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Food & Drink

Twelve of Toronto’s best end-of-summer cocktails

More end-of-summer fun

All the wacky new things to eat and drink at the CNE this year, ranked
Food & Drink

All the wacky new things to eat and drink at the CNE this year, ranked

The CNE is drawing to a close, and school starts on Tuesday—it’s time to settle into the stark realization that summer is over. On the bright side, there’s still a solid month (two, if we’re lucky) left to soak up the sun on the city’s patios. And, while you’re at it, indulge in a stellar cocktail or four. The following drinks best encapsulate the spirit of summer, from bright and bubbly to tropical and transportive.

Mother Cocktail Bar’s toasted chai piña colada

This isn’t your Club Med’s piña colada. Mother takes the formula for the coconut-y beach drink and turns it on its head, using lemongrass-infused rum, chai coconut milk, caramelized yogurt (yes, really), sorbet, pineapple and ginger. It’s impossibly fluffy, frothy and staycation worthy. Their patio is small but mighty, situated on a buzzing strip of Queen West.  

This Bloor West tiki bar boasts that, with this drink, one sip and you’re beachside. And they aren’t kidding: the combo of rum, pineapple, orange and coconut is tropical to the core. The setting—nautical influences and ship-shape decor—only adds to the illusion.  

Vela’s Paris

King West’s hotel-less lobby bar opened a wee patio on the side of Portland this summer. The menu includes a section of what they call “vacation drinks,” creations designed to whisk you away to far-off destinations, like their city-of-light-inspired cocktail, a blend of brandy, dry sherry, coconut and crushed ice.  

Little Sister’s Midnight Moon

This tropical pebble-ice-packed cocktail calls for central components of rum and fernet spiked with refreshing lime, cucumber and a big sprig of mint. Pair it with heaping plates of shrimp in coconut curry and spicy fried chicken with sambal dip.  

Twelve of Toronto's best end-of-summer cocktails
Photo courtesy of Sofia Yorkville
Sofia’s Pioggia Viola

Situated in an alfresco oasis on Yorkville’s main drag, Sofia’s patio is the perfect place to people-watch—and this neon-hued drink is the cocktail equivalent of peacocking. It’s made with gin, ginger, lemon, lavender and a touch of butterfly pea flower (a natural product that gives the drink its bold colour).  

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The Dylan’s hard seltzers

White Claw who? The Dylan cans its own hard seltzers in pineapple, grapefruit and mango flavours. Aside from drinks, the Danforth watering hole offers a full menu of finger food (burgers topped with charred pineapple and spicy jerk sauce, kettle chips, French dips), a buzzy streetside patio and a well-stocked bottle shop for when the party needs to move along.

The Drake’s High Tea

For anyone choosing not to partake, the Drake has a wonderful collection of wildly creative booze-free options. The High Tea is a tea-infused highball that calls for non-alcoholic gin, lemon, green tea syrup and a hit of Barbet’s jalapeno-cucumber soda for some sparkle.  

Bar Neon’s Earth Shaker

While summer drinks are typically bright and refreshing, there’s nothing wrong with something a little boozier—especially after what we’ve been through the past few years. Bar Neon offers spirited options like the Beergarita (exactly what it sounds like) or the Earth Shaker, an Italian-ish gin-and-Aperol combo. A patio in the bar’s backyard is outfitted with picnic tables and covered in case of late-summer showers.  

Bar Raval’s highballs

This College Street tapas bar remains the perfect place to perch on a sun-soaked afternoon. The house cocktails are great—think red pepper mezcal with cream sherry or tarragon vermouth topped with tequila and lemon cider—but the highballs are truly ideal for hot days. Creations like coconut limoncello spritzers and sherry-spiked tonics are perfectly chilled and supremely effervescent.  

Goods and Provisions’ mezcal hibiscus margarita

Goods and Provisions does wine really, really well. But the Queen East staple with a sweet little streetside patio also turns out some killer cocktails, like a hibiscus mezcal margarita rimmed with salt and topped with dehydrated lime. Enough said.  

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Bar Pompette’s Smack’A Guava

There’s a reason the daiquiri is one of the classics. It’s quintessential for warm days—citrus-packed, bright and sweet. Bar Pompette takes the Cuban cocktail up a notch with the addition of clarified papaya rum, St-Germain and a house-made Mexican guava spirit.  

Twelve of Toronto's best end-of-summer cocktails
Photo courtesy of Pink Sky
Pink Sky’s apricot julep

Juleps are a staple in the deep south—refreshing enough to get folks through sweltering summers and made from a few simple ingredients: bourbon, citrus, sugar and mint. Pink Sky sees that traditional recipe and raises it with a hit of apricot. It’s ideal for taking in the last few hot days we have left.

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