Life’s too short to drink bad cocktails, so we asked bartenders across the country what booze makes their bucket list. From classics to modern, simple to extravagant, our mixologists picked their last tipple before sliding off this mortal coil — and they’re so good, you may want to take a few for your own last sip.
A lively and flexible cocktail that balances bitter and sweet while still keeping a refreshing kick, the Boulevardier is Justin Taylor’s first pick to be his last drink. The bar manager at Vancouver’s Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar, Justin loves how this classic drink lends itself to a variety of interpretations, allowing bartenders the flexibility to show off their own style. He says that versatility wins the Boulevardier the nod for his favourite drink — and if it had to be, his last!
- 1.5 oz Pike Creek Whisky
- .75 oz oak aged Campari
- .75 oz Amaro Montenegro
- 3 dashes black walnut bitters
- Sparkling wine
- Combine ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice and stir for 15 seconds. Strain over fresh cubed ice in an old fashioned glass, top with bubbly and garnish with a flamed orange zest and stir stick.
2) Gibson Martini
For Shaun Layton, the head barman at L’Abattoir in Vancouver, he not only knows his last drink – he knows the place he’d last have it: “A Gibson Martini at Duke’s Hotel in London. The most iconic location to have a Martini in the world, where Ian Flemming used to drink em.”
- 65 ml Tanqueray 10 gin
- 5 ml Dolin dry vermouth
- Garnish with cocktail onions
- Stir ingredients with ice in a mixing glass, until VERY cold, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with homemade cocktail onions.
3) Vieux Carré
Lauren Mote, Bar Manager UVA Wine & Cocktail Bar in Vancouver says, “If you’re going to go out, go out with a bang!” and picks this strong, sultry cocktail as her parting drink. Blending whiskey and cognac, Lauren’s take on the classic Vieux Carré (named after the famed French Quarter in New Orleans), is made even more indulgent by using the world’s most prestigious spirits.
- 1 oz Willett Distillery’s 25 year Straight Rye Whiskey
- 1 oz Courvoisier Extra “L’Essence de Courvoisier” Cognac
- .50 oz Riga Black Balsams Amaro
- .25 oz Benedictine
- 2 dashes Bittered Sling Kensington Dry Aromatic Bitters
- 2 dashes Bittered Sling Suius Cherry Bitters
- Stir all ingredients with ice in a mixing glass, until well chilled and diluted.
- Strain over one large cube into a crystal tumbler or old fashioned glass, and finish by expressing the oils from an orange peel over the top of the cocktail, and drop the peel into the drink. Serve and savour as it’s your last chance.
4) Canadian Fashioned
Jeff Frost, the owner of the Urban Pear in Ottawa, takes a modern spin on the classic Old Fashioned using tree well — a maple sap drink that is surprisingly healthy and clearly Canadian. Jeff says this “perfectly balanced” drink is “perfection in a glass.”
- 2 oz Bulleit Bourbon
- 2 oz TreeWell
- .50 simple syrup
- 2 dashes cherry vanilla bitters
- 1 cherry garnish with teaspoon of juice
- Flamed orange peel
- Stir all ingredients in a shaker and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice.
5) The Old Cuban
No, this is not a racist dig at your elderly neighbour. This is what Mike Fortier, bartender at Toronto’s Drake One Fifty picks for his last call. “After a long debate with my bar team about what our last drink on this earth would be I came to the decision that it needs to be boozy, bubbly, and have a freshness that reminds me of a better time,” Mike says.
Similar to a mojito, but a little more elegant with the use of sparkling wine, Mike spares no expense for his last drink, incorporating a $25,000 bottle of 17 year old rum and a rare, century old champagne valued at US$275,000 . If you plan to leave something to your grieving relatives, you can opt for the cheaper stuff.
- 2.5 oz Legacy by Angostura, Trinidadian Rum
- 1 oz fresh lime juice
- 1 oz fresh cane sugar syrup
- 4 dashes of Angostura bitters
- 6-8 fresh mint leaves
- A bottle of 1907 Shipwrecked Heidseick Champagne to top of the cocktail (this champagne is believed to have been preserved at the bottom of the ocean until being discovered in 1997)
- Muddle mint, sugar and bitters together in the bottom of a shaker, add remaining ingredients shake to chill.
- Double strain into a chilled coupette and top with champagne.
- Garnish with a mint sprig and lime wheel or sugar coated vanilla pod. Cheers to your last days!
6) The Last Word
Marc Tessler, the head bartender at Winnipeg’s Prairie 360 picks this appropriately named cocktail for his final cheers. Noting its herbal, refreshing qualities, Marc says this drink is the way to go.
- 3/4 oz Gin
- 3/4 oz Green Chartreuse
- 3/4 oz Lime
- 3/4 oz Maraschino
- Add all ingredients in a shaker, fill with ice and shake. Strain into glass.