Our city’s air is thick with warmth and lakefront breezes, the Big Dig is almost finished, and Canada Day weekend is coming up. It’s time for long afternoons spent indulging in two of life’s greatest pleasures: Kingston patios and cold drinks. Here are my top five picks for summer cocktails—grab some friends and savor accordingly.
In the mix: Havana Club white rum, muddled blueberries, lime, organic blueberry agave syrup, mint, raw sugar, Steaz pomegranate-blueberry sparkling green tea
What to expect: Atomica is the go-to gourmet pizza & wine bar for many Kingstonians, but that doesn’t mean you should underestimate their cocktails. This one tastes just as luxe as it looks; it’s an ideal Cuban cool down brimming with premium flavors. Light rum adds some bite, while fresh blueberries balance out the more tart notes of citrus and effervescence.
Other good bets: The Anguria (with melon liqueur, cucumber simple syrup, fresh watermelon) or signature Sangria Pear (with prosecco, strawberries, and house-infused pear vodka).
Atomica, 71 Brock St.
In the mix: Anjeo tequila, peach liqueur, peach nectar, lime, orange
What to expect: This drink captures the Baja-meets-Maritimes feel of Dianne’s Fish Bar, a new spot in town from the masterminds behind other local gems like Le Chien Noir and Harper’s. The Anjeo tequila base has been oak aged for a year, lending this drink a surprisingly smooth finish. The ingredients are aromatic and fruity; a full-bodied drink with just the right amount of edge.
Other good bets: Any of their other tequila-based cocktails. Dianne’s has a wide variety of well-curated fine tequilas to satisfy diverse palates, from fledgling fan to connoisseur.
Dianne’s Fish Bar, 195 Ontario St.
In the mix: Jim Beam bourbon, Campari bitters, honey water, lemon
What to expect: Come for the interesting craft beers, but stay for the cocktails (and get in touch with your inner Don Draper). A new debut creation at Alibi, the Gold Rush is slightly sweet and smoky with a satisfying whiskey aftertaste. It has a discernible southern inflection and makes the most of simple, bold ingredients. If you like classic cocktails but want a contemporary twist, this is it.
Other good bets: Gin Blossom or the Ten Downing. Both are refreshing summery favorites among regulars and staff.
The Alibi, 293 Princess St.
The Nutty Professor
In the mix: Sumatran dark roast, Frangelico hazelnut liqueur, Bailey’s Irish cream liqueur
What to expect: Unofficial social hub for Kingston creative types and my patron café, the Goat is basically ground zero for bringing together a love of delicious fair trade coffee and distinctive cocktails. Most drinks are java-centric and every concoction can be iced during the summer months. An aptly named cocktail that’s nutty, mellow, a bit creamy, and shamelessly enjoyable.
Other good bets: Blueberry Tea (a floral Earl Grey spiked with amaretto and Grand Marnier) or the Milli Vanilli (freshly brewed latte with a splash of vanilla liqueur).
The Sleepless Goat Cafe, 191 Princess St.
In the mix: Chambord black raspberry liqueur, club soda, lemon
What to expect: The owners of this beautifully-designed gastropub have a passion for local food and fine artisan ingredients, and the French Summer is no exception. It’s crisp, fragrant, elegant, unexpected. It’s also an unabashed nod to the Continent and la belle vie. This relaxed combination of Chambord with a little bubbly and sliced citrus is shorthand for joy.
Other good bets: There’s a respectable selection of Ontario ciders on tap, or you can opt for something from their rotating list of indie microbrews.
Red House, 369 King St. East
What makes the cut on your list of Kingston’s best summer cocktails? Let us know in the comments!