Best of the City 2011: Five top spots for a delicious drink
Rooftop drink Cocktail class Ice Blood orange margarita Wine by the glass
The Roof Lounge
4 Avenue Rd., 416-925-1234
The Park Hyatt’s Roof Lounge is proof that there’s no need to fix things that ain’t broke. Toronto has had a number of high-flying patios over the years, but none quite compares to the hotel’s 18th-floor aerie and its show-stopping view of the city skyline. The bar has traded in martinis and manhattans for decades and shows no sign of changing direction—even bartender Joe Gomes has been working there for more than 50 years.
107 King St. E., 416-603-8009
Taylor Corrigan, the bar manager at Origin, leads cocktail classes tailored to wannabe mixologists thirsty for the key to the restaurant’s excellent quaffs. The two- to three-hour, eight-person tutorials include three recipes, usually built around one type of alcohol (bourbon is Corrigan’s favourite), and paired with a trio of luxe nibblies. Double straining has never been so fun. $50 per person.
181 Wellington St. W., 416-572-8008
Trust Tokyo to keep things cool. The ice ball, a popular feature on the Japanese cocktail scene, has migrated to Toca, the Ritz-Carlton’s ritzy watering hole, courtesy of head bartender Moses McIntee. Negronis, manhattans and old-fashioneds are kept colder and stronger (the sphere’s single surface area means less melting), making “on the rock” the most excellent request since “make it a double.” The ice is made from quadruple-filtered water and hand-carved from extraordinarily clear 100-pound blocks. Unparalleled bar snacks—fried capers, corn nuts and candied bacon—are included with your drink.
Blood Orange Margarita
136 Ossington Ave., 416-532-6474
Ossington’s unabashed temple to tequila banishes wince-inducing memories of whirling slushie machines and cactus-shaped glassware. The particularly sweet and light Cazadores 100 per cent agave blanco, one of the bar’s 75-odd varieties of top-shelf tequila, forms the boozy heart of the blood orange margarita, an irresistible blush-coloured, sweet-tart concoction. No salt rim and no Tex-Mex puns—just a fresh-squeezed juicy punch packed in an elegant highball. Best consumed on Reposado’s button-cute back patio. $9.50.
Wine by the glass
77 Adelaide St. W., 416-862-7337
Most restaurants have maybe half a dozen wines available by the glass. At Reds Bistro there are no fewer than 80, ranging in price from $9 to $25, many of them rare and tasty. It’s a fine excuse for an evening of wine tourism. Robin Kemp, the restaurant’s seasoned GM, entertains himself by finding strange and new bottles and unsung varietals. He pushes customers to explore beyond their safe zones, suggesting a grüner veltliner from Austria instead of a pinot grigio, or a Rubrato Aglianico wine from Campania instead of another Cali cab.