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Top Spots In Toronto For Absinthe
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Top Spots In Toronto For Absinthe

Picture of Katherine Palumbo
Updated: 11 November 2016
The history of absinthe is one of mystery and controversy, which makes it difficult to differentiate between myth and reality. Commonly referred to in historical literature as ‘la fée verte’ – which translates to ‘the green fairy’ – this misunderstood beverage rose to popularity in France in the late 19th century. The recipe for absinthe consists of aromatic, high-proof alcohol that has been redistilled with plants, herbs and wormwood. The flowers and leaves of wormwood are used in combination with sweet fennel and green anise to achieve its infamous color. Absinthe has been inspiring bartenders for centuries and Toronto is home to many spots that are serving up this tantalizing drink to thirsty customers. Here are the top places in the city to get acquainted with ‘the green fairy’.
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Weslodge

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

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Cluny Bistro

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

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BarChef

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

Barchef

Vintage absinthe fountains at BarChef | Courtesy of BarChef

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

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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

Dillons

New batch of Dillon’s Absinthe | Courtesy of Dillon’s Small Batch Distillery

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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

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Byblos

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

Byblos

Moroccan Tea Service at Byblos | Courtesy of Byblos

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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

BYOB

BYOB is home to many absinthe-inspired books, tools and accessories | Courtesy of BYOB Cocktail Emporium