A mixologist’s tour of Toronto

There’s more to see than movies. Barchef’s Frankie Solarik shows you the hottest palaces to grab a cocktail and a bite.

This week, Hollywood heads north to kick off the 38th annual Toronto International Film Festival(TIFF), long regarded as the most influential event of its kind after Cannes. But even with the spate of premieres, parties and panels, there’s still plenty of time to schmooze over a choice cocktail or meal.

So we turned to avant-garde mixologist Frankie Solarik ofBarchef to find the buzziest places to eat and drink during the festival—and exactly what to order.

Toronto's cocktail scene has been thriving the last few years,” he says. “Guests are starting to really appreciate ‘sipping’-style cocktails, which tend to be more spirit-heavy and composed to savor.”

And if there’s an unofficial drink of the TIFF, it would Barchef’s famed Vanilla and Hickory Smoked Manhattan, a modernist creation set in a bell jar filled with vanilla smoke until the drink takes on a campfire flavor. “We have a lot of guests during TIFF that have read about it or heard about it and come to the bar to order it specifically,” Solarik says. “It's a very special cocktail with a very dramatic and aromatic presentation.”

For a Toronto newbie, he recommends booking at table at casual, global-leaning Origin, owned by MasterChef Canada judge Claudio Aprile (order something from the mozzarella bar) or settling in for the tasting menu at Actinolite to experience locally foraged ingredients. Spend the rest of your evening at live jazz clubReservoir Lounge, and have a nightcap at The Drake Hotel.

If you can’t make it up to Toronto for the film festival, you can still enjoy Barchef’s exclusive apricot fizz cocktail at home:

Apricot Fizz
4 oz. sparkling wine
1 sugar cube
.75 oz apricot-infused brandy
.25 oz apricot bitters

Rub edge of coupe glass with sage leaves. Place sugar cube, add brandy and bitters and top with sparkling wine. Garnish with sage leaf.

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