Grand and Clover Cocktail Co.'s Favourite Bars
Time after time we get asked where to go and which cocktail bars in Toronto are the best. It's really a tough question because in this wonderful city of ours, cocktail bars aren't good forever just because they're good now. A lot of places depend heavily on the skill set of their best mixologist(s). Nothing wrong with that of course, unless they leave your restaurant or bar without full training any successors. Because turnover is so high in the service industry it's not uncommon for people to jump around from bar to bar at a far more frequent tempo than say a nine to fiver with benefits and a 401K!
When a great mixologist gets to a good bar/restaurant it can become an awesome place with unique cocktails and intriguing ingredients, especially these days in Toronto. So as a great mixologist goes from one place to another there is the chance that a cocktail bars reputation can fluctuate.
However, there are a handful of exceptional places in the six that maintain a strong and relevant cocktail culture regardless of who is running the bar program. Here we'll just talk about 3 need to know spots!
3 Downtown Gems.
There are 3 places that popped into my head as soon as I began to write this article. The Good Son Queen West, Civil Liberties Bloor West and not to forget the classic Bar Raval.
The Good Son
At Dovercourt and Queen Street West, The Good Son is not only in an amazing location but it's also an incredible restaurant with truly unreal cocktails. The culture here is always on the cutting edge and the realm of ingredients these mixologists use is intense and intimidating. They definitely have bartenders thinking to themselves that they need to step up their game when tasting anything from the house list. What I love about their cocktail culture is that they take it seriously but are never pretentious or exclusive. These guys will throw down any classic you can think of and almost always know it from memory. Jamal and Connor are super dope! Go in and see them and get whatever they recommend for that season. You won't be disappointed! And don't forget to try the Mana Loa Pizza.
This hidden gem has a strong reputation for being an awesome cocktail bar and hardly needs a recommendation from us, but still, it's one of our favourites.
Somewhere off the corner of Bloor West and Ossington you can find a pineapple out front of this speakeasy style cocktail bar. Not only do they have great drinks, but they also have great food and a terribly unique method for cocktail orders. Don't bother with the list. You can tell these guys and gyals what type of cocktails, liquors, flavours are your fave and they'll create something unique and specific to you. Sometimes they'll throw you a classic based on your preferences, or put a twist on it, but either way they're behind the bar focused and putting out amazing concoctions, working like chemists with no safety protection.
Civil Liberties is definitely a buy!
Last but not least Bar Raval is such a great spot for a first stop on a night out for drinks and dancing. Or for first dates, second dates, third dates, fourth dates, fifth dates, sixth dates, seventh...okay sorry!
But it really is a great spot near College and Bathurst. It gets busy on random nights and sometimes early too! A few times when I've gone in the 8 to 9 hours of the evening and I've been surprised to see how many people were already getting deep! Definitely a local Toronto favourite. The other nice feature, aside from great mixologists making superb cocktails and good jokes, is the atmosphere. Carved by hand the massive bar and ceiling wood art is mesmerizing. I've been busted just staring at it for too long more than once, but it's really something to talk about. Last cocktail I had here was a Tequila Old Fashioned made with Casamigos Anejo and it was BAM! Great twist on a classic and made just perfect.
Don't forget to have one of those!
If you're interested in learning cocktails don't forget to check out our Community Workshops
We have a monthly workshop open to any and all levels of cocktail enthusiasts. We teach, make and drink three different 2 oz classic cocktails. Always a blast so come out!