Toronto’s top bartenders on what to drink (and wear) this summer

Summer is the season of patios, cocktails cold beer (and of course non-alcoholic fun drinks too). While there are plenty of great drinks to enjoy on the city’s best patios, sometimes, it’s best to get the scoop from those who know best — bartenders. We spoke with six bartenders from across Toronto and got their take on the best drink for the summer and fun new cocktails you have to try and an outfit breakdown (because let’s face it, sometimes your bartender is dressed cooler than you).

Gealeih, bartender at Bar Neon 

Instagram: @public__figure 

Wearing: Courrèges jacket, thrifted top and skirt, Prada boots and Vivienne Westwood necklace.

Recommended drink: “My favourite summer cocktail would probably be a Paper Plane. It’s very refreshing and I love Aperol in the summer.”

Chosen drink for a summer day off work: “My favourite summer drink at the moment would probably be this white stout from Blood Brothers brewery. I tried it a week ago and I’m obsessed with it, it has a vanilla flavour.”

Nico, bartender at Alo Bar

Wearing: “This look is inspired by my Italian roots. I was obsessed with the self-assured women of Italian ’60s cinema with the large hoop earrings, the tight fitting capri pants and city-walking turned beach-wandering sandals.”

Recommended drink: “If you’re a gin drinker, if you want something that’s refreshing but also kind of unusual, I recommend the Corpse Reviver No.2 – gin, Lillet, Cointreau, lemon and a spritz of absinthe.”

Chosen drink for a summer day off work: “In truth, probably a Peroni; I love a crisp Italian lager.”

Madeline, bartender at The 222 Bar

Instagram: @billiehollandaise  

Wearing: “The denim top is a staple of mine from Etsy shop “Taylored in Fashion” based out of Texas. Shorts are a vintage avant-garde brand, I think I thrifted them. The belt and vintage Frye boots are from vintage Instagram shop High Noon Vintage, also based out of Texas.”

Recommended drink: “My favourite cocktail to make for the summer is a Vesper. Sometimes I’ll switch out Lillet for St-Germain for a little more of an elderflower flavour.”

Chosen drink for a summer day off work: “My favourite cocktail to enjoy in the summer is a shrimp cocktail, but my favourite drinkable cocktail is a daiquiri — can’t go wrong. Otherwise I typcically like a Miller High Life, Guinness, Red Stripe — I’m a beer girl.”

Anthony, bartender at The Baby G 

Instagram: @chill_papi 

Wearing: Vintage Fila T-shirt from Value Village, handmade necklace, Lacoste vest from Value Village, Lee denim jeans from Lost Boys Vintage and New Balance sneakers. “I’m a huge thrifter. I realy enjoy the hunt to find something special.” 

Recommended drink: “A summer drink that I like to make is a Negroni. It’s a classic, very easy and refreshing.”

Chosen drink for a summer day off work: “Usually my go-to on a summer day would be a spicy margarita, but right now I’m not drinking so I get an Amarico Spritz from Union.” 

Vanessa, bartender at Hey Lucy 

Instagram: @tisnessa

Wearing: Denim jumpsuit and black pointed toe boots. “I got the jumpsuit at Guess and the shoes are so many years old I cannot recall!” 

Recommended drink: “You should definitely come by for our PBR cocktail this summer, it’s our ‘panties and briefs dropper,’ definitely a fun patio season drink.” 

Chosen drink for a summer day off work: “On my days off I like to drink a tye and coke, double in a short glass — it’s classic.”

Michael Louis Johnson, bartender at Communist’s Daughter 

Instagram: @micahellouisjohnson

Wearing: “I’ll start with the shoes. A year or two in the last decade a bunch of the Italian shoe stores on St. Clair were going out of business so I snagged these blue brogues. These are just a regular pair of blue jeans, the jacket is from the Value Village in Etobicoke, and the vest is very old but maybe from Shoney’s Clothing in Kensington Market. The shirt was new from Muji and the hat was made for me by Danny from the men’s store 18 Waits on Queen Street. He made this fedora for me because I played at his wedding. He used to bring his wife in here for dates to my Saturday show, and he asked me to play at his wedding.”

Reccomended drink: “I know cocktails are all the rage but a beer in a frosty glass on a patio has still got to be the best thing, maybe a shot of tequila on the side. But if it has to be something over ice, nothing goes better than a sangria in my opinion.”

Chosen drink for a summer day off work: “If I’m chilling on a patio, I love a glass of sangria. I’ve been kind of down with Paper Planes lately. It’s refreshing, too much bourbon though — it puts me in a fighting mood so I have to be careful.”

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