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The Best Cocktail Bars in Toronto To Try Right Now

Cocktails focus on local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients
Cocktails focus on local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients | Courtesy of PrettyUgly
Photo of Megan Honan
21 February 2020
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Pay homage to Toronto’s original distillery scene at any of these Toronto cocktail bars. From a decidedly Canadian Woodland old fashioned, to a simple Spanish wine and Coke, to a purple-hued mezcal – there’s never been a better time to expand your cocktail palate.

While Toronto has always been famed for leading the charge in craft breweries, it’s never quite gotten credit where credit is due for cocktails. Home to a handful of historical distilleries that once brewed whiskey and rum, the city was practically born on the making of spirits and the people who loved to consume them. Today, the city is brimming with cocktail bars, whether you’re in search of a pink-hued jaunt for a girls’ night out, or a dark, cozy interior with a speakeasy vibe. Pull up a seat and enjoy a tipple at one of the best cocktail bars in Toronto.

Carbon Bar

Bar, BBQ, Pub Grub, Beer, American, $$$
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Raised by wolves
Courtesy of Carbon Toronto
Owned and operated by some of the biggest restaurateurs in Toronto – David Lee, Yannick Bigourdan and Franco Prevedello – it’s no surprise Carbon Bar is often packed on any given night. While the restaurant is a departure from the usual high-end fare offered by the group, it’s wood-smoked dishes clearly had an influence on the creation of the cocktail menu. Try the black margaritas, well mixed with added charcoal for a smoky flavor. With a menu focusing on brown liquor or tequila, this bar is for those who like their drinks tall, dark and strong.

PrettyUgly

Bar, Cocktails, Beer, Wine, $$$
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Courtesy of PrettyUgly

This little Parkdale bar is easy to miss if you blink. With an all-black exterior and minimal signage, be sure to put the address into your phone so as not to miss it. At the front of house, you’ll find a mezcaleria-style bar, brimming with countless bottles of spirits. Featuring eclectic artwork and hand-crafted Mexican rugs that line the walls, the bar gives off a modern boho feel. Better yet, all the trinkets and textiles in the bar are available for purchase. For a sample of their signature drink, order the Crystal Lake cocktail, made up of sherry, rainforest elixir (foraged herbs), tangy lemon and whipped white egg. Then, grab a seat in the tucked-away booths for a romantic candlelit evening.

Cocktail Bar

Cocktail Bar, American, $$$
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Speakeasies and secret bars in Toronto
© Alix Critchley

While a cocktail bar named Cocktail Bar can be a little confusing, the long, creative menu makes this restaurant worth sussing out. This cocktail emporium is just one of three bars set up by restaurateur Jen Agg, all housed on Dundas West, which can make for a fun night of bar-hopping. Enter the compact space to find eclectic decor paired with candles, sleek marble counters and a patio with a plant mural displayed across the wall. Sample the Happy Accident for easy drinking, made with Cocchi Americano, hops, peach, gentian and sparkling wine.

Paris Paris

Wine Bar, Canadian, $$$
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Paris Paris is the perfect bar for a night out with friends who don’t exactly call themselves cocktail lovers. Boasting a huge selection of wine and beer to accompany the cocktail menu, all group members are guaranteed to leave satisfied. With a hand-made wood bar created by local craftsman Graham Waliczek and a home-grown vibe, the bar feels distinctly Canadian (though it should be noted it is labeled as a French restaurant). Try their own version of a tinto de verano, titled Kalimotxo, mixing tart red wine with bubbly Coca-Cola for a refreshing and unexpected mix.

Daisy

Bar, Cocktails
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Courtesy of Daisy Toronto

One of the city’s newest cocktail bars, Daisy on Queen West stands out with a bright pink exterior and a sleek black neon sign out front. Inside, the former Rush Lane has been completely revamped with floral wallpaper and lush plants enveloping the bar, including the ceiling. With a mirrored infinity room and photo-worthy cocktails, this bar makes for the perfect girls’ night out. For a splash of color, sip on the Hazy Daisy, a purple-hued gin cocktail mixed with mezcal, floral rosewater, lemon and soda. They even offer bottle service for when you want to skip the club and indulge in an intimate night of speciality drinks.

Mother

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Wine Bar, Cocktails
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A fermented cocktail at Mother
Courtesy of Mother

Mother brings new meaning to home-grown, with many ingredients foraged or supplied directly from within the Toronto area. Created by chef Lionel Duke of BarChef, it’s no surprise the cocktail menu is ever-changing, along with the snack menu to keep ingredients seasonal and sustainable. Most of the drinks are garnished with edible plants and flowers directly from High Park and Trinity Bellwoods, such as the evergreen sprig in the Woodland Old Fashioned. The cocktail features Islay single malt scotch, American rye, a sherry and port reduction, “woodland” bitters, lacto-fermented Ontario grapes and cedar for a spicy mix.

Project Gigglewater

Bar, Cocktails
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Courtesy of Project Gigglewater

Named after a quirky Prohibition-era word for booze, Project Gigglewater exudes a fun and relaxed sophistication from the moment you walk through the door. Styled with plush banquettes, a sleek curved bar and wood-lined ceiling, this bar is ideal for a laid-back evening with friends. The food menu is seasonal and small, but the cocktail list is long and inventive. For a boozy treat, order The Meat Hook, a combination of Punt e Mes vermouth, Rittenhouse rye, maraschino and Ardberg 10.

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