With the cocktail industry’s glorious boom and the proliferation of a creative mixology culture, urban hipsters are on the constant lookout for a unique bar experience. Consumers are increasingly spending time and money on discovering new cultural experiences, especially in social drinking settings. Although it’s been widely overwhelming for consumers, the global cocktail craze has been just as exciting, if not more so, for bar owners. Bartenders now unleash their creativity in drink ingredients and bar décor. This rise in innovative drinking culture, unconventional themes and celebrity mixologists have brought you some ultimate trendsetters in famous cities across Canada.
Since the 2017 Canadian Chef Survey places “culinary cocktails” 2nd on the up-and-comers list, we’ve sifted through butter beers, cherry bark-smoked bourbons and death potions in Caesars to serve you some of the most one-of-a-kind bars in Canada.
- The Lockhart Bar – Toronto, Ontario
Toronto is the home to this Harry Potter-inspired bar that became an international overnight sensation. It was named after the memorable Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Gilderoy Lockhart from the award-winning novel series.
- The Ice Bar – Quebec City, Quebec
This ice-sculpted hotel bar, made entirely of snow and ice, is North America’s winter wonderland. You can enjoy chilled cocktails in an iced glass from January to March, so be sure to bring a coat!
- EXP Restaurant + Bar – Vancouver, British Columbia
For all the gaming geeks out there, this bar will hit the spot! Starting with gaming-inspired menus from Super Smash Nachos to Beers of War, this bar offers a community hub for social gaming, gourmet comfort foods and Mario Kart.
If this sounds like your jam, also check out Power Up Game Bar in Toronto, Ontario and Bartari in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
- Noble – Halifax, Nova Scotia
Hidden beneath Barrington Street in downtown Halifax, you’ll find yourself tucked away in an underground, mysterious, speakeasy-style bar underneath The Middle Spoon. On arrival, a staff member will request a weekly password that is only available to the subscribers on the hidden page of The Middle Spoon’s website. And after that trek, you can enjoy a taste of culinary cocktails in glassware from rural Nova Scotia.
- Big in Japan-BAR – Montreal, Quebec
If you’re looking to settle into a clandestine, greasy spoon-adjacent bar with service that borders on austere, look no further. Big in Japan is a minimalist, yet seductive setting that welcomes you along a long hallway, and gets you seated and ready to enjoy this speakeasy bar.
- The Blackbird – Vancouver, British Columbia
Take your pick from more than 100 bottles of Scotch, creative craft cocktails shaken up by mixology experts, dozens of draught beers and quite the selection of wine. With a drink in one hand, get a straight-razor shave in the full-service barbershop that is tucked away in the corner of the Blackbird Public House.
- Little Jumbo – Victoria, British Columbia
This restaurant-bar is an ode to handcrafted food and drinks, located in a narrow hallway of one of Victoria’s busiest tourist strips. You can identify it by a small neon-purple elephant. The bar is stacked with more than 400 spirits. Go on an adventure with their wide selection of hard-to-find-cocktails paired with a handful of Fernet-Branca-infused bar nuts.
- Le Lab – Montreal, Quebec
This bar takes the cake for classic cocktails, seminars on molecular mixology, and bitters and grogs, all in an old-timey ambiance. Serviced by passionate “labtenders” who are master mixologists, Le Lab is an adventure for your taste buds. You’ll be served complex recipes that are frequently tested to mix up the most perfectly balanced drink. Give the Chupacabra a try! Mixed with grapefruit bitters, chipotle Tabasco, beet syrup, egg white, lime, Curacao, and of course, tequila!
- NWT Brewing Company – Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
If you’re making your way to the best view of the northern lights, and craving some locally crafted beer, visit NWT Brewing Company. Nestled in the historic Old Town neighbourhood of Yellowknife, between the Northern frontier and the aurora borealis, you can get cozy in one of the 112 seats available in this bar.
- Flyjin – Montreal, Quebec
What else is top and trending on the Canadian Chef Survey? Ethnic and Asian twists on condiments are rated as hottest trends among chefs across Canada. This is all too relevant for a drinking experience with a spin on Asian fusion. From Spicy Thai Mai Thai to Kalamansi Sour, visit Flyjin to cross off these hot flavours from your must-try list.
Interested in learning what else is trending? Join us for our FREE webinar this March 28th on the Restaurants Canada Chef Survey and learn what’s hot, and what’s not for 2017.