Written by: Rebecca Felgate
As the summer sun graces Toronto with its warmth, mixologists across the city are serving up sips to help revellers beat the heat. Here is our pick of ten awesome cocktails in the downtown west neighbourhood for you to enjoy as you toast the season of sunshine.
What better way to start a cocktail adventure than with some dreamy summer afternoon vibes in the form of the aptly named “Reverie.” Clockwork is one of my absolute favourite hotel lobby bars of all time and sits pretty under a grand art deco style clock (Clockwork…get it…!) in the lobby of the ever stunning Fairmont Royal York. With a brand new menu designed by 2021 World Class Global Bartender of the Year and 2022 Canada’s 100 Best Bartender of the year, James Grant, there has never been a time to meet for a high class swill in the heart of the city.
Served up with an aromatic smoke bubble, the Reverie lives up to its jovial name. Plantation 3 Star rum, Saint James Rhum Agricole Blanc, fino sherry, lime, pandan, lemongrass, lime leaf, allspice, sugar and coconut.
An Aperol Spritz is very much the unofficially cocktail of the summertime and we especially love to enjoy them on the John Street patio of Piccolo E Vino, an Italian inspired wine bar with a bumping happy hour (11-4 Monday – Friday) when an “Aperitivo” spritz costs just $13. An orange forward herbaceous base spirit, prosecco and soda water is always a recipe for a thirst quencher and we especially love to enjoy our spirtzes with half priced sharing plates.
The rooftop bar of the Ace Hotel, Evangeline, is a summer hot spot we are crushing hard on! Not only do they have a “High Tropics” menu for sips on a Sunday, there are fruity flavours abound to compliment the season. Personally, I adored the spirit forward Meiji Restoration. Japanese whisky is having a moment and we’re here to join it in this drink, served straight up and also featuring cocchi rosa, plum, wine and yuzu bitters. Enjoy with views of the CN Tower.
Come for the pool, stay for the Colada! Pineapples are great and everything, but have you tried a MANGO variation? No? Oh, honey it is TIME. Any cocktail supped on a roof top in the summer sun is a goodtime, but the sweet and spicy blend is a real summer slapper! Remy Martin VSOP cognac, Captain Morgan rum, Mango puree, pineapple juice, coconut milk, habanero sauce, dehydrated mango and volcanic salt make for an excellent new menu item at the iconic Toronto restaurant. Honourable mentions also go to the Kiwi Thai Basil Mojito and the Pear-Yuzu Spritz.
A cocktail bar and excellent pan-Asian restaurant in it’s own right; Mother Tongue really does have it all and is the type of bar to retire on a summer’s evening after a day out soaking up the rays (although, to be fair, it’s a cool spot all year round). So, what to order? Summer always screams mojitos to me and Mother Tongue have a delightful riff. The Buko Pandan features house coconut rum, cachaça, lime, mint and soda. Long, bubbly and refreshing, this is a real feel good hit of the summer.
Speaking of bubbly, Portland Street gem, Vela has a dedicated “Spritz Garden” patio and both the snacks and sips menus are bangin’. Trust me. While the cocktail programme is a real all-rounder (and pioneered by Toronto cocktail king, Robin Goodfellow), I’m all about an Italian vibe spritz this summer because, well, naturally … right?! The “Champagne Cocktails” menu features some crackers, my favourite of which has to be a toss up between a The Mari ( Martini Fiero, grapefruit, oro blanco and lambrusco) and The Crispy Clean (Dillon’s Gin, vermouth, balsam fir, lemon and prosecco). I think the edge has to go to The Mari as, truly, Lambrusco is having a moment and I’m so very here for it.
You cannot have a summer cocktail list without a solid margarita entrant, can you? No… you cannot! We love poolside margs at Harriet’s and, truly, what better way to cool off and spice things up all in the same breath than with a Shishito Pepper Margarita! Infused Cazadores Blanco Tequila, lime juice and agave adds a playful twist to a revered summer classic. Served on the rocks and best sipped overlooking the city at any time of the day (although sunsets at this spot really do dazzle!).
Still thirsty? We feels ya? 3 more cocktails worth ordering:
Minami – Jungle Bird: Minami’s summer feature is a classic Jungle Bird, a tiki cocktail invited to any and all summer soirees!
Oretta – Isola Lunga: Oretta’s sigature aperitivo blend
Baro Rooftop – Coconut Mai Tai: Served in a coconut for peak summer vibes!
Plenty more great options below or check out our Summer Guide:
- Akira Back — 80 Blue Jays Way (Bisha Hotel)
- Anejo — 600 King Street West
- Aria Ristorante — 25 York Street
- Bar Chica — 75 Portland Street
- Belfast Love — 548 King Street West
- Campechano — 504 Adelaide Street West
- Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen — 104 Portland Street
- Cibo Wine Bar King St West — 522 King Street West
- Dasha — 620 King Street West
- Elephant & Castle — 212 King Street West
- E11even — 15 York Street
- Epoch Bar & Kitchen Terrace (Ritz-Carlton) — 181 Wellington Street West
- Figo — 295 Adelaide Street West
- Gabby’s — 309 King Street West
- La Carnita — 106 John Street
- Lapinou — 642 King Street West
- MARBL Toronto — 455 King Street West
- Marked — 132 John Street
- Mira Restaurant — 420 Wellington Street West
- Pai — 18 Duncan Street
- Petty Cash — 487 King Street West
- Pink Sky — 480 King Street West
- RendezViews — 229 Richmond Street West
- Rodney’s Oyster House — 469 King Street West
- Ruby Soho — 587 King Street West
- The Fox on John — 106 John Street #3
- The Keg Steakhouse + Bar — 560 King Street West
- The Landing — 123 Front Street