Dare to drink bittersweet Negronis at these Toronto bars

Somewhat of an acquired taste, this bittersweet Italian cocktail is experiencing a renaissance among Toronto bartenders. While the traditional Negroni recipe features a blend of gin, Campari and vermouth, experimental mixologists are putting their own spin on the classic drink. Pay a visit to these local spots for a seriously stiff drink.

Speakeasy 21

21 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5H 1N1

Come 5 p.m., the suit-and-tie crowd migrates en masse from nearby office towers to this slick resto-lounge for after work drinks and contemporary comfort food. And, while the oversized downtown dining room isn’t exactly an underground speakeasy (despite what the name would suggest), there’s definitely booze to be had. The playfully trashy Tennessee Negroni is served on the rocks with high-proof moonshine, Campari and red vermouth.

Rush Lane & Co.

563 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2B6

This two-storey modernist snack bar might be known for its experimental approach to cocktail alchemy, but the skilled mixologists here also excel at the classics. Negroni lovers will be happy to learn that the Italian favourite is served on tap and is made with a tried-and-true mix of Beefeater gin, Dolin sweet vermouth and Campari.

The Library Bar

100 Front St W, Toronto, ON M5J 1E3

This historic bar inside the Royal York Hotel feels as though it has been plucked from another era. The sumptuous furnishings, dark wood interior and leather-bound cocktail list are in stark contrast to the modern establishments around the downtown. In keeping with the library theme, cocktails are inspired by Canadian literary figures. The Negroni — a mix of tequila, Campari and sweet vermouth with a grapefruit twist — is named after Toronto Star columnist Linwood Barclay. We’ll leave it up to you to decide if the drink — which is sharp with a bitter finish — accurately reflects its namesake.

Gusto 101

101 Portland St, Toronto, ON M5V 2N3

The Southern Italian cuisine and $1-per-ounce wine on tap have earned this King West trattoria plenty of fans, but you’re missing out if you don’t sample a tipple from the list of signature cocktails designed by house sommelier Alejandra de Miguel. The Negroni Sbagliato 101 is made with Campari, Barolo Chinato (a fortified wine from Italy’s north-western Piedmont region) and Ribolla Gialla. Enjoy the stiff 3 oz drink with a wood-fired pizza or Gusto’s famed mushroom pasta with truffle cream sauce.

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