7 Unique Toronto Cocktail Bars You Need to Know
Is it just me or is summer the ultimate cocktail season? Sure, you can enjoy them all year round, but there’s something about sipping a refreshing, boozy libation in the summer that just feels right. And luckily there are plenty of Toronto bars that serve up amazing mixes to sip on come 5 o’clock. Whether it’s a ‘Jungle Bird’ from Pray Tell or a ‘Grace Park’ from Cold Tea, these are the Toronto cocktail bars you need to know.
If you’re in the mood for innovative cocktails with an unforgettable experience, BarChef is the place for you. An intimate and dimly lit spot on Queen Street West, BarChef challenges the conventional cocktail experience, with their house-made infusions, bitters, and syrups. From sweet & sour cocktails, to sipping cocktails, and modernist cocktails to boot, you get to sip fusions that play on all your senses from your taste to your smell to your sight.
Image: Instagram/ @barcheftoronto
Toronto’s one-of-a-kind speakeasy and restaurant, 86’d is perhaps the most unique place on the list. It offers guests an experience unlike any other. Guests are served by the chef, mixologist and the owner of the restaurant instead of the wait staff, giving the place a more intimate atmosphere. The menu focuses on zero waste, hyper-local ingredients, and changes each week. 86’d also has no regular cocktail menu – instead, guests will be asked what mood they’re in, what flavours they’d like, and each drink is custom made to order.
3. Pray Tell
Sitting pretty at College and Ossington, Pray Tell is a cozy Scandinavian-designed cocktail bar, offering seasonal libations and eclectic small plates. Pair their gorditas or a few plates of snacks with a ‘Jungle Bird’, made with Havana Club 7yr, Campari, pineapple and lime, or an ‘Old Fashioned’ featuring Wild Turkey bourbon, sugar and bitters. No matter your poison, Pray Tell has a delicious cocktail for you.
If you’re a fan of Bar Raval or Harry’s you’re going to love Pretty Ugly Bar, created by the same people. Located in Parkdale, this mezcaleria-designed bar is known for its exquisite drinks. From beer to bubbly to classic cocktails, you can play it safe at Pretty Ugly. Or, if you’re more of a risk-taker, opt for one of their signature cocktails like the Crystal Lake (sherry, herbs and woods, lemon and a topping of egg white), or a Pink Porcelain (akvavit, Cynar, lime, Perrier, apple, pine, and celery, garnished with lemon and lemon zest).
5. Cold Tea
A Kensington Market staple, Cold Tea is a funky hideaway serving up drinks, dumplings and more. Recently undergoing a reno, the previously grungy spot is now trendy and sleek. Offering local craft beers and artisanal cocktails, Cold Tea is not to be missed. Try out the ‘Grace Park’ made with shochu, St. Germain and Thai basil, or the ‘La Flama Blanca’, featuring chili-infused tequila, pineapple juice and mint. Their menu is now compliments of Leemo Han (of Hanmoto and Pinky’s Ca Phe) and is ripe with Asian and South American influences.
You can spot Civil Liberties on Bloor near Ossington, just look for the pineapple over the door. Inside you’ll find a list of wines and beers behind the bar, but you won’t see any servers or menus. Their specialty is unique and elaborate cocktails at the request of the customer, and they ask that you request cocktails based on your mood. How’s that for excellent customer service?
Known for its creative house cocktails and punch bowls, Rush Lane & Co. makes their drinks with unique ingredients ranging from orange water syrup to Irish tea infused Bulldog gin, and everything in between. Try out cocktails like the ‘Slim Hip Stacey’, a blend of Absolut vodka, dry curacao, dry vermouth, absinthe rinse, and lemon zest, and the ‘Nick’s in Town’ with Brugal Anejo rum, Cocchi Torino vermouth, chocolate and Angostura bitters.
Do you know any other unique cocktail bars in Toronto? Share with us in the comment section.
Featured image: Instagram/@eightysixedto
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Kate is a Toronto-based freelance writer and founder of lifestyle blog, www.layeredindulgence.com. When her head isn’t buried in her laptop, you can find her taking a hot yoga class, curled up with a good book, or sipping a chai latte at one of Toronto’s various cafés. Follow her adventures @katebialowas.