A good cocktail is definitely a delightful summer treat, but what’s even better is one that’s inspired by one of Canada’s regional cities that uses local ingredients to make it shine. So, we combed the country for the best cocktails you should be sipping on that will undoubtedly impress guests at your next soiree. And the best part is you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your own home to enjoy one of these tipples.
1. Into the Fir (Whistler, B.C.)
Would you drink a cocktail made of locally foraged pine needles? If you’re in Whistler, you sure would. Scot Curry, the bar manager at Alta Bistro, says his über local cocktail is a hit with guests. “In the spring you can trim the tips of the Douglas fir trees around Whistler and they are amazing. Some smell like grapefruit, some tropical and others even spicy,” he says.
- 2 oz. Schramm gin (made in Pemberton, 30 minutes north of Whistler from local potato spirit and locally foraged botanicals)
- Dash yellow Chartreuse
- 1 oz Douglas fir syrup
- 1 oz fresh lemon
- 1 egg white
>Dry shake all ingredients and then shake vigorously with ice. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a candied and dehydrated Douglas fir tip.
2. Avocado Gimlet (Vancouver)
Shaun Layton, the head barman at L’Abbatoir says he makes so many of these healthy libations he’s thinking about investing in an avocado farm. “I originally thought [only] a few people may experiment and try this, its now our most popular drink,” he says, attributing it’s high demand to Vancouverites health-conscious lifestyles.
- 1/4 average sized fresh avocado
- 1 tsp sugar
- 45 mL olive and rosemary gin
- 15 Apfelkorn schnapps
- 30 mL fresh lime juice
- 15 mL simple syrup
- Shake hard without ice. Then add ice shake again very hard.
- Fine strain into a chilled coupe, no garnish.
3. Cowtown Fashioned (Calgary)
When Lauren Mote, the bar manager at UVA Wine & Cocktail Bar in Vancouver, went to Calgary to judge a cocktail competition and do a little guest bartending, a few things struck her about Cowtown: one, cowboys love a good Old Fashioned, and two, there’s undeniable Prairie pride in the city. So, she created this drink in Calgary’s honour using a healthy dose of premium Alberta rye. She says it doesn’t get more Albertan than this and recommends you, “Sip it slow with your hat slung low!”
- 2 oz. Alberta Premium “Dark Horse” Canadian Rye Whisky
- 1/2 oz. Mace & Nutmeg Syrup (see below)
- 2 dashes Bittered Sling Plum & Rootbeer Bitters
- Stir all ingredients gently with ice for 10 to 15 seconds.
- Strain into an old fashioned glass with a large ice cube, and garnish with a lemon cheek.
Mace & Nutmeg Syrup (makes 1 L)
- 600 g white sugar
- 600 g water
- 10 g nutmeg, toasted and crushed
- 10 g mace, toasted
- Toast spices in a medium saucepan until you can “smell” them (about two minutes).
- Remove from heat, and crush them with a mortar and pestle. Meanwhile, bring the sugar and water to a low simmer.
- Add the mace and nutmeg, and remove from heat. Allow to steep for 12 hours at room temperature.
- Strain the spices out, and bottle in a clean, sanitized container for seven to 10 days while refrigerated.
4. Winnie the Pooh (Winnipeg)
This creative red-and-yellow cocktail absolutely oozes Winnipeg, says Marc Tessier the head bartender at Prairie 360. While the cocktail culture of the city is experiencing a boom, Marc says Winnnipegers also love their wine, so combining the two was a no-brainer. Throw in some local Manitoba honey and the colour of a cute little local bear who’s everyone’s childhood favourite, and you’ve got yourself a Winnipeg classic.
- 2 oz. Crown Royal Cask 16
- 1 oz. honey syrup
- 3/4 oz. lemon juice
- 5 drops orange flower water
- Egg white
- 1/2 oz. red wine (preferably a floral red from France)
- Add all the ingredients except for the wine into a shaker, dry shake, then shake with ice.
- Double strain. Carefully float the red wine between the two layers.
- If possible, garnish with a cube of raw honeycomb.
5. Maple Manhattan (Toronto)
Toronto loves its Maple — whether in the form of food or sports, and Mike McLean, the lead trainer for the Mixxit program with Beam Suntory, says this is a great drink to represent the city: “It’s strong, but not up in your face, with a nice balance between the ingredients.”
- 2 oz. Alberta Premium Dark Horse Whisky
- 5 oz. Maple Syrup
- Fee Brothers Cherry Bitters
- In a mixing glass filled with ice, add the Alberta Premium Dark Horse Whisky, maple syrup and two dashes of Fee Brothers Cherry Bitters.
- Stir for one minute and strain into a rocks glass with a few large ice cubes.
- Garnish with a cinnamon stick rubbed around the inside rim of the glass three to four times and then dropped in.
6. Bloody Caesar Gaspaccio (Quebec City)
Caesars are quintessentially Canadian (and we’re proud of it!). Patrick Jobidon of Versa Restaurant and Bar says it’s been the most ordered cocktail in the city for the last 20 years. Because Versa is Quebec City’s only oyster bar, he says they put their own oyster spin on the clam-based cocktail, and diners go crazy for it.
- Celery salt
- Cayenne pepper
- Cherry tomatoes
- Green olive
- Mott’s Clamato
- 2 oz. Skyy Vodka
- Worchestersire sauce
- Tabasco sauce
- Fresh oyster
- Mix one teaspoon each of celery salt, cayenne pepper and paprika to create the rimmer. Line a pint glass with a slice of lemon and dip the edges of the glass in the spice mix.
- To the glass add two slices of cucumber, one cherry tomato, five drops of Worchestershire and two drops of Tabasco, and lightly muddle until the cucumber and the tomato release their natural juice. Fill the glass with ice. Add vodka and Clamato and stir.
- Garnish with a skewer of cherry tomatoes, green olives and cucumber. Top with a fresh oyster and a twist of ground pepper.
7. Forget Me Not (Halifax)
Not only is this refreshing blueberry cocktail perfect for sipping on a patio overlooking the ocean, but Jeffrey Van Horne, bar manager for The Bicycle Thief on Halifax’s waterfront, says you can also jazz it up by using prosecco instead of soda for an extra bit of extravagance. Blueberries are Nova Scotia’s number one fruit export, so he says they’re a natural choice for local summer cocktails.
- 1½ oz. Tito’s Handmade Vodka
- ½ oz. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
- ½ oz. fresh lemon juice
- ½ oz. Lavender simple syrup
- 6-8 Nova Scotia blueberries
- Soda or prosecco for topping
- Muddle blueberries with lavender simple syrup, add the remaining ingredients except soda and shake hard.
- Strain into a Collins glass full of ice and then top with soda or prosecco.
- Garnish with more blueberries and enjoy.