If you want to sit in the sun sipping the season's tastiest and trendiest drinks, take these tippling tips from the folks who make the mix at some of Toronto's coolest nightspots.
Martinis are still huge, but new ideas include the use of fresh fruit juices and fruity liqueurs. We're also seeing wines shaking up the cocktail menu. Of course, the Cosmopolitan's cranberry blush just won't go away.
Winey blends include Canoe's hugely popular Sangriatini (2.5 oz red wine, .5 oz Alizé Sunset, .25 oz Cointreau, 2 oz mixed cranberry/grapefruit/orange juice, shaken and strained into a martini glass, garnished with fresh berries) and Sunset In July (.5 oz Alizé Sunset poured into a champagne flute dipped first in grenadine, then in orange baker's sugar, topped up with 5.5 oz prosecco).
Kubo can't pour enough Champagngos (sake and mango juice topped with sparkling wine in a champagne flute).
Byzantium serves lots of Sex And The City (1.5 oz Stoli Razberi, .5 oz triple sec, a splash each of fresh lime and cranberry juice, .5 oz of champagne, garnished with a cherry and a lime wheel in a martini glass), red wine spritzers (California Zinfandel with soda water and lime or lemon wheels in a wine glass) and ice wine martinis (1.75 oz Polar Ice vodka, .25 oz ice wine and a frozen grape rolled in sugar in a martini glass).
Apples are making a big splash in Byzantium's Sour Apple (1.75 oz vodka and .25 oz Dekuyper Sour Apple Pucker, shaken with ice and strained into a martini glass, garnished with green apple) and Cobalt's Spy (2 oz vodka and a splash each of Berentzen Apfel Korn, Sour Apple Pucker and apple juice in a cocktail glass).
Passion is big. Try Cobalt's off-the-menu Lusty Mexican (2 oz tequila, a splash of Alizé passion fruit liqueur, the juice of a lemon, 1 oz water and 1 teaspoon sugar, shaken vigorously and served straight up in a cocktail glass rimmed with sugar and salt, garnished with a lemon wheel). The big new drink at Lincoln is the Jade Haze (1.5 oz Ketel One vodka, 1 oz Alizé Red Passion, .5 oz Limoncello, 3 oz fresh pink grapefruit juice, a dash of fresh lime, shaken with ice and strained into a martini glass).
Lychee is also luscious. Kubo's signature drink is the Lychee Mama (1.5 oz sake and .25 oz Soho lychee liqueur, topped up with sparkling wine in a champagne flute). Cobalt won't reveal its recipe for the Jubilee, but the secret mix balances vodka, Soho and two kinds of cherry juice. Byzantium makes waves with the Tsunami (1.75 oz Polar Ice vodka, .25 oz Soho and a splash of cranberry juice in a martini glass with an orange or lime wheel).
Cosmopolitan clones offer some of the season's most gorgeous sips. Canoe's Cosmo twist is the Rosemopolitan (1.5 oz vodka, 1.5 oz cranberry juice, a squeeze of fresh lemon and a splash of rose water, shaken and served in a martini glass with edible miniature roses floating on top). Byzantium serves the Watermelon Cosmo (1.75 oz watermelon-infused vodka, .25 oz Chambord, a splash each of cranberry and fresh lime juice, served in a martini glass with a watermelon wedge). Cobalt goes Metro (2 oz each Absolut Mandrin, cranberry and fresh lemon juice in a cocktail glass).
The Purple Orchid gets intense (1.75 oz vodka, .25 oz Blue Curaçao and a splash of cranberry juice, garnished with lemon peel). Lincoln does a jazzed-up Cosmo (2 oz Ketel One vodka, a dash of Cointreau, the juice of half an orange and half a lime, .5 oz of cranberry juice, shaken over ice, strained into a cocktail glass and garnished with two lemon wedges).
Umbrellas give a festive kitsch feel. Byzantium dolls up a cuvée glass for its Frozen Strawberry/Mango/Orange Cocktail (2 oz vodka, 4 oz fresh blended strawberry, orange and mango juice, 1.2 oz sugar water and 1/2 cup ice, blended and served with an umbrella and a fancy straw).
Cobalt gets sunny with its Yum Punch (1 oz each white, dark and coconut rum, with pineapple, fresh lime, raspberry and mango juices, shaken over ice and served in a goblet with an orange wedge and a paper parasol).
Rye drinkers can swim in the Great Lakes (1 oz Canada Club, .25 oz each Cointreau and Benedictine, a splash of fresh lemon and lime juice, shaken with ice and served in a rocks glass). For a refreshing drink, try a Soirée (1.25 oz gin in an ice-filled rocks glass, topped with Limonata and garnished with a lemon wheel).
And don't forget the classic martini: 2 oz of gin or vodka with a wash of dry vermouth.
All recipes are courtesy:
Paul Beggs, owner, Byzantium (499 Church, 416-922-3859)
Jeff Sansone, head bartender, Canoe (66 Wellington West, 416-364-0054)
Jen Agg and Tyler Tavener, co-owners, Cobalt (426 College, 416-923-4456)
Leslie Ng, partner, Kubo (155 Dalhousie, 416-366-5826) and Kubo DX (234 Bay, 416-368-5826)
Carey Wesenberg, owner, Lincoln (431 Richmond West, 416-603-4152)
Photographed at Byzantium.
with files from STEVEN DAVEY