Where: Barchef, 472 Queen West, at Augusta, 416-868-4800
How: 2¼ oz Bulleit bourbon, ¾ oz cinnamon-infused Cinzano, ¼ oz maple bitters, ½ oz tobacco syrup. Stir on ice and serve straight up.
How much: $25
The experience: This drink, its price, its concept, like Barchef itself, is divisive. Some people consider proprietor Frankie Solarik a Toronto cocktail innovator. Others see him as a guy who takes his drinks a little too seriously.
It is interesting that out of all the bartenders I spoke to, only Solarik calls himself a mixologist. And $25 drinks, no matter how tasty, are hard to swallow.
But that Mad Man drink is seriously good. The dry-ice-like bubbling tobacco-scented mist that accompanies the drink I can do without. Ditto the tiny tobacco-and-cherry-jelly cubes served on Chinese soup spoons.
But a complex, power-packed Manhattan adaptation with a seamlessly integrated cigar-smoke-like burn? The first cocktail of the survey to prompt thoughts of food pairings? It's a real standout and a testimonial to Solarik's skills and extensive collection of house-made ingredients.
Next time I'll move off the Molecular side of the menu and back to the merely expensive drinks like those everyone else around town serves. That is, if I can find a space at the packed bar.