SURPRISE Saturday recipe/post! Because everyone needs a cocktail on Saturday right? Right.
Per usual, it's story time! As you guys probably saw on Instagram, Tom surprised me with trip to Toronto for my 28th birthday in February! Along with the surprise trip, he planned a food tour like the one we did in Amsterdam this past October. The Amsterdam food tour was called Hungry Birds and the concept was simple: you visit lots of restaurants and/or bars and try something on the menu (preferably something small or shared since you're going to eating A LOT) at each place. If you ever go to Amsterdam, I highly recommend this tour!!
Naturally, our Toronto food tour was called Adrienne's Birthday Birds! We visited six of our nine intended restaurants because we were full and slightly intoxicated. You'll notice a decline in my photography skills as the night goes on lol. Here's a little photo summary of our trip (which does include inspiration for this cocktail recipe that I'll get to soon):
Stop One: 416 Snack Bar
Pronounced "four-one-six snack bar" after the area code of this neighborhood in Toronto, not to be confused with "four sixteen" which we called it and got chuckled at, ha! 416 Snack Bar is an Asian-influenced small plates joint with draft brews and craft cocktails. Here we ordered their famous Korean fried chicken, which was tangy and crispy and all around amazing. Plus we also got some fabulous alcoholic beverages (duh) including this hoppy cider called HopX from Revel Cider Co. which was so unique and delicious.
Stop Two: Boralia
First off, this place had my favorite door and decor of the tour. I mean look at that wood! They also had woodland creature prints on everything. I just loved it!!!! Boralia is known for creative Canadian fare inspired by natives and early settlers (hence the woodland animals?!). Here we ordered their signature dish, L'éclade, which is mussels smoked in pine needles with pine ash butter. I know this sounds odd with the whole pine aspect but seriously, I've NEVER HAD better mussels! These were smokey, buttery, and so tender with a broth that I can only imagine comes straight from heaven. SO GOOD. You know what we also got? A cocktail called North of Vermont which tasted like... Canada! Enter the MAPLE MANHATTAN. After I tried a sip, I knew right then and there that I had to recreate this at home.
Tom's drink is a manhattan and while I do enjoy them as a standard perfect manhattan, sometimes they have too much bite for me. You know what could fix this? Maple syrup!!! Boralia's cocktail included bourbon, maple whiskey, cynar, and black walnut bitters. Now I don't own maple whiskey, cynar or black walnut bitters (yet) so I thought: "well, what if I just add maple syrup to a perfect manhattan and see how it tastes?" You know how it tastes? Like a manhattan with the perfect about of added sweetness and no bite! YAYYY FOR ME. Recipe below but I'm going to continue with the Toronto summary now :)
Stop Three: Bellwoods Brewery
Overall, this was definitely our favorite place in Toronto! We went here on Friday for the food tour then again on Saturday for dinner and many beers. Bellwoods is a small brewhouse which offers a very industrial yet rustic feel plus a rotating selection of experimental beers (lots of sours!!!) and delicious food (though the portions could be larger for the prices). They also have this adorable outdoor patio space which we got to enjoy because it was like 60 degrees in Toronto.. in February... like whaaa?
As for the food, we got the fries with garlic mayo and fine herbs (duh), the smoked bratwurst with caramelized onion puree, grainy mustard, sauerkraut, potato sticks, pullmans loaf, and white bbq sauce, and the chicken pot pie with mixed mushrooms, edamame and bacon. They were all very tasty but I think the fries were my favorite. I LOVE FRIES.
As for the beer, we had sooooooo many (sorry mom), and honestly I can't remember the names of our favorites (plus their tap list changes like daily)... but they were ALL good and SOUR, our favorite. Seriously, not one beer was bad or ehh. If you plan on visiting Toronto and like craft beer, this place is a MUST.
Stop Four: Lisa Marie
Lisa Marie is a gastropub with delicious eats and craft beer! Sounds like something we'd like right? YUP. Here we ordered the tuna ceviche nachos OMG. Marinated white tuna served over nachos with roasted corn, cucumbers and avocado salsa, topped with green onion crema... HELL YES. I really need to recreate these ASAP. Delicious nachos, solid draft beer selection plus a very cooooool environment. Love love love! P.S. I apologize about the poorly lit iPhone photos but you know, that's life.
