If at first you are hesitant about trying absinthe, you can slowly dip your toes in with an absinthe rinse, which is perfected at Weslodge. A ‘rinse’ is defined as coating a cocktail glass in absinthe and then discarding the excess liquid. It provides a subtle taste for a beginner. We recommend the ‘Gentlemen’s Quarterly’, which consists of Bombay Sapphire Gin, Benedictine, Strega, grapefruit bitters, and an absinthe rinse. The bartenders at Weslodge are redefining the art of the cocktail, and specialize in what is referred to as ‘pure spirit cocktails’. Only booze, bitters, aromatics, tinctures, and citrus oils here.
Weslodge, 480 King St W, Toronto, Canada, + 1 647 496 0612
This stunning French restaurant located in the heart of the Distillery District is home to some of the city’s best dishes and cocktails. The exposed brick walls of Cluny Bistro, along with vintage mirrors and marble décor are the perfect backdrop to enjoy the ‘Absinthe Fountain’ which arrives with a choice of house made sugars. Another tempting option is the ‘Distillery Sazerac’ that includes Gooderham Rye, Lucid Absinthe and sugar.
Cluny Bistro, 35 Tank House Lane, Toronto, Canada, + 1 416 203 2632
For arguably the largest selection of absinthe cocktails in Toronto, BarChef dedicates an entire section of its menu to absinthe varieties, imported from countries such as France and the Czech Republic. There is truly something for everyone, with seven absinthe brands available, including the original producer of absinthe – Pernod Absinthe Supérieure from France. We dare you to try them all!
BarChef, 472 Queen St W, Toronto, Canada, + 1 416 868 4800
Hoof Cocktail Bar
Located on Dundas Street West, Hoof Cocktail Bar believes cocktails should be a combination of classic and modern, which is also evident in the hip décor and atmosphere at this small but mighty bar. Try the ‘Absinthe Whip’ which contains absinthe, orange, coconut and pistachio. If planning a visit, note that Hoof accepts only cash or Canadian debit, and does not take reservations.
Hoof Cocktail Bar, 923 Dundas Street West, Toronto, Canada, + 1 416 792 7511
Dillon’s Small Batch Distillery
Since opening its doors in 2012, Dillon’s is quickly making a name for itself worldwide with its gin, vodka, rye and, of course, absinthe products. Just an hour’s drive outside Toronto, the authentic absinthe created on location is made from vapour distillation and the infusion of local wormwood and natural botanicals without the use of artificial colouring or flavouring. It’s the real deal. Sample products at the quaint distillery in Beamsville, or purchase a bottle to take home and enjoy.
Dillon’s Small Batch Distillery, 4833 Tufford Road, Beamsville, Canada, + 1 905 563 3030
Parts & Labour
The uber-popular Parts & Labour on Queen Street West is where the cool kids have been hanging out since it opened in 2010. P&L is trendy and industrial and has a killer food menu to complement your absinthe cocktail. Give the ‘El Scotch Bottom’ a try; described as complex and spicy with a mix of Ancho Reyes, Glenfiddich Rich Oak, sherry, maple, orange infused absinthe, and burnt orange oil. Another favourite is ‘The Aristocrat’ with Dillon’s absinthe, Chartreause eau de noix, apricot liqueur, Carpano Antica, honey, fresh lemon, herbs, and bitters. Choosing between the two will be impossible.
Parts & Labour, 1566 Queen Street West, Toronto, Canada + 1 416 588 7750
When you think of absinthe, Eastern Mediterranean cuisine and drink may not come to mind, although Byblos will make you reconsider. This two-story restaurant is putting a contemporary spin on cocktails with its tea punch service which serves two-to-four people. Served in a traditional Moroccan tea pot and glasses, the tea punch service is a combination of seasonal ingredients, exotic spirits, and invigorating house teas. We recommend the ‘Night Flight’ made with Moroccan mint green tea, aged rum, brandy, Bianco Vermouth, lemon juice, Peychaud’s bitters and absinthe.
Byblos, 11 Duncan Street, Toronto, Canada, + 1 647 660 0909
BYOB Cocktail Emporium
After trying some of Toronto’s best absinthe cocktails, you may be inspired to make your own at home – and BYOB has got you covered. This chic bar-boutique offers a vast selection of absinthe products, tools and accessories to bring out your inner bartender. Check out the vintage absinthe fountains, recipe books, sugar spoons, glassware and more.
BYOB Cocktail Emporium, 972 Queen Street West, Toronto, Canada, + 1 647 727 3600