Classic Cocktail Guide: Toronto's Best Old Fashioned, Negroni & More

By Suresh Doss  |  March 19, 2014

While we love our share of thyme-ginger beers and bacon-infused Jack Daniels cocktails, sometimes nothing beats a classic drink. We've rounded up top Toronto bars that are serving stellar versions of cocktail icons. 

  • Best Negroni

    The Classic Recipe: Gin, vermouth, Campari
    Where to Try It: Parts n' Labour bartenders have a long-standing reputation for slinging delicious (and stiff) cocktails. Their Negroni is one of the tastiest we've had. 
    While You're Here: Nobody does nose to tail dining better than P&L. Must-try items include the fried sticky pigtails, bone marrow and escargot, and grilled beef tongue.

    1566 Queen St. W.; 416-588-7750

  • Best Gin and Tonic

    The Classic Recipe: Gin and tonic water with a lime garnish
    Where to Try It: Leave it to the city's best bartenders at Harbord Room to take a classic and simple drink to new heights. Beefeater gin is mixed with housemade tonic (ask to try it on its own), and it's finished off with grapefruit zest.
    While You're Here: Harbord Room's menu continues to win over the hearts of critics. Try the octopus, or the seasonal salads.

    89 Harbord St., 416-962-8989

  • Best Old Fashioned

    The Classic Recipe: Bourbon, sugar, blend of bitters, citrus rind
    Where to Try It: Queen West bar County General has one of the best bourbon lists in the city and they make a mean old fashioned and a tweaked version called the Old Hickory with vermouth.
    While You're There: Everyone's raving about the fried chicken thigh sandwich and hanger steak tacos. So you might want to grab a seat at the bar and stay awhile.

    936 Queen Street W., 416-531-4447

  • Martini

    The Classic Recipe: The classic martini is made with gin and dry vermouth, garnished with an olive.
    Where to Try It: No other bar in the city has a martini list like Eat My Martini. The College West bar has been slinging the widely known elixir for over a decade with a loyal following.
    While You're Here: Once you've enjoyed the classic, try some of the other 130 variations on the menu.

    648 College St. W., 416-516-2549

  • Classic Manhattan

    The Classic Recipe: American Whiskey, Italian vermouth and Angostura bitters
    Where to Try It: The rooftop lounge at the Park Hyatt Hotel. The bartenders at the tiny space (it's all about the rooftop view here, folks) make some of the best Manhattans in the city.
    While You're Here: The rooftop lounge has one of the most spectacular views in the city. If it's warm enough, make a run for the patio. 

    4 Avenue Rd., 416-925 1234

  • Dark n' Stormy

    The Classic Recipe: The Bermudan cocktail contains rum,  ginger beer and lime.
    Where to Try It: C'est what. What makes C'est What's version so good is the ratio between spicy ginger beer and punchy rum. They nail it, making a crisp and refreshing beverage.
    While You're Here: C'est features an extensive craft beer list that rotates regularly, and plenty of live acts throughout the week.

    67 Front St E., 416-867-9499

  • Margarita

    The Classic Recipe: A habit-forming combination of tequila, triple sec and lime juice served in a salt rimmed glass
    Where to Try It: If you like tequila, then there's no place to better enjoy a margarita than Ossington bar Reposado.
    While You're Here: Along with its extensive selection of tequila-based cocktails, Reposado is well known for its live music - three nights a week musicians and DJs set up by the front of the bar.

    136 Ossington Ave.; 416-532-6474

    (photo courtesy Reposado website)

  • Best Champagne Cocktail

    The Classic Recipe: Champagne poured over a bitters-soaked sugar cube with a lemon peel twist
    Where to Try It: Origin restaurant has a slew of sparkling drinks. Notable ones include the sparkling Aviation (Tanqueray, maraschino and creme de violette) and the Sweet Avalon (Ketel one vodka, apricot liqueur and lemon juice). Origin also recently debuted three takes on the classic French 75 drink using different style gins.
    While You're Here: Origin's mozzarella bar is the perfect accompaniment to anything bubbly. Four different variations are available for sharing.

    107 King St. E.; 416-603-8009