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The Where List: Canada’s Best Cocktails

Our Where editors have rounded up some of their favourite drinks (and places to sip them!) across the country. From margaritas served with a whole bottle of beer to chic urban lounges, each city has a drink or experience you won’t want to miss.


Where Victoria’s “Best New Restaurant” for 2009, Veneto, in the Hotel Rialto, offers a masterful selection of mixed drinks, ranging from the classics–think “the original mint julep” and “pre-Prohibition martini”–to Veneto originals such as “Desperado:” a concoction of tequila, tuaca, chocolate bitters, absinthe and flamed grapefruit.


The bellinis at Milestone’s Grill & Bar are a must-try for anyone in the mood for something sweet, slushy and tropical. They also come with fun colourful animal toppers like playful monkeys. If you can handle it, the Bulldogs at Julio’s Barrio consist of margaritas served with an upside-down (full) bottle of beer. “The Krazy Kanuck” is a mix of Jagermeister, Red Bull, Polar Ice vodka, margarita slush and a bottle of Kokanee.


When you’re looking for great cocktails, a steakhouse may not be top-of-mind but in Halifax, Cocktail Hour at Ryan Duffy’s is a must for serious martini aficionados. The high-end Bedford Row restaurant offers $4 drink specials daily from 4:30 pm – 7 pm.


When you’re in the Rocky Mountains, head up to the attic inside popular 21 Steps Restaurant for freshly mixed cocktails in a cozy, relaxed setting.


Located on eclectic Whyte Avenue, Devlin’s Cocktail Lounge is Edmonton’s most-loved martini lounge that boasts countess creative martinis in a chic, upscale environment. Plus, each night features a new martini flavour.


For a top-notch strawberry daiquiri, head to Steak Modern Steakhouse Lounge. Here, the common cocktail gets the royal treatment with ice, rum, and delicious chunks of muddled lime and strawberry swimming in the glass. And it doesn’t hurt that the restaurant itself is sleek and sexy, giving it that be-seen-here appeal.


At lauded BarChef, an über-cool lounge and eatery, owner Frankie Solarik offers highfalutin libations like his vanilla hickory-smoked Manhattan, and the “Man Man” made with tobacco-infused bourbon (472 Queen St W, 416-868-4800). Stellar sips can also be had at the more subdued Sidecar, which stakes its reputation on its namesake drink plus other classics like the Negroni.

The Keefer Bar serves classic cocktails with a unique Chinatown spin. The “Vieux Carre” mixes whiskey and Italian Vermouth with Angostura—a blend of herbs, barks and citrus peels, used to alleviate stomach pain—and the “Tiger’s Tail” is made with Campari, sochu and astragalus—a root used to treat allergies. Fresh cocktails abound at award-winning West Restaurant. Enjoy the aptly named “Vancouver” made with gin, vermouth and orange bitters, or try a “Dark & Stormy” with rum and house-made ginger beer.

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