Nine sparkling cocktails to drink right now that aren’t a negroni sbagliato (and one that is)
“What’s your drink of choice?” House of the Dragon’s Olivia Cooke asked fellow HBO actor Emma D’Arcy in a video for the network. Their answer has since become viral: “A negroni [dramatic pause] sbagliato [another dramatic pause] with prosecco in it.” Since D’Arcy uttered the words, the drink—an equal mix of sweet vermouth, prosecco and Campari—has become inescapable. It’s a fine cocktail, and any decent bar in the city can whip one up, but there are many other original, bright, bubbly, slightly bitter and slightly better cocktails out there, made by some of Toronto’s best bartenders. Here are our current favourites.
Akira Back’s Emperor’s Garden
This drink starts with negroni and sbagliato ingredients—prosecco, gin—then adds in a few that speak to Akira Back’s Japanese heritage. These include ume liqueur (a slightly sweet Japanese plum liqueur), fresh yuzu and a dose of Jasmine green tea. It’s rich, umami-tinged and bursting with bubbles.
Bar Raval’s Americano
Say you’re a sbagliato snob now because the general public has tarnished the original. Let us introduce you to the Americano. With Campari and sweet vermouth, it’s got sbagliato DNA, but instead of prosecco, the drink is topped up with a splash of soda. It’s easy, breezy and low-alcohol; perfect for sipping while waiting for your dinner reso.
Pinkerton’s canned spritzes
Good things come in small packages, and Pinkerton’s crafts a whole line of fizzy cocktails in a canned format. The Aperol spritz is an easy sell, but the sherry and tonic or the French 75 are worth trying. The former is simply sherry topped with tonic; the latter leans on gin, nutty sherry, pastis (an herbal French liqueur), verjus (juice from unripe grapes) and sparkling chardonnay for bubbles.
Cry Baby Gallery’s Psychic Sonya
Like a sbagliato, this drink has bubbles, but instead of the bracingly bitter notes of the Italian iteration, this clandestine Dundas West cocktail bar looks to fresher flavours—honeydew melon, a hit of lemon and herby basil. Add in gin and prosecco and you’ve got a warm-weather drink that’s delicious even when the mercury starts to drop.
Simpl Things’ Fig Poppa’
Evelyn Chick’s beverage menu at her new Parkdale spot is full of nice treats (non-alcoholic options! nice wines! quirky cocktails!), but some of the most compelling are cute canned concoctions that pack a punch. All of them are bubbly, but the Fig Poppa’—made with Martini Fiero, white vermouth, fig, plum bitters and prosecco—has the most aperitivo energy.
Famous Last Words’ Joy in the Morning
The Junction’s home for literary-inspired cocktails has a whole section dedicated to “beach reads”: easy-drinking takes on transportive drinks. All are light and effervescent, but we’re partial to the Joy in the Morning, a mix of vodka, ginger, vanilla, rhubarb bitters and grapefruit soda. “Exactly what your butler would make you for breakfast, if you had a butler,” the menu promises.
Bar Chica’s Casa Mila
At Portland Street’s petite spot for cocktails and Toronto-style tapas, you can sip a purple-hued, sparkling riff on an Aviation. For those who don’t dabble in pre-Prohibition-era cocktails, this drink calls for crème de violette, orange and maraschino liqueurs, and lime juice. The bartenders at Bar Chica add a healthy splash of prosecco.
Civil Liberties’ customized cocktails
The many benefits of Civil Liberties’ highly customizable, no-menu approach to cocktails is that guests are constantly—and pleasantly—surprised by what they’re served. They’ll mix up a sbagliato if asked, but they’ll also make something original with that same Emma D’Arcy energy. Either way, you’re in good hands.
Eataly’s Spag Yourself
If there’s one place in Toronto to go for an authentic sbagliato experience, it’s the unofficial Italian headquarters of the city. Eatlay doesn’t have a sbagliato on the menu, but any of the Italian-accented or -educated bartenders behind any of the bars will happily make one. (It’s a highly popular off-menu choice—guests can even grab one while they explore the store.) Or “spag” any cocktail on the menu by adding a $4 splash of sparkling wine.