A guide to Toronto’s 20 best summer cocktails
Baro’s Drunk In Love
20 Beyoncé may not have had a hand in creating the Drunk in Love cocktail, but like her song of the same name says, you won’t be able to keep your fingers off it—especially on the King West restaurant’s brand-new rooftop patio. The very pink drink starts with vodka and gets its fruit-punch blush from watermelon juice, cucumber, lime and mint. It’s like a perfect summer picnic in a glass. $13.50. 485 King St. W., 416-363-8388.
Madame Boeuf’s frozen rosé
19 Anthony Rose’s summertime burger joint holds court from the May long weekend until the weather starts to go south, in Fet Zun’s backyard. To refresh between rounds of cornhole and to wash down cheese fries, there’s frozen rosé poured from slushy machines. Made using wine from 13th Street Winery in St. Catharines, this frosty treat is both classy and trashy. $14. 252 Dupont St., 647-352-3337.
Si Lom Thai’s Kamikaze Bucket
18 There’s no rule that says you can’t have one of these “sharing buckets” all to yourself, but sharing is caring, after all, especially when the item in question is the Jolly Bear and Friends Kamikaze Bucket: a plastic pail full of slushy ginger ale mixed with a test tube each of vodka and Blue Curaçao and garnished with a handful of assorted gummies. $16.95. 534 Church St., 416-515-0888.
Reyna on King’s Queen’s Absolution
17 At Bar Reyna’s newest and easternmost outpost, the Queen’s Absolution brings a pineapple-etched rose-gold coupe filled with a fragrant floral mix of Absolut Elyx vodka, crème de violette, Strega, Lillet Blanc and lemon. The purple potion is finished with an egg white wig and a couple of edible blooms. $18. 354 King St. E., 416-546-3155.
Hotmess Tex Mex’s beergarita
16 The rotating boozy slushies at this pocket of Tex-Mex in Little Italy include their beergarita, made with Modelo cerveza, tequila, lime, agave and a glug of Grand Marnier. It looks eminently crushable in this here can, but it’s usually served in a traditional margarita glass with a salted rim. $12. 615 College St. W., 416-551-1322.
Grey Tiger’s Eyes on the Lake
15 A fresh-cut lawn is one of summer’s olfactory pleasures, and the Eyes on the Lake captures a hint of that essence. Dry vermouth and a house-made orange-grass cordial are shaken with yellow chartreuse and ice, and topped with green tea kombucha. $14. 1190 Bloor St. W., 647-925-3310.
Farside’s Surfer on Acid
14 This low-key East Chinatown hangout is a long way from the beach, but the Surfer on Acid cocktail does a spot-on impression of a seaside escape. Coconutty Malibu rum mingles with pineapple juice over ice in a vintage pony glass, with a hit of Averna to balance out the tropical sweetness. $11. 600 Gerrard St. E., 647-347-7433.
The Drake Hotel’s Ginger Rogers
13 Strawberry and rhubarb: not just for summer pies anymore, thanks to this crushable mule cocktail by Drake bartender Jeremy Cheng. For the Ginger Rogers, he starts with rye whiskey and paints the town red with a glug of Briottet wild strawberry liqueur and four drops of rhubarb bitters, plus honey syrup and lemon juice, topped with thirst-slaying ginger beer. $15. 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042.
Bangarang’s Higher Love
12 Jacob Sharpe at Little Italy’s games bar says Higher Love—a potable ode to his favourite ’80s song—is like a ginned-up green juice that makes him want to dance. For the floral tipple, he mixes gin with rose-infused Lillet Blanc, cucumber and lemon juices, grapefruit syrup and a splash of everyone’s favourite green fairy: absinthe. $13. 552 College St., no phone.
Mahjong Bar’s Havana Banana
11 Inspired by a love of frozen banana daiquiris, this Little Portugal cocktail spot hidden behind a bodega shakes up their Havana Banana, a frothy tropical concoction made of house-infused banana rum, fino sherry, green-banana syrup, lime and a few dashes each of Peychaud’s bitters and saline. $14. 1276 Dundas St. W., 647-980-5664.
