Mixologists Challenging Toronto’s Taste Buds
The traditional bar goer in Toronto may scoff when you bring up a word like “mixologist,” but this term is no longer a gimmick. Bartenders can be endlessly creative and experimental, but a mixologist takes up the study, the skill and the knowledge behind the creation of a fine cocktail.
Sure it’s easy to just pop ourselves onto a patio and grab a pitcher of beer, but there is a special magic experienced when you have the ability to tell a mixologist what type of spirits, flavors, bitters and taste you are interested in and you receive the cocktail you didn’t know you needed.
Toronto is lucky to be home to some fine mixologists who are challenging our traditional notions of how drinks are made, and what our taste buds can expect from a cocktail. Where some of these mixologists have set up shop, signature cocktails are making a name for themselves just as much as the food.
Jordan Stacey, Resident Mixologist at Brassaii
What is the importance of the perfect cocktail?
Not every cocktail will be perfect, but I think that the importance lies in the preparation. Each cocktail should be made with care and precision. Your guests have a certain expectation when they order a cocktail, especially if it’s a classic cocktail. Our job is to live up to that expectation; to craft something that we have put all of our skill and effort into making. If we do that we’ve done our job and it’s up to our guests to decide if it’s perfection.
What is the current trend for summer and cocktails?
We’ve seen a lot of barrel aged and bottle aged cocktails over the past couple of years. It’s a trend that has only started to make it’s way through Toronto over the past year or so, and I think it will be around for a while longer. With the availability and ease of use of some of the new soda machines on the market, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some carbonated cocktails making their way onto menus. A few more things to keep an eye on would be light cocktails with less alcohol, cocktail pitchers or summery punches, and the use of jam as an ingredient.
Rob Montgomery, The Miller Tavern
What qualities should a mixologist have?
A good bartender is not a good mixologist and a good mixologist is not a good bartender. The bartender will be concerned with service, comfort, and hospitality. The mixologist will be primarily focused on recipes, menu design, and experimentation. The best in my field know how to balance these with grace.
Where should one start when trying to create a cocktail?
KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid. Find a flavour/emotion/colour/theme. Work it, but don’t over do it. Spirit forward well balanced cocktails stand the test of time — Manhattan, Cosmopolitan (yeah I said it!), Sidecar, Negroni, Julep, Caipirinha, Old Fashioned, etc. Master the classics. Then figure out what horse you need for your course.
Adrian Stein, Mixologist
How does Toronto rank in the mixology world?
I truly believe that Toronto is home to many talented and passionate mixologists, which has furthered the mixology scene a considerable amount! I know when I first started there where very few people who took it on and had the integrity and knowledge to execute. With the emergence of places like Barchef, TTS, and many many other cocktail driven venues, I feel that Toronto has now established itself as World class cocktail scene. There are many other places in the world that have taken this on before Toronto, nonetheless, today Toronto can stand up to any other city on the mixology scene.
Could you name one cocktail that you are currently recommending to everyone right now?
Right now I am very big on using a locally founded Tequila brand called “Tromba Tequila.” I feel the tasting notes and flavour profile remind me of a hot summers day. I am recommending many different applications using it, ranging from iced coffees to mojitos and margaritas. But I think my favourite one is the “Tommy’s Margarita.” This involves Tromba Blanco Tequila, Tromba agave nectar, and fresh lime juice and, for those who want a little sparkle, a finish of sparkling wine or sparkling water. This is a perfect drink to have while sitting by a pool, on a patio or after a long day’s work.
*All photos (not of the mixologists) taken at The Drinks Show by Lori Steeves