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17 of the best cocktail bars in Toronto for sumptuous sippers

There's no shortage of excellent cocktail bars in Toronto serving immaculate vibes and drinks that make us swoon. Here are our picks of the best of them.

Best cocktail bars in Toronto | A lineup of cocktails at Prequel & Co. Apothecary

When it comes to Toronto's amazing bars, we're spoiled for choice. From dive-y watering holes and bars with live music to chic wine bars, the options for hanging out with friends or taking out a date are endless. And we love the whole spectrum. But there's a special place in our hearts for those Toronto cocktail bars that take their craft to the next level, creating concoctions and infusions that leave us wondering how the heck they got so much flavour into a glass.

In the last decade, Toronto's cocktail scene has blown up. Just about every bar and restaurant has a cocktail menu these days, but not all cocktails are created equal. Here, we've rounded up a list of cocktail bars where you're bound to be served an excellent drink and top-tier vibes every time. Some of these spots offer a full menu of fare to pair with their cocktails, while others barely serve light bites, but when it comes to drinks, there's something for every cocktail connoisseur. 

From an otherworldly, space-themed hangout to a drinking den tucked behind an art gallery, these are the best cocktail bars in Toronto. 

Toronto's coolest cocktail bars

1. Prequel & Co. Apothecary

1036 Queen St. W.

Prequel and Co. Apothecary may have a secret entrance, a back-door exit and a pervasive mystique, but owner Frankie Solarik firmly rejects describing it as a speakeasy. A deep-blue faux storefront off Queen West opens up into a space styled like a late 1800s Paris apothecary, historical dispensaries credited with the birth of modern cocktail culture.

Bartenders sporting tightly knotted bow-ties whisk out tipples with lightning speed. Don’t expect BarChef’s famed spectacles — instead, subtle details are how these drinks shine. Prequel’s méthode classique technique takes cocktails back to their roots by grinding spices with cast-iron mortar and pestles, muddling herbs and squeezing citrus à la minute (to order). The result is complex drinks primed for slow sipping and savouring.

barprequel.com

2. Cocktail Bar

923 Dundas St. W.

Toronto restaurant maven Jenn Agg is behind this Dundas West spot, which is her take on the classic cocktail bar. Lucky for us, the lack of imagination in the name is more than made up for by the inventive cocktails on offer. Squish into a seat at one of the almost-too-close-together tables and soak in unique sippers like the Mescalero with tequila, mezcal, cardamom, grapefruit, Aperol and egg white, or our personal fave the Lavender Hound with lavender gin, grapefruit, lemon and a salt rim. Of course, they shake up the classic cocktails, too. Snacks are minimal but who needs them when you can have another drink?

hoofcocktailbar.com

3. Famous Last Words

392 Pacific Ave.

Library libations await at Famous Last Words in the Junction, a cocktail bar that goes way beyond gimmicks to create a cozy themed cocktail nook you’ll want to curl up in. Bevvies are divided into tropical ‘Beach Reads,’ shaken ‘Adventures’ and spirit-forward ‘Epics.’ Bookmark this spot for drinks with friends or drop into their monthly book club, duke it out in bookish trivia or attend themed cocktail classes where you can shake up James Bond vesper martinis.

famouslastwordsbar.com

4. Mother Cocktail Bar

874 Queen St. W.

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Sneak behind a conspicuous wooden slat wall on Queen West and you’re transported into the mother of all drinking dens where a world of wonder, whimsy and fermentation awaits. Inside, incandescent Edison lightbulbs hang from suspended wood beams. Beneath them, the matte-black bar top glows with creations that transcend everything you think you know about cocktails. The rotating drink menu is divided into different themes that act as reminders for all sorts of feelings, places and memories. If you ever feel overwhelmed down this sensory rabbit hole, the friendly staff are all too happy to guide you.