SoSo Food Club’s WhyNot
10 Whiskey and silver tequila are a formidable duo, but the chili-garnished WhyNot really brings the heat thanks to Fen Chiew, a Chinese sorghum spirit that clocks in at 53 per cent ABV. Black cherry juice and a chili-chrysanthemum syrup are called in to temper the flames. It’s the surest way to guarantee a bit of warmth this summer. $14. 1166 Dundas St. W., 416-519-6661.
Rhum Corner’s piña colada
9 It feels like summer all year round at Jen Agg’s Haitian hangout, but it’s even easier to appreciate her adulterated frozen drinks when the mercury rises. One of the bar’s two slushy machines is dedicated to dispensing frosty piña coladas, coupes filled with swirls of rummy goodness, each one topped with a shiny maraschino cherry. $10. 926 Dundas St. W., 647-346-9356.
Momofuku Kojin’s Smoke and Mirrors
8 This cross-cultural cocktail, called Smoke and Mirrors, combines smoky Mexican mescal and tequila with tartly refreshing Japanese yuzu and a togarashi-agave syrup that manages to straddle both sides of the Pacific. It’s shaken with chamomile tea and strained into a coupe, then dusted with a spicy skiff of togarashi powder. $17. 190 University Ave., 647-253-6227.
Maple Leaf Tavern’s Sloe Jam Cobbler
7 This patio-perfect drink hails from a time when ice—particularly crushed or “cobbled” ice—was reserved for the wealthy. All that’s required today is a trip to the east end, where the Sloe Jam Cobbler gets its name and striking colour from a base of jammy sloe gin shaken hard and fast with dry gin, zesty amaro, lemon juice and a spoonful of blueberry jam before a final splash of sparkling wine. $14. 955 Gerrard St. E., 416-465-0955.
Bar Raval’s Wu Collins
6 The Wu Collins—named for its glass and the bar staff’s love of the Wu-Tang Clan—is a long, grown-up version of the woo woo shooter of hangovers past. The star is peach RinQuinQuin, a fortified French liqueur, shaken with vodka, fermented lime juice and absinthe, poured over ice and topped with a splash of soda. $13. 505 College St., 647-344-8001.
Don Alfonso 1890’s Aperol spritz
5 Italy’s iconic aperitivo, the Aperol spritz, gets a molecular makeover at this gilded downtown restaurant. Using a process called reverse spherification, the Aperol turns from liquid into soft, edible orbs that are just small enough to fit through an extra-wide glass straw. They’re splashed with gin and dashes of pineapple, lemon and grapefruit, and topped with soda. $26. 19 Toronto St., 416-214-5888.
Alobar Yorkville’s Half Windsor
4 The Half Windsor gives off some serious caipirinha vibes. That’s thanks to the addition of Novo Fogo cachaça and ample citrus tartness to a formula that starts with aged Havana Club rum and finishes with Brazil nut orgeat syrup, Angostura bitters, fresh mint and key lime. $16. 162 Cumberland St., 416-961-1222.
El Rey’s Smoke on the Water
3 At Kensington Market’s mescal bar and Latin-American kitchen, you can sip copitas of tequila’s cooler cousin or have it mixed into excellent cocktails like this one. Smoke on the Water, a combo of mescal, dry vermouth, peach liqueur, lemon and rich syrup, is shaken then poured over crushed ice. It’s finished with a ring of Fernet-Branca that settles down as the drink is sipped—much like you will after the mescal starts to take effect. $14. 2A Kensington Ave., no phone.
Patois’s Party Pineapple
2 Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once. This über-tropical cocktail at Toronto’s popular Chinese-Jamaican restaurant—made with tequila, Prosecco, pineapple juice, lemon and Pink Ting—started life as a sangria. But after one taste, someone declared, “This is a party!” then dumped it into a hollowed-out pineapple. And thus the Party Pineapple—quite possibly the city’s most summery sipper—was born. $38. 794 Dundas St. W., 647-350-8999.
Miss Thing’s Dole Whip Margarita
1 This tropical cocktail bar in Parkdale makes its frosty Dole Whip Margarita with tequila, Cointreau, pineapple juice, lime and simple syrup. Topped off with a swirl of nostalgia from the fruity cult-favourite soft serve, it’s paradise in a glass. $12. 1279 Queen St. W., 416-516-8677.