Patio season may be over, but the drinking of delicious alcoholic beverages somehow still carries on -- and hopefully, it'll happen at these 12 places, because they're the best new watering holes to hit Toronto this year...

Renée S. Suen

The County Cocktail and Snack Bar

Riverside
This is an East end spin-off of crowd favourite County General, where rum-based cocktails and plenty of tasty snacks abound. The straight and narrow can choose from a loaded high-proof spirits list that includes 33 ru(h)ms, 17 bourbons, eight ryes, and more. Because who doesn’t want to sip on a flight of five- to 25-years-aged El Dorados between bites of their table-top chicken for two spread?

Louis Cifer Brew Works

Louis Cifer Brew Works

Riverdale
More than just Greektown, The Danforth can now boast of being home to one of the city’s newest craft beer-focused brewpubs. The massive space has a sports bar-esque feel, where you and your -- count them -- 230 closest friends can grab a seat and sample from the 24-tap dispensing house of Ontario beers. There are even beer cocktails, a changing radler- or cider-based slushie, and homemade root beer. Alcoholic slushies! Homemade root beer!

D.W. Alexander

D.W. Alexander

St. Lawrence
Crafted like a gentleman’s study full of leather-bound banquettes, stocked walnut bookcases, and bar shelves, this library bar takes every opportunity to pay homage to the 19th-century building’s original tenant: D.W. Alexander, a leather and hides tradesman. There’s also a DJ booth (we said homage, not replica). Find classic cocktails from the Old Fashioned to the Moscow Mule alongside house creations including a gin-based D.W. Negroni that’s available by the glass or bottle.

East Thirty-Six

East Thirty-Six

St. Lawrence
It’s a nod to the Prohibition era, where you can find sophisticated bar bites mingling with fun, reimagined riffs of classic cocktails. Most numbers lean heavily towards fruit juices, homemade extracts, syrups, and tinctures. For barrel-aged cocktail fans, there’s the three-week-aged E36 Smoked Boulevardier (Maker’s Mark, Aperol, Lillet Rouge, smoke tincture) that’s balanced, smooth, and dangerous.

Renée S. Suen

SpeakEasy 21

Financial District
There’s contemporary bistro fare (think sandwiches, tacos, and buttermilk potato chips with cauliflower hummus), 1920s-style near-sound-proof phone booths for taking private calls, and a 3,500sqft patio (during warmer months) that will keep you warming that seat, but the draw to this Adelaide St watering hole is the extensive selection of libations. Everything from shaken numbers served in Mason jars to coupes filled to the brim with boozy spirit-forward cocktails that use fresh, house-squeezed juices and homemade syrups i.e. the Lansky (Irish whiskey, apricot and lemon juices, house grenadine).

Renée S. Suen

El Caballito

Entertainment District
Love tequila? Then this is the place -- its private tequila tasting room where bar manager and tequila expert Manny Contreras acts as a guide through the bar’s 64 blanco, reposado, and añejo tequilas and mezcals -- is for you. Like tequila? There’s plenty of tequila-based margaritas and cocktails to wet your whistle with, including the La Condesa that feature’s Toronto’s own Tromba Blanco with splashes of Lemoncello, grapefruit juice, and citrus salt. Not a tequila fan? Then you’ve had too many bad tequilas. Judgment aside, this is the home of the #MidnightTaco, so there are numerous other tasty options to satisfy your taste buds with.

Thoroughbred

Thoroughbred Food & Drink

Entertainment District
Unlike most snack bars (or bars for that matter), this Downtown space has three floors dedicated towards the pleasure of eating and drinking. Beverage aficionados will appreciate the interesting beers; organic, natural, or sustainable wines curated by master sommelier Bruce Wallner; as well as classic and signature cocktails. Stay on the lower level if you’re looking to unwind to casual snacks, tasty tipples, and what’s spinning from their in-house DJ. The flavours are uniquely Canadian. Where else can you find Kung Pao Cauliflower next to a mint julep?

Renée S. Suen

LoPan

Little Italy
Billed as a casual yumcha bar above sister Asian brasserie DaiLo, LoPan serves all day dim sum-inspired snacks like the Big Mac steamed bao and pastrami spring rolls. The same kind of inspiration shines on its cocktails. Its signature Tom Yum Booze (Tanqueray Rangpur gin, lemon grass, Kaffir lime leaf, chili, galangal syrup, and coconut water) is a light and breezy take on the gimlet, while the Dark and Stormy hints at Chinese five spice.

Renée S. Suen

Bar Buca

Fashion District
The all-day space services every need: from early morning breakfast with coffee and fresh, homemade Italian pastries; aperitivo hour where all mixed drinks come with a snack-tastic bite; to a late-night cocktail bar. On the weekends there’s also brunch, where you can have the Pelo Canino (Ketel One, house tomato juice, house hot sauce), a riff of everyone’s favourite, the Caesar, but with a fried pork jowl garnish. Have a lull in your day? You know where to go.

Rush Lane

Rush Lane

Fashion District
With a crew of experienced bartenders on hand, the focus here is on cocktails, but with a delightfully non-traditional twist. It’s not every day that you enter a bar with its own glass-in laboratory complete with a rotovap and centrifuge to make its distillates and extracts, nor one that uses digital meters and scales to measure all of its ingredients. However, at Rush Lane, what you’ll get are consistently precise, progressive concoctions that will be anything but ordinary. We’re not in Organic Chemistry 101 anymore.