motherdrinks.co

5. Civil Liberties

878 Bloor St. W.

Adorned with a glowing pineapple and the words ‘This must be the place,’ Civil Liberties is an effortlessly cool speakeasy on Bloor near Ossington. There’s no cocktail menu, but guests don’t need to be mixologists to order. Bartenders are eager to transform the vaguest of requests (“Something tasty, please”) into custom creations.

civillibertiesbar.com

6. BarChef

472 Queen St. W.

No sentence about Toronto’s cocktail scene would be complete without a mention of Frankie Solarik, mixologist extraordinaire. BarChef was the original laboratory for this homegrown cocktail mastermind who would reshape the landscape for mix drinks in 2008, elevating Toronto’s drink portfolio from vodka cranberries to layered libations delivered in decorative dioramas that billow with smoke as they arrive at the table. The host of Netflix’s Drinks Masters delivers substance and style, though — enjoy complex seasonal liquor infusions or sample the O.G. Toasted Old Fashioned from this moody and atmospheric cocktail lounge.

barchef.com

7. Bar Pompette

607 College St.

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"Best of" lists don’t always get it right, but Little Italy’s Bar Pompette was a worthy addition to this year’s North America’s 50 Best Bars. Just around the corner from its big sister, this charming cocktail bar opened back in 2021 and graduated from a popup pantry that happened to serve drinks to an acclaimed drinking den that takes a gourmet approach to its beverages. Hugo Togni, co-owner and general manager of Bar Pompette, uses produce from local farms like Tamarack and Aldergrove for a super fresh and seasonal drink program. From fat-washed piña coladas to tipples that use Ontario beeswax, your tastebuds are in for a treat at this gem of a cocktail bar.

pompette.ca

8. Bar Mordecai

1272 Dundas St. W.

Inspired by the aesthetic of Wes Anderson's films, this whimsical cocktail bar on Dundas West is styled like the hotel lobby bars of yesteryear. Inside the glowing red space, you'll find crushable cocktails, Iberian-style tapas and, on weekends, bumping DJ beats. Snack on crispy croquetas and patatas bravas while you slurp back easy-drinking sippers like the Tame Impala (tequila, chai, ginger, lime) or the pinto margarita with papaya and chili agave. 

barmordecai.com

9. Crybaby Gallery

1468 Dundas St. W.

Cocktails are equal parts art and science, and no place represents this glorious combination better than Dundas West's Cry Baby Gallery. Unbeknownst to passersby, it looks like a pocket-sized art gallery, which it is. However, behind the back display wall is an alluring speakeasy with lighting so good we only want to be photographed in there from now on, thank you. If your Wednesday – Sunday could use a little more razzle-dazzle, pull up a barstool and swoon over clever concoctions with cheeky names like the Woodbridge Athletic Club — their minty-fresh take on an espresso martini. As for the snacks, it's what we'd expect at any cool artist's loft: cured sausage, taralli crackers and olives.

crybabygallery.ca

10. Project Gigglewater

1369 Dundas St. W.

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Alfred Siu’s cocktail haunt in Little Portugal may have taken inspiration from Prohibition bars of old (“gigglewater” is slang for booze), but their handcrafted cocktails are anything but gimmicky. Sip on surprising flavour combinations like yogurt soju and sparkling wine (Summa Time Soju Spritz), or go for more spirit-forward cocktails like the Umani Man, which blends pickled ginger with bourbon and other friends for a madcap manhattan riff. Don’t sleep on the food here — small plates like pork belly bao, and prosciutto and melon on toast are reason enough to schedule another visit.

projectgigglewater.com

11. Library Bar

100 Front St. W.

Forget tattooed hipsters shaking up contemporary cocktails at the Library Bar. Expect classic drinks to be served by longstanding bar staff in bespoke tailored suits at this Toronto stalwart located off the main lobby of Fairmont Royal York. The iconic bar — which reopened in 2021 after two years of renovations — feels like you’re stepping back in time to the golden era of cocktails, with its cozy banquettes, decorative classic Canadian literature and portraits hanging above you. The entire new cocktail program, which is inspired by literary and film classics and featured by genre, is on point here. You can’t go wrong with Library Bar’s signature Birdbath Martini, served elegantly at your table from a mixing glass.

fairmont.com

12. Short Turn

576 Queen St. W.

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Right around the corner from its sister spot, this bar is the “short turn” for 416 Snack Bar — just like the Toronto streetcars that the long, narrow space is reminiscent of. It’s a snazzy reimagining of the OG spot outfitted with dark wood, warm lighting, banquettes and a shiny chrome bar as the centrepiece. The snacks are all the same — Korean fried chicken, spicy tuna handrolls, steak tartare, octos bravas. But unlike 416, Short Turn actually has a cocktail menu with riffs on the classics like the cellophane plane, a boozier take on a paper plane. They can also make any of the classics, really well.

416snackbar.com

13. Clockwork

100 Front St. W.

Even if the old-world glamour and historic setting of the storied Fairmont Royal York’s lobby bar were not a factor, James Grant's cocktails at Clockwork would be well worth the price of admission. Clockwork's director of mixology has some pretty esteemed credentials — Grant was awarded both World Class Global Bartender of the Year in 2021, and Canada's 100 Best Bartender of the Year in 2022. His menu pays homage to the passage of time, with clever tipple titles that are tips-of-the-hat to the bar's name. Try the Grandfather Clock, a sarsaparilla-spiced, spirit-forward option that marries Lot 40 rye with oaky Hennessy cognac. Meet Me At The Clock, on the other hand, is a spherical frosé ice cube that keeps melting and intensifying as you drink. It might be our death row tipple of choice. It’s a hotel bar, but our love for Clockwork is anything but fleeting.

clockworktoronto.com

14. Grey Tiger

1190 Bloor St. W.

The stunning reclaimed wood bar might initially distract you from Grey Tiger’s cocktail selection. But dive into the poetic and beautifully illustrated menu at this Bloordale Village locale, and you’ll find inventive ingredients like toasted coconut cachaça and cacao nib bourbon jumping right off of the page.

greytiger.ca

15. Offworld

739 Queen St. W.

Offworld bar is less Mos Eisley cantina and more discotheque planetarium. Brilliant blue and purple LEDs line the walls, and flat-screen TVs display dazzling interstellar vistas in an effort to make you feel like you’re among the stars. A few real-life holograms are scattered around the bar, a red rancor head emerges from the wall (a nod to the larger versions at Storm Crow Manor) and laser blasters lean against liquor bottles, but the decor isn’t overdone. Even though Offworld bar makes sure you’re immersed in the space theme, this is still a pretty swanky spot.

Small bites and shareable snacks dominate Offworld bar’s “Nourishment” menu, while cocktails are out-of-this-world spectacles. Mesosphere is a mezcal-drowned drink with blueberry-mint syrup and No Tribble — a huge glassful of cotton candy and tequila — is pure space-carnival fun.

offworldbar.com

16. Bar Đêm

Alleyway entrance behind 308 Dundas St. W.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 10 p.m., Dzô Viet Eatery transforms from a casual, modern Vietnamese restaurant into a sultry speakeasy illuminated by strings of colourful lanterns. Head to the back alley behind the restaurant (follow the lanterns) to find the new Bar Đêm.

Under a leaf-adorned skylight, bartenders shake up classic and signature cocktails like the delicious and slightly sweet Good Morning Saigon with gin, strawberry-infused Aperol, lime and elderflower. Bar snacks like phở poutine, sriracha chicken wings and crispy spring rolls are favourites from Dzô Viet’s starters menu.

@bardemto

17. Daisy

563 Queen St. W.

The infinity mirror may be perfect for IG, but Queen West’s Daisy isn’t just a pretty picture. Their experimental cocktail menu sees a classic margarita spiced up with pink peppercorn-infused tequila, or dazzling custom concoctions like Glitter at Night, with lavender and rosemary glitter syrup.

daisytoronto.com

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