The Spirited Traveller: Toronto tipples are good enough to eat

Tue May 24, 2011 4:13pm EDT
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By Kara Newman

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Headed to Toronto? I hope you're hungry. And thirsty. And hungry again, because Canada's largest city is bursting with "culinary cocktails," drinks that bridge the bar and the kitchen.

Between the burgeoning local-food movement and a plethora of fab ethnic eateries (Toronto is home to one of the most diverse populations; roughly half of its population is foreign-born, and everyone brings their food with them), it's no wonder all that goodness spills over into the drinks scene too.

I asked a Toronto local who asked not to be identified ("I don't want to hear from the bars I didn't name") about the best Toronto cocktail haunts and received this reply: "Who makes the best cocktails? Where is the best place for a great drink? Are there two more controversial questions?"

However, options abound. Perhaps the hottest cocktail strip is found in the Dundas Street and Ossington area (just west of downtown) with places like Boehmer ( for wine and classic cocktails and gritty hipster haven Parts & Labour (

Black Hoof (, a bustling and boisterous locavore-oriented spot, is another local favorite.

So seasonal is the cocktail list, the drink menu posted online warns visitors that the items "are not guaranteed to be there when you drop by."

Stick to whiskey or gin cocktails to pair with the Pork Carnitas Tacos; co-owner and sometime bartender (no "mixologists" here) Jen Agg is known for her vocal disdain of vodka.

At BarChef (, helmed by acclaimed mixologist Frankie Solarik, culinary touches include ingredients like honey and black pepper syrup or thyme-infused spiced rum.   Continued...

<p>A boy runs in front of the skyline after a rain storm in Toronto May 23, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>