Linwood Essentials

Linwood Essentials

Trinity-Bellwoods
Queen West’s newest speakeasy does sell classic cocktails (only $7 a pop!) and over 70 bottled beers, but it’s the whimsical and original numbers that are attracting the crowds. Indeed, it’s hard to resist names like the Artisanal Middle Finger (that’s made with green Chartreuse, concentrated PBR, and decorated with an orange-rind mustache and knock-off Ray Bans) or drinks that promise you Froot Loops milk (Breakfast in Portland). Just follow your nose!

Renée S. Suen

Gaslight

Junction Triangle
Bloor West is speedily becoming the strip where cozy neighbourhood joints are finding a new home. One of the many charmers includes this casual stop, manned by former Reposado and Communist’s Daughter alumni. Expect to find a menu-free cocktail list that’s supported by a well-stocked back bar packed with quality tequilas and whiskeys; most drinks can be had at $10 and under. There’s also a daily changing “punch” that’s essentially a jug of booze that you can choose to share with your neighbours or nurse all night.

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1. The County Cocktail and Snack Bar 798 Queen St E, Toronto , M4M 1H4 (Riverdale)

Who doesn’t want to sip on a flight of aged El Dorado between bites of their table-top chicken for two spread? At this East End spin-off of crowd favorite County General, rum-based cocktails and plenty of tasty snacks abound.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
2. Louis Cifer Brew Works 417 Danforth Ave, Toronto, M4K 1P1 (Riverdale)

The massive space at Louis Cifer Brew Works has a sports bar-esque feel, where you and your -- count them -- 230 closest friends can grab a seat and sample from the large selection of beers. There are even beer cocktails, boozy slushies, and homemade root beer. Alcoholic slushies! Homemade root beer!

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
3. D.W. Alexander 19 Church St, Toronto, M5E1M2

Crafted like a gentleman’s study full of leather bound banquettes, stocked walnut bookcases, and bar shelves, this library bar takes every opportunity to pay homage to the 19th-century building’s original tenant: D.W. Alexander, a leather and hides tradesman. Find classic cocktails alongside house creations, including a gin-based D.W. Negroni that’s available by the glass or bottle.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
4. East Thirty-Six 36 Wellington St E, Toronto, M5E 1C7

East Thirty-Six is a nod to the Prohibition era, where you can find sophisticated bar bites mingling with fun, reimagined riffs on classic cocktails. Most numbers lean heavily towards fruit juices, homemade extracts, syrups, and tinctures.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
5. SpeakEasy 21 21 Adelaide St West, Toronto, M5H 1N1

Located in the Financial District, this restaurant/bar combo dishes out bistro fare with a huge selection of custom crafted 'tails using locally sourced ingredients (Pro tip: try the SpeakEasy Caesar).

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6. El Caballito Tequila Bar 220 King St W, Toronto, M5H 1K4

El Caballito has mastered the melding of two glorious worlds, tequila and affordable Mexican comfort food. Pro tip: try the flank steak and baked fish tacos.

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7. Thoroughbred Food & Drink 304 Richmond St W, Toronto, M5V 1X2

Housed in a three-story Victorian in the Entertainment District, Thoroughbred's food is billed as contemporary Canadian, which basically gives the place license to serve just about anything, and it does so with options like Kung pao cauliflower, and a mixed Waldorf salad w/ miso & almond.

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8. LoPan 503 College St, Toronto, M6J 2J3 (Little Italy)

This Little Italy spot is located upstairs from DaiLo and serves dim sum-inspired snacks like the Big Mac steamed bao and pastrami spring rolls, not to mention a host of creative cocktails.

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9. Bar Buca 75 Portland St, Toronto, M5V (Fashion District)

This Italian Fashion District resto/bar churns out delicious Italian sammies, out-of-this-world stuffed burrata, and seriously good 'tails, like their Pelo Canino Bloody Caesar.

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10. Rush Lane 563 Queen St W, Toronto, M5V 2B6 (Fashion District)

With a crew of experienced bartenders on hand, the focus here is on cocktails -- but with a delightfully non-traditional twist. It’s not every day that you enter a bar with its own laboratory complete with a rotovap and centrifuge to make its distillates and extracts. Nor one that uses digital meters and scales to measure all of its ingredients.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
11. Linwood Essentials 930 Queen St W, Toronto, M6J 1G9 (Trinity Bellwoods)

This Queen West speakeasy does sell classic cocktails (only $7 a pop!) and over 70 bottled beers, but it’s the whimsical and original numbers that attract crowds. Indeed, it’s hard to resist names like the Artisanal Middle Finger (that’s made with green chartreuse and concentrated PBR, decorated with an orange-rind mustache and knock-off Ray Bans) or drinks that promise you Froot Loops milk (Breakfast in Portland).

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
12. Gaslight 1426 Bloor St W, Toronto, M6P 3L5 (Junction Triangle)

At this casual spot, expect to find a menu-free cocktail list that’s supported by a well-stocked back bar, including quality tequilas and whiskeys. Most drinks can be had at $10 and under.

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