From Tiki bars to hipster hangouts, inspired mixologists are serving some of the best cocktails in Toronto. Smack dab in the middle of the city, you’ll find whisky bars sprouting up at a pace that makes your head spin. Whether you’re looking to escape the world in a whisky bar or relive the ’20s in Prohibition-styled cocktail bars, Toronto has you covered.
Spice Route Asian Bistro & Bar
Spice Route Asian Bistro & Bar is one of King Street West’s hottest, yet most charming cocktail bars. Decorated with Buddha statues and a bar that surrounds an impressive 16-foot waterfall, Spice Route has a friendly and casual ambience. Grab some friend––try to snag one of the comfy, couch-like booths––and share a plate of vegetable pakora, crispy fritters served with a coriander yogurt dipping sauce, while indulging in a signature spiked hot or cold tea, like the Vanilla Infusion, a cold spiked tea made with peach schnapps and vanilla vodka. Be sure to try one of their knockout martinis, like the Lychee Martini brimming with flavors from the lychee liquor and lychee sake, or the citrusy Red Dragon made with yuzu, grapefruit and lime juices.
Bar Isabel, at College and Ossington, has been a front-runner in both the food and cocktail scene since it opened in 2013. Voted the best new restaurant in Canada in its opening year, Bar Isabel serves some of the best cocktails in Toronto. The interior is reminiscent of a Spanish tavern with dim lighting and a cool but elegant ambience. Bartender Michael Webster concocts inventive cocktails that really pack a punch. They also carry some rare items like Dillon’s absinthe and a number of amazing bourbons which are hard to find in Toronto. Patron’s favourites include Swollen Knees (Apricot & Vanilla Infused Old Grand-Dad Bourbon), Bottomless Pit (Drouin Calvados) and the ever-popular Isabel Fashioned (Buffalo Trace Bourbon). Bar Isabel is a favourite haunt for movers and shakers in Toronto who flock here to eat Chef Grant Van Gameren famous lobster and anchovy boquerones tapas. The place is busy from open to close, so make a reservation.
CC Lounge and Whisky Bar
CC Lounge on Front Street specializes in North American brown spirits like whisky, scotch and bourbon. Based on the Prohibition era, it’s just like a 1920s speakeasy with a little Gatsby flair. Serving over 120 varieties of spirits, CC Lounge sports a long bar and spectacular chandeliers fashioned from thousands of crystals. Their ’20s-inspired cocktail menu is elaborate with traditional drinks like a Manhattan and Whisky Sour and more creative ones, like the Hotsy Totsy and The Flapper. The Micky Finn, a top cocktail choice, is made of spiced rye, caramel cream liquor and a splash of Frangelico, then topped with fresh grated chocolate. Enjoy a small plate like the whisky maple syrup-infused brussel sprouts or the delish fish tacos to accompany your cocktail.
The Shameful Tiki Room
The Shameful Tiki Room, located on Queen Street West, has a modest exterior, but walk through the doors and you’ll find yourself in a world full of exotic cocktails and pure escapism. They serve roughly 40 traditional rum-based original tiki drinks including the Chi Chris and Zombie. If you’re stumped with indecision, the friendly Hawaiian shirt-clad bartenders will happily make a suggestion for you. You might just end up with a flaming Mystery Bowl for two in this Polynesian getaway.
Alo, on Spadina, is an upscale dining room and cocktail bar, with a relaxed and unpretentious ambience. They have an extensive menu of deliciously crafted cocktails and skilled bartenders. Half the fun of being there is watching them make their wonderful concoctions, like the Windmill made with gin, foamy egg whites and crushed coriander seeds—a foodie’s dream drink. These skilled mixologists are dedicated to their craft and are serving some of the best cocktails in Toronto.