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10 signature cocktails from Canadian cocktail hotspots

The Dry martini, old fashioned and gin and tonic are classics for a reason. You can sit down at any reputable bar in this country, order an old standard and know exactly what you’re getting.

The Usual suspects can get a little predictable though and with the explosion of micro-distilled liquor production globally, it’s only natural that the best cocktail spots have one-of-a-kind signatures that their patrons have come to love. Here are 10 of them from across Canada.

Inception Negroni (Prohibition, Vancouver)

It’s rare that you can get meta with a drink, but Prohibition’s most famous concoction proves that all things are possible. A large spherical ice cube holds a traditional negroni as it floats in the citrus-forward white negroni. After a few sips, the sphere cracks and the two drinks become one. Who knew watching ice melt could be this much fun?

Yorkville Affair (DBar, Toronto)

Sometimes florals can get a bad rap when it comes a cocktail menu, but when used delicately (like a flower, you know?), they can be a wonderful thing. Take this affair, courtest of D Bar, for example. Elderflower liqueur, rose-infused gin, white cranberry and rose petals join forces for a drink that packs a delicate punch and looks pretty damn sexy too.

Big Time in the Jungle (Native Tongues, Calgary)

This top tier taqueria doesn’t just bring its a-game to its beautifully composed plates of Mexican fare, it rocks the the bar department as well. Bar manager, Samantha Casuga is the wizard behind all of the well-balanced, boozy drinks nere including Big Tim in the Jungle that’s a heavy-hitting combination of Lot 40 whisky, Amaro Alpino, Lillet Blanc and banana liqueur. Donkey Kong’s victory drink of choice.

Zen Buddha (Flyjin, Montreal)

Indulging in soju on its own can be a dangerously fun and slippery slope. Adding to the fun, Flyjin stirs up Korean soju with fresh cucumber juice, mint syrup, lime juice and bubbles for a drink that’s equal parts refreshing, tart and a little too easy to knock back.

Banksy (The Cloak, Toronto)

Combining tonka bean --an underutilized ingredient with a flavour somewhere between cinnamon, vanilla and almond-- that’s almost as elusive as the artist its named after-- along with tequila, chilies, marashino and Amara Sibilla makes a very memorable sipping experience at this slick watering hole in Toronto.

Let the Beet Drop (Royal Dinette, Vancouver)

Beets can be a little overdone in salads and chacuterie platters, but when used properly in cocktails, their earthy flavour and electric colour can take a myriad of liquors to the next level. Royal Dinette’s funky cocktail combines smoky mezcal, a Thai chili-infused blood orange shrub with fresh beet juice. It’s like a margherita taken to the next level.

Smoke and Oak Old Fashioned (North 53, Edmonton)

This stunner of a drink from Edmonton’s premier cocktail spot proves that top shelf barkeeps don’t just reside in mecas like Vancouver or Toronto. Robust gin is stirred up with a house-smoked maple syrup, orange and angostura bitters then served up in a orange oil spritzed glass all of which encapsulated in spruce smoke. As the smoke wafts away, take and sip and discover a newfound love for an old fashioned (of sorts).

Verre de Soleil (L’abattoir, Vancouver)

While Vancouver may get its fair share of grey and rainy days, there’s always brightness to be found on the cocktail menu at L’abattoir. In particular this combination of Pimm’s, raspberry puree, lime, honey and Bittered Sling Kensington Dry bitters makes for the equivalent of summer in a glass which makes watching the raindrops trickle down the restaurant’s windows a little more bearable. Admittedly, it tastes just as good when it’s sunny out too.

Rickey (Bar Reyna, Yorkville)

Yorkville’s newest cocktail bar is serving up a long list of well-made drinks and an early signature is proving to be Rickey, a flavourful foursome of Cointreau, elderflower liqueur, lime juice and soda.