2020's drinks were sipped while socially distanced, taught over TikTok how-tos and creatively crafted to pair with our fourth Zoom call on a Friday night.
This year we learned to love the sour things in life— the best beers were tangy and tart, while our favourite cocktails tended to be bitter and boozy.
However, what we truly appreciated this year were the countless bars, breweries and restaurants that stepped up when we needed them most. In March, our distilleries switched to sanitizer and in April, our culinary community fed those on the front lines. The generosity has lasted all year long.
While we've put together a sample of our best sips below, we'd like to offer a big cheers to all the teams behind the beverages in 2020 that mastered the art of curbside pick-up, cocktails-to-go, and the creation of all the drinks we've had at home.
Best Beverages of the Year
The Regal Revel at Patent 5 Distillery. It’s a shareable cocktail (you need at least two people to order it) made with Patent 5’s own gin, spiced mango syrup, aperol, campari, hot pepper shrub, lime and soda. It tastes even better than it looks, and it literally looks like a giant bowl of Ocean Spray’s ruby red juice for adults.
Clementine’s blood orange mezcal margarita. This year taught us that cocktails with brunch are not just an option, but a necessity. Pair with an order of the fried chicken toast or Belgian waffle. Their drink menu also offers fun slushes and a mean maple whiskey cappuccino.
Kilter’s test batch beers. If 2020 brought us any small victories, surely one of the biggest was Kilter moving into their long-awaited brewing space (which is gorgeous) in August. This means we’ve had months of fun, experimental test batches, like the Mangolorian mango IPA, key lime pie and Slurpii 2.0. Our absolute faves: Acid Vacation—a super fruity, tart, hoppy tropical punch sour ale infused with a tropical hurricane of passion fruit, pineapple, guava, tangerine, blood orange, mango, peach, apricot, key lime, lemon and vanilla. Another is the aforementioned Slurpii 2.0, which brings the tartness without being puckeringly sour and plenty of fruitiness without being overly sweet.
The Bathtub Gin at The Roost. Half the fun of the upstairs treehouse lounge is the always friendly staff and an atmosphere that manages to be both lively and intimate all at once. The other half is found in its cocktail menu, where we always order the Bathtub Gin first. Can you think of anything you’d rather be doing when things open up again than sipping a boozy, lavender-infused blackberry beverage with friends?
Nonsuch Brewing Co. gave us the Mango Kettle Sour just when we needed it most—summer. Perfect for sipping under the sun, this sour was soon served at nearly every patio in the city and we couldn’t get enough. Offering a citrus base with a wheat background, this hazy beer was the gateway to our summer, filled with tangy and tart creations.
Speaking of sours, Sookram’s gave us the whole Cosmos series in 2020 and we’ll be forever grateful. Cosmos is a dry-hopped sour with bursts of citrus, fuzzy peach and lemon creating a tart tropical ale. Sookram’s then released the Hawaiian Cosmos, Citra Cosmos, Blackberry Cosmos and the Galaxy Cosmos, which was double-dry hopped and full of stone fruit flavour. We’d love to reunite (hopefully maskless) with these flavours one day soon in 2021.
There was a brief moment in time this year where we sat on the Forth Bar rooftop and sipped spritz in the sunshine. Was it just a fever dream? One thing we do know for certain is that Forth Bar’s Campari Spritz is one of the best we’ve ever had. This simple cocktail was the ultimate refresher topped with prosecco, while being just the right amount of bitter.
The cocktail-inspired creations by Vessel Beer (a sibling project from Nonsuch) kept us on our toes as they released limited edition sours and IPAs in delightfully designed cans all summer and fall. Knowing that we’d need these cocktail copycats all the way until 2021, they recently released a four pack including Pineapple Peat, Moscow Mule, Salty Dog and the Cosmopolitan.
A simple Old Fashioned from Rose Bar in Hargrave Street Market. The ideal tumbler with the big cubes and the ideal setting along the huge marble bar with those beautiful (and comfortable) bar stools. Can't wait to be able to have a few in this gem of a location again.
And speaking of locations made for rocks glasses and big cubes, SMITH is always there to answer the call. Our go-to is the smoked Negroni (they barrel age the gin in oak), which you have to pair with the pounded cheese board.
Finally, we'd like to tip our hat to all the breweries, which have continued to be creative and caring throughout the pandemic. From the seasonal Barnhammer releases (get your hands on the cranberry Philly sour now), to Torque's #drinkmanitoba lcontest, to Trans Canada just being gems while giving out 20,000 cans of beer to healthcare workers, to Stone Angel for their great lineup (including the classic Kaiser Bill) and for being the city's new top spot for LFC and Premier League games (because in 2020 even United fans should not walk alone.) Here's to hoping for a new beer for 2021 after our lord and saviour Bobby Firmino.