Words and photos by Kaylee Giffin.
There’s no doubt that Toronto is home to some of the best chefs and restaurants in the world, but did you know that Toronto also boasts some of the best bartenders mixing up the most beautiful cocktail creations? From a-not-so-obvious (for us Muggles, anyway) Harry Potter-themed cocktail bar, to drinks made from cold-pressed juice, you can bet that if you’re on the hunt for a truly notable Instagrammable cocktail experience, you’ve come to the right place.
A Yorkville staple, Bar Reyna serves up royal cocktails fit for a queen. The Mezcal Smokeshow is a lightly-spiced take on the Margarita. It’s garnished with a black salt rim that makes for a great photo and is unexpected.
Also on the cocktail menu, is the pretty in pink King Arthur’s Concubine. This light and refreshing cocktail is mixed perfectly with gin and rhubarb bitters. And finally, the apple-fan garnished Stolen kiss. Mixed with chai tea infused vodka, it’s the perfect cocktail to sip on a crisp fall evening.
My first thought upon seeing the cocktails at Rush Lane was, “these are almost too pretty to drink.” Rush Lane prides itself on creating cocktails using only the finest, freshest ingredients. They use classic cocktail methods with unexpected twists to create absolutely stunning drinks.
From left to right: Butterfly Sour, the most beautiful purple-hued cocktail served in a dainty coupe glass. The Green Goddess, infused with ginger juice that tastes as though you’re drinking a green juice with a kick. The Spanish Isle, a pink-hued cocktail topped with foam and a sprig of mint.
Shameful Tiki Room
Offering up an authentic Tiki experience as well as cocktails, The Shameful Tiki Room knows how to let loose and create a unique spin on vintage tropical sips. There’s the Rum Barrel, a juice-forward cocktail topped with flowers and a skull with crossbones. The Blue Hawaii, a blue-hued drink served in a daiquiri glass that tastes very pina-colada esque. And finally, if you’re with company, you have to order The Mystery Bowl, a shareable flower and fire-topped spectacle that mustn’t be passed up.
As a complete plant-based restaurant, Planta not only offers up beautiful, delicious eats but also eye-catching cocktails that go down a bit too easily. Try the cold-pressed beet juice libation, rightfully named Beauty and the Beet, or the cheeky-named Peach, Don’t Kill My Vibes – both refreshing and tasty. And my personal favourite? Aloe Views (perhaps a nod to Drake?), which includes, well, aloe vera. Trying any one of Planta’s cocktails might just make you feel like you’ve made a healthy choice.
The Cocktail Bar’s understated name belies the intimate simplicity and beauty of Jen Agg’s Dundas West establishment. Cocktail Bar offers up classic libations with their own unique twist. There’s the simple and sophisticated Death Bed, aka a very deadly (and might I add, chic) martini. The Saskatoon Berry Cobbler that tastes like a slice of berry pie, and La Cuchilla, a refreshing and smoky tequila-based cocktail with smoked paprika, lime and chili. It’s garnished with thinly-sliced cucumber and is my go-to favourite.
If you want cocktails that are equal parts delicious and Instagrammable, then look no further than Miss Thing’s. Similar to Shameful Tiki Room, Miss Thing’s takes inspiration from American and Hawaiian Tiki but does so in a modern, refined way. The cocktails at Miss Thing’s are anything but boring. There’s the Electric Banana, served up in a ceramic flamingo glass with a banana dolphin emerging from it. The Daiquiri in a coconut named The Fuzzy Wawa, and if you’re feeling bold, order the seasonal watermelon cocktail (served in a massive watermelon vessel).
For Harry Potter fans and cocktail lovers alike, The Lockhart is the place for you! There’s the Better Beer, which is an obvious nod to Harry Potter’s Butter Beer. It’s served in a silver pitcher and topped with whipped cream and toasted marshmallows. The Botanist, a light green libation with diced cucumbers, rose petals and baby’s breath. And finally, if you’re looking for a spectacle, then you must order The Marauder. It comes to your table in a 3D printed stag head and is then lit on fire.
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