Stop Five: BarChef
THIS PLACE. OMG. BarChef is a dimly lit, ultra badass cocktail bar with like THE MOST CREATIVE COCKTAILS EVER plus they have over 5,000 house-made bitters. Hello awesome! They have three different cocktail menus (these are their words, not mine):
1. Sweet & Sour Cocktails: typically juice-based cocktails incorporating fresh herbs, bitters, and syrups for complexity and length
2. Sipping Cocktails: a classic style; booze heavy, complex, and composed to savor
3. Modernist Cocktails: a contemporary and progressive approach to the craft, incorporating aromatics, and ingredients which create an immersive and multi-sensory experience.
We ordered off the modernist cocktails menu because they are all about the experience cocktails and Tom definitely planned this trip to be an awesome experience! I ordered the black truffle cocktail (cue my drooling) which included black truffle snow, smoked salt, coconut foam, lime zest, gin, coconut liqueur, and elderflower
liqueur. The drink was served as platter with little spoons topped with coconut foam snow balls filled with black truffle, smoked salt, and lime zest, along with a glass filled with gin, coconut liqueur, and elderflower liqueur. First you would put the black truffle coconut snow ball in your mouth then drink some of the gin cocktail and BOOM. I know I talked about things being flavor bombs before BUT THIS COCKTAIL was the flavor bomb of all flavor bombs. My tastebuds went CRAZY. SO DELICIOUS.
Tom order the essence of fall cocktail which is described as "aromatics of cedar, soil and moss, followed by accents of
orange blossom and mint on the palate." The cocktail included brandy, sweet vermouth, balsam fir bitter, rosemary syrup, spherified ice of maple and Fernet Branca, orange blossom and bitter almond air, fresh mint, forest foliage, and aromatics of cedar and soil. SO MANY INGREDIENTS. Basically, it was a brandy cocktail that was set inside this forrest tree box thing then gets smoked with tons of flavor. Just watch the video (this is not from our trip just one I found on YouTube)!
Stop Six: Lee
Soooo I forgot to take a picture of the outside of Lee because... alcohol. Lee is an Asian & French-influenced small plates eatery. They are known for Susur's Signature Singaporean Style Slaw which contains 19 ingredients with sashimi of tuna. GUYS. This is the best slaw I've ever had. No booze talking here! Sweet, savory, tangy, crunchy, and all around a-maz-ing. It comes out as a tall stack, then they mix it together for you! So fun! We demolished this even after we'd been eating like ALL DAY.
After Lee, we walked back to our Airbnb and fell into a food coma. Only until the next morning though, when we were up early ready to eat and drink again, ha! Here are some photos of our Saturday in Toronto:
Lastly, on our way home we stopped by Niagara On the Lake (thanks to advice from this super friendly Canadian lol), which is this ADORABLE town north of Niagara falls with cute shops, restaurants, and WINERIES. We only went to one winery since we were driving home but we definitely plan to go back and drink all the wine. After that, we finished our trip up with Niagara falls since neither of us had seen them! They are truly magical.
This was seriously one of my best birthdays ever!!! I feel so lucky to have Tom and our wonderful life together.
OKAY NOW are y'all ready for a recipe?!
yield: one cocktail
total time: 5 minutes (or less)
one big ice cube
2 oz bourbon
2 oz sweet vermouth
2 long dashes angostura bitters
2 tablespoons 100% real maple syrup
1/2 tablespoon bada bing cherry juice (juice in the jar)
1. Place big ice cube in an old fashioned glass or whatever fun cocktail glass you'd like to drink out of. I used these beautiful coupe glasses that I got for my birthday :)
2. Add bourbon, sweet vermouth, bitters, and maple syrup to a cocktail shaker the shake to mix up ingredients. Pour contents of shaker over the ice and into glass. Top with one bada bing cherry and cherry juice.
3. Change into a Canadian tuxedo and enjoy your cocktail.
Happy Saturday friends! Hope you enjoyed the Toronto summary and cocktail recipe!
P.S. There are some pretty pin-able photos with text are below. Feel free to do your thing if you love Pinterest.