Dusty old bottles on obscure top shelves, pungent smoked bitters from god knows where, dried, crushed, colourful flower petal garnishes scattered over frothy white egg foam: these are a few of our favourite things. If you’re partial to an interesting cocktail or two, here are some creative and memorable drinks to start that big night out, or to end it.
Mat Bar: Barrel Aged Negroni
Everyone loves a negroni. It’s a strong, no-messing cocktail without any fussy mixers or ice chips diluting the delectable, pungent, powerful mixture of spirits. At Mat Bar, they’ve taken this classic up to the next level by aging it a barrel for a deeper flavour. It takes a while to make, so it’s not always available—ask your waiter and see if you got lucky.
SKÁL!: Cocktail of the week
One of the tricks of great cocktails is consistency. SKÁL! cycles through seasonal ingredients, so favourites will come and go, but their “cocktails of the week” are always in point. Made with thoughtful ingredients, it could be a mouth-watering, herbaceous pisco basil gimlet, or rum and lime with “housemade mandarinecello” and “dehydrated lovage from last summer.” Top marks.
Systir: “Life Without Kids”
Perhaps the bartenders only had time to invent this delicious drink because they aren’t parents, or perhaps it’s so moreish it’s best for the childless. Naming reasonsaside, this comforting Systir special is made with butter-washed bourbon, cold brew coffee, maple syrup and a “magic spray” that’s so aromatic that customers have been known to ask for a spritz on the way out.
Mikkeller & Friends: “Rhubarb Crush” Kegtail
A tangy eye-opener, the Rhubarb Crush is a fresh drop made from vodka and rhubarb juice, with a zingy citrus note from the lemon and orange zest, and a toasty note from the steeped cocoa nibs. It’s refreshing and flavourful, so you’ll sip it slowly, rather than knocking it back like a basic gin ‘n’ juice.
Snaps: Espresso Martini
If you’re coming out of a long work day and preparing to hit downtown, an espresso martini is the perfect pick-me-up. Nowhere makes it better than Snaps, who do a neat and tidy version of this caffeine-laced classic. Ask the bartender how they like it, and you might get a personal flourish or two. The Snaps gin menu is also solid.
The house cocktail at the colourful design bar MIAMI is the “Cabriolet.” Made with a house rum blend and allspice mix, infused with cinnamon, honey and lime, it’s finished off with juiced ginger juice, and a hibiscus flower syrup and smoked with cedar root. Sure, rum and ginger is a classic combination, but this elevated version will make your day.
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