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Best cocktails and martinis in GTA

Since I'm alcohol-free for Lent, I am dreaming of a great cocktail after April 12th...preferably in the south/west end of the GTA (i.e. Etobicoke/Roncy/Queen West) or downtown/midtown/Leslieville.

Where is the best bartender (with the best tastebuds) in town? The kind of place that prides itself on crafting a delicious well-balanced cocktail or martini with fresh ingredients, interesting garnish, freshly-squeezed juices, unique ingredients, house-infused spirits, etc. Doesn't have to be "fancy" but simply mixing sour apple liqueur with vodka isn't what I'm talking about.

If you know their "special" night (e.g. Martini Mondays, half-price Tuesdays, happy hours) let me know!

Please don't bother suggesting places in Markham/North York/Scarborough; they are simply too far out of my way (though I suppose it could help others).

My current fave is Jam Martini Bar in Port Credit. Those bartenders know their stuff and $5 Martini Mondays are delightful.

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  1. This is not the cheapest place to drink but The Paddock at Queen and Bathurst has fabulous cocktails. Their amaretto sour is amazing, and made with fresh juice. They always have a theme alcohol for the month and have various drinks. Ask for the menu and try something new.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Shorttyred

      I can't believe that here in toronto we have to say that there is fresh juice in a cocktail. that should be a given.

      1. re: Horace Mayweather

        The juice industry is pretty ridiculous. Vast majority of juice you find at stores/supermarkets is water with sugar, juice from concentrate with a slew of other chemicals/additaves, even Tropicana OJ which is supposed to be 100% fresh squeezed juice injects "natural flavour" into their juices to up the "fresh" taste.

        Another brand that's sold at Whole Foods and finds itself in the "healthy/organic" section at Metro, I forget its name Dewer? Dewar? something like that, it comes in a dark green carton with a variety of flavours. Pick up one that says "Peach" and its 73% grape/apple juice - almost 3/4 something other than what its labeled as.

        I don't buy juice anymore - I freshly squeeze whatever I want but this is a very expensive habit.

        I think Black River is pretty good as far as pure juice goes.

        1. re: radiopolitic

          Richard at Chasers Juice in Mimico supplies fresh juice to many of the top restaurants in the GTA. It's also worth a visit if you're in the neighbourhood!

          1. re: Food Tourist

            Thanks for the tip, their website doesn't seem to mention anything about sales to just regular individuals, do they do this?
            Also, it mentions that they only use organic vegetables but I don't see anything on whether the fruit is/isn't organic, any idea on that?

            1. re: radiopolitic

              He doesn't really use organic produce, though sometimes he does. I think it depends on the price he finds when sourcing. Yes, his retail shop is open to the general public and I often go there to buy smoothies or 2L juice/herb conconctions. He also carries some "live" healthy food in small quantities.

              1. re: Food Tourist

                Awesome, thank you. I'll be sure to check it out.

            2. re: Food Tourist

              I found that his Pink Grapefruit juice was a little too pink to be natural. I juice my own all the time and it is never that bright.. I am not saying that he adds some colour but....

            3. re: radiopolitic

              OH Yeah! The Black River Blueberry juice is simply awesome!

          1. re: CarNut

            How much do the drinks cost at Sidecar? (average)

          2. Second Sidecar. Also, Jen at the Black Hoof is doing some really interesting cocktails.... Both are worth a try, and within walking distance of each other. Perhaps a little bar-hopping is in order?!

            3 Replies
            1. re: redearth

              I definitely second the Black Hoof. I've had some killer cocktails there over the past couple of months. The figgy bourbon sour was excellent, as was the other one I had but I cannot recall the name ;-)

              1. re: acd123

                Oh yeah, it was a manhattan. Only problem was, it came in a martini glass and I hate martini glasses. Maybe that's traditional but I would have preferred a rocks glass.

                1. re: acd123

                  I've had great drinks at both Sidecar and Blackhoof. A really interesting take on gin and tonic at Sidecar with lavender infused gin I believe, a more refreshing citrus gin drink at Black hoof and another gin/wine apple drink at Black Hoof.

            2. Jam in Port Credit is great. Food is awful, but the cocktails are great.

              1. Second the Paddock and Sidecar... also, Russ at Nyood really knows his stuff.

                I've really got to get to Black Hoof!!

                3 Replies
                1. re: Rabbit

                  Where do you think it would be best to have a 25th birthday at (for about 15-20 people)? Paddock, Sidecar, or Black Hoof?

                  1. re: canadianbeaver

                    Not the Black Hoof, unless you rent the place out. I think it is way too small for a party of that size. Paddock may be able to do it.

                    1. re: canadianbeaver

                      Laide... amazing martinis and not crazy prices...