The city’s craft beer culture may be booming, but at bars in Toronto, cocktail hour still reigns supreme. From trailblazing mixologists to trendy lounges, the city’s cocktail culture is alive and kicking and offers some of the best drinks you’ll find anywhere, all carefully crafted from fun and flavourful ingredients. Here are three of the best bars in Toronto to enjoy a cocktail (or two):
Pravda Vodka Bar
Pushing aside a velvety curtain, you step into a scarlet lounge adorned with portraits of Russian personalities, Communist pop art, and Louis XII décor. A giant bust of Vladimir Lenin looks on as patrons sip their cocktails from frosted glasses while nestled on plush couches. But this isn’t Soviet Leningrad—it’s Pravda, a Russian-inspired vodka bar that takes its name from the Russian word for “truth.” It’s considered one of the top bars in Toronto for its one-of-a-kind cellar which houses more than seventy of the world’s best vodkas.
Start by checking out the craft cocktail menu that’s loaded with cheeky references to the Soviet era. Choose from drinks such as a Trotsky Lemon Berry Martini, a Red Square, or a Russo-Canada Martini which celebrates the two countries by blending vodka, rye, and maple syrup. Or opt for a tasting of different vodka brands, savouring each unique flavour profile. If you get peckish, the food menu is stocked with charcuterie boards, decadent snacks, and best of all, vodka-inspired dishes. Be sure to try the vodka cream pierogies browned with crispy pieces of bacon.
On Saturday night, Pravda transforms into a rocking party with burlesque dancers and aerialist performances. But the best part? Wrap up in something warm and follow staff into their vodka freezer for a chilly but unforgettable vodka tasting.
The Roof Lounge at the Park Hyatt Hotel
Before becoming a swanky Toronto neighbourhood, Yorkville was a hub for Bohemian culture in the 1960s. Back in the day, the Park Hyatt Hotel’s 18th floor rooftop bar was a hangout for illustrious writers, artists, and thinkers. Fifty years later, The Roof Lounge hasn’t lost its lustre.
As you saunter into a dimly lit parlour, candlelight flickers on the tables, giving off a romantic glow. Patrons cozy up on comfy leather couches beside a crackling fireplace, or linger at the bar, enjoying a Dark ‘n’ Stormy and other classic cocktails that conjure up a bygone era. Munch on warmed almonds, spiced olives, and trail mix at your table, while perusing the extensive menu of seasonal martinis and artisanal cocktails. All the cocktails are incredible; each well-balanced concoction contains carefully selected spirits and ingredients, often including some local favourites such as Collingwood Rye and maple syrup. For a signature drink, try the Yorkville Squeeze, a citrusy blend of gin, grapefruit juice, and Prosecco.
Magnificent drinks aside, it’s the skyline view of Toronto that makes this lounge so special. From the outdoor rooftop, look to the south for a stunning view of the city and some of its most iconic landmarks, including the CN Tower, the Royal Ontario Museum, and Lake Ontario.
Thoroughbred Food and Drink
You’ll have to fight the hipsters to get a table at this stylish watering hole, known for serving some of the best drinks in the city. Tucked into a restored Victorian house in Toronto’s Entertainment District, Thoroughbred is all about making playful cocktails with fresh ingredients.
For drinks and nibbles, head straight to the first-floor bar. It’s a mixology funhouse with a well-curated cocktail menu. You’ll be hypnotized as the bartender shakes fresh citrus juice, herbs, and egg whites in a martini mixer, and whips up craft cocktails with whimsical names such as Constellation Funk and cheeky ones like the Shawinigan Handshake. For a taste of the exotic, try a Thank You, Come Again cocktail, a gin-based drink with a surprising blend of fruits and spices.
Afterwards, why not catch a musical performance or comedy show? Thoroughbred is a hop, skip, and a jump from King Street West, Toronto’s theatre district, including the legendary Second City comedy club.