail menu. Instead, the team of knowledgeable bartenders asks guests a few questions to help them find a new favorite or forgotten classic.
Located on the edge of Yorkville, this bar serves curated, premium cocktails in a chic environment. The bar is split into three regions: Gold Onyx Bar, Jade Room and Ruby Bar. Try its signature cocktail, the new Milk Punch, containing Blue Corn Tortilla Don Julio Blanco, orange Sombra mezcal, salted vanilla cordial, spiced agave syrup, sustainable lime juice and Froot Loop cereal milk.
This famed cocktail den lies beyond a secret corner of Fairmont Royal York hotel. Try the bar’s Once Upon a Time drink, featuring Lot 40 Dark Rye, yellow chartreuse and a blend of fruity and herbal notes. Other neat drinks include the Birdbath Martini, a cocktail incorporating QUILL vodka and gin, crafted exclusively for guests and served tableside from a bespoke mixing glass.
Growing in popularity as a book lover’s haven, this bar hosts numerous book club meetings, trivia nights and book launches. Everything in the bar relates to books, from the menus featuring individual chapters for each style of cocktail to a bar top made of Scrabble tiles. Menu chapters include Beach Reads, Adventures and Epics, and every drink is inspired by and named after a book. For instance, Everyone Brave is Forgiven is an earl grey and lavender gin sour, while City on Fire includes a smoky scotch and mezcal old fashioned. Even the bathrooms reference authors, from Jane Austen to Oscar Wilde. Signature drinks include Maybe in Another Life, a sweet and tart drink made with vodka, amaretto, vanilla, black cherry, lemon and soda; and Thin Man, made with genever, gin, Drambuie, vermouth, scotch mist and grapefruit zest.